Proud to be part of ‘Cartun community’

At age 22, in my first year at Stanford Business School, and starting to explore my Jewish roots, I wandered into Hillel to see what it was like. As I sat down, a crazed man with cowboy boots ran in and yelled, “Where the hell is the volleyball? We’ve got a game to play!” Someone tossed it to him and out he ran.

A bit shocked, I asked, “Who was that?” The girl at the desk looked at me and said, “Oh, he’s the rabbi.” And I knew this was the place for me. Soon, like thousands of other Stanford Jews, I was a part of the Cartun community. (“Irrepressible Ari Cartun to retire after 40 years,” June 19).

Ari Cartun called me a couple of months later,and said, “Sloane. There’s a great kallah (convention) at Camp Ramah this weekend. You’ve got to come!”

I had way too much work to do, but eventually he persuaded me (he was good at that) and off I went. The first night, my waitress — a cute freshman from UCLA — and I started flirting with each other. Three years later we were married.

Thirty-three years later, our three older children are grown (raised at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, Camp Ramah and in Israel) and are leading strong Jewish lives and are in committed relationships (one engagement!) with wonderful young Jews. And our youngest child is finishing his first year of university at Israel’s IDC Herzliya.

I’m just one of the thousands of Jews on whom Ari Cartun has had a positive Jewish influence. His upbeat “no apologies” approach to being a Jew has inspired a whole legion of young — and old —Jews, and his impact will be felt for many generations. Like them, I’m grateful that my path in life intersected with that of Ari Cartun.

Sloane Citron   |   Menlo Park


Shining a light on infertility

I want to thank J. for featuring Rabbi Idit Solomon and Hasidah as the cover story on May 8. Kol Hakavod to Rabbi Solomon, founder of Hasidah, for the important work she is doing to support couples with fertility issues in the Jewish community by providing grants and support services. In addition to shining a light on topics that are not frequently part of the public dialogue — such as infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth — Hasidah has reached out to other agencies in the community to build a supportive network of services available to couples facing fertility issues, across the spectrum of Jewish observance.

Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco is excited to see Hasidah’s escalating growth and impact, and we are exploring ways to partner with Hasidah to serve Jewish couples facing the emotional and financial stresses associated with fertility issues. Over the past decade, Hebrew Free Loan has provided nearly $200,000 in interest-free loans to Bay Area Jewish community members seeking financial assistance for fertility treatments. We recognize the profound impact these loans have on building Jewish families. We also know that there are many others who could benefit from our services in this area but do not know that we provide loans for this purpose.

Cindy Rogoway   |   San Francisco

Executive director Hebrew Free Loan, San Francisco


Let’s hope diplomacy works

According to a recent poll, the American Jewish community would overwhelmingly support a diplomatic agreement with Iran along the lines described by Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken (“U.S. insisting inspectors in Iran have full access,” June 12).

The poll concluded that 78 percent of American Jews would support an agreement that (1) imposed intrusive inspections of Iran and (2) capped Iran’s enrichment of uranium at a level far below what is necessary to make a nuclear weapon.

In exchange, the U.S. and the international community would slowly expand relief from the current sanctions. Similarly, Blinken stressed that the United States insists on “unfettered access to whatever Iranian sites are required to verify that Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful,” in contrast to the recent attempts by Iran’s leaders to restrict inspections.

We all want to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. The only question is how best to achieve that goal. Polling shows that if Iran is willing to agree to the kind of deal outlined by Blinken, the American Jewish community will be quite pleased that diplomatic methods of restraining and containing Iran have succeeded.

Monica Devens   |   Oakland


Overcoming anti-Semitism by exposing genocide

The tenets of the new anti-Semitism include a vehement opposition to the existence of the State of Israel, the revision or outright denial of the Holocaust, and a monopoly on victimization. French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Lévy elaborated upon these three criteria when he recently came to San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center to flesh out the state of today’s anti-Semitism.

Lévy is an optimist and believes that the Jews of today can overcome the new anti-Semitism as long as they continue to speak out against their discrimination and that of others. Jews must forcefully condemn those who preach falsities and must never behave sheepishly as did their European forebears back in the 1930s. Lévy described Israel as the only country that became a democracy “overnight,” and since its creation back in 1948 has continued to work as a democracy even when its existence continues to be threatened and challenged daily.

For Lévy, those journalists who continue to expose the genocide that occurs in other parts of the world like Darfur and Syria prove they carry the meaning and significance of the Holocaust in their hearts. It is the only way to prevent another Holocaust from happening.

Byron Gordon   |   San Francisco


‘Systematic blindness’ defines BDS campaign

Thank you for Dan Pine’s column on BDS (“BDS activists playing by unprincipled rules,” June 12). Earlier coverage of Jewish BDS supporters showed that they hold their position in good faith. I would hate to alienate them further from the rest of the community, but I would also hate to lull as-yet-undecided Jews into disbelieving the mainstream’s protestations of the danger of BDS. It is too easy, from the safety of the United States, to underestimate the danger faced by another Jewish community, even one armed with the best modern weapons.

I believe that the allegation (and denials) of anti-Semitism miss the point. BDS is not as hateful as traditional accusations of Jewish wickedness. Nonetheless, it is a double standard harmful to Jews. BDS has mobilized activists like no other foreign-policy campaign since at least Save Darfur a decade ago. While the regime in Sudan was and remains hideously oppressive, to put Israel in the same category is unconscionable.

When the Sri Lankan government destroyed the Tamil Tigers, it met with barely a whimper of international opposition. Peace activists have expressed no sympathy for a recent escalation of decades-old ethnic uprisings in Myanmar. No one outside Berkeley seems to care about freeing Tibet, let alone the Uighurs. The Kurds remain hostages of more-pressing geopolitical problems, and recent cries of genocide from Yazidi Kurds have met with a lukewarm reception. Russia’s bloody and cynical game with peoples of the northern Caucasus continues, unknown to Western public opinion.

And yet, a gang of murderous terrorists recast as a government has successfully portrayed Palestinians as the world’s most oppressed people and Israel as the most wicked. This systematic blindness is the fundamental and irredeemable error of BDS, no matter how many Jews might adhere to it or shrewd apologists defend it.

Ilya Gurin   |   Mountain View


The force behind the BDS movement

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which is totally directed against Israel and Jewish students on college campuses across America, has become ruthless. Jewish students have had to become pro-Israel activists, form groups and defend themselves physically.

It is important to remember that the major force behind the BDS movement and anti Israel/anti-Semitic campus atmosphere is the Muslim Student Association, which is the first Muslim Brotherhood front organization in America. One of the Muslim Brotherhood’s first strategic goals is to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of world public opinion. The reason is that the sacred texts and doctrines of standard Islam commands Muslims to make war against the Jews (not only Israel), and either subjugate them or kill them. The Muslim Student Association and the BDS movement are supporters of the terrorist group Hamas, which itself is the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, the debate about the definition of anti-Semitism on campuses strikes at the heart of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is important to be aware of this.

Selma Soss   |   Walnut Creek


Cumin? Feh. Let’s share heritage recipes

Longtime subscriber and first-time letter writer here. I’ve been disappointed in J.’s food column recipes finally to the point of writing. The trigger was turning to the June 19 column and thinking: “I swear if there is yet another recipe featuring burning hot pepper, cumin or cilantro, I will do something about it.”

Well, this week it hit the trifecta, or the triple crown, if you will — California Baba Ghanoush proudly features all three. Although I suppose these three might be prominent in Sephardic cooking, in Ashkenazi recipes they are unknown. I once read that Ashkenazi spices were salt, pepper and onions — maybe a little cinnamon and of course shmaltz. Yum!

I know there are plenty of great Jewish recipes out there. But we modern Jewish cooks have seriously fallen down on the job of passing on these gems to the next generation. Recipes that are not written down will be lost to our collective heritage forever.

J. should start soliciting subscribers’ Jewish family recipes. My great-grandma Olga was a great cook, although neither my grandma Gertrude nor my mother Shirley had her genius. What they did have were some of Olga’s handwritten, well-stained recipes, in her handwriting. I keep her stuffed cabbage and pierogen recipes with my most treasured possessions, ready to grab if the “big one” hits and we have to flee the house. Sadly, my husband has no recipes from his family, although he claims his grandma Pauline’s kugel was the best he’s ever tasted.

Let’s save our Jewish heritage recipes and pass them down. J. can help. In fact, I’d like to suggest starting a new tradition at J., where readers send in their treasured Jewish recipes. Hopefully we’ll all get to share and pass them on.

Niki Rothman  |   San Francisco


Making the murderer the victim?

Recently nine people were murdered in Charleston while praying, and one was murdered in Israel when he stopped to help a fellow human being (a form of prayer, perhaps).

South Carolina’s governor called — rightly — for the death penalty. The world ignored the news that, yet again, a Jew was killed only because he was a Jew. Arab racism is never acknowledged. The “settlements” or the “occupation” made the Arab do it, and so the murderer is the victim. Perhaps a playground will be named for him.

Julia Lutch   |   Davis