No help needed?

Dan Pine’s April 14 cover story on the San Francisco earthquake appeared to show that even though the Jewish community was hard hit, it didn’t take long for Jewish leaders to galvanize everyone, as evidenced by Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger’s actions.

Maybe it was this spirit of “can-do” that denied San Francisco Jewry of national fund-raising support? The National Conference of Jewish Charities in Philadelphia sent Dr. Lee K. Frankel of the United Hebrew Charities of New York and Dr. Judah L. Magnes, then rabbi-elect of Temple Emanu-El of New York, to visit the stricken area and report back.

Frankel and Magnes arrived May 11 and stayed a week. Voorsanger told them there were no official statistics but he thought there were 10,000 homeless Jews, and $30,000 to $40,000 would be needed. Frankel and Magnes then toured the two main camps but only found 1,000 homeless Jews. They spoke with local Jewish organizations (orphanages, senior homes, etc). The general consensus was that no help was needed. (However, Jewish lodges did raise $14,000.)

The final outcome was a report based upon their observations and discussions that “no immediate appeal for funds in behalf of the Jewish sufferers in San Francisco was necessary.”

Jeremy G. Frankel | Berkeley

Rabbi with backbone

I am 14 and writing in response to Joel H. Siegel’s April 7 letter, “No Moral Backbone.” It concerned Rabbi Stephen Pearce and the fact that he attended the ceremony of an archbishop who did not support gay adoption.

I am for gay rights as much as the next girl, probably more in fact. But I have a problem with a total stranger making personal remarks on the choices of a rabbi at my congregation.

While I give kudos to Mayor Gavin Newsom for boycotting the ceremony, I happen to have known Pearce personally for many years, and I just want to let everyone know that he has more of a moral backbone than most people I’ve ever met. He is also a really great guy.

I can see the point that the aforementioned letter was trying to make, but the record needs to be set straight: Pearce is a great leader, reformer and advocate for gay rights. I don’t want anyone reading this publication to think otherwise.

Lizzie Logan | San Francisco

No strangers now

My son and I just received our eighth meal from San Rafael Rodef Sholom congregants. Before today, they were strangers to me.

Since my skiing accident and knee surgery, the meals arrive, emails come from temple staff, the rabbis call and a homemade challah arrives on our doorstep every Thursday, made in the temple’s Mitzvah Kitchen.

My heart is filled with warmth and gratitude. I am young and active. Before the accident, I was a daily jogger. I thought nothing of bounding up and down the four flights of stairs in our home, preparing for my son his meals, taking him to school, working. For the past two months, it has been a humbling experience to realize what it is to be immobile.

The kindness of our temple has been beyond belief. Thank you to our leaders, Rabbi Stacy Friedman and Rabbi Michael Lezak, for setting the tone of community. When Lezak found out about my accident, he said to me, “You are not going through this alone.” And I haven’t. What a gift. I am so grateful.

Shelley Brown | Tiburon

California dreamin’

It seems as though the Jews of Northern California have gotten the story of Pesach confused. I have heard rumors that there are people in California building an ark. That’s not the story we retell.

Jack de Lowe | Ra’anana, Israel

Vanilla news

In recent days there has been rioting in Jerusalem by some members of the ultra-Orthodox community of Mea Shearim because the police refuse to release Yisrael Valis because he admitted to murdering his 3-month-old son. This is front page news in the Jerusalem Post but ignored in j.

Is this not a social justice issue just screaming out for liberal Jews to actually care about? Or is news that Ariel Sharon has now been “formally declared” incapacitated more important to be reprinted?

Cutting and pasting vanilla news from Israel does a disservice to our community and shows where your priorities lie.

If you were just as interested in real news in Israel as you are in printing articles ad nauseam about Jews building bridges with non-Jews, then maybe you would have a paper that prints news that is relevant to those of us who actually have a connection with Israel, aside from the once or twice in a lifetime “mission” trip to Israel that American Jews make, if that.

Mordechai Pelta | San Francisco