Rabbi James Brandt
Rabbi James Brandt

Roth’s ‘Plot’; a great cantor; dear leaders, save East Bay Jewish life!

Farm visit reminds us we are all a flock of sheep

I recently went to a farm in New Jersey with my family, where the experience of Rosh Hashanah was thrust upon me.

There were numerous rams in an enclosed area. Seeing their horns, I was reminded of their bent shape to symbolize how we must bend and be flexible with our fellow man, yet be mindful that these horns also produce a stern sound to awaken us for the final judgment.
Next, we went picking apples and vegetables. I was struck by the magical idea that the apples and vegetables would serve as reminders for us to have a sweet year and rise above our enemies.
Third and perhaps most important, I saw an eclectic mix of Jewish people including Hasidim, Modern Orthodox and the unaffiliated. The unaffiliated Jews were so excited to converse with us.

Lastly, I was struck with the notion that there were sheep on the farm. This reminded me that we will all soon pass before God as a flock of sheep. I reasoned that if we are sheep, then God is our shepherd. We know that a shepherd is known to be compassionate to its flock, a comforting thought, knowing that we will soon be judged by the Almighty. I also realized that all the Jews on the farm will be judged, not just the observant ones. It dawned upon me that we are a collective group, and it is incumbent upon us to pray for all the Jews that were represented on the farm, as we are all that flock of sheep that needs to survive as a unified whole.

Steven Genack
Clifton, N.J.

What makes a great cantor (and a very nice brother)

In Rob Gloster’s fine article about my sister, Linda Hirschhorn, the rabbi emeritus is quoted as saying, “What made her a great cantor is that we were such good partners.” I’d rather say what makes Linda a great cantor is her voice, her presence and her empathy.

Norbert Hirschhorn
London, UK

Read Philip Roth’s ‘Plot Against America’

I cannot recommend “The Plot Against America” enough (“Reading ‘The Plot Against America’ across the Bay”). This work of fiction by Philip Roth shows how much one election can change the country and the world, and how quickly one person can convince the majority that the cause of their problems is the Jews. Any time, this is an excellent read. It is also a frightening reminder of the time we live in now.

Jill Maleson

Too many losses in our Jewish community

I live a stone’s throw from where once stood the promising Contra Costa Jewish Community Center. The JCC is gone; it failed. My wife and I would send an annual gift to Tehiyah Day School. It is broke and closing. The J., the only Jewish publication most of us receive, has cut its distribution in half; no money. And now the director of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay resigns, offering a chance to restructure the Jewish community, and S.F. and S.J. say “no thanks.”

The mark of idiocy is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Without leadership we will continue on the road to disappearance. Mazel tov!

Mel Mogulof
Walnut Creek

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