Art Spiegelman's graphic novel "Maus" on sale at a French bookstore in 2017. (Photo/JTA-ActuaLitté-Flickr Commons)
Art Spiegelman's graphic novel "Maus" on sale at a French bookstore in 2017. (Photo/JTA-ActuaLitté-Flickr Commons)

The ‘Maus’ hole; Sexual abuse at Camp Arazim; J. archives are a treasure; etc.

Going into the ‘Maus’ hole

The reason for the banning of the graphic novel “Maus” (“The great ‘Maus’ giveaway is on as comic shops, professors and churches counter Tennessee school board’s ban,” Feb. 2) is more than parents trying to protect their children from murder and nudity. It is about Holocaust denial.

There are many right-wing groups who dominate school boards. Their agenda of Holocaust denial is one that has spread throughout the country and the world.

The connection of Holocaust denial and the ban of “Maus” was not made on Nina Kim’s portion of a recent “Forum” on KQED-FM, which covered book bans in general and the “Maus” ban in particular. Here, most synagogues teach the Holocaust to sixth-graders, and in Israel they teach it earlier than that. With children exposed to all kinds of hate, violence and pornography online, the idea that parents want to protect their children as the reason for banning the book is laughable.

Dorothea Dorenz

New archives are a treasure

Dear Editor: I’d like to thank you so very much for your time and efforts to put 127 years of J. The Jewish News of Northern California online (“Digitizing J.’s archives was a mission to save Jewish history,” Feb. 14). Thanks, also, to the wonderful donors who helped make this gargantuan effort possible. It’s absolutely astounding — and I’ve only just delved into a couple articles from a March 1910 issue!

Again, thank you!

Mary Spalding

Racism and the Holocaust

Regarding Whoopi’s comments that the Holocaust was not about racism: Perhaps her comments were taken out of context. Perhaps ABC and the public overreacted to a mistake or ignorance (“Are Jews white? Is Whoopi Goldberg Jewish? ‘The View’ Holocaust controversy, explained,” Feb. 3). People seem to get upset over a politically incorrect word when they should focus on serious manifestations of fake reality or news.

As a prisoner in Auschwitz, my mother was in line for Dr. Mengele’s experiments. She was not taken because Mengele had selected others to prove and justify Nazi Aryan race theory. He “proved” that Jews were not Aryans based on skull measurements of the living and dead. Hitler taught his followers that the blond, blue-eyed Germans and Scandinavians were “Ubermenschen.” German scientists, intellectuals and institutions of higher learning soon “found proof” that the German superiority was because they were of the Aryan race, entitled to rule the rest of the world.

To suggest, as Whoopi did, that the Holocaust had nothing to do with racism is plain ignorance. The rest of us should excoriate those who show hate and bigotry rather than Whoopi.

Norman Weiss

Whoopi’s premise

In my 98 years as a Jew, I’ve always been of the opinion that we Jews are white in some areas of the world and of color in others. However, to prove or disprove Whoopi’s premise re: the Holocaust — that it was “man’s inhumanity to man” — it may be possible to determine how many of those Jews in the various concentration camps were white or of another color. Just my take.

Mel Corren

Not about our color

In her Feb. 4 letter to the editor (“Whoopi is not wrong'”), the writer says she is a white, American Jewish person. That is lovely. But totally irrelevant to Nazi ideology. Her counterparts living in Germany or Poland in the early 1940s could have likewise stated their nationality, religion, and color till they were blue in the face while the Nazis dragged them off to the camps or shot them in pits. The Nuremberg Laws included the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor which asserted that Aryans — meaning Germans and some others — were a superior race. Yes, race. Jews were an inferior race — a subhuman race — and thus should be exterminated.

Whoopi should not be suspended, but she was surely wrong. This is an opportunity to teach people, including some Jews, the racist underpinning of Nazi ideology.

Lynn C. Koss
Fayetteville, NY

Converts were not safe

Anyone who thinks that the Adolf Hitler and his Nazi monsters did not consider Jews a race need only be reminded that conversion to Christianity or Islam did not save any Jews. Case in point: Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, born Jewish, converted to Catholicism, became a devout Catholic and murdered in Auschwitz in 1942.

Nate Salant
Hoover, AL

Where are the men?

I mostly enjoyed the article “These Bay Area women are building the kosher kitchens of their dreams” (online Feb. 8). My spouse (also a rabbi) and I have long wanted to redo our kitchen and to specifically work with a kitchen designer familiar with kashrut. So I was disturbed by the article’s headline. Both of these women have male spouses. Do these men never use the kitchen? What was important to them? Were they even involved in the design at all? It’s hard to believe that long-married couples embarked on such a large project with input only from one voice in the couple. The article, unfortunately, perpetuates stereotypes that women are the ones who run the kitchen with little to no input from male life partners.

Jennifer Gorman

Camp Arazim time for healing

Finally, finally — and far later than it should have happened — United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and United Synagogue Youth (USY) are responding in a meaningful way to the sexual abuse that took place at Camp Arazim, USY and synagogue youth activities (“Former Bay Area Jewish leader accused of molesting boys in ’60s and ’70s,” Oct. 25, 2013).

(Editor’s note: Camp Arazim was an overnight summer camp affiliated with the Conservative movement that closed down in 2000.)

These acts have traumatized many — particularly those who suffered abuse. The need for justice, meaningful policy and lifting up this issue is paramount.

It is with awareness and sensitivity to the fact that every mention of these heinous past acts causes pain that we ask for your help moving forward.

As USCJ/USY work to respond to past acts of abuse, they have hired an independent investigator, Sarah Worley of Sarah E. Worley Conflict Resolution. She and her Boston-based firm are determined to follow up with anyone who reports past abuse. She is committed to confidentiality and needs to hear experiences of those who were abused or knew of abuse as a means of addressing the past and making lasting changes for the future.

We strongly encourage all who have information or experiences to share to please contact Ms. Worley at (617) 419-1900 or [email protected].

We are relieved to see USCJ/USY take this issue so seriously. They have instituted

ongoing training, safety protocols and additional background checks, and continue to review policies to ensure they are engaging in best practices, including further recommendations Ms. Worley will make.

Please share this note with anyone you feel can provide information. We know that reliving trauma is painful — we hope that sharing your story will also bring bits of healing. We share this letter with sadness for past events as well as a commitment to work towards healing from past trauma and safety for our children for generations to come.

With prayers for healing,

Tom Mitchell, Rabbi Marv Goodman and Rabbi Nat Ezray

Call ‘Liberated’ what it is

I have a problem with the headlines of J. in print vs. electronic articles concerning the Castro Valley Unified School District contract with the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Coalition, aka “Liberated” (“Castro Valley school board approves contract with ‘liberated’ ethnic studies group,” Jan. 20).

The headline in the print edition was “Castro Valley OKs ethnic studies deal with anti-Zionist group,” while the headline at says “Castro Valley school board approves contract with Liberated ethnic studies group.”

Why did the editors feel a need to reassure their print audience that Liberated is just an “anti-Zionist” group? Indeed, throughout the entire article the group is called, as it is, “antisemitic.” So why the headline? Perhaps “anti-Zionist” sounds more progressive and woke than “antisemitic,” but then why whitewash those who refuse even to list antisemitism among the scourges of hatred and bigotry within their model curriculum?

Liberated should feel the heat for promoting their decisively rejected antisemitic ethnic studies curriculum. There is no need to camouflage their antisemitism by suggesting it is “just”  anti-Zionism.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

J. Readers

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