jA call for the tribe to just get along

Thank you for the well-deserved cover story on professor Daniel Boyarin, one of the great Talmud scholars of our generation, a credit to the Bay Area and, most important, a total mensch (“Daniel Boyarin: Talmudist, feminist, Israel critic, Berkeley iconoclast,” March 13).

I disagree vehemently with his views regarding Israel but — unlike most opponents of the one Jewish state on the planet — I have to respect Danny’s position as born of deep knowledge and conscience. Moreover, he is meticulous in not infusing his Talmud teaching with his position on Israel.

To those who oppose Boyarin’s view on Israel, I urge you to talk to your colleagues and neighbors about the issue, and to take advantage of JCRC’s resources that train you to effectively plead Israel’s case to the thousands of Bay Area residents who need to hear it. But, as it is taught that hatred among fellow Jews is the reason that Jerusalem fell 2,000 years ago, we are too small a tribe to waste our time getting angry at one another.

Mark Schickman   |   Berkeley


Anti-Zionist stance isn’t very talmudic

For such an apparently brilliant Talmud scholar, Daniel Boyarin is rather inarticulate in your recent cover article about why he so proudly opposes the right of the Jewish people to a nation of our own.

Apparently Yitzhak Rabin’s well-known vituperation from the first intifada about breaking the bones of Arab rioters was enough to set Boyarin into an anti-Zionist frenzy from which he’s never recovered. So let’s just imagine it’s 1937 and the British Peel Commission has just recommended the end of the Mandate and partition of Palestine into areas of Jewish and Arab sovereignty. If adopted, millions of European Jews will have at least one country to which they can flee from the Nazis. But then, as now, Boyarin surely would oppose Jewish sovereignty, impassive to the persecution and murder of his co-religionists. That doesn’t seem so talmudic.

Benjamin Pollock   |   San Francisco


Sinai came through in my time of need

A recent reminder about the support which can be found in our local community was demonstrated to me by Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Last month, my mother, Molca P. Budin, died in Wilmington, Delaware, at almost 95 years of age. Arriving home in San Francisco after the funeral, I discovered I’d lost the black mourners’ button the Delaware funeral home had given me. I phoned Sinai Memorial Chapel and the lovely lady who answered my call told me to come over. A very nice man gave me the replacement button. He also gave me a beautifully boxed seven-day candle. I asked what the cost would be and he said nothing.

I’ve just returned from another trip to Wilmington. I’ve listed mother’s condo, worked on paperwork, made last trips to Goodwill to recycle housewares whose memories include the pot she used for chicken soup, pracgus (stuffed cabbage) and a cookie sheet she used to make Jewish star cookies for my older brother’s bar mitzvah.

As my mother would say, “Remember to write a thank you note,” which is part of these condolence tasks. So this is also a reminder to support our wonderful and generous Sinai Memorial Chapel. They so warmly opened their gates during a difficult time in my life.

Marianne Joan Bennett Budin   |   San Francisco


East Bay film fest answers complaint

As chairperson of the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival for the past three years, I am proud of the overwhelming success of this year’s festival. Each year, we read every evaluation in order to refine our operations. However, the letter published in your March 20 edition does not reflect the true nature of our festival.

A comment was made that nearly half the seats were reserved for pass holders, when in fact only 14 percent out of nearly 430 seats were saved. Those who found themselves sitting in the front near the screen in most cases bought their tickets either at the last minute or came late to the theater. We did announce to latecomers that there were only front-row seats so they could make their own determination as to whether to purchase tickets.

The fact that some festivalgoers had to sit close to the front is a reflection of the popularity of this year’s screenings and the incredible support we received from the community; several of the films this year sold out. We would have gladly returned the cost of a ticket had a person requested a refund due to getting a front-row seat.

Unfortunately, there are very few large theaters anymore; the 850-seat CinéArts that we used for many years was torn down two years ago to make room for a sporting goods store. Despite the smaller capacity of our present theater, we do everything possible to make the festival experience a valuable and pleasant one for all of our participants. The evaluations that we received during and after our festival were extremely positive, making our 20th anniversary our best ever.

Debra Levin   |   Pleasant Hill

Chairperson, East Bay International Jewish Film Festival


A proud Jew in a small town

Thank you, J., for your coverage of the annual Jewish deli day in Salinas (“Sixty years of Jewish deli in Salinas,” Feb. 6). I keep an eye out for small-town Jewishness. Sixty years of having this event in Salinas, now that’s amazing! I’ll bet many close ties have been formed between Jews and non-Jews in this community.

This gal has had more than a taste of life in a small Jewish community. I grew up in one in Central California. I lived in one for several years in Northern California. Now I’m proud to say I live in Redding, where there is a temple with a strong presence as well. The Jewish community I’m now affiliated with meets once a month, but solidarity is very much present in our congregation.

So I say: Long live small-town Jewishness. May it flourish.

Susan Cohn   |   Redding