Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum in 2011. (Photo/Joyce Goldschmid)
Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum in 2011. (Photo/Joyce Goldschmid)

Farewell to Rabbi Teitelbaum; Ethnic studies curriculum is bad for the Jews; etc.

RIP, Rabbi Teitelbaum

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Rabbi Teitelbaum (“Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum, who marched in Selma, dies at 94,” March 10).

I had just been thinking of him a few days earlier and was going to see if I could get contact information so I could phone him.

I recall when he came to San Francisco,  a very nice-looking young rabbi. I had the good fortune of having worked for him at the Northern California Board of Rabbis in the 1990s as his administrative assistant. What a wonderful, kind-hearted soul! And, a great sense of humor, as well.

He truly cared about so many people and organizations.

May he truly be at peace.

Ruth Amber

1, Shabbos. 2, Police needed.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, it is completely appropriate that the Jewish community come to the defense of another minority under attack (“How Jews are responding to local surge in attacks on Asian Americans,” Feb. 19).

However, the reporting on the Feb. 27 Oakland rally should have shown respect for our own traditions by explaining that the organized Jewish community’s failure to take part was most likely due to its being held on a Saturday — Shabbos, when Jewish organizations rightly refrain from such public activities.

Moreover, the anti-police bias of some commentators compromises the goal of protecting an at-risk minority from hate-crime victimization. Comments like “a culturally competent” and “community-run” solution being “more appropriate” than the Oakland Police Department showed little understanding of the capability and commitment of this outstanding police force, which initiated the use of body cameras in 2013, well ahead of the national trend.

Particularly egregious was a coalition of organizations saying that an “over reliance” on law enforcement would end up harming black communities.

First, a number of data-based studies have concluded that police use of lethal force, when normalized to crime rates, shows no evidence of anti-black bias. Additionally, it is the current spike in violent crime, which coincides with the increased anti-police agitation since the George Floyd case, which has taken a particularly frightful toll in black communities.

A similar spike with the same tragic results occurred in 2015 after the Michael Brown case. Here, the Justice Department concluded that officer Darren Wilson had fired in self-defense.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

Gefilte fish cacciatore, maybe?

So … it’s certainly well known that San Francisco was the only major U.S. city where the Jews pretty much assimilated in the 19th century, without a very separate place and culture, as in the rest of the country.

OK … I understand that, and that it’s true that my parents’ generation is gone and mine is going, as well, and much younger people than I are taking over the helm of many organizations and publications. I get that.

But … to see the March 5 issue of J. and its cover announcing “The Passover Food Issue” featuring a big bowl of matzah ball soup and the superimposed word “Mangia!” — to see this was, well, mind-boggling at best!

Looking inside, I expected recipes of gefilte fish cacciatore, or spaghetti with matzah balls parmigiana, or maybe macaroons marinara! But, no.

Ess! Ess!

Mary Ann Brownstein

6 million buttons won’t fit

With respect to the “millions of buttons” slated for a 70-foot wall at Chabad of Bakersfield (“Millions of buttons collected for Central Valley’s first Holocaust memorial,” Feb. 24), it doesn’t seem the planners have it figured correctly — unless it’s the wall of a multistory building or something comparable.

A 10-foot-tall wall that’s 70 feet long would cover about 120,000 square inches, and require 50 buttons per square inch to fit 6 million of them. Based on a brief trial, it’d seem that six per square inch is more realistic, and some of the buttons in the jar pictured are larger than the assortment I used.

While 750,000 buttons could be an impressive undertaking and an effective display, it doesn’t seem to convey the scope of 6 million deaths.

Eric Naftaly
Daly City

Rabbis wrong on curriculum

Rabbi Jonathan Singer and Rabbi Beth Singer are very satisfied with the latest Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which is up for approval by the California Department of Education at its March 18 board meeting (“Passover and the California ethnic studies curriculum,” March 5).

I respectfully disagree with the rabbis for two major reasons.

First, contrary to their claim that the latest ESMC draft is sufficiently inclusive, the inclusion is limited to each ethnic group’s enumeration of its grievances against the “power structure” imposed by the “white supremacy” and “white privilege.”

The inevitable lesson from these injustices is the need to fight the American oppressive system.

Thus, contrary to cultivating a spirit of “world citizens” envisioned by state Assembly Bill 2016, the strictly ideological ESMC is dedicated to raising revolutionaries.

Second, the ESMC presents America’s flaws as hard-casted into the inflexible American culture and structure, while in reality America has been the most dynamic country in the world. Throughout her history, America has always adapted to the changing times and adopted new laws to fight discrimination in all spheres of life.

Of course, there are still racists, antisemites and plain bigots, but to connote that America is institutionally racist, as ESMC does, is fundamentally wrong.

America is a decent country, because an overwhelming majority of Americans of all colors, from black to white and everything in between, are decent people. And we all are privileged to be Americans.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

Beware of the progressives

Rabbis Jonathan and Beth Singer, in writing about the danger of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, refer exclusively to only white supremacists as the danger to Jewish values and Jews themselves (“Passover and the California ethnic studies curriculum,” March 5).

Not one word about the pro-BDS, anti-Zionist crowd of the progressive left.

One question: Who do the Rabbi Singers think wrote and championed this abominable, mind-poisoning education program?

One clue: It’s not the Ku Klux Klan!

Scott Abramson
San Mateo

A non-unifying lesson plan

The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum does not, in a positive, unifying manner, bring a wider range of American voices into our schools (“Latest salvo in ethnic studies curriculum: Its writers want no part of it,” Feb. 5).

Instead it racializes and politicizes the way our children are taught to look at their country. The actual lesson plan samples do not focus on examples of outstanding accomplishment.

Former ESMC advisory committee members and original writers of the model curriculum have requested their names be removed from ESMC “[c]urriculum [a]cknowledgments” because “[e]thnic [s]tudies guiding principles, knowledge, frameworks, pedagogies, and community histories have been compromised due to political and media pressure … We urge the CDE (California Department of Education) not to give in to the pressures and influences of white supremacist, right wing, conservatives (Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies, Educators for Excellence in Ethnic Studies, Hoover Institute, etc.).”

If the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies, Educators for Excellence in Ethnic Studies and the Hoover Institute are seen as having nothing to offer that is worth considering, is it likely that the ESMC’s design will promote critical thinking?

The Los Angeles Times got it right: “This curriculum feels like it is more about imposing predigested political views on students than about widening their perspectives.”

Julia Lutch

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