Letters to the Editor

Save Camp Swig

I enjoyed reading Stacey Palevsky’s July 20 story, “Camp Connections.” It brought a flood of memories — as a camper, counselor and faculty member. To this day (40-plus years later), I still embrace the influence Jewish camping had on me: deep, lasting friendships; personal independence; love of Judaism; creativity; community building.

I was dismayed, however, at the slight of UAHC Camp Swig. While the Reform movement has changed their name, and Swig has been vacant for several years, to not emphasize its impact was negligent.

One can easily count the hundreds of rabbis, educators and communal professionals that went into their fields because of Swig’s influence. It would be much more difficult to number the thousands of campers touched by the spirit of this camp.

And yet we are allowing this treasure to be sold right under our noses.

We continually talk about Jewish continuity and how to pass our values onto the next generations. As the article points out, Jewish camping is one of the best ways to do this. We have a responsibility, as a community, to save Camp Swig as a Jewish place that will continue to imbue the love of Judaism and our peoplehood.

Daphna Noily | Kentfield


We all read Stacey Palevsky’s great July 20 cover story about Camp Newman, and I absolutely loved it. We all laughed over your description of me, and there are copies floating around the whole camp.

My kids, the CITs, were completely tickled to be featured in pictures and in the article.

I hope you’re getting a lot of positive feedback because it was definitely a lot of fun to read. Thank you so much.

Hannah Reff | Camp Newman


The cleverest of anti-Semites could not have been more adept at subtly depreciating our ‘Jewish heritage’ than those who devised and executed the July 27 cover of j. that depicts a rabbi bobblehead. The deed exceeds the level of mere innocent foolishness.

Rabbi Bernie Robinson | San Rafael

Bobbled decision?

Giants’ management should have stuck with the heritage shirts and caps with Hebrew letters (“Pray Ball,” July 27 cover story). At least everyone in our “community” could wear one. And Hebrew is the language which unifies us.

But a bobble-headed Lubavitcher does not represent me, nor Bay Area Jewry of which they’re less than 1 percent.

J. should have known better than to “bobble” the cover.

Mindy Pines | San Anselmo

Two honorees

The July 27 j. “Back to School” supplement included a short article about the Grinspoon-Steinhart Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education, given annually to teachers around the country. It stated there were no Bay Area recipients. In fact, the Bay Area has a long history of partnering with the Grinspoon-Steinhart program, and in 2007 two local teachers were honored: Gabi Lazar of San Francisco, who teaches at Congregation Emanu-El, and Taly Lavee of Silicon Valley, who teaches at Congregation Shir Hadash.

The local award is administered by the Bureau of Jewish Education in partnership with the S.F.-based Jewish Community Endowment Fund. The Helen Diller Family Foundation provides matching funds for the S.F. winner of the award and, in addition, sponsors four local excellence in education awards, which recognize Bay Area educators and provide a $10,000 grant to each winner.

A prestigious committee of lay leaders and education professionals from all three local federation service areas meets annually to review nominations and select the Helen Diller Family Excellence in Education Awards and nominate the local Grinspoon-Steinhardt awardees. 

We are very proud of the excellent educators in our community, and congratulate them on their honors.

Richard Rosenberg | San Francisco chair, JCEF

Missed chances?

In Joe Eskenazi’s recent review of “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union,” he says there is so much Yiddish in the book that you need a copy of Leo Rosten. Actually, none of the words mentioned are in Rosten’s book; I think they were invented by Chabon.

Chabon misses chance after chance to use real Yiddish in the book, and his favorite words have only four letters. The book is badly edited and has horrible typos. But all reviewers love it: What else is new?

Eli Kaminsky | Phoenix