Stop the ‘bullies’

I was at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center on Yom HaAtzmaut in the afternoon. Instead of sharing in the celebration, I was appalled at the virulent anti-Zionist protest held there. The worst part, though, wasn’t just hearing the trespassers chant and yell “60 years of oppression” and “Free Palestine,” on the day that we as a community celebrated a historical milestone.

Rather, it was watching the absolutely timid non-response by the JCC security and staff that just stood there watching. It spoke volumes. I left embarrassed and angry that such a large contingent of security and police let this go on for so long.

To add insult to injury, a JCC staff member, trying to downplay the rabid hostility directed to the Jewish community, commented to the media that the JCC value is to be a welcoming venue where people feel comfortable about coming and expressing their views. What a politically correct “P.C.” spin!

I doubt that the JCC donors would share in those sentiments had they been in attendance. Bullies are cowards and they should not be allowed to get away with telling lies and intimidating others with no consequences or rebuttal.

Freedom of speech does not bequeath an endless license to defame and abuse others.

Happy Birthday Israel! Let’s be proud to stand up and defend her right to exist today, just as we did 60 years ago, to proclaim her accomplishments to the world, and to label racism and anti-Semitism wherever we see it.

Randy Ezekiel | Oakland

Stand for Israel

Kudos to Carrie Melmed Goorin (“Be proud — not afraid — when we celebrate Israel,” May 16) for recognizing the importance of standing up to celebrate and to support Israel. Unfortunately, the Bay Area is home to many whose worldview leaves no room for a Jewish state and whose support of “peace” excuses Palestinian terrorism while condemning any action Israel takes in its own defense. Sadly, some of these are even Jewish, such as the demonstrators who set up the illegal demonstration inside the SFJCC that same day that Goorin wrote about.

There are others in the Bay Area who also confront those who would deny our existence. San Francisco Voice for Israel members take a pro-Israel message directly to the streets. Whether countering last week’s Nakba Festival in San Francisco (as shown in Stacy Palevsky’s photo, May 16), or fake “peace” rallies by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racisim) that glorify jihadist terrorism, or the weekly vigils in Oakland by the anti-Israel group Bay Area Women in Black, SF Voice for Israel is the one group that will stand up against them, and for Israel as a Jewish state.

Join us in challenging the enemies of Israel and in taking our message to the public! Go to www.sfvoiceforisrael.org for more information.

Michael Harris | San Rafael

Peace necessities

Almost every week, it seems, we are treated to another vitriolic diatribe about how those who believe that Israel will have to make territorial compromise are out for nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state.

What planet are these people living on? Polls show that up to two-thirds of Israelis know this is true. The majority of American Jews know this is true. And while I would never place myself in the same camp as President Bush or Prime Minister Olmert, they both have acknowledged the truth in this as well. It is only a matter of time.

I would like to suggest that these letter-writers channel their anger into something more positive and productive than attacking those of us who believe in peace (almost everyone else).

Alexandra J. Wall | Oakland

Clearing the waters

I was very excited to see the article on the resurgence of the use of the mikvah (“Demystifying the mikvah,” May 16). Unfortunately, I must correct some significant errors in the article relating to the mikvah at the Levy Family Campus in Los Gatos.

First and foremost, the mikvah is not at the JCC. In Los Gatos, the JCC is a tenant of the Levy Family Campus, owned and operated by the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. The mikvah has nothing to do with the JCC. It is a Silicon Valley Federation mikvah.

I am a rabbi serving as Jewish community chaplain under the auspices of our federation, and I do oversee the mikvah, but I did not design it; neither did the lay people who volunteer as attendants. We did, however, compile the readings and create the positive ambiance that we hope mikvah users will appreciate. The kashrut of the mikvah itself is overseen by Rabbi Avi Liebowitz of the Jewish Studies Network.

We welcome any Jew who would like to make use of our mikvah at the Levy Family Campus. Please call the mikvah line, (408) 357-7444, at the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley to make an appointment.

Rabbi Leslie Alexander | San Jose

Mikvah for all

Mazel tov to the South Bay Jewish community on the establishment of its new community mikvah. I’m sure it will be a blessing to that community.

In the East Bay, we are extremely fortunate to have the mikvah at Con-

gregation Beth Jacob in Oakland. Although it was listed in the paper under “Chabad-or synagogue-affiliated,” I feel the need to point out that it truly functions as a community mikvah.

Conservative, Reform and Renewal rabbis all conduct our conversions there. Every year I take a group of men there before Yom Kippur.

Many of the brides I marry visit the mikvah the week of their wedding. We have used it for other Jewish ceremonies as well. We are grateful that Congregation Beth Jacob is so welcoming to the broad Jewish community, allowing all of us the opportunity for physical and spiritual immersion.

Rabbi Mark Bloom | Oakland

Kosher vegetarianism

The recent immigration raid at Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa reportedly has many kosher consumers bracing for meat shortages. I’m not worried — I’m a vegetarian. I adhere to Tsa’ar ba’alei hayim, the Jewish commandment mandating that animals be treated with compassion — something that has not happened at Agriprocessors, where workers were caught shocking animals with electric prods, slitting their throats, ripping out their tracheas and leaving them to die slowly.

After all of the negative publicity that Agriprocessors has received for abusing animals and people, it’s sad that some members of my faith are only concerned about whether or not they will be able to have meat. As God’s chosen people, we can surely do better than this.

We can live according to our religious principles by choosing plant-based foods, which are naturally kosher. Vegetarian foods are plentiful, delicious, healthy and humane. Check out www.Humane-Kosher.org for vegan recipes and product picks, as well as information on the horrific animal abuse at Agriprocessors.

Jayn Brotman | Cincinnati