Offer for Bay Area travelers

While I left my heart in San Francisco, Philadelphia became my new home when I moved to take a job at the National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall in November 2010. The dynamic story of the birth and growth of the American Jewish community is told imaginatively and compellingly over three floors and 100,000 square feet (“George Washington’s Jewish correspondence,” June 29).  The opportunity to view Wash-ington’s letter makes this an ideal summer to visit. Just let me know you’re coming and I’ll arrange special tours for members of my San Francisco Bay Area family.

Linda Steinberg   |   Philadelphia

Director of education, NMAJH


JCC corrects record

Dan Pine reported on the annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay (“East Bay federation announces ‘re-visioning’ plans,” June 29). He attributed a comment to the federation president implying that the federation issued approximately $158,000 in reimbursements to 62 Contra Costa JCC families. Those families had prepaid school tuition to the Contra Costa JCC before it suspended its operation in December 2011.

The report of these comments may have been accurate, but the facts are otherwise.

The board of the Contra Costa JCC requested that the Jewish Community Foundation permit the Contra Costa JCC to borrow from its own endowment fund designated for preschool purposes. The Foundation distributed the reimbursements from the endowment fund directly to the preschool families. The funds will be repaid to the Contra Costa JCC endowment fund, together with interest, upon the sale of its property in Walnut Creek. However, the Foundation did not use any funds of its own for the repayments.

The facts are that the Contra Costa JCC initiated the request, pursued the arrangement, and was the sole source of the reimbursements to its preschool families.

Virginia Peiser   |   Orinda

Vice president, Contra Costa JCC


Israel: the ultimate in living

I liked Dan Pine’s last two columns (“Us against world: No wonder I can’t find peace in Israel,” June 8, and “Putting down roots in Land of Israel: I’ve been Zionized,” June 22). Both are true, both moods coexisting realities.

I saw the film “On the Beach” when it came out in 1959, when I was 15. I also read the novel. Its vision completely colored my life, as it was up against this ultimate vision of emptiness that I had to build a life. Naturally I gravitated to existential despair.

Israel is full of life; it is the ultimate in living life now. Connecting with Israel has enchanted me with life as never before. The continuing triumph of Israel as home of our Jewish collectivity, in tandem with America and all who cherish individual liberties, is the alternative to that final frame of “On the Beach.”

We eventually will have to recognize that the totalitarians really have declared war on us, whether we believe it or not, and some of them are right here among us, throwing up dangerous lies at every opportunity. They eventually will manage to destroy everything unless we push them back, as Israel always has to do.

Thyme Siegel   |   Berkeley

Commissioner, City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission


Foie gras end-run

The cruelty of making foie gras from duck or goose liver was articulated splendidly by Sue Fishkoff (“Foie gras — goodbye and good riddance to a French delight,” June 29).

California’s ban on foie gras is, however, an example of poor legislative work — even if such work is well intentioned.

Policing the use of foie gras in California would be difficult or impossible. Through the mail or by suitcase, foie gras, in this Internet age, can be smuggled in from other states or other countries. California is unlikely to find out about such illegal activity.

California, which has a miserable fiscal situation, might have done better by placing a $100-per-pound tax on foie gras.

Prohibition did not work in the Jazz Age. Bans on items people want just do not succeed.

I encourage Ms. Fishkoff, in a future column, to cover the caloric content of Jewish-style chopped liver.

Richard Colman   |   Orinda