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Remembering Kristallnacht

As I packed my books on the back of my bicycle and prepared for the ride to school at the Jewish School of Stuttgart, Naziland, on Nov. 9, 1938, I had a clear view of the city and saw the smoke and flames from our synagogue and the school. I approached the area, saw the crowd, shocked that people were bringing out books, furniture, later our Torah scrolls from the synagogue, throwing everything in the street. A uniformed local policeman set them on fire.

I stayed, watching this indescribable scene in horror. As I raced on my bicycle up the steep hills to our apartment on Reins-burgstrasse I saw the half-track vehicles with the brown-shirted SS troops. They stopped at each Jewish home, emerged dragging their Jewish victims away, loaded them onto the halftracks for deportation to Dachau concentration camp.

Many were released a few weeks later on condition that they would leave the country within 24 hours, with their families, without anything but one suitcase, or face re-arrest. Many others disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Forget Kristallnacht? This unforgettable film plays continuously before my eyes and will not allow me to ever forgive nor forget!

Harry W. Gluckman | Alameda

Keep hope for marriage

After feeling euphoric from Obama’s inspirational victory, we are deeply saddened that our constitutional right to marriage could be taken away by a simple majority vote of Californians. The returns are not final, but it seems virtually impossible at this point to defeat Prop. 8 — this from an electorate who supported the first person of mixed racial heritage for president by a very significant margin.

Bigotry and ignorance still live, but hope is indeed alive too.

Next campaign — change the initiative process in California to prevent a simple majority from stealing away our civil rights and ensuring that we remain second-class citizens.

Ellie M. Cohen, Miki Goralsky | San Anselmo

East Bay thanks

The article in Friday’s paper about how local Jewish agencies are responding to the financial crisis (“Agencies go into overdrive to help needy during crisis,” Oct. 31) was wonderful to see — it’s so important that the community understand what we’re doing and how we can help. Avi and I especially want to thank j. and its reporters for the clear effort they are making to include JFCS East Bay in this type of story. We very much appreciate that j. actively seeks out our comments, making sure that both sides of the bay are equally represented.

Avi Rose

Executive Director

Holly Taines White


Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay | Berkeley

Meat shortage a good thing

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I believe that the reports of the shutdown of Agriprocessors’ Postville, Iowa, glatt kosher slaughterhouse and the resulting shortages of kosher meat should be wake-up calls to the Jewish community to the urgent need for a major reassessment of how the current production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings and harm people, animals and the entire planet.

Even if conditions at the slaughterhouse are greatly improved, we should still consider that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products: (1) violate basic Jewish teachings to protect human health, treat animals properly, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people; (2) contribute to heart disease, many types of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases; and (3) contribute to global warming and other environmental problems that threaten humanity.

Richard H. Schwartz | Long Island, N.Y.

‘Pure hatred’ in Israel?

I am writing on behalf of the Israel Action Committee of Atlanta, which I chair. The wanton destruction of the Federman and Tor homes in Kiryat Arba is so heinous that it leaves us dumbfounded. How in a Jewish state could the homes of two Jewish families be forcibly invaded by Israeli soldiers, breaking windows, entering children’s bedrooms and shaking the kids until they awoke, dragging them from their beds, beating some, and forcefully expelling them, still in pajamas? The families were not allowed to remove any belongings before the bulldozers plowed down their homes.

This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany where Jewish homes were invaded in the middle of the night and Jews were ordered out, except they were given a few minutes to gather some belongings. How despicable for the State of Israel to treat good people like this! Arab terrorist murderers are treated better. This is simply pure hatred for Jews who for ideological reasons have chosen to live in Kiryat Arba.

Until this persecution of our brethren stops, we will not give another cent to the State of Israel, nor buy another Israel bond! Instead we will use that money to help the Federman, Tor, and other persecuted families.

Dr. Lee S. Caplan | Atlanta

Calling all bikers

We are currently seeking Jewish motorcyclists in California with interest in starting a local club to ultimately belong to the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance. The Jewish Motorcyclist Alliance (JMA) is an umbrella organization consisting of 23 clubs worldwide with over 1,500 members. The Web site is www.jewishbikersworldwide.com.

The JMA mission is to create a global environment, whereby members of the Jewish faith who ride motorcycles can congregate to share and exchange ideas about matters of concern to the Jewish community, as well as issues concerning motorcycles.

Every year we do a Ride to Remember to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to raise money for awareness. In past years, rides have included travel to Washington, D.C., Whitwell, Tenn., to the Paper Clip Museum, and this year to Omaha, Neb., to raise money for the National Holocaust Endowment Fund. For 2009 we are riding to Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., to help with educational resources for Holocaust studies in both cities.

We do not have any clubs in California and are aggressively looking to start one.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at [email protected].

Betsey Ahrens | Manassas, Virginia