‘Benefit of the doubt’

The Jewish Community Federation should be congratulated for finding a new executive with youth, energy and a promise to grow our capacity (“Federation’s new CEO,” April 18). As we all agree, it is vital to increase the annual JCF campaign revenue significantly from its current $25 million to meet our growing communal needs here, in Israel and overseas.

As one of the largest and richest Jewish communities in North America, we should rival Chicago’s $70 million campaign and surpass far smaller communities like Baltimore and Cleveland, which each raise about $35 million per year. To succeed, Mr. Sokatch will need to reach out to all segments of our community including those who disagree with the one-sided political focus and separatist tactics of the Progressive Jewish Alliance in L.A., which he managed from inception. Those of us who are engaged and committed to the federation will need reassurance that our limited communal resources are not sidetracked.

Mr. Sokatch must also demonstrate he will support our community’s pro-Israel consensus in the face of existential threats from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Overall, our next JCF executive needs to unite and inspire, not divide. Let’s give Mr. Sokatch the benefit of the doubt and hope he meets the challenge.

David J. Blumberg | San Francisco

Cheers for Sokatch

Kudos to the search committee of the Jewish Community Federation for its recent hiring of Daniel Sokatch. The Walter and Elise Haas Fund is proud to note its early and consistent support of Progressive Jewish Alliance, the organization Daniel founded and led for eight years.

We recognized four years ago the creative talent, passionate commitment, and responsible leadership demonstrated by Daniel. The Haas Fund has been a lead donor to the federation for more than a quarter-century and cares deeply about its success. Our community and the federation face multiple challenges to ensure their continued vitality and relevance to younger Jews. We are convinced that this hire will be transformative for the Jewish community. We are excited to partner with federation at this pivotal time.

Pamela David , Executive Director

Stephanie Rapp , Sr. Program Officer, Walter and Elise Haas Fund | S.F.

A clarification

Thank you very much for the excellent article about Daniel Sokatch assuming the helm at the Federation. I do need to clarify, however, that my remarks, as PJA’s Bay Area regional director, were placed out of context.

My statement: “This is the fruit of working for six years building relationships of trust, with the Jewish community breathing down his neck. He’s very good at bridging differences. Part of it is the persona, charisma and integrity,” was specifically in relation to the Jewish-Muslim Community Building project, “New Ground,” launched by PJA in Los Angeles over a year ago, which is described eight paragraphs later in the article (starting with ” … and foster dialogue with the Muslim community through the program New Ground”).

With that clarification, I wish to reiterate my firm belief that Daniel’s “personality [not ‘persona’ as appears in the article], charisma and integrity” along with his deeply held values, stunning intelligence and endless energy, will be a tremendous boon to our community. I salute the Jewish Community Federation Board for this visionary appointment!

Rachel Biale | Berkeley

Welcoming J Street

I am heartened at the appearance of J Street (“New pro-Israel lobby muscles in on D.C.,” April 18), and look forward to hearing voices that are more willing to challenge U.S. policy on Israel as it now stands. AIPAC does not represent my views, and I am continually uncomfortable with its willingness to support Israeli policy no matter what the consequences are likely to be. ZOA Klein’s “naive, simplistic and mistaken” view of J Street demonstrates another aspect of the counter position that discomfits me: whoever does not fully subscribe to the establishment point of view is to be dismissed.

Your headline suggesting that this pro-Israel peace lobby “muscles in” was unfortunate with its suggestion that J Street doesn’t really belong on the block. It was good to read, however, about organizations such as Brit Tzedek which have been laying the groundwork for a shift in the dialogue represented by this new lobby. Brit Tzedek’s tireless efforts, along with Americans for Peace Now, are two key precursors for this new and hopefully strong voice.

Count me in, J Street. Welcome to one of the world’s toughest blocks.

Rose Levinson | Albany

Ready to go

We wish to thank j. for addressing the need to get young adults and teens to Israel. For more than two decades, our region’s Jewish Community Federations have promoted life-changing teen trips (“Teen trips suffer from Birthright Israel’s popularity,” April 4). Such journeys — from four to six weeks in length — have a significant impact on high school-aged participants as they begin considering their Jewish future.

Their summer Israel experience not only strengthens Jewish identity but greatly informs their choices for university or other post-high school programs where they can continue their engagement with Judaism, the Jewish people and Israel.

The 10-day Birthright experience is vastly different from the four-week Let’s Go: Israel program or similar trips. As our youth transition toward adulthood, four- to six-week trips offer powerful, in-depth experiences.

Families should note that we offer substantial aid packages to ensure that no teen will be unable to participate due to financial need.

The deadline for Let’s Go: Israel is fast approaching. For information, visit www.letsgoisrael.org. So please make a call today to see how you may get your child on board.

Laurie Earp, chairperson , Let’s Go: Israel

Kathy Reback, president , Bureau of Jewish Education Board

Apologies to David

In the April 18 j., a San Francisco Jewish Community Federation ad for the annual meeting inaccurately listed one of its candidates for election to a second two-year board term as Robert Agger. The correct name is David Agger. Apologies to David.

Bethany Hornthal | San Francisco, JCF interim senior marketing director