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Gay rights not yet ‘mostly solved’

I was deeply disturbed by Gary Neuman’s letter to the editor (June 27), in which he expresses anger at j. for its coverage of what he calls “the gay agenda.” As a heterosexual, I vehemently disagree that it is a “gay agenda.” It should be a Jewish agenda! Do we not want to live in a more just society? It was not long ago that Jews were excluded from many facets of American life. We cannot forget about those who still do not have basic civil rights in 2008.

Regarding gay marriage, Neuman reveals his ignorance when he states that “the issue is mostly solved.” It is most definitely not “solved,” and won’t be until gays have the same rights as heterosexuals in all 50 states, and when these rights cannot be taken away, ever. This is exactly why I’m grateful that j. did cover the subject, and please continue to do so.

Jenny M. Span | Alameda

Rising in the East

Thank you for highlighting the vibrancy of Judaism in the Contra Costa and Tri-Valley/Tri-Cities region in Dan Pine’s cover story “Eastern Eden” (July 11). We appreciate the brief mention of our congregation, especially regarding our collaborative efforts with our neighbors at Temple Beth Torah in Fremont and Congregation Shir Ami in Castro Valley. Together we are hosting a Shabbaton retreat at Camp Newman this November and invite our region’s unaffiliated to join us as well. We also co-sponsor a federation-supported day camp (Camp Kadima) each summer and have an active Jewish preschool program.

Congregation Beth Emek was founded more than 50 years ago and enjoys a net growth of about 10 families each year. Our religious school of 160 students compares with congregations more than twice the size of our 225 members. This is one indicator of the strength of our future and vibrancy of our region.

We invite all interested to check out our exciting activities. The Tri-Valley/Tri-Cities area has a growing Jewish presence, and Congregation Beth Emek is delighted to be a major contributor to the kehillah kedosha of our region.

Carrie Arndt | Pleasanton

President, Congregation Beth Emek

Thanks to funders

What a thrill to read your coverage of the Jewish community that has grown so quickly here in Contra Costa County! I did want to make a small correction. The Contra Costa Jewish Day School has raised more than $7.1 million toward our $9 million goal. More than 25 percent of our contributions have come from San Francisco, Marin and Peninsula individuals and foundations.

It is these wise philanthropists, along with our own generous community, who deserve the credit for helping to build our new school. They all realize that Jews are no more separated by the San Francisco Bay than they are by the Atlantic Ocean. Their support of a strong Contra Costa Jewish community benefits the entire Bay Area. Our communities do not and cannot exist in isolation.

You will hear a great deal more about the Contra Costa Jewish Day School and many of the other Jewish institutions in the “Eastern Eden.” Again, my thanks go out to community leaders who have paved the way for this tremendous growth in Jewish life here in Contra Costa.

Karla Smith | Alamo

Capital Campaign Chair,

Contra Costa Jewish Day School

Rossmoor forgotten

Thank you for your article “Eastern Eden.” There is one very important community that was left out of the article, Rossmoor! They have an active congregation, several Jewish organizations and many individuals dedicated to building a strong Jewish community.

Leaving Rossmoor out of a discussion of East Bay Jewry is an oversight that needs to be corrected.

Ava F. Kahn | Rossmoor

A difficult choice

Hezbollah’s depravity and Israel’s fundamental decency are on full display this week.

It’s hard to watch Lebanon’s leadership accord a hero’s welcomes to Samir Kuntar and his Hezbollah compatriots without using the terms “victory” or “defeat.” Kuntar is not, as his supporters claim, “the conscience of Lebanon, Palestine and the Arab nation,” but a brutal, mass-murdering thug.

Kuntar will be forgotten soon. I doubt Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser will be so easily forgotten. Consider those who heap praise on Kuntar and then remind yourself which side you are on.

Goldwasser and Regev are the real heroes. They are home two long years after they were killed in battle, and Israel paid a heavy price — not just in their deaths, but to return them home. I am proud that Israel goes to such lengths to redeem its captives and pray that their families can begin to heal. Hopefully, Gilad Shalit will also be home soon. And someday we will learn the fate of Ron Arad.

Painful as it was, Israel made the right choice. Israel will move on and so will we. Will we have the courage to accept reality, not as we want it, but as it is?

Steve Lipman | Foster City

Anti-Obama, not anti-black

I could never imagine such a bad misinterpretation of my June 13 letter by Marsha Cohen and Paul Shkuratov; Paul even accused me of racism!

Let me repeat: the only point I made is that Barack Obama’s phenomena is based on overwhelming support by blacks, Muslims (the majority of Jews would never support a Jewish but conservative candidate!) and whites, many of whom feel guilty for persecution of blacks by their ancestors — nonsense in my view. Is there “anti-Jewish guilt” for centuries-long persecution and murder of Jews? Should we hate those whose ancestors oppressed and killed Jews? Another contributor to Obama’s success is “Obamamania,” heated up by the media’s unconditional love toward Obama and forgiveness of everything, including his scandalous 20-year-long membership in an anti-white, anti-Semitic church.

In my view Obama is the wrong candidate not because he is black, but because he is the least experienced politician, has zero accomplishments as a U.S. senator, has been publicly endorsed by anti-Semite Farrakhan, etc. endorsed by anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, etc. I never said Obama was bad because he’s black, never mentioned that he was an anti-Semite. I do not automatically trust any politician, including Obama: his nice words in general, and about Israel.

Eugene Voskoboynikov | South San Francisco

Shame on Coastal Post

The Coastal Post continues its over-the-top anti-Semitism (“ADL blasts Coastal Post over editorial,” June 6). In this country, where free speech is a right, one often feels the double-edged nature of this right, especially if you’re Jewish.

Your readers and Post advertisers should be aware of some facts. Their recent article by Israel Shamir (also known by many other names) warrants a closer look at Shamir and his history. He is supported by and maintains ties with the likes of David Duke. He supports and writes frequently on the age-old, timeless anti-Semitic blood libels, Jewish control of the media, and Holocaust denials.

In an article titled “The Shadow of Zog,” Shamir promotes the notion that the American government acts at the behest of the “Zionist Occupation Government” or ZOG. His Web site is quite telling, and should be read by anyone concerned about writings with potential to incite and stir the flames of anti-Semitic hatred. Two prominent Arab activists, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish, have denounced his writings as “unhelpful to the Palestinian cause.” Even the Palestinians denounce him. But where can someone such as Shamir find easy access and advertising of his anti-Semitic rants? Why, the Coastal Post of course.

Diane Whitten-Vile | Oakland

Smear and loathing

I am so disappointed in j. for even publishing the smear letter from Dan Calic regarding Barack Obama (Letters, June 27).

This was not an opinion but an unsubstantiated smear. Can he back up any of his allegations with names? Can we verify this with any unbiased authority? Of course we know that his former pastor has a big mouth and that it is easy to change a letter in his name to Osama. So? If we change an A to an O in the letter-writer’s name, we would get the colic.

Calic has a problem with his race relations and sound judgment. J. should be more discerning in what it publishes in its letters section.

Ethel Kirschner | Larkspur