Gaza misinformation

I don’t know where exactly Sgt. Elan Lubliner’s Nachal brigade is serving (“Lone soldiers: Bay Area Jews travel far to fight for Israel,” Jan. 13), but it is certainly not “in the … Gaza Strip,” because Israel removed all its soldiers (and civilian citizens) from Gaza more than six years ago.

I hope j. writers and editors will be more careful about its facts, lest you contribute to the abundant misinformation about Israel.

Dan Fendel   |   Piedmont

Editor’s response: Mea culpa, indeed. The online version of this article was corrected to read that Lubliner serves near, not in, the Gaza Strip. Thank you for pointing out the error.


Story of inspiration

A truly amazing story on the birth of Mia and Eli, twins born to Rabbi Jen Flam and her husband, writer Jason Schwartz (“The Jew, the Hindu and the petri dish,” Jan. 13).

With so much negative information surrounding us, it’s easy to forget that the miraculous occurs — in this case the female eggs implanted with Schwartz’s “swim team” plus the assistance of Dr. Nayna Patel’s Akanksha Clinic in India.

As we move along in 2012, let’s continue to read such positive news at least several times during the week.

Elaine Starkman   |   Walnut Creek


Scale of violence is hardly balanced

Dr. Michael Cooper’s op-ed “In the name of peace, ‘Chad Gadya machine’ must stop” (Jan. 6) was very unbalanced.

He tried to equate the pervasive Arab support for the annihilation of the Jews with the very small minority of Jews who are so antagonistic to Arabs to physically attack them. The charters of both Hamas and Fatah call for the destruction of Israel. In the last election, combined they received about 86 percent of the vote. Other parties that also want the destruction of Israel received more than 13 percent, while parties not so antagonistic to Jews received less than 0.4 percent.

Supposedly moderate Fatah chooses to glorify Dalal Mughrabi, who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, in which 37 civilians, 12 of them children, were killed in her 1978 bus hijacking.

While some Jews retaliate illegally directly against the Arabs, the policy of the government, as elucidated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech at Bar Ilan University, is: “to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to know war no more.”

Arthur Cohn   |   Portola Valley


Museum’s unsung heroes

Thank you for running the story about the exciting rebirth of the former Judah L. Magnes Museum (“Magnus opus: Museum springs back to life with new Berkeley facility,” Dec. 9). It is seemingly appropriate to be

opening the museum around the time of Chanukah with its symbolism of rededication.

While your story certainly captured the essence of what is to be, it missed at least one major component of what has happened. This merger never would have been possible if it weren’t for the commitment and dedication of Scott Biddy, vice chancellor of University Relations, and Charles Faulhaber, then-director of the Bancroft Library.

Through them, the University of California has committed to “create a true center for Jewish studies and Jewish culture.”

The potential of this rededicated institution is light years ahead of what it ever was or was going to be. It is due to these two individuals’ willingness to take on the responsibility to put in place the resources necessary to maintain, grow and tell the history of Western Jewish life. These are the unsung heroes, along with a number of Jewish communal leaders. Thanks to them, the Magnes now can live to be a treasure utilized by all. The community owes them a large debt of gratitude!

Barry W. Cohn   |   Berkeley

President, Magnes Museum Foundation


Humor was off the mark

I was incensed to read Trudi Gardner’s so-called humor about gefilte fish (“Strange fish I have known,” Jan. 13).

It might be the least desirable dish at her Passover table, but it is not at mine — and many others. I make my own, and it is much desired.

The “toilet bowl” humor that Gardner used was disgusting and in poor journalistic taste. Her “humor” is no asset to the humor page.

Judy Einbinder   |   San Rafael


Something to laugh at

I loved Trudi Gardner’s description of gefilte fish. We must all keep our senses of humor. I love to laugh and what better way to enjoy your day than finding some humor about yourself. Keep it up, Trudi. You are an asset to j.

Jo-Ann Jacobson   |   Alamo


Space waster

Where was the humor in Tygerpen’s column? What a waste of space!

Sunya Shaw   |   Redwood City


Hitting the funny bone

I very much enjoyed Trudi Gardner’s piece in last week’s j. She obviously combines delicious humor with outstanding writing skills. We all need that kind of contribution nowadays more than ever.

Herbert Ballhorn   |   Moraga


The best medicine

I just wanted to thank you for the inclusion of Tygerpen’s column in j. The debut column was wonderful and it brightened up my day. Laughter is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, and I got some wonderful laughs from reading this column!

Cara Gordon   |   Mission Viejo


Effort to help prisoner in Cuba

Alan Gross went to Cuba to bring communication devices to the island’s Jewish community. On his last trip, he was thrown in a Cuban prison where he has sats since December 2009. When tried 15 months later, Alan was sentenced to 15 years for acts against the Cuban government.

The State Department has negotiated Alan’s release unsuccessfully for two-plus  years. Two things are being done to help:

• A petition to get action by the White House to bring Alan home is at www.wh.gov/DJO. Create an account and follow the instructions. We need 25,000 signatures by Jan. 24 to get a response from White House officials.

• This link to the Jewish Issues Outreach Team at the White House will send messages directly to the staff: www.whitehouse.gov/webform/contact-american-jewish-issues-outreach-team.

I reach out to Jewish organizations to help a Jewish man who went to help Cuba’s small Jewish community and wound up in prison. Sign the petition through Jan. 24, and after that, keep sending e-mails. Alan and his family need this nightmare ended. Thanks!

Lenny Levy   |   Gaithersburg, Md.


Torah at the movies

In the recent movie “The Descendants,” the George Clooney character (spoiler alert!) holds off on the sale of his family’s pristine Hawaiian beachfront property to developers — thereby thwarting relatives, potentially enabling public access, and causing me to weigh personal financial responsibility vs. the public good.

It was in that light that I listened closely during a recent, private Torah class when Rabbi Ed Feinstein, in his own inimitable way — showman-like and scholarly — delved into the meaning of Deuteronomy 24:19: “… When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, do not turn back to get it; it shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow…”

This, the rabbi explained, is a form of property law. We get one pass through the field, and then leave the leavings. Imagine, Rabbi Feinstein said, how a farmer might respond to this biblical

injunction. “Leave some of the harvest behind?!” he’d say incredulously. “Why?” Because the land isn’t ours; it’s leased to us — a gift from God.

I was moved listening to the rabbi’s words, and thought that the Clooney character got it right, and couldn’t help but wonder if the filmmaker was Jewish.

Susan Moldaw   |   San Francisco


More Shoah stories needed

Your paper devotes very little print to the Holocaust. It must be old news. Yet, as a child of survivors, I am hearing stories that are totally new to me.

Last week I learned who I was named after. My survivor family and their survivor friends are telling stories that they found too painful to relate but now realize that time is short. There will be no one left to testify.

These stories are compelling, heartbreaking and profound. They would make for great reading in a weekly Jewish newspaper. Yet the only thing that j. does for Holocaust survivors is obituaries. The survivors I spoke with feel that this Jewish voice already has buried them.

There is no more time to wait. J. can relate at least one meaningful story a week about courage, survival and what the Jewish people suffered, endured and came through.

What is of paramount important is that if a young Jewish person becomes motivated to take some of these 6 million stories to heart, the last living survivor can have peace knowing that they won’t be forgotten.

Norman Weiss   |   Orinda


Must we all acquiesce on Israel?

In castigating Leon Panetta, Abraham Foxman (“Leon Panetta puts the blame on the victim: Israel,” Dec. 9) writes: “While bad at any time, his finding fault with Israel at a time of great instability and uncertainty in the region is particularly distressing.”

One may appreciate Foxman’s candor, yet it is amazing to see a sophisticated, veteran Jewish leader state so baldly that finding fault with Israel is “bad at any time.”

The vice in this posture is, unfortunately, not limited to its abject and truly apostate amorality. While disregarding Judaism’s central tenet of justice toward Jew and non-Jew alike, Foxman also undermines Israel, the very country he would protect.

If, as many American and Israeli Jews believe, core policies of the Netanyahu-Lieberman government are tragically misguided (to be generous), those who wish Israel well must both acknowledge its mistakes and do what we can to abate them.

It cannot be that Israelis are well-served by the silent acquiescence of American Jews regarding policies of the Israeli government that endanger its democracy and its existence as a Jewish state. Rather, we should be heard on these matters, and especially on the current hateful invective from the right so reminiscent of that which incited the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Glenn Becker   |   Sausalito


Murderers as heroes

Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 4, the Palestinian Authority broadcast videos five times on P.A. television praising Dalal Mughrabi, the perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history. The occasion was to mark the 47th anniversary of Fatah, the political party which is, for all intents and purpose, the same as the P.A., Israel’s “peace partner.”

In 1978, Mughrabi’s terrorist band hijacked a tourist bus and murdered 37 Israeli civilians, including 13 children. The Coastal Road Massacre, as it became known, is regularly glorified on official P.A. television.

The Jewish faith has no celebration for the murder by Jews of anyone. Murder of one’s enemies is not a Jewish value. Instead, Jews routinely celebrate their survival at the hands of murderers. That could explain why Israeli efforts to negotiate with Arab Palestinians for the past 65 years have been an utter waste of time, and will remain so as long as Arab Palestinians from generation to generation, officially exalt murderers as heroes.

Desmond Tuck   |   San Mateo


Homework assignment, anyone?

First, please list all the lovey-dovey “I love Israel” speeches by Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was running for senator of heavily Jewish New York state vs. her current actions and statements vis-à-vis Israel.

Similarly, list all the President Barack Obama “I love Israel” statements (especially after the loss of a key Democratic House seat in a recent election) vs. his deeds, actions and statements about Israel.

And finally, list all the “we are for Israel” protestations of J Street as compared with a list of all the associations and pronouncements of people and organizations who are — shall we say — less than friendly to Israel.

Actions speak louder than words. Wake up, Jews. Beware of empty words of politicians, false friends and feel-good, wishy-washy “dialogue” events.

Face facts! The survival of the Jewish people, intertwined with the survival of Israel, requires those of us with gumption speak out loud and clearly for what is right, not compromise. There can never be a two-sided debate on the Holocaust! nmillion stories to heart, the last living survivor can have peace knowing that they won’t be forgotten.

Norman Weiss   |   Orinda