‘Psychotic effects’?

In a Nov. 18 letter attempting to debunk medical marijuana, Arthur Zeidman (an ex-public defender from Walnut Creek) claimed that marijuana is never “effective as medicine” and causes “lasting adverse psychotic effects,” concluding that marijuana “needs to stay illegal unless and until it can be proven safe and effective as a regulated medicine.”

On the same principle, all the other unsafe and non-medically effective things we ingest — tobacco, alcohol, high cholesterol foods such as beef and ice cream, fried pork rinds, Twinkies (remember Harvey Milk?), etc. — should be illegal as well.

Apparently, doctrinaire support for our marijuana policy causes “psychotic effects.”

Howard Tamler | Palo Alto

‘Plague of terrorism’

There is a connection between Daniel Pipes’ Nov. 18 insights on terror in Jordan and the article on the Berkeley art exhibit celebrating Palestinian terrorists (“Jordan blasts sour Palestinian taste for terror” and “Berkeley art exhibit draws Jewish outrage”).

For decades the Arab world and its leftist allies have contorted themselves to justify the murder of innocent Jews and even to cheer such inhuman acts. While the cheerleading encouraged Palestinians to continue their self-destructive ways, it also encouraged terrorists throughout the world to imitate Palestinian tactics.

What international terrorists did not understand was that killing Jews was one thing, but if they started killing Christians and Muslims, they would be condemned. What Arabs, Europeans and Berkeleyites fail to understand is that justifying Palestinian terror will not lead to Israel’s destruction, it will only lead to misery for ordinary Palestinians and a worldwide plague of terrorism which affects all people.

Josh Baker | San Francisco

Interfaith ‘nonsense’

In his offensive Nov. 11 opinion “Interfaith families at core of Jewish community,” Rabbi Henry Shreibman patronizingly says the time has come for Jews to mature.

Lemme see, 3,000 years of Jewish practice, and maturity will come only by including a constituency that refuses to commit itself to the principles of our faith. There are no religions that support such acts of self-destruction.

Shreibman tells us to explore the “deep involvement of the interfaith family.” Nonsense.

Interfaith marriage destroys Jewish continuity. We know fewer than three in 10 children of interfaith couples grow up to be practicing Jews. Israeli demographers have estimated that current rates of interfaith marriage will result in a loss of yet another 6 million Jewish souls over the next 20 years.

We are a divided community with large numbers choosing self-indulgence, content in the knowledge that their grandchildren will not be Jews.

We need to repudiate Schreibman’s assimilationist, anti-Jewish notion that for the first time in our history the interfaith family is a core constituency for Jewish survival.

As we enter the Chanukah season and celebrate a Maccabean vision which rejected assimilation, now is the time for us to reject destructive, misguided opportunists like Shreibman.

Paul Hartman | Mill Valley

Cantorial rankings

My mother and brother in Marin just called and were very excited to see the Nov. 18 article “A beastly family affair” about our musical down in San Jose. Very nicely done, and very cute. It’s definitely going into our scrapbook.

One small correction: While Rachel Michelberg really is a cantorial soloist (as you said), I’m just one of the lay cantors at Congregation Shir Hadash. The ranking goes, from bottom to top: lay cantor, cantorial soloist, then cantor.

I can sing and play guitar and lead services, but I’m a volunteer. Rachel is a higher rank than me, and has much more training both musically and religiously.

Cantors are certified clergy with a degree, much like a rabbi. While I don’t mind the “promotion,” I do want to be clear, especially because we do have one of the few full-fledged Cantors in the South Bay at our synagogue — our wonderful Devorah Felder-Levy.

Ken Abrams | Campbell

‘Good fortune’

Yes, “that time under the gingko tree has paid off.”

Jay Schwartz — in his Nov. 18 column “Being a fly on the wall at day-school reunion” — certainly captured the essence of these young adults.

I had the good fortune of teaching general studies for 12 years after the founding of the North Peninsula Jewish Community Day School, now the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School.

During Sukkot, my students would embark on a field trip to my home, enjoy lunch in the sukkah and play under the brightly colored golden leaves of the gingko trees. Not only did these students graduate with a strong sense of self and Judaism but with a deep caring for one another.

I am touched to share these memorable moments with my former students.

Fran Teisch | Hillsborough

Letter campaign

At first I didn’t know what to make of Pooya Zahedani’s Nov. 4 letter. Zahedani claims to be an Iranian American “constituent,” but urges the United States not to escalate tensions with Iran, or to join Israel’s attempt to have Iran kicked out of the United Nations because of its call for the destruction of Israel.

Imagine my surprise to find a very similar letter to the editor in the Contra Costa Times on Nov. 14, this one by Dariush Abadi of Berkeley. Many of the phrases in the two letters are identical, including the language about not escalating tensions and the call for the United States not to join Israel in asking to have Iran kicked out of the United Nations.

So it now appears that both letters are part of some pro-Iran letter-writing campaign.

A search reveals that the letters are derived from form letters on the site of the National Iranian-American Council, and that the word “constituent” in Zahedani’s letter appears there because the letters are designed to be sent to members of Congress. Oddly, NIAC takes no position on the matter, and has both “pro” and “con” letters for use on its site.

Tom Freeman | Orinda

Interest sparked

On behalf of the board of directors and the membership of the Concordia-Argonaut, please accept my sincere thanks for your excellent Nov. 4 article, “Haimish hangout,” regarding the club.

The club was thrilled and honored to make the cover of your wonderful publication. It has received numerous phone calls regarding membership due to the article.

In addition, the recent ads run in j. have sparked interest in our wonderful institution. The club has received many inquiries due to our ads in your publication.

Henry Johns | San Francisco
general manager, Concordia-Argonaut

Truth or fiction?

Ariel Sharon said: “The world will not allow the present impasse to continue indefinitely.

Truth: Jews and Arabs have been killing each other for centuries. All “the world ” has done is to give both sides more armaments so that the killing will increase.

Sharon promised he would abide by the vote of his Likud party on “disengagement.”

Truth: Sharon lost the vote and ignored what his party wanted. He refused to allow a referendum on the issue, since what Sharon wants overrides what the people want.

Sharon said: “The disengagement will increase Israel’s security in many ways. “

Truth: Arab terrorism will increase because the Arabs see that terrorism works. By their killing more Jews, the Jews keep retreating.

Sharon said President Bush promised that if Israel retreated from Gaza, then the United States would not make any more demands.

Truth: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the retreat from Gaza is not enough, and that Israel must make more concessions, such as by again giving guns to the Arabs.

Yehuda Sherman | Lafayette

Climb a family tree

Thanks to Marcia Nord’s recent letter, one of the Bay Area’s biggest Jewish secrets has now been outed.

Yes, the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society has quietly been serving the nine-county region for nearly 25 years (our anniversary is next year). Our doors are always open to anyone with an interest in Jewish genealogy, whether they are Jewish or not.

If you’re a beginner or seasoned family historian, we have members who are experienced in all aspects of Jewish genealogical research. Our www.jewishgen.org/sfbajgs Web site provides details of all our meetings — in San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Altos Hills. Who knows? You might meet a long-lost cousin.

Jeremy G. Frankel | Berkeley
SFBAYJGS president

Mideast redux

Regardless of any claims to the contrary, there is no “Palestinian land.” The Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt before 1967. Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) was occupied by Jordan.

There has never been an Arab Palestinian state, so there was never a “Palestinian land.”

What is happening now is what happened in the past: The land of the Middle East is being carved up by the major European powers and a new Arab state is being created as a favor to the Arabs — to the detriment of the Jews, again (that’s how the new Arab state of Transjordan came into existence, remember?).

Are we supposed to sympathize with the Palestinians? Now that they have Gaza, they don’t know what to do with it.

There’s so much confusion. But not to worry. Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and all the other Arab activists, militants and insurgents may have a solution to the Palestinians’ confusion.

By the way, I wish someone would tell me why it’s OK to expel Jews from Arab lands but it’s called terrorism when the Jewish “extremists” advocate expulsion of Arabs from Israel.

Lawrence Weiswasser | Avenal