Disability rights activists Denise Sherer Jacobson and Neil Jacobson, subjects of "Crip Camp," in their early 20s. (Photo/Courtesy Netflix)
Disability rights activists Denise Sherer Jacobson and Neil Jacobson, subjects of "Crip Camp," in their early 20s. (Photo/Courtesy Netflix)

Mazel tov to us; Inspired by ‘Crip Camp’; Orthodoxy is not irrelevant; etc.

Facts about Federation

The article “SF-based Jewish Federation announces first wave of emergency grants” (April 29) stated some inaccurate information about the organization’s yearly revenue and assets and omitted numbers on annual grantmaking, which is a key component of our operations.

The Federation raises over $100 million a year in total financial resource development, the majority of which are for donor-advised philanthropic vehicles such as donor-advised funds and supporting foundations. Last year alone, from these funds and our assets, the Federation granted $180 million from donor-advised funds and supporting foundations, designated endowment funds and annual campaign gifts.

Approximately 95 percent of our $2.2 billion endowment consists of assets our donors and institutions have earmarked for giving, and our dedicated team stewards those gifts so that they make the biggest impact in our community while honoring donor’ intentions.

Promoting more and better Jewish philanthropy is a major strategic goal of our organization. It’s why we have Federation Philanthropy Partners, a philanthropy advisory practice with a team of dedicated professionals to provide education, guidance, and impact investing opportunities to help donors deploy their gifts where needed most.

In addition to annual grantmaking, we are deploying endowment assets and raising additional funds to address needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, approving over $13 million in grants to date.

Even as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic, the Federation’s overarching goal remains the same: to support diverse and dynamic Bay Area Jewish communities, deeply engaged in Jewish life and doing good locally, in Israel and around the world. We are all about putting more assets into the community, both today and in the years to come.

Danny Grossman
CEO, San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation

‘Mazel tov’ to J.

For decades, I have spent Shabbat hours reading the J. When Covid-19 first struck, I feared my tradition would end. Still my issues arrived on time.

I read of Fred Isaac’s gift (“Grant allows J. to continue print editions during pandemic,” April 27) and became filled with gratitude. This gift has indeed brought light into the world. Continuing Jewish press of all kinds is essential to our community. Thank you, Mr. Isaac.

The J. staff deserves recognition for learning the software quickly and working hard to keep us all informed.

Thank you. Mazel tov!

Jill Maleson

Inspired by ‘Crip Camp’

Imagine how surprised and excited I was to read your article on the new documentary on Netflix, “Crip Camp,” aka Camp Jened (“‘Crip Camp’: disability rights activists and their summer of love,” April 23).

I attended a nearby camp in Hunter, New York (the Catskills) from 1958 to 1960. Our camp used to put on performances for the campers at Camp Jened. It was my very first experience seeing people (campers) with severe disabilities. It was eye-opening.

After our performances, we mingled with the Jened campers. I remember being almost incapable of having a conversation because I did not know what to say or do that first summer. But by my final year, I knew that I was hooked on these amazing individuals.

It was what propelled me to do my master’s degree in special education and go on to teach in a very special school in Montreal, where I was living at the time. I have never forgotten those experiences.

Vivian Brieger Salama

‘Orthodoxy is not irrelevant’

Friday, May 8 (14 Iyar) was Pesach Sheni, a day not widely known on the Jewish calendar. In the Torah, this day was designated by God to give people (who were not able to bring the Pesach sacrifice in time for the actual holiday) the chance to bring it on a later date, so they could be included in the practice.

There is a growing movement in Israel among Orthodox Jews to infuse this day with new meaning, calling it יום הסובלנות הדתית — “Religious Tolerance Day” or “Religious Acceptance Day.” The aim is to raise awareness for people who were shunned from the religious world, particularly for being LGBT.

The Orthodox world in Israel is undergoing a steady revolution. It is more common than ever to find Jews committed both to their religious practice and to making Orthodox Judaism more inclusive — being vocal about it all the while.

I have experienced this firsthand. This school year, I have been studying at an Orthodox pre-army academy in Israel called Ruach Hassade, which is guided by a mission to integrate religious commitment and practice with open-mindedness and pluralism.

There are multiple organizations of Orthodox rabbis and spiritual leaders in Israel that are dedicated to making their communities more inclusive to everyone.

I guess what I want to say is this: Orthodoxy is not irrelevant.

We often deal with changes slowly, but an ongoing conversation about the pressing issues of our time does exist. And though we may come to different conclusions than liberal Judaism (based on our view of Torah as binding), know that we see everyone as being created in God’s image — and that we are willing to put our money where our mouth is.

Erel Arnold
El Cerrito

J. Readers

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