A blessing for autistic kids

I was extremely thankful to read about the new program at Camp Newman, Camp Nefesh, which will be tailored to kids with autism spectrum disorders (“Newman designs ‘camp within a camp’ for autistic youth,” June 4).

My cousin, Aiden, has a severe case of autism. His parents have battled with the public school system for years, trying to get him the best education and the most human interaction possible.

Unfortunately, the state budget cuts severely lowered the quality of Aiden’s education, forcing his parents to move in an effort for their son. Knowing that there is a camp where Aiden can learn how to function more independently, interact with understanding individuals and feel a part of a community is a miracle to my uncle and aunt.

Aiden’s participation gives them hope that one day he will be able to function without them (and also gives them a few weeks to take the honeymoon they never had).

The reality of this camp brings hope to families like my aunt and uncle, who struggle every day to get equal opportunities for their children. Knowing that the Jewish community is taking a step in the right direction means a lot to them, and makes them proud to be a part of it.

Julia Price   |   Pleasanton


Slurs, obscenities in the Gardens

According to j.’s report on the Jewish Community Federation’s Israel in the Gardens event (“Thousands gather in S.F. to celebrate Israel,” June 11), there was anxiety “about noisy and perhaps aggressive anti-Israel protests” showing up. But “beefed-up” security paid off, and “all was festive on the Western front.”

What wasn’t reported is that in front of the Gardens, a group of Jews were being viciously taunted, harassed and threatened by a gang of protesters who were indeed noisy and aggressive. They chanted slurs and obscenities, such as “Pigs … Nazis …Whores.” Repeated threats were made against us and our families. See for yourself at www.muzzlewatch.com/2010/06/07.

The perpetrators were not the feared “anti-Israel protesters” but pro-Israel stalwarts under the umbrella of StandWithUs. Their targets were members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Bay Area Women in Black, who silently stood vigil to protest Israeli crimes and remind our community of our tradition of social justice.

Recently, the S.F.-based federation issued guidelines that officially marginalize JVP because of its position on Israel-Palestine. This has emboldened the thugs among us, who are becoming the public face of “pro-Israel” Jewry, and the gatekeepers to the Jewish community.

Carol Sanders   |   Berkeley


J Street on wrong path

The June 11 issue had a letter from someone who was delighted that Israel in the Gardens had a J Street booth because, according to the letter writer, it showed how the local Jewish community was open to “diverse views” on what is best for Israel and its future.

Well, I for one don’t think J Street is good for Israel in the present, nor will they likely be in the future.

In the copy of j. that came out after the Gaza flotilla fiasco, I read an article (“Groups on left, right weigh in on confrontation,” June 4) in which J Street was quoted as saying several disparaging remarks about Israel’s role in the flotilla raid.

I took that article to the J Street booth and showed them the quotes, yet they claimed that the article misrepresented them. I informed them that I had read their website the night before and that the article was pretty consistent with the “blame everything on Israel” logic they usually operate on.

At this point, the J Street booth representatives literally were at a loss for words. To the local Jewish community: Please skip the exit to J Street.

Sol Rosenberg   |   Oakland