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Getting the leaders we deserve? Heaven help us

Thank you to Dan Pine for his brave and forthright column about Donald Trump (“Trump may be a joke, but he’s no laughing matter,” March 11). I could not agree more. Donald Trump frightens me to death. And every time I watch him on TV, I am dumbfounded by the blind adoration of his followers. I am completely bewildered by the widespread support for this demagogue, as he has managed to insult and demean almost every segment of our population. He seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and his vitriolic words and his hateful rhetoric remind me of Hitler and the early days of the Third Reich.

Someone once said, “We get the leaders we deserve.” Heaven help us if we get this one! I hope we don’t really deserve this.

Patti Moskovitz   |   Foster City


Stop the bully

Well said, Dan Pine. Donald Trump is a bully. The rest of us should act accordingly. See www.stopbullying.gov.

Jerome Fishkin   |   Walnut Creek


Column’s angry ‘screed’

As a regular reader of J., I was embarrassed to read the Page 1 screed about Donald Trump in your March 11 issue. The Jewish community is not well positioned to request civil speech from Palestinian advocates when highly visible members of our community use similar angry and bigoted speech.

David Golden   |   San Francisco


What comes after slapping?

Dan Pine urges his readers to reject Trump and tells them: “If your friends still plan to vote for Trump, slap them.” Slap them? That outrageous suggestion begs the question, what happens if slapping does not help? Should they stab them? And if stabbings are not changing Trump supporters’ minds, should they shoot them? Shame on you, J.

Sofia Shtil   |   Fremont


Supporting ‘Son of Saul’ a good use of Claims funds

I disagree with the dichotomy Rachel Weingarten set up in her op-ed that makes it seem as if the Claims Conference’s funding of “Son of Saul” took needed monetary support from the trembling hands of needy elderly Holocaust survivors (“Why this daughter of a survivor can’t rejoice in ‘Son of Saul’ award,” March 11).

I expect that among places where the Claims Conference funding is diverted, funding of this movie is one of the more positive uses. This funding shouldn’t be tainted by the general mismanagement and injustices of the Claims Conference.

My husband and I were among the seven people in a Menlo Park theater on a recent Sunday night to view “Son of Saul” — a sure sign the film would not be shown at that theater for long. Most of the people I’ve spoken to choose not to see what they describe as “such a gruesome” movie, one they feel they don’t need to see — since they already know enough about the Holocaust.

Both of my parents survived their time at Auschwitz; both are deceased now. I figured if they could live through Auschwitz, I could at least go see the film. It wasn’t easy to watch, but I believe “Son of Saul” is more authentic and closer to the reality of Auschwitz than many of the “feel good” movies we’ve seen previously. On the decision to award this film an Oscar, kudos to the Academy.

Esther Erman   |   Mountain View


Burial fulfills our biblical role

Burial practices as discussed in Arno Rosenfeld’s article (“Author asks Bay Area Jews: Since when is cremation OK?” Feb. 26), and Mark Ezersky’s letter to the editor (“Scare tactics on burial,” March 4) center around Jewish tradition, yet the primary point is missed — we are a people of the earth.

The term “burial” can be misleading, since it can refer to mausoleums, vaults and nonbiodegradable caskets. In contrast, earth burials — placing the body directly in the ground, preferably in a biodegradable shroud as in Israel — allows the body to gently return to and nourish this living earth. The ideal cemeteries are “conservation cemeteries,” which are essentially wildlife preserves, offering a spiritual way to fulfill our biblical role of caring for the Earth.

As for those animals with whom we share our lives, they are widely considered family. Many of us want to keep our families together in death as in life. In 2010 I founded the Green Pet-Burial Society to promote conservation of whole-family cemeteries worldwide. We seek to dialogue with Jewish communities on considering whole-family sections in Jewish cemeteries so that love may remain intact.

Eric Greene   |   Los Angeles


Content of talk on burial practices got distorted

Mark Ezersky’s letter to the editor was a response to the contents of the Feb. 26 article and not to the actual lecture by Doron Kornbluth.

Kornbluth talked for 45 minutes on the diverse issues surrounding the choice of burial vs. cremation. He told us that Jews were acknowledged as a people that has buried its dead since the time of Abraham. He explained how Jewish burials are much better for the environment than cremation. He explained the importance of burial, even if the family is scattered around the world. The descriptive part of cremation, which Ezersky objected to, was no more than three minutes of discussion throughout the whole talk. I encourage checking YouTube for an earlier recording of Kornbluth’s lecture.

In response to Ezersky’s reference to Kornbluth’s credentials: He is the author of seven books on diverse Jewish issues. He wrote the book “Cremation or Burial?” after consulting rabbis, environmental experts and member of the funeral industry. He has lectured extensively through the U.S. and Canada. Like many educators and rabbis who make aliyah, Kornbluth also occasionally is a tour guide.

Howard Klein   |   San Jose


Cookbook translation was a YIVO project

As a member of the Northern California Arbeter Ring (Workmen’s Circle), which sponsored the talk on “The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook” (“From the Vegetarian Jews of Vilna,” March 4), I was pleased to see your coverage of the event. I only wish your reporter had said more about the book’s origins, since its translation by Eve Jochnowitz was commissioned by YIVO’s Institute for Jewish Research after the rare Yiddish edition of the volume was found in an antique book fair.

It’s a wonderful story of the discovery and restoration of lost Yiddish cultural practices (such as Vilna vegetarianism and its recipes), and such works should be encouraged and celebrated, which is why our branch of the Workmen’s Circle was glad to sponsor the event.

Joel Schechter   |   San Francisco