Survivors need help

The Advisory Committee to the Holocaust Survivor Services Department of JFCS–East Bay thanks Dan Pine for his compassionate article (“Hardship after the Holocaust,” Oct. 2). When the committee was formed in 1995, it feared that survivors would feel that admitting a need for help was handing the Nazis an ultimate victory. It was a rude awakening when in 2004, the committee needed to approve emergency funds to rescue a survivor with a child who lived in the parking lot of a local supermarket.

Allocations from the Claims Conference have not kept up with an aging survivor population increasingly in need of financial assistance. Additional funds used to come from donations designated for the Holocaust Survivor Services Department of JFCS–East Bay. Donations have declined significantly and have forced the committee to turn needy cases away.

The cupboard is bare. We trust that Rita Clancy’s message that “it’s important for us to honor this population and partake in the responsibility of taking care of them with empathy and compassion” has been heard loud and clear. To ensure that your response to this urgent appeal is directed to the right department of the agency, mark it “for Holocaust Survivor Services.”

Diane L. Wolf   |   Berkeley

Louis de Groot   |   Berkeley

Congrats to j. writer, thanks to volunteers

On behalf of the board of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, we send our hearty mazel tov to Stacy Palevsky for winning the 2009 Excellence in Journalism Award for her piece on our Jewish hospice volunteer program (“Spiritual Caregivers,” June 19).

We are proud of our collaborative work with the Jewish Home and the Zen Hospice Project to bring this service to the community. Our extraordinary volunteers serve at the Jewish Home and throughout the community. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer for this award-winning program, please call the Healing Center’s Rabbi Jon Sommer at (415) 750-4198.

Again, we thank Stacey for her exemplary work to highlight end-of-life spiritual care in our beloved community.

Neal Tandowsky

Chair, Bay Area Jewish Healing Center

Time to move forward

Our organization supports Rabbi Doug Kahn’s serious concern that the ill-conceived program choice by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is sapping the community’s energy and the divisiveness that it has caused needs to be healed (“ ‘Rachel’ rousers are off-track with attack on S.F. federation,” Oct. 9). As a Jewish community we need to move forward to promote Israel’s security and resist internecine struggles that have developed over the past months.

We applaud the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s strong condemnation of the selection by the SFJFF of American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace to be co-presenters of the film “Rachel.” It was a disastrous selection.

The federation has a long and illustrious history of support for the state of Israel and our Bay Area Jewish needs and causes. Many supporters have made significant personal contributions of time and financial resources to ensure the demands of Israel and Bay Area Jews are met and realized. We recognize this enthusiastically along with the importance of the federation’s continued support for Israel’s security and well being, as it has demonstrated in the past in the strongest possible sense.

Willian D. Epstein

President, American Jewish Committee, Northern California office

Mervyn K. Danker

Director, American Jewish Committee, Northern California office

Firm resolution needed

One registers neither shock nor amazement when a 30-year employee of the federation refers to the inclusion of two rabidly anti-Israel films as “edgy.” Not surprising is the condescending tone Doug Kahn displays referring to the not-so-small group of pro-Israel community members who dared to disagree and take action with the toothless approach federation and the JCRC chose. As expected, Mr. Kahn ignored addressing the change to federation policy that should be implemented.

There is a growing number of donors that agree there is no room in a Jewish venue for any group that jeopardizes the security of the state of Israel, nor should there be for any group that attacks the integrity of true leaders like Abe Foxman, who has devoted his life fighting anti-Semitism.

When the federation implements a resolution that has been suggested, that “it will not fund organizations that demonize Israel or that collaborate with extremist anti-Israel groups advocating boycotts,  divestment and sanctions against Israel,” then perhaps some of the donors they have lost and the community members that feel betrayed may return. True leadership attracts loyalty and a following.

Lisa Cohen   |   Menlo Park

Heed Kahn’s words

I was very pleased to read the editorial view written by Rabbi Doug Kahn and want to thank j. for publishing it about the attack on the federation. 

Hopefully, many people read the article and will heed its message to work together to achieve common goals. These comments were a voice of reason urging the members of the Jewish community to act responsibly and move forward.

Eleanor Coffman   |   San Francisco

Admit the ‘goof’

Memo to the leaders of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation:

How to put an end to SFJFF controversy: Make this public statement. “We goofed. We will no longer donate our community funds to the SFJFF.”

Scott Abramson   |   San Mateo

Memories of Maury

In 1978, I met Maury Edelstein while we were both traveling in Israel from home in San Francisco (“Modern-day ‘Sholom Aleichem’ emerges in S.F.,” Oct. 2). Upon return to San Francisco, I responded to Maury’s invitation to join Joey Liebman’s Torah class. It was a magical ride with a riveting teacher and most convivial company.

Thank you, Maury, and yasher koach, Joey.

Karen Andres  

Newton Centre, Mass.

Pay attention to Honduras

There is good reason for Jews to be paying attention to the military coup in Honduras, and to any country where a democratically elected government is overthrown (“Anti-Jewish statements raise concern in Honduras,” Oct. 9).

The people of Honduras — a country that has seen many, many coups, most of them engineered by the U.S. — elected Zelaya to be president, and our government is absolutely right in supporting him. We must always match our rhetoric to our actions when it comes to democracy, especially in Latin America, where our track record in supporting democracies is abysmal.

The principal of promoting democracy is vital to a peaceful world even when we disagree with the elected leaders. Recent history shows that it is destructive to advocate the overthrow of democratic governments. Have you forgotten the ’70s, when government after government in Latin America (Chile, Argentina, Brazil) fell to brutal military dictatorships with our support? Don’t you remember the ’80s, when vicious wars raged throughout Central America and we gave weapons and aid to right-wing death squads that resulted in the deaths of untold thousands?

Israel’s strongest supporters are all democracies. The wonderful thing about democracies is that even if they go astray (Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, George Bush’s America), they tend to be self correcting. Dictatorships are not.

Daniel Yanow   |   San Francisco

Stop backing dictators

There needs to be additional fact checking about the Honduras coup, the bid to rewrite the Honduran constitution, the role of the United States in Central America and Honduras and the Jews.

President Manuel Zelaya was ousted as president of Honduras since he wanted to rewrite the constitution, allowing him to serve a second term. The Honduran constitution prohibits a change in term limits.

Why then are President Barack Obama, who is a constitutional scholar, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding that he be restored as president?  Why is it that our government is in favor of abolishing an important provision in a foreign country’s constitution?

By meddling in Honduran politics, both these politicians are dancing cheek to cheek with dictators Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro, no friends of Israel and the Jewish people.

In addition to subverting another country’s constitution and supporting Zelaya, it is now revealed that Zelaya is circulating rumors that Israeli soldiers and mercenaries were behind the coup.

Since our government is backing Zelaya, how will Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama reply to his anti-Jewish rants, if at all? What is their rationale for subverting another country’s constitution?

Stan Heimowitz   |   Castro Valley

Ghetto hero, anti-Zionist

I appreciated your Oct. 9 article about Marek Edelman (“Remembering the protector of Poland’s Jewish legacy”) by Shana Penn. Penn addressed a Polish concept from communist times called biale plamy, filling in history’s blank spots erased by the communists.

The article itself conveniently omits that Edelman — to be fair — was openly an anti-Zionist, and in fact wrote a letter to Fatah and Hamas addressing them as his brothers in arms.

One must remember that the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto came from a range of beliefs and the survivors do not represent what Polish Jewry represented at all.

Mordechai Pelta   |   San Francisco