Thousands rally in Tel Aviv to protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government and judicial overhaul, Jan. 7, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Matan Golan-SOPA Images-LightRocket via Getty Images)
Thousands rally in Tel Aviv to protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government and judicial overhaul, Jan. 7, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Matan Golan-SOPA Images-LightRocket via Getty Images)

Israel’s on the right path; Israel’s on the wrong path; Don’t roll on Shabbos; etc.


Column was ‘qwerty’ good

Lovely piece by Janet Silver Ghent (“Margaret Mead was wrong: Thank God I can type,” Dec. 21).

I remember my Olympia, also with the accent key, left over from when my mother typed my father’s Spanish textbook manuscripts. Likewise, I took mine to Berkeley.

Indeed, Margaret Mead got it wrong, though we well understand her sensibility. I composed my dissertation on an IBM Selectric during off-hours at the UC Berkeley counseling center, and paid a typist to complete the finished draft.

Alberta Nassi
Sacramento


Iffy survey methodology

Your recent article (“Survey of Bay Area Jews touches on family ties, Israel views, antisemitic experiences,” Dec. 5) described a survey commissioned by JCRC that “relied in part on identifying Jewish surnames.”

This is a source of sampling error, since it excludes those without a generally recognized Jewish last name, including converts who did not marry and adopt a “Jewish” last name.

Little wonder that there is a strong correlation between people with Jewish surnames and those who identify as Jewish as an ethnic background rather than religiously.

A more accurate sampling technique would include more converts and probably show a stronger religious identification as Jewish.

Fred Zemke
Grover Beach, CA


Israel on the wrong path

Viewing the newly elected Israeli government (“Who’s who in Israel’s new far-right government, and why it matters,” Dec. 21) from an American Jewish perspective, it is clear from my view that it is not a government that one can support, and it is not one that we can stay silent about.

While the American Jewish community is of course not monolithic in its perspectives, it is pretty clear that a significant majority has over the years been aligned with more progressive and liberal democratic values. In fact, this has often been cited by many, myself included, as a strong component of the U.S. Jewish community’s support of Israel and our “shared values.”

Unfortunately that statement has lost its validity with the newly elected Israeli government, led by Likud PM Benjamin Netanyahu, in partnership Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, both longtime proponents of Kahanism, representing a government that will be the most right wing in the state’s history, and one that is a clear and present danger to Israel’s survival as a democratic state.

As American Jews, we can love Israel but not support a government losing its true Zionist and democratic principles.

Let’s not have such an obvious blind spot on this issue. We have a voice here in the U.S. and from the diaspora, and the time is now to speak out clearly and firmly, and let our Israeli friends know that “it is not OK.”

Don Raphael
San Francisco


Let’s let Israel work it out

The newly defeated far-left Israeli parties must adjust to the Israeli public’s decision that safeguards are needed against judicial overreach (“Israeli democracy may not survive a ‘reform’ of its Supreme Court,” online, Jan. 12).

Proposals are being worked out that will check the decades-long gradual subordination of the Knesset to a Supreme Court, with concentrated, virtually untouchable power in the hands of a few unelected individuals.

Government ministers and party leaders in the recently defeated coalition came to power in free and fair elections, but the changes they made have been democratically rejected.

Despite our superior wisdom, American Jews would be well advised to allow Israel, always under existential threat, some time to work out a new balance of interests based on how the Israeli public perceives various developments of the last few decades.

Julia Lutch
Davis


Shabbos guy is on a roll

Being shomer Shabbos has become hip. It began in 1998 with “The Big Lebowski,” in which the John Goodman character, Walter Sobchak, passionately defended his need to be shomer Shabbos. People speculate that Walter was suffering with PTSD from serving in Vietnam and found being shomer Shabbos healing.

When informed that his bowling tournament game had been moved to a Saturday, he was adamant: “I’m shomer Shabbos! … That means I don’t work, I don’t drive a car, I don’t ****ing ride in a car, I don’t handle money, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as ***t don’t ****ing roll!”

In the past two years, there has been a growing awareness of burnout from always being connected to one’s smartphone with its flood of emails and social media posts.

There is a growing number of pundits advising to disconnect for a day, and to focus on both going deep (soul searching) and high (reading books that look at the “big picture”).

BTW, Torah study offers both.

A great example of the trend toward “a day a week to disconnect” is a blog post by Erik Torenberg, an S.F.-based venture capitalist. He advises “spend one or two Saturdays a month in device-free solitude.” Go “solo” he writes. Explore your “inner Thoreau.” “Solitude begets solidarity.”

I suggest taking a first step toward being shomer Shabbos by spending a full day at shul. Don’t just go home after kiddush lunch. Hang around, maybe walk the shul neighborhood with friends, come back. Spend an hour or so in complete solitude at the shul.

Maybe partake in lay-led Mincha, Maariv, Seudah Shlishit. When the sun sets, light a Havdalah candle and sing “Eliyahu Hanavi.”

Then, after sunset, take a walk, or ride, to the nearest bowling alley or karaoke bar.  Time to be the Big Lebowski dude and roll or sing and maybe, with a H/T to HaShem, have a White Russian cocktail celebrating being alive.

Lawrence Abrams
Monterey County

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