A firefighter in Australia hoses down trees to protect nearby homes from bush fires near the town of Nowra in the state of New South Wales on Dec. 31, 2019. (JTA/Saeed Kahn/AFP via Getty Images)
A firefighter in Australia hoses down trees to protect nearby homes from bush fires near the town of Nowra in the state of New South Wales on Dec. 31, 2019. (JTA/Saeed Kahn/AFP via Getty Images)

It could be worse; Misuse of Torah; Untying infertility knots; A Polish kook; etc.

It could always be worse

We could be having wildfires, power outages, water shortages or earthquakes, kinehoreh (Yiddish for “it shouldn’t happen”).

When I feel discouraged, I think about those possibilities and feel grateful.

Judy Kunofsky
El Cerrito

Sadness over canceled trips

The J. article “Bay Area Jewish orgs respond to coronavirus: Israel trips canceled …” (Feb. 28) made it seem that the loss of money was the most important issue for those of us who had to cancel our trip to Greece and Israel.

A far greater loss was that we will not have the learning, the experience and the group bonds that are created with these trips.

Congregation Beth Am trips over the years have created memories and friendships that offer value way beyond the actual costs of the trip. It is just unfortunate that we had to cancel this one, which promised to be extra special.

Carol Kantor
Los Altos

Helping untie infertility knots

Thank you for sharing information about the important new Fertility Loan Program available at Hebrew Free Loan (“HFL helps parents conceive through its fertility loan program,” March 3).

Providing financial support to help build Jewish families is a growing need across the U.S. that is largely overlooked. Infertility rates, cost of living, the age of new parents and the costs for treatments are all rising in general, but particularly in the Bay Area.

Only a few U.S. communities in the country provide fertility loans, grants or any type of support for this isolating and often financially debilitating issue.

We at Hasidah (a Jewish nonprofit in Berkeley) have been a proud HFL partner for almost five years to help Jews of all backgrounds realize their dreams to have a child. The Bay Area is lucky to have such a resource in our midst.

Rhona Edelbaum Sloan
Mill Valley

Sick logic from Polish kook

I just learned that coronavirus is actually good. And that pogroms were also good — at least, according to Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who spoke last week on Polsat TV news from Poland. He is a far-right Polish politician, philosopher and writer.

Korwin-Mikke, repelled early by science and history, says coronavirus improves humanity’s gene pool by eradicating the weak through natural selection. Hmm. I guess that means that the people who died heroically gave up their lives to make the rest of us stronger.

Regarding pogroms, Korwin-Mikke’s fresh approach sees them as a kind of contest. When asked why pogroms were good, he said “because the weak in the Jewish community died and the strong survived.”
Aha, now I understand.

Before, I naively believed that my paternal uncle was killed in a Bialystok pogrom just because he was a Jew. But Korwin-Mikke explains that my uncle was shot and killed because … he was weak!

So … uh … his death and the deaths of my murdered grandparents actually have improved the stock of the Jewish people? Hmm. How self-sacrificing they were.

Korwin-Mikke declared, “Jews are now powerful because they had pogroms.” Well, that’s a different way of looking at some things that some people did.

Korwin-Mikke also claimed that not only were rabbis in favor of pogroms, but they also actually provoked violence because they understood that “natural selection” benefits from massacres, and massacres are what make Jews more powerful. Who knew?

June Brott
Walnut Creek

Illogical use of Torah

In his recent letter to J., Mark Cohen quoted the Torah parashah Mishpatim, in which Jews are directed to take care of strangers, and then wonders: “Aren’t these Torah principles … as important to consider as is support for Israel — if not more so?” (“A Torah-values voter,” March 6).

Placing support of Israel on an equal footing with caring for strangers — and claiming that this is the Torah’s way — could have come only from misplaced priorities.

This is just one more application of the old adage of not seeing the forest for the trees.

Of course the Torah teaches us “not taunt or oppress a stranger.” But its Five Books of Moses are dedicated to a much greater goal of creating a nation of Israel, its land and ways of life. And this is the only major and magnificent Torah way.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

J. Readers

J. welcomes letters and comments from our readers. To submit a letter, email it to [email protected].