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A Cody’s stalwart

Instead of writing another obituary to Cody’s Books, Andy Altman-Ohr gave a long overdue tribute to Cody’s Judaica buyer Ira Steingroot (“Closing the book on a local Judaica landmark: Cody’s,” July 18).

When my niece had a mid-summer bat mitzvah, there was no “haggadah table” set up in Cody’s Telegraph Avenue store. Ira Steingroot dropped his other duties (more profitable institutional sales) to personally escort me into the back stock where he had an off-season supply of haggadahs.

An instructor at nearby Lehrhaus Judaica only had to ask and Ira was more than willing to stock books related to a Lehrhaus class.

Today, Internet sales sites allow the consumer to shop for items that are not in great demand or too costly to be kept consistently in inventory. The computer can never replace personal service. While at Cody’s Books, Ira exemplified this service.

David Keifer | El Cerrito

More in the east

I found the recent article on Judaism in the Contra Cost/Tri-Valley/Tri-City area (“Eastern Eden,” July 11) interesting and I am pleased to see there are so many places to embrace Judaism. I did, however, notice that the article made no mention of Congregation B’nai Tikvah.

We are a 330-member Reform congregation located in Walnut Creek, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Raphael Asher and Cantor Jennie Chabon. We recently completed a renovation of our sanctuary, added a new social hall, and doubled our classroom space. Our congregation now comfortably accommodates community dinners and the celebration of lifecycle events. Even more important, we provide a religious school environment conducive to learning, with sufficient capacity for growth.

We are proud to be a part of the growing Jewish community.

Rick Chakoff | Walnut Creek

President, Congregation B’nai Tikvah

B’nai Shalom forgotten

Dan Pine’s article, “Eastern Eden,” failed to mention a number of engaging Jewish organizations serving the Contra Costa community.

Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, a Conservative synagogue, serves 350 families. Established in 1968, B’nai Shalom, provides opportunities for social interaction, community building, and religious education. Our new rabbi, Michelle Fisher, has brought refreshing new perspectives to our religious and spiritual practices. Chazzan Marc Dinkin has served us for over 18 years, instilling an appreciation for liturgy and heritage. Director of Congregational Learning Rabbi Jennifer Flam oversees our religious school, adult education programs, and preschool. Gan B’nai Shalom, our vibrant and energetic preschool, guided by Liz Kaufman, has blossomed, nearing full enrollment for the coming year. Our preschool is also a major feeder to the Contra Costa Jewish Day School, founded by B’nai Shalom members.

We are the home of Contra Costa Midrasha. Partnering with CJLL and our sister synagogues, B’nai Tikvah and Beth Chaim, we promote Jewish education and values for all teenagers, affiliated and unaffiliated, building community, and strengthening the ties that bind Jews in Contra Costa County.

Jewish life in Contra Costa County is rich and vibrant, offering so much for so many.

Craig L. Judson | Walnut Creek

President, Congregation B’nai Shalom

Tri-Valley Jews expand

Thanks for covering the Tri-Valley in your recent edition (“Eastern Eden,” July 11). We do sometimes feel a little left out, living in yenem velt! I was disappointed, though, that you did not include Tri-Valley Cultural Jews and our Jewish Culture School in your article. We serve individuals and families whose connection with being Jewish is through culture, history, progressive social action and family, rather than through religion. We’re welcoming to non-traditional and intermarried families and our kids have a really different Sunday School and bar/bat mitzvah experience.

Our community is welcoming, interesting, committed, fun, and growing. Please don’t forget us in covering the Tri-Valley. For anyone interested in further information about TVCJ, we can be contacted by phone at (925) 485-1049, or by e-mail ([email protected]).

Rabbi Judith Seid | Pleasanton

Uneven playing field

Re: the June 20 cartoon showing Israel building settlements on the Palestinian side of the Monopoly game board and chuckling, ” … And yet the game has run for 40 years.” The artist forgot to show the Palestinian side of the game board shooting rockets.

Suzanne Jacobs | Palo Alto

German misstep

Germans should hang their heads in shame. Their government has just backed the Third Transatlantic Conference, whose stated purpose was to address “common solutions” in the Middle East. At the conference, which was held not far from the Berlin Holocaust memorial, the former Iranian deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Larijani, said the “Zionist project” should be “cancelled” and “has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by the Syrian, Lebanese and Saudi attendees. The German Federal Ministry of Economics funded the program.

I have heard many younger Germans, who clearly had nothing to do with the sins of their father and grandfathers, distance themselves from the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Yet the troubling economic links between Germany and the Jew-hating Iran government persist. Now this.

Some things never change. Germany had better have a good explanation. Maybe they were under orders. Sound familiar?

Desmond Tuck | Menlo Park

Backing Obama

As a Zionist, there is no way I could have been so actively involved for the past 19 months in Barack Obama’s campaign if I did not fervently believe in the authenticity of his support for Israel (“With Clinton’s backing, Obama says he’s best for Israel,” June 6).

His first speech after securing enough delegates to be the Democratic candidate for president was to AIPAC, for which he received standing ovations.

Now that the general election campaign is finally under way, let us as Jews, Democrats, independents and, yes, even Republicans, unite and elect the man who is our best hope for peace in the Middle East and all the world.

Marlene Knox | San Anselmo

Dark side of CFLs

I would like to make sure j. readers are aware that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a hazardous material (“How green is your temple,” June 13). The fine print on the package of my bulb reads, “Lamp contains mercury Hg. Manage in accord with disposal laws.”

These bulbs must be disposed of properly, not just tossed into your garbage and the landfill. These bulbs are not a good alternative. In my opinion, a truly green alternative is one that is energy efficient and environmentally safe.

I’m still waiting for one.

And your smoke detector? Choose one that does not contain radioactive material. That is the kind I have purchased.

Read the fine print on packaging labels. Be an informed consumer. Care for our planet.

Diane Schoenfeld | Berkeley

What ethics?

Whenever I see letters from Americans of Jewish decent (Letters, July 11) extolling Palestinian Arabs at the expense of Palestinian Jews, I ask, what kind of ethics are they talking about? You can ask the same question of all partisans for the Middle East Muslim world.

From the time that Ayatollah Khomeni sent tens of thousands of boys marching into minefields to clear the way for Iran’s army to attack Hussein’s Iraq army in the 1980s there has not been one Muslim public demonstration anywhere in the world, as far as I know, against the reinvention of human sacrifice (suicide bombers, homicide bombers). Not surprisingly millions of Muslims eagerly demonstrated against cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Yet leftists worldwide have been denouncing Palestinian Jews since 1948.

When will leftists publicly denounce the reinvention of human sacrifice (suicide bombers, homicide bombers)?

Gerson Jacobs | Greenbrae

Honoring murderers

A tragic episode in the ongoing Middle East conflict climaxed with Israel receiving the remains of two dead soldiers.

In return they released remains of terrorists and allowed five prisoners to be freed, including Samir Kuntar who had been serving multiple life terms for killing three Israelis, including a father and his 4-year-old daughter in 1979.

While Israelis grieved at the return of the fallen soldiers, there were joyous celebrations in the streets throughout Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Lebanon.

Many businesses closed in observance of the return of these “heroes.”

Congratulatory messages poured in from throughout the Arab world, including one from Mahmoud Abbas.

Islamic leaders shouted victory over Israel, and stated their intent to continue the slaughter of innocent civilians and kidnap more Israeli soldiers.

Sadly, Israel has suffered once again at the hand of terror and hatred, but with the honoring of these murderers, humanity has exposed its ugly underbelly of injustice.

Dan Calic | San Ramon