S.F. Hillel is ‘robust’

Thank you for your article highlighting the vibrant work of San Francisco Hillel (S.F. Hillel officials singing the financial blues,” Feb. 24). We would like to clarify a number of misconceptions.

1, S.F. Hillel is fiscally strong. We returned a balanced budget in each of the past seven years, grew our board of directors, and maintained a meaningful operating reserve. We work hard to replace lost revenue and grow our budget though individual contributions and creative initiatives, such as the upcoming Irwin Bear Poker Tournament.

2, Hillel has cut a number of important programs, but our core services remain fully staffed and focused for greatest impact. Our Shabbat dinners occur every Friday night during the academic year, as 40 to 80 students cram into the Hillel house.

3, More students signed up for S.F. Hillel’s Birthright trip than last year (against the national pattern) and our service-learning immersion trip.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund have been indispensable partners during the dramatic growth of S.F. Hillel. We are a robust Hillel, fighting weekly against anti-Israel propaganda, and the Jewish community can be proud of our students and our Hillel.

Jordan Sills & Mimi Gauss   |   San Francisco

S.F. Hillel board of directors


Strong support for Hillel

The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund is saddened to learn that San Francisco Hillel is struggling financially. The fund has been a longtime supporter of Hillel programs throughout Northern California and internationally, having provided nearly $5.9 million in grants to Hillel programs since 1994.

Although the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund is closing later this year, the board extended additional support to San Francisco Hillel with an $80,000 grant in Oct. 2011, among the last grants approved by the foundation.

The j. article on Feb. 24 erroneously implies that S.F. Hillel was forced to lay off staff and reduce programming “after losing major funding from … the soon-to-be-defunct Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.” In fact, in an effort to ease the financial consequences of our closure, grantees were notified two years in advance that the fund would be closing and nearly all current grantees were given final grants.

In the case of S.F. Hillel, this final grant was structured to carry them through Aug. 2013.  While the financial state of S.F. Hillel is indeed troubling, it is not the result of losing funding from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

Amy Lyons   |   San Francisco

Executive Director, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund


‘Genug’ for Pollard

It was gratifying to read last week of the letter sent by Robert McFarlane, former national security adviser, to President Obama suggesting that now is the time to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard, sentenced 27 years ago for spying on behalf of Israel.

He joins the long list of government officials who have recently spoken up on behalf of clemency.

As one who has championed Pollard’s cause for 27 years, I am truly grateful.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Barney Frank when he addressed the public at U.C. Berkeley. I personally thanked him for circulating a letter in Congress [in 2010] requesting a presidential pardon. I asked him as to his motivation, and he responded with one Yiddish word, “genug” — Pollard has suffered enough.

I took the opportunity to ask him to approach Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who continues to refuse to speak up for Pollard’s release. I have often spoken with Sen. Lieberman about this case, and he has failed to convince me of his reasons for being strongly opposed to any shortening of Pollard’s life in prison sentence.

There are no secrets that Pollard knows from 27 years ago that could in any way hurt the USA.

Rabbi Simcha A. Green   |   Berkeley


Uncivil language

“Contemptible … fringe haters … monomaniacal … who usurp, infect and insinuate.” Those were the words used in your Feb. 9 editorial “Occupiers’ alliance with BDS could be a deal-breaker for Jewish support.” And that was just in the first four paragraphs!

Are these the words of the “Year of Civil Discourse” that you and the Jewish Community Relations Council have touted as being so groundbreaking in bringing together people of different viewpoints in the Jewish community? Sounds more like the words of polarization and hatred that you so strongly condemn.

Whatever your views on BDS, and I’m not necessarily promoting that as the solution to the conflict, using such loaded language in defining who is and isn’t inside the Jewish tent does nothing to expand the discussion, and certainly rings hollow any claims of progress resulting from the so-called year of civil discourse.

Richard Weiner   |   Oakland