$2 million investment

The Dec. 1 j. article about the groundbreaking of the new East Bay cemetery, Gan Shalom, was excellent. We at Sinai are very excited about this project.

However, the article failed to mention anything about Sinai Memorial Chapel’s role in the development and funding of the cemetery project. Sinai is a 50 percent owner of Gan Shalom, will be investing up to $2 million in the initial development of the cemetery, and will manage it upon completion.

Sinai is a nonprofit funeral home which gives support to many Bay Area congregations and Jewish education and social service organizations as it distributes its excess earnings over operational expenses.

We are extremely proud of our presence in the East Bay community and appreciate j.’s coverage of this historic endeavor.

Stuart W. Seiler | San Francisco
president, Sinai Memorial Chapel and Gan Shalom Cemetery

Promoting prejudice?

I think it was very irresponsible of j. to print its Dec. 1 cover story, “Hitler’s Carmaker.” While slanted, I did find the article informative. In fact, I cringed to learn that GM and Ford assisted with the Nazi regime during WWII.

However, I think j. was irresponsible in its reporting because it is well aware of the influence that this article could and will likely have on its readers and, subsequently, on GM and Ford — because, truly, what Jew would buy a GM or Ford product after reading an article such as this?

Highlighting the organizations affiliated with the atrocities of WWII in this way hurts the people who work for these companies today, not those who were involved in the cold-hearted decision-making then.

I think it is important to remember the 6 million who lost their lives but not in a way that perpetuates victimhood or promotes fear, separation and subtle prejudice today.

Kimberly Boigon | San Francisco

The joys of aliyah

As one who daily contemplates making aliyah to Israel, I was excited to read Joshua Brandt’s Dec. 1 piece on Liel Leibovitz’s new book, “Aliya — Three Generations of American-Jewish Immigration to Israel.”

Leibovitz investigates families’ motives for making such a significant geographic, cultural exchange. When looking to his own family’s aliyah, the author ponders his American-born cousin’s rejection of “White Castle hamburgers, big-screen color television, and processed orange juice” for a pauper’s life in Israel. “Why would they move away from paradise?” the author wonders.

One person’s White Castle burger is another’s slice of sweet, fresh watermelon on any given Saturday evening, on the shore of the Mediterranean, with friends, and with strangers who become fast friends.

Batshir Toschio | San Francisco

FDR indifferent?

An erroneous headline on a Dec. 1 article says, “Pelosi’s father defied FDR on the Holocaust.”

Back around 1946-48, Nancy Pelosi’s father, the late Thomas D’Alesandro, and I were among the supporters of the American Committee for a Free Palestine, which your article refers to as “the Bergson group.”

Peter Bergson, aka Hillel Kook, tried to end the British Mandate by publicizing the Zionist cause.

In those days, the Jews of Eretz Israel called themselves “Palestinians,” whereas the Arabs rejected the term “Palestine,” saying that it had been imposed upon them by imperialists such as the Roman emperor Hadrian and the British Empire. The Arabs called the area “southern Syria.”

Bergson did not “defy” FDR because Roosevelt had no policy on pre-state Eretz Israel, or on the Holocaust. FDR was, unfortunately, indifferent to these issues.

Yehuda Sherman | Lafayette

Lack of exposés

Thank you for two excellent Dec. 1 articles, the one on Hitler’s carmaker and the one on Pelosi’s father, Thomas D’Alesandro. They not only pointed out the inadequacies of our Supreme Court and Time magazine, but also the failure to expose General Motors, Dupont, National City Lines, Mack Truck, Philips Petroleum, Standard Oil Co. of California, Firestone, etc.

Alvin Z. Tucker | Walnut Creek

No bashing

Nov. 9 marked the 68th anniversary of the infamous Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) organized by the Nazis, destroying 1,300 Jewish communities in Germany and Austria, including shops, homes, burning synagogues and killing Jews.

I lived in Berlin at that time, when Jews were rounded up and sent to the concentration camps. I was accosted by Nazi hoodlums who did not ask me, “Are you Orthodox or Reform?” They called me “saujude,” Jewish pig, instead. Sadly, today, there still exists a dichotomy among our people.

I remember Nietsche’s words, quoted by Victor Frankl while he was in Auschwitz: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger!”

We Jews survived the evil forces from without; we shall also overcome the elements that threaten us from within. We must not engage in bashing one another, being above reproach by our actions, by believing in One God, the Creator of all humanity.

The Dalai Lama put it beautifully when he said: “We live very close together. Our primary purpose is to help each other. And if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

Living by our principles and values will sustain us.

Cantor Hans Cohn | Palo Alto

More info

Thank you for your Nov. 24 article about the Jewish Professionals Co-op.

Although your article reflected the spirit of the co-op, it failed to mention basic information about its structure.

Co-op participants meet on a monthly basis for workshops and lunch gatherings, receive individualized business consultation, and participate in a soon-to-be-launched mentoring program, linking participants with successful Bay-Area Jewish entrepreneurs.

The co-op is built upon three pillars: professional networking, business learning, and Jewish learning. It creatively integrates these three realms to build a community that effectively nurtures the growth of quality, knowledgeable, and successful Jewish non-profit organizations in the Bay Area.

Current co-op participants are American Jewish World Service, Feinsmith Quartet, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Jewish Milestones, Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation, J-Gate, Progressive Jewish Alliance, The Curriculum Initiative, The Forest Foundation, and Tikshoret: Jewish Youth Media Project. Please note that the Arava Institute is not a member of the co-op.

The co-op is a composed of visionary leaders leading innovative non-profits, which offer novel approaches to meeting the needs of our diverse Jewish community.

Maya Bernstein | San Francisco
program director, Jewish Professionals Co-op, BJE

A changed view

Nonie Darwish is a brave and smart woman. I’m so happy that she is pro-Israel.

What made me upset is that the Brown University canceled her speech because she is against terrorism (Nov. 24 j.).

Darwish used to live in Gaza. When she was growing up, people told her that she must hate Israel. But she changed her view after an Israeli doctor saved her brother’s life at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital.

All Muslims should learn from her how to stop their hate against Israel.

Darwish is doing the right thing by speaking up for Israel. Arabs have to learn how to stop their violence against Israel, a very beautiful and peaceful land. Israel has the right to survive, defend, and fight against terrorism.

Paul Shkuratov | San Francisco

Anti-Semitic joke?

After reading a multi-page article on GM’s active pro-Nazi activities during WWII, I turned to the Dec. 1 jokes column and read “Count on prayer.” I have to say that my jaw dropped to read a stereotypical “joke” where the punchline is that a Jew — a rabbi no less — is portrayed as praying to God to be allowed to ignore the Sabbath, the holiest day of the week, in order to pick up money that doesn’t belong to him.

Who needs skinheads to spread anti-Semitic propaganda? Apparently we do it ourselves.

Alan Mirviss | San Francisco

New policy urged

We propose that j. announce a new policy of not publishing letters that accuse individuals or organizations of being in the camp of Israel’s enemies, an enemy of Judaism, no better than Nazis, etc. This change would elevate the level of discussion and make the letters section more pleasant to read.

Judy Kunofsky & Mitchell Shandling | Berkeley

Day school growth

How wonderful to read the recent j. article about the tremendous growth of Jewish life in Contra Costa County. There was only one omission in this informative piece. One of the most dynamic, vibrant and phenomenal success stories is the Contra Costa Jewish Day School, having grown, in six years, to over 80 students in grades K-eight.

Enjoying a full kindergarten, and a reputation for stellar academics and Judaic curricula, the CCJDS has received national recognition. This year it was one of only seven schools to receive a prestigious PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) grant.

Reflecting the diversity of our community, CCJDS draws students from all Contra Costa synagogues, students from Alameda County and a number of unaffiliated families.

Strong art, drama, and music programs round out an exceptional curriculum; all teachers have master’s degrees and/or certification.

Rapid growth in enrollment is testimony to the fact that any viable Jewish community needs to offer day school education as an option. The CCJDS is embarking on a major capital campaign for a campus on the grounds of Temple Isaiah, ensuring the permanence of this young institution and responding to the needs of our community, ensuring a strong Jewish future for us all.

Karla Smith | CCJDS board president
Dean Goldfein | CCJDS head of school