Higher risk

Enough of this balagan (mess) about fatherless children. Nina Wouk’s Oct. 14 letter just got it more farmisht (messed up). The social science evidence is clear: Children who live without their fathers are at higher risk of unfortunate outcomes than are otherwise similar children in otherwise similar situations. Fatherlessness is a disadvantage.

What to make of this fact is another matter. As Sara McLanahan, a major expert on the topic, has pointed out, if the fatherless child has a 20 percent risk and the child with a father a 10 percent risk, you can say that the fatherless child’s risk is doubled or you can say that the fatherless child’s risk is only 20 percent. And, given other considerations, one might tolerate the heightened risk. But it is narishkayt (foolishness) to simply wish this difference away.

Claude S. Fischer | Berkeley

In the club

I was delighted to read Joanne Catz Hartman’s Oct. 14 column “Zen and the art of Jewish wedding anniversaries” and to learn that her parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at the San Francisco Zen Center, former home of the Emanu-El Residence Club.

Coincidentally, in the gallery just outside my office door at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley is an exhibition titled “Case Study: Emanu-El Sisterhood for Personal Service” (on view through Feb. 5, 2006). Included in the exhibition is an architectural drawing for the Page Street building by Julia Morgan, photographs of former residents, correspondence and news clippings.

I hope that former members of the Residence Club, along with their children and grandchildren, will have a chance to visit the exhibition to see what memories may spill forth, as they did for Oma and Opa.

Terry Pink Alexander | Berkeley

Magnes executive director

Collaborative efforts

I was heartened to read Dan Pine’s Sept. 30 article “Jewish evacuees rebuild storm-ravaged lives.” I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the tremendous collaborative efforts of not only Tehiyah Day School students and families in coming to the aid of the Argucia family but others from the larger Jewish and Bay Area community as well.

Yael Moses at the San Francisco Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham, students and staff of College Preparatory, Head-Royce and Oakland Hebrew day schools, along with Tehiyah Admissions Director Amy Friedman have all worked to support this family in a time of great need.

As we celebrate the New Year, we should be so proud to live among a community that has come together in such an immediate and caring way.

Steve Tabak | El Cerrito

Tehiyah head of school

Changing lives

Kudos to Ronnie Cohen and Alix Wall for their superb article “Ethiopians at Tawonga find colorblindness, kinship.” They captured the essence of this unique bridge-building, multicultural experience. The total acceptance into a welcoming Jewish community described by Kobi Ambeu and Avi Fareda is central to Camp Tawonga’s mission, and reflects well on our Bay Area Jewish community.

This ground-breaking work is made possible by the support of forward-thinking and generous local foundations. Your article identified the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and we hasten to add the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation (a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund) and the Barbara and Ron Kaufman Philanthropic Fund (a donor-advised fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund).

Significant financial and professional help was also provided by the Living Bridges Project of the Jewish Community Federation’s Israel Center.

Kobi told Cohen, “I think Tawonga can change lives,” and we at Tawonga say that together with our steadfast and generous supporters, “We will!”

Ann Gonski | San Francisco

Camp Tawonga director

Divorced from reality?

In his Oct. 14 letter, Dr. Mark Klein decries our attempt “to shove our version of feminism down Islam’s throat” especially in view of our high divorce rate and high incidence of children born out of wedlock.

Where are Dr. Klein’s values? Does he prefer the murder of a Muslim woman by her father or brother for a sexual indiscretion — which is still done — rather than the much more benign American social flaws he mentions?

Edward Tamler, M.D. | San Mateo

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