Jehon Grist teaching Hebrew in the early days of Lehrhaus Judaica, now know as HaMaqom | The Place, which has announced it will be shutting its doors for good at the end of its summer term. (Photo/File)
Jehon Grist teaching Hebrew in the early days of Lehrhaus Judaica, now know as HaMaqom | The Place, which has announced it will be shutting its doors for good at the end of its summer term. (Photo/File)

Can HaMaqom be saved?; Stay out of it, teachers’ union; etc.

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Can HaMaqom be saved?

I was very surprised and sad to hear that HaMaqom, formerly Lehrhaus Judaica, will be closing after 47 years (“Jewish education hub HaMaqom to close after 47 years,” June 17).

I know many others share my sadness and surprise about the loss of this very valuable resource for Jewish learning in the Bay Area. It is also surprising to learn the organization will be closing despite an increase in participation of 137 percent during the pandemic year.

I am hoping this announcement will trigger a groundswell of support, leadership and fundraising to save the organization.

This has happened in other situations and can happen this time, I hope!

The JCC of the East Bay was saved despite almost closing in 2008 and is now thriving, and I hope this can happen to HaMaqom.

Perhaps going back to the original name (Lehrhaus Judaica) would help reclaim its identity of many years.

The Contra Costa Jewish Community Center and its programs closed very abruptly in 2011, I believe without enough notice so that the local Jewish community might step forward and attempt to save it. That was certainly a pity. I am hoping HaMaqom will continue despite this announcement.

Lea M. Delson

Editor’s note
HaMaqom has issued this statement: “While we appreciate the rally of support, we want to be clear that the decision to dissolve the organization has been made and is not reversible. The best thing the community can do to help is to support us in finding new homes for the programs, educators and staff.”

J. supporters from afar

While we have been subscribers/supporters of the J. for many many years, and even though now that we have been living in Maryland for over 12 years, we will continue to be J. supporters.

We especially love to receive our hard-copy issue — a wonderfully reliable link for us which lets us know what is happening not only in the Bay Area but also nationally and internationally.

As we write this, it’s mid-June here on the East Coast. The mail carrier delivered today’s mail with our most recent copy … and guess what. The newspaper is dated April 16, 2021.

So, just another result of how our mail system has been gutted.

We presume this was mailed several months ago. No matter, we will continue to support the J.

Rachel and David Krug
Pikesville, Md.

Stay out of it, S.F. teachers

Absolutely shameful action by the San Francisco teachers’ union (“After BDS endorsement, S.F. teachers’ union passes resolution against antisemitism,” June 3). First, it is a cause for real concern that supposed educators fail to educate themselves about the history of the Middle East and the extremely complex issues involved in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Instead they take a simplistic action, possibly to assuage their guilt about their own country’s history of colonialism and slavery, possibly to jump on the social justice bandwagon, again, without any real understanding of the issues.

Members of the United Educators of San Francisco, the union that represents the school district's teachers, rally for Proposition 15 in Oct. 2020. (Photo/Brooke Anderson)
Members of the United Educators of San Francisco, the union that represents the school district’s teachers, rally for Proposition 15 in Oct. 2020. (Photo/Brooke Anderson)

Second, particularly at a time when their students have been effectively barred from their classrooms and most have lost a full year to 1½ years of learning, a local teachers’ union has no business getting involved in foreign affairs.

Get your students back in the classroom and do what you are getting paid to do — teach.

And if you really believe in teaching, which is anchored in learning, discussion, debate and critical thinking, don’t exhibit a bad example to your students as you have done with this simplistic, ill-conceived resolution.

Eric Horodas

Hey, S.F. teachers, vote on this

Here is one more resolution for careful consideration by the San Francisco teachers’ union and other activists who feel that the world needs to know their say in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“After BDS endorsement, S.F. teachers’ union passes resolution against antisemitism,” June 3).

Whereas, J.’s June 11 editorial called for resisting antisemitism and to do it now, and

Whereas, the United Educators of San Francisco resolution of May 19 supports the anti-Israeli BDS movement, and

Whereas, Israel’s defense of its territory and population in response to Hamas attacks is presented in this resolution as an act of senseless murdering, and

Whereas, another UESF resolution (June 2) condemns antisemitism, and

Whereas, Jews of Israel and Jews living outside of Israel share the same religion, traditions and historic roots, and

Whereas, demonizing Israel, in many quarters, is considered as having nothing in common with antisemitism,

Therefore, be it resolved that spreading falsehoods about Israel and about individual Jews is equally antisemitic, and

Therefore, be it further resolved that supporting the BDS movement, whose ultimate goal is eradicating Israel, only encourages antisemitism, disguised as a fight for human rights, and

Therefore, be it further resolved that those who would like to see the Palestinians living in dignity and respect should advise them to abandon their warmongering, under the Iran ayatollahs’ guidance, and enter into serious peace negotiations with Israel.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

Focus must be on students

So the United Educators of San Francisco — which couldn’t be troubled to teach our children in person and did everything in its power to delay the return of San Francisco’s students to public schools — did find time to pass the odious resolution supporting BDS (“After BDS endorsement, S.F. teachers’ union passes resolution against antisemitism,” June 3).

Since the teachers already displayed their moral bankruptcy this year, I suggest we do more than try to console each other.

I suggest a vigorous, grassroots campaign to 1, support local charter schools; 2, support any and every possible way to initiate and expand school voucher programs; and, 3, endeavor to initiate a statewide program so that the extravagant amount of money spent (often wasted) on each California school student be transformed into a “money follows the student program.”

The yearly money from Sacramento that each district receives per student would be at the disposal of parents to pay part/all of school fees in a choice of public or private school.

One of the main reasons our California public schools have failed is the absence of viable competition. School administrators feel no compunction about introducing critical race theory or the dogma that there are “49 genders.”

BDS is just another insane — but toxic — idea on this spectrum. Time to push back!

David Levine
San Francisco

Living in a ‘fools’ paradise’

I am not surprised that professionals in the workplace and students today are feeling a “hostile climate” on campus (“Stanford therapists allege ’hostile climate’ for Jews in the workplace,” online only, June 15).

We Jews eat our own in the cause of “social justice,” and this has been going on for a long time.

For example, recently dozens of rabbinical students signed a letter calling for American Jews to hold Israel “accountable for its human rights abuses.”

Stanford University (Photo/File)
Stanford University (Photo/File)

This reminded me of a paragraph about Hungary after World War II, from “The Vanished Worlds of Jewry” by Raphael Patai:

“The tragedy of Hungarian Jews was that the great majority completely identified itself with Magyardom, not only in political outlook and socially and culturally, but also emotionally, in the fullest and deepest sense, to the extent of turning away from Judaism and from any contact with local or international Jewish bodies. Since the Hungarians were great patriots, the Jews felt an urge to manifest an even more fervid Magyar patriotism, which feeling was engendered and fostered during the 50 years of Hungarian liberalism from the Emancipation of the Jews to the end of World War I, and even more inevitably on the eve of World War II, when they were forced to recognize that they had been living in a fools’ paradise, and that they were considered strangers, unwanted and hated aliens, by the Hungarian Government and people alike. After a period of increasingly painful and danger-fraught existence in the twilight years of Armageddon, the physical annihilation by the German and Hungarian Nazis of four-fifths of Hungarian Jewry in the very last year of the war was but the death of a body that still sheltered a mortally wounded soul.”

Sheree Roth
Palo Alto

Thin rebuke of antisemitism

The decision of the San Francisco teachers’ union to endorse the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and then to pass a new resolution condemning antisemitism and expressing support for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, but without revoking or repudiating the earlier resolution, is tantamount to endorsing the Ku Klux Klan and then backing a resolution condemning racism and calling for people of different races to live in harmony (“After BDS endorsement, S.F. teachers’ union passes resolution against antisemitism,” June 3).

Let’s be clear about what the United Educators of San Francisco has endorsed.

The goal of BDS, according to co-founder Omar Barghouti, is “a unitary state where, by definition, Jews will be a minority,” which would mean replacing Israel with a Palestinian-majority state.

At a minimum, Jews would be permanently deprived of self-determination in their ancestral homeland.

Moreover, if this new Palestinian-majority state were to follow the example of every other Arab-majority state from Morocco to Iraq since 1947, as well as the publicly expressed demands of both Hamas and the “moderate” Palestinian Authority, that no Jews be allowed to remain in a Palestinian state, it would result in the “ethnic cleansing“ of all 6 million Israeli Jews from the region. (The Jewish population in Arab-majority states before 1947 was more than 850,000. Today it’s less than 8,000 — a 99 percent reduction.)

Moreover, since Israel likely would not agree to its annihilation voluntarily, accomplishing that end would presumably entail a massacre of Israeli Jews on such a scale that it could be called Holocaust II.

The teacher’s union cannot align itself with the BDS movement’s antisemitic hate (and tacitly, with Hamas in its genocidal war against Israel and the Jewish people), and then pretend its endorsement of bigotry can coexist with a subsequent nominal repudiation of antisemitism.

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

Wake up now … or never

Jew hatred (antisemitism) is the worst it’s been since the 1930s. But where is the outrage? We Jews meekly accept polite apologies and worthless statements without action. Our  “progressives” are more concerned about climate, gun laws, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, tikkun olam, etc., etc.

Revel in your “activism,” but tell me: If and when the “mob” comes for you, your family, your synagogue, will you scare them away by yelling, “But I supported all the right causes!”

When do we wake up? And if not now, when?

Marvin L. Engel

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