Bay Area deli lacking

In your interview with David Sax (“Good deli in the Bay Area? You bet your kishkes,” Oct. 23), he opines: “You’ll hear from people who used to live in L.A. or Chicago or Detroit or New York that deli is never going to be as good as they had it back home … The tragedy about [Bay Area] delis is that everyone wants to complain about them, but they haven’t gone out to eat at them. Maybe less kvetching and more fressing is what San Francisco needs.”

And what about those of us who’ve tried them all and found them lacking? I grew up in a city with all of one deli, so if there’s good Jewish food to be found in Cleveland or Oregon or France or even Panama, I’ve got an open mind.  Aside from the House of Bagels — which is not a deli, but still the best you can find around here — and Miller’s, which I’d rate slightly above average, the rest combine brechvard with high prices and bad service — I’m looking at you, Saul’s. The real tragedy is that after visiting most of the Bay Area’s delis, you’ll find yourself saying: “The food was awful … and the portions too small.”

Gabriel Desjardins   |   San Francisco

Recalling bygone delis

A new folksong lament idea: “Where have all the delis gone?” (“In a pickle: Pastrami-loving author ponders fate of the Jewish deli,” Oct. 23). The fact that the remaining few are “kosher style” is a sign of the times. Once delis were just meat, but there were fabulous dairy restaurants (think “Ratners”) where you would go for all the rest (e.g., smoked fish, blintzes). You cannot grasp a Woody Allen movie without knowing this basic distinction.

Delis in the Brooklyn of the ’50s and ’60s were everywhere. In Brighton Beach my favorite was Zei Mar’s, composed of a narrow corridor separating the glass steaming meat cases from a few tables. They were famous for their honey brisket. My sentimental favorite, too, because a couple I did not know but shared a table with insisted upon buying my dinner when I was home briefly on leave from the Navy and in uniform.

But my favorite sandwich of all time was a triple-decker corned beef, salami and tongue at Singer’s in Liberty, N.Y. Pickled tongue has sadly gone the way of the dodo. They used to carry it at Max’s, but now can only be found in San Francisco on the appetizer table of the Concordia-Argonaut Club. Too bad people became so squeamish!

Ronald S. Oremland   |   Brisbane

J Street ‘out of its league’

I guess we have to add one more name to the list of anti-Israel groups … J Street, even if they think otherwise (“Lobby offers American Jews a different bridge to Israel,” Oct. 23).

First, Mr. Ben-Ami and Mr. Sokatch are wrong in asserting that the American Jews need another “progressive voice” to support Obama’s team. His team knows well how to pressure Israel, and so far have done a good job at it; however, what Obama’s team needs to learn is how to handle Iran, and on this count J Street is out of its league.

Second, I did not hear the so-called human right groups in Israel and the U.S. asking for help in dispensing their poisonous criticism of Israel — they are doing well enough on their own, and to cap it, Mr. Goldstone already provided his biased support.

Third, where were they when thousand of rockets landed on Israel in the last few years? My bet is not in Israel’s border cities; however, now they are trying to teach the Israeli government how to manage its affairs and treat its citizens, because they believe they are “progressive” while Israel is a backward country.

Sam Liron   |   Foster City

Israel should be in charge

In the Oct. 23 issue Daniel Sokatch glibly discusses all of the things which are wrong with Israel and how the U.S. should pressure them to change. His piece must be read carefully to understand what J Street wants. He does not mention that J Street is successfully funding campaigns for congressmen who agree with them.

The Jewish state is a pluralistic democracy, and only Israel’s citizens should make the decisions for which only they bear responsibility.

J Street is entitled to their opinions, but lobbying American congressmen to force Israel into changing to a vision of an American group is very, very wrong.

Eugene Myers   |   Walnut Creek

New policy will help

The op-ed by Sofaer, Alon and Diller proposing a new policy by the federation to heal the post-“Rachel” rift is dead on. The best way to try to prevent another “Rachel” debacle in the future is for the federation to adopt a policy that its beneficiary agencies should not conduct events that are supported by or promote the policies of anti-Israel organizations.

Such a policy seems basic to any Jewish organization, and is in keeping with this federation’s purported mission of “giving continuity to the Jewish value” of “supporting of Israel, the democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

The federation is correct that it is not its beneficiary agencies and so it cannot be expected to police agencies’ events in advance — all the more reason to have a policy in place to make its standards known so that its agencies can act in accord.

The Bay Area Jewish community has never been one to shy away from exercising its freedom of speech. The federation is simply being asked to ensure that funds donated to a Jewish organization be used for Jewish purposes.  Any dollar spent toward the hatred, defamation or delegitimization of the State of Israel is a dollar spent for Israel’s enemies and is not a Jewish cause.

Isaac H. Winer   |   Palo Alto

Fromer’s death a ‘major loss’

With sorrow, I have learned of the death of Seymour Fromer. Seymour was an extraordinary person to work with, and during the 16 years I served as PR director, executive secretary and Rosenberg poetry awards director for the Magnes Museum, I came to enormously respect him as a museum director, as a supporter of artistic talent and Jewish culture, as a “boss” who fostered initiative, independence and discovery, and as an intelligent and caring human being. His death is a major loss to the entire Jewish community of the Bay Area.

Paula Friedman   |   Parkdale, Ore.