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Bring back Rally Rabbi

The Ferris Wheels were rockin’ and Chabad was “hawt” as they doled out the free kosher dogs before the Jewish Heritage Night game. Jason Shmueli’s scarf was a fun giveaway, and a good time was had by all in the cheap seats — despite the fact that many gentiles apparently came to the game dressed as empty seats and the Giants and the Rockies had nothing left but to play out the season.

Who doesn’t love a little Tevye? But honestly, Giants management, is “Fiddler on the Roof” the only paradigmatic stereotype you could come up with to represent Jewish heritage on the scoreboard at AT&T Park? Once was fun, twice was, well, twice, but five times? I mean, you could at least have come up with a sports-related character or two, such as Harris Barton or even Shawn Green or Sandy Koufax. Let’s leave aside Jonas Salk, David Ben-Gurion, Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein for the moment as well.

I can go on, but apparently so did the Giants. There was a richness that was missing, and I think the Giants and Larry Baer should know it. Bring back the Rally Rabbi!

Steve Lipman | Foster City

A deeper connection

Thank you very much for the article telling our community about the experience of the 26 Israeli teens who attended Camp Tawonga this summer (“Youth movement: Americans and Israelis bridge lives at Tawonga,” Aug. 22).

The presence of these campers and of 13 Israeli counselors and specialists at camp greatly deepened our Bay Area campers’ and staff’s connection to and love of Israel in the most direct and personal ways.

The entire Camp Tawonga community is deeply grateful for the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund’s generous and ongoing support that makes these programs possible.

Adam Weisberg | San Francisco

Camp Tawonga executive director

Old, but not the oldest

Your article titled “Emanu-El tour to air on TV” (Aug. 22) states, “Emanu-El is the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi.” Not so fast, people.

Congregation United Hebrew of St. Louis was founded by Abraham Weigel and Nathan Abeles, who held its first minyan in 1837, and was formally established in 1841 with the adoption of its constitution.

The last time I looked at a map of the United States, the city of St. Louis was located west of the Mississippi River.

San Francisco’s Emanu-El was founded in 1849 according to its well-documented history.

Let’s keep the record straight, folks.

Paul Tandler | Tiburon

Afraid of being too Jewish?

I don’t know what it means to be “Aish’d” (“Wearing skirts? Hot for Torah? Maybe you’ve been Aish’d,” July 25), and I am no impressionable teenager, but my experiences with Aish online and in the person of Rabbi Mark Spiro were inspirational.

I found that Aish reaches out to Jews of all stripes and meets them where they are. There was nothing cult-like about it. I have only thanks to give for the kindness and great teaching I have found through Aish and also through the wonderful Rabbi Ted Alexander who reintroduced me to Judaism at the JCC and at B’nai Emunah.

What a shame that some are afraid their children may become Aish’d, or too Jewish.

W.S. Beck | San Francisco

Funding a vision

We thank writer Amanda Pazornik for the excellent story profiling the social action projects of Sarah Van Zanten and Eric Heimark, two of the five extraordinary young winners of the 2008 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. However, she did not mention that the awards, which come with a $36,000 cash prize for each winner, are generously funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

These awards are just one of several projects supported by Helen Diller and her family. The Diller Teen Initiatives are designed to develop and promote teens to be leaders in our Jewish community today and in the future. We are grateful that individuals such as Helen Diller have the vision, passion and commitment to continue funding innovative and important programs for our Jewish community.

Nicole Miller | San Francisco

Diller Teen Initiatives director