Redwood High School in Larkspur. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)
Redwood High School in Larkspur. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

Saving Lerhaus’ mission; Hold the bacon; Don’t cheer ethnic studies in Marin; etc.

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‘A very sad turn of events’

Times change, needs change, but Jewish education and values do not change (“Decision to close HaMaqom ‘irreversible,’ leadership says”).

This is a very sad turn of events. I have known Fred Rosenbaum for nearly 50 years. This was his idea that came to fruition in the mid-’70s and grew and grew into one of the premier centers for adult Jewish education in the Bay Area.

I hope someone will pick up the pieces and go forward with another vision for Jewish adult education suitable for these times.

Maureen Rittenberg
San Francisco

Saving Lehrhaus’ mission

We thank the J. for its coverage of our initiative to rescue the mission of Lehrhaus (“New Lehrhaus rises from HaMaqom’s ashes”). We are eager to hear from students, teachers and interested community members who have not yet taken courses: What do you want to learn or teach? What format of learning will work for you? Would you like to join our efforts?

You can reach us at [email protected].

We are eager to work with HaMaqom staff to create a smooth transition. We plan to start offering courses and workshops this fall.
Our first year will serve as a living laboratory for trying innovative approaches and listening to the community.

We are pleased to introduce the Free Jewish Lehrhaus board of directors:

Raphael Asher, rabbi emeritus, Congregation B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek; David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History, UC Davis; Riva Gambert, director, East Bay International Jewish Film Festival; Dawn Kepler, founding director, Building Jewish Bridges; Janis Plotkin, founding co-director, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; Fred Rosenbaum, founding director, Lehrhaus Judaica; Judy Shanks, rabbi emerita, Temple Isaiah, Lafayette; Ellie Shapiro, former director, Jewish Music Festival; David Waksberg, former CEO, S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks; and Steven Zipperstein, Koshland Professor of Jewish History, Stanford University.

David & Rachel Biale

Rockower on Rockowers

I wanted to give a hearty Mazel Tov for your multi-Rockower Awards!!!

Stephen Rockower, MD
Bethesda, Maryland

Editor’s note: Stephen Rockower is the grandson of Simon Rockower, in whose name the Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism are given out every year by the American Jewish Press Association. J. took home 19 Rockower Awards last month for work done in 2020. Thanks to generous support from the Rockower family, the awards will now be given in perpetuity. 

Hold the bacon

BLT sandwich on the menu at Canter’s Deli (“Deli delights from L.A.’s legendary Canter’s now available on Peninsula”). Really now, is that necessary?

Janet Weinberg

Say no to ‘apartheid’ Israel

In his opinion piece, Rabbi Joshua Ladon opposes the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board resolution condemning Israel’s illegal eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and the continued displacement of Palestinians across Israel-Palestine (“Berkeley’s housing crisis has nothing to do with Israel”).

The resolution, which passed with seven ayes and two abstentions, also calls for congressional passage of HR 2590, which would prevent U.S. aid from being used to support Israel’s human-rights violations.

Ladon does not dispute the resolution’s factual assertions of dispossession, but his moral indignation is reserved for the board’s extension of compassion to those made homeless both in Berkeley and in Palestine.

He does not consider the costs to our cities of remaining silent on this issue.

Each year, $3.8 billion in U.S. tax dollars goes to Israel’s military to perpetuate an apartheid regime. That translates into a drain of over $12 million from the annual revenues of the congressional district which represents Berkeley. If this largesse were reduced, we could allocate more tax dollars to creating affordable housing in our communities instead of destroying Palestinian communities in Israel-Palestine.

In making his case against the resolution, Ladon does not discuss his interest in advancing Israel’s cause. The organization he leads, the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, is an arm of its Israeli namesake, which has ties to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, responsible for leading the campaign against BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), and to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

The premier educational program of the North America branch is the “Engaging Israel” series, which seeks to establish “a new narrative of Jewish values and ideas that encourages Jews to engage with Israel,” and to promote “the necessity and significance of the Jewish national enterprise.”

In this instance, Jews in Berkeley did engage, but not in the way Ladon’s institute prescribes.

Most of the community members who waited hours to offer public comment on the resolution at the rent board meeting identified as Jewish, with supporters far outnumbering opponents.

Carol Sanders

Don’t cheer curriculum

As reported in “Citing local incidents, Marin includes antisemitism in ethnic studies curriculum,” (online, June 30), this curriculum change, sadly, comes with a caveat, to wit:  “All three Marin high school districts…will be able to decide independently how or whether to use it.”

The change is also location-specific, and came about because “the county’s Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke wanted a common response to a spate of [locally embarrassing] recent anti-Jewish incidents, where students at Redwood High School were targeted with antisemitic social media posts.”

The bulk of school districts in which there are anti-Jewish expressions, of whatever kind, do not have Jewish populations of sufficient size and/or influence to bring about any curricular change. And an optional curricular change, however well-intentioned, is not particularly reassuring, to me at least.

Julia Lutch

J. Readers

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