An attendee at an Oakland City Council meeting holds up a "Ceasefire Now" sign during discussion of a resolution in support of a permanent cease-fire in Gaza at Oakland City Hall on, Nov. 27, 2023.  (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
An attendee at an Oakland City Council meeting holds up a "Ceasefire Now" sign during discussion of a resolution in support of a permanent cease-fire in Gaza at Oakland City Hall on, Nov. 27, 2023. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Socialists against cease-fire; Claudine Gay conspiracies; etc.

Thank you, Cantor Cycowski

I appreciated Karen Galatz’s review of the new theater piece “Harmony” (“Broadway’s ‘Harmony’ includes origin story of S.F. cantor” Dec. 22). The musical group deserves a fresh look after the excellent 1977 German documentary.

Just a personal note about Cantor Roman Cycowski. He was my bar mitzvah teacher at Beth Israel so many years ago. He was a kind, joyous gentleman whose personality and love of music was so warm and encouraging that it made the drudgery of learning my Torah and haftarah portion doable.

Hal Tauber
San Francisco

Claudine Gay conspiracies

Rabbi Jay Michaelson believes Claudine Gay “angered some rich pro-Israel donors, activists, and politicians, and they got her fired.” So when they’re not controlling the media and the banks, they’re controlling who can be president of Harvard, rabbi? (“How culture warriors weaponized Jewish grief and forced Harvard’s president to resign,” Jan. 2)

Gay felt compelled to step down due to a pattern of what is called plagiarism when engaged in by Harvard undergraduates. Even worse, Gay refused to characterize calls for genocide of Jews (nothing to see here) as a breach of Harvard’s code of conduct.

She is set to remain at Harvard as a professor.

However, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating possible Harvard discrimination after reports of harassment against Jewish and Israeli students following the Hamas massacre in Israel.

That’s the latest from Harvard, despite the efforts of “rich pro-Israel donors, activists, and politicians.”

Julia Lutch

Socialists against cease-fire

As a unionist and Socialist Workers Party (SWP) candidate for Congress, I oppose a cease-fire with Hamas. My supporters and I have spoken out at city council meetings in the area.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 had the goal of killing as many Jews as possible on the road to destroying Israel.

Israel was born out of necessity after the Nazi Holocaust, when Washington and allies refused entry to most Jewish refugees. The SWP supports Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews.

Failure to defeat Hamas will embolden anti-working-class forces worldwide.

As the deepening crisis of capitalism again spawns virulent Jew-hatred, working people must fight against it as we defend our wages, working conditions and constitutional freedoms.

The decisive question for humanity is whether we will build revolutionary leadership capable of leading the working class in every country to take political power and end capitalist oppression.

Margaret Trowe

Roots of Hamas

Yasher koach to Michael Harris for challenging the view that a cease-fire would somehow lead to “defeating the insidious ideology of Hamas.” Ironically, since this terrible crisis began, there has been a reluctance to seriously focus on that ideology and its origins.

The movement, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, dates back to Cairo in 1928. Its charismatic founder, Hassan al-Banna, was an admirer of Adolf Hitler.

The movement’s first great theoretician Sayyid Qutb was also steeped in Nazi theory and propaganda. As recently as 2009, the Brotherhood’s Yusuf al-Qaradawi made reference to the Shoah saying, “Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

The Hamas charter’s description of an end times battle with rocks calling out “There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him” is a continuation of the exterminationist ideology of Hitler.

Therein lie the root causes of the Oct. 7 atrocities.

The role of the Iranian regime here is receiving too little attention. For its leaders, Hamas is an integral component  of the “axis of resistance” that they have been supporting with $100 million annually. The regime’s ultimate goals include regional dominance and the elimination of Israel.

We can all feel compassion for the people of Gaza. However, their best hope for a better future starts with the destruction of Hamas, which is Israel’s critical war aim. We must do all that we can to support Israel in facing these existential threats not only for ourselves, but also for all the peoples of the region.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

Unaffiliated Jews deserve a rabbi

I was saddened and disheartened to read in “New Jewish community chaplain helps fill service gap at S.F. hospitals” (Dec. 22) that the Northern California Board of Rabbis, Mount Zion Health Fund and S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund chose a “Jewish chaplain” instead of rabbinic services to serve our San Francisco community.

I understand that there is no replacing the outstanding rabbinic support the unaffiliated had been receiving through the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. Nevertheless, around 75% of the members of the Bay Area Jewish community are not affiliated. Do we too not deserve a rabbi?

The idea of a “chaplain” in no way meets the religious, cultural and historical expectations not only of the Jewish community generally, but of those who long for a rabbi during their darkest moments. A rabbi’s education, gravitas and experience are invaluable cultural touchstones that embody our collective identity. We now have been forced to accept what is modeled on an inherently Christian vision of service. Whoever made this choice on our behalf, I fear, has lost touch with our unique and deep Jewish communal roots, perhaps for the sake of some sort of niche agenda, while perhaps losing sight of core Jewish cultural values. We deserve a rabbi. Don’t mistake our lack of affiliation for apathy concerning this deficient and tragic choice.

Sara Moldaw
San Francisco

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