Innovation frustration

While I thoroughly enjoyed the Oct. 5 cover story (“Start ’em up! S.F. incubator turns great Jewish ideas into savvy operations”) and reading about the innovative new ideas being fostered at StartUp Bay Area, I was frustrated by a lack of specificity about a number of the groups that have been chosen.

For example, I looked in vain for more than a glancing mention of Fair Trade Judaica, Edah, Urban Adamah or Moishe House. Perhaps a follow-up article could take these stories further.

Ilene Weinreb   |   Oakland


Description of A Wider Bridge was too narrow

A Wider Bridge was pleased to be featured as part of the Oct. 5 cover story by Emma Silvers about UpStart Bay Area. The article described A Wider Bridge as “a nonprofit that aims to bridge the LGBT community in the Bay Area with that in Israel.”

In fact, our mission is broader than that. While we do much programming here in the Bay Area, which is our home, we are focused on building a bridge between the LGBT communities throughout the United States and in Israel. We have brought Israeli LGBT leaders to cities and college campuses across the country, www.awiderbridge.org reaches a national audience, and we are about to lead our second annual LGBT trip to Israel, with a delegation of LGBT Jews from all across the United States.

Arthur Slepian   |   San Francisco


Executive Director, A Wider Bridge

A knish down memory lane

I’m writing to you as a subscriber for 30 years and as a (former) frequent advertiser to let you know that there was a market for knishes in the Bay Area — and may still be. Mrs. Maltz’s Knishes filled that market for 14 years.

Your article about Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes (“Mrs. Stahl’s famous knish recipe finally found — in San Francisco,” Sept. 28) did not refer to any knish business in the Bay Area. Had the reporter done that type of research, she would have found out about my kosher knish business in Redwood City from 1986 to 1990.

The business was called Mrs. Maltz’s Knishes, a wholesale bakery supplying delis, supermarkets and all bagel stores from Washington state to San Diego — primarily 300 Noah’s stores. I also had a nationwide mail-order operation, “Knish Me Quick,” and I advertised in j. many times. We were featured in many publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and many regional papers. By the time the business was sold to a Southern California kosher manufacturer, we were producing 80,000 knishes per month.

Mona Maltz   |   Los Altos


Misguided slap at Netanyahu

Your editorial “Foreign heads of state have no place in U.S. elections” (Sept. 28), criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu for trying to press President Obama for a more assertive policy toward the Iranian nuclear program, implicitly seems to both

understate the threat and accept the adequacy of our current policies to meet it.

Unfortunately our policies have failed. U.S. intelligence and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency have consistently reported that our sanctions have not arrested the development of Iran’s nuclear program. Obama’s calling for more time for negotiations to work is also troubling. Negotiations have been going on since long before the current administration came to office and the Iranians simply have used the time that negotiations provided to further their aims.

Nor does Obama’s sanctions policy connote a firm commitment to stop Iran’s nuclear advances. He has opposed the more stringent sanctions, which Congress passed overwhelmingly. With the recent legislation sanctioning Iran’s central bank, Obama requested and received the authority to grant waivers. He then proceeded to issue 20 waivers to Iran’s major trading partners.

It would be irresponsible for Netanyahu to not press for a firmer commitment. Asking for a meeting with the president was not over the line.

Steve Astrachan   |   Pleasant Hill


A putz or a yutz?

Trudi Gardner’s column (“Yiddish cursing an artful tradition,” Sept. 28) brings to mind an incident that occurred in July 1963. After taking the New York City municipal lifeguard course, I was called up for duty by the Parks Department. I was beside myself, having visions of becoming a bronzed hero encircled by adoring girls.

I arrived one morning at West 25th Street on Coney Island’s Boardwalk. As I waited for my final processing, I saw walking across the boardwalk a chief lifeguard, in full uniformed regalia, carrying a clipboard, and bedecked with a white officer’s cap. I was so impressed by his military bearing that I could only think one thought: “I want to be like him someday!”

After his departure, I quietly asked the secretary his name, to which she replied, “Putz.” I murmured that I meant no offense, but she answered that was his actual last name.

Presumably he was of Polish ancestry but obviously not connected to Yiddishkeit. I sat and reflected on the situation’s irony. Did all I really want to do in life was become Chief Putz? It turned out to be but a summer job for me. I felt like a real shmuck.

Ron Oremland   |   Brisbane


Lessons from a gap year in Israel

I applaud Ariel Schnitzer’s heartwarming description of her long stay in Israel (“Gap year in Israel opens my eyes to lives of Israeli Arabs,” Oct. 5). Her social interface with Arab students in the Christian Orthodox school in Ramle, and later her visit at Neve Shalom school in Casablanca and meeting with Rabbi Sebag …  I appreciate Ms. Schnitzer’s vivid description and the effort she put in exploring new ventures.

Yet Ms. Schnitzer’s keen description missed a couple of lessons that may be learned from her experience.

First, in Israel, it showed that Arab citizens who chose to immerse themselves within the Jewish society are better accepted and do not perceive being discriminated against — while those that chose to live insulated in their own community are a bit more apprehensive about their life in Jewish Israel.

The second lesson, from Morocco, is that Jews in Europe and the Mediterranean basin are still experiencing not only social discrimination but also physical attacks, as shown by Rabbi Sebag getting slashed in the face and the recent grenade launched on a kosher market in France.

I hope Kivunim leadership and instructors will take the time to teach these and similar valuable lessons to their young, impressionable students.

Sam Liron   |   Foster City