Let’s just say mazel tov

Was it really necessary for the j. to publish two letters in the Jan. 25 edition condemning a birth announcement because it included the names of relatives who perished in the Holocaust?  I cannot say what motivated the baby’s family to do so, just as I cannot say what motivated the angry writers. Did the announcement push personal, painful buttons for them? The reproachful letters struck me as mean-spirited, and bordering on the sin of the “evil tongue.” Note that I do not name the letter-writers, to avoid causing them needless embarrassment.  At the very least, the j. should have edited out the baby’s name from the letters.  In closing, I wish the new baby and her family great joy — mazel tov.

Eli Taub   |   Los Altos


Swartz suicide was a tragedy

The death of Aaron Swartz was a tragedy (“Aaron Swartz’s ‘crime’ was in keeping with Jewish values,” op-ed,  Feb. 1). This man was bullied to suicide by the federal prosecutor. Aaron was a brilliant young man who acted on behalf of the greater good. We lost a valued member of the tribe. Thank you, Rabbi Sommer, for your piece on the Jewish values Aaron upheld.

Jill Maleson   |   Fremont


Hillel hopes to expand initiative

Dan Pine captured the vibrancy, uniqueness and effectiveness of Hillel’s Senior Jewish Educator/Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative (“Giving it the old college try: Record $10.7 million grant lets Hillel reach out to students,” Jan. 25). This project has engaged thousands of Jewish students on campus both locally and internationally, and the Jim Joseph Foundation and Berkeley Hillel are excited about the positive outcomes.

As a result of the recently concluded five-year pilot program, we have an even greater understanding about effective Jewish education and engagement strategies. These strategies are applicable beyond the campus environment, and we will continue to share them with the wider Jewish community.

The foundation was the initial funding partner for what we believed would be an institutionally transforming experience that would build on Hillel’s existing campus work. The initial risk and investment in this endeavor has resulted in a new and now proven methodology for Hillel to utilize as it engages students. We believe that the Bay Area community sees this success as well and hope that community members join us in continuing to help ensure that the initiative is sustained by investing in this project. We know that the initiative can continue to impact the lives of thousands of Jewish students at Berkeley.

Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman   |   Berkeley

Executive Director, Berkeley Hillel

Chip Edelsberg   |   San Francisco

Executive Director, Jim Joseph Foundation