Don’t leave prisoners behind

Thank you for doing the article on Pamela and Carol (“A new soul: Two women inmates are bat mitzvahed in California prison,” Sept. 11). It is an important story and one that needs to be told — especially since social service agencies have lost funding, and have had to let staff and counselors go. Our prisons have become an important part of our mental health institutions. With domestic violence on the rise, there are safe houses being closed, programs eliminated, and the danger from that is formidable! From that can come homelessness, poverty, drugs, murder, human trafficking — the list is endless.

That is especially why this bat mitzvah was so special. It is an inspiration. Life is being made special for those hours spent in that interfaith chapel and all it has done for the spirit. Our Jewish community shouldn’t leave our people bereft, even those incarcerated, because there is hope. Thanks for writing this up!

Nancy Goldberg   |   Tiburon


Help mohel’s family

Rabbi Chanan Feld’s work as a mohel has assured a gentle, calm, loving, and holy experience for so very many over the years (“Fund established for longtime Berkeley mohel,” Sept. 11).

Chanan and his wife, Jody, along with the other fabulous members of the Feld family, perpetually share their Shabbat and holiday table. It is always filled with guests from near and far, with laughter and learning, and with delicious, love-filled, healthy food!

As a friend, I have witnessed on several occasions the Felds graciously giving tzedakah to a man in need who appears regularly at their front door. They always engage him in conversation and never send him away empty-handed.

Now the Felds need our help. Know that the need is great and is received with much humility and gratitude.

Please note the correction to PayPal address listed in last week’s j.: [email protected]

Nancy Katz  |  Shelburne Falls, Mass.


Supporting healthy school lunches

I’m not surprised that David Martosko is unhappy with attempts to promote healthy school lunches (Letters, Sept. 11). Martosko’s employer, the so-called Center for Consumer Freedom, has been exposed in the Washington Post as a front group for companies that market fast food and other unhealthy products.

As a dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an independent nonprofit organization with more than 7,000 physician members, I support healthful school meals rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Evidence clearly shows that these foods help children maintain a healthy weight and avoid disease.

Unfortunately, most children do not find these healthful options at school. Fast food and junk food companies convince schools to push their products, and federal policies dump unhealthful agricultural commodities like pork and cheese into lunch lines. As a result, meals served at 80 percent of schools exceed the government’s own limit for fat.

The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and many other concerned organizations support healthy vegetarian school lunch options. This may not please the companies that fund Martosko’s organization, but it’s the best way to get children on the road to lifelong good health.

Susan Levin   |   Washington, D.C.  |  Director of nutrition education, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


Fast for victims of Islam

Rabbi Amy Eilberg is “mystified and heartbroken” at “a public attack” by one rabbi on another over the “Jewish Fast for Gaza” (Letters, Sept. 11). I’ll clarify for her: The Gazan government has victimized Gaza’s people, yet the fasters put the onus on Israel.

Rabbis truly wishing to alleviate suffering should first fast for the natives of Darfur and southern Sudan, victims of rape, genocide and enslavement by the Arab occupiers; the Western Saharans, confined for 40 years in a Gaza-sized ghetto while Morocco settles their stolen land; and Cypriot refugees forced into exile by 40 years of Turkish occupation.

The rabbis should fast for millions of innocent Muslim women threatened with honor killings; Iraqi and Turkish Kurds; students fighting the repressive Islamic Republic of Iran; hundreds of Chinese killed by Muslim rioters in Urumqi; the 11 million Hindu refugees expelled by Pakistan in 1972; or the thousands of Nigerian Christians under daily attack.

Ignoring these sad victims of truly heinous crimes, the rabbis indulge the fetish that “Israel is our misfortune.” Rabbi Eilberg should be heartbroken at these fasters for Gaza and should do some soul searching.

Seth Watkins   |   Menlo Park


Criticize terrorism, not Israel

I agree with Rabbi David Forman for criticizing those rabbis who are fasting to support Gaza (“Rabbis’ fast for Gaza paints one-sided portrait of Israel,” Sept. 4). They all have a right to express their opinion, but their opinions are wrong. Those rabbis criticize Israel once Israel takes the right action to defend itself and defend its citizens. But do they criticize Hamas and Hezbollah? Do they tell Palestinians to stop their terror, destroy Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, al Qaida, etc.? No, they don’t. What they need to do is to criticize terrorism and stop criticizing Israel.

Paul Shkuratov   |   San Francisco