A life transformed

As a recent kidney transplant patient whose life has been transformed, your story about former editor Marc Klein demonstrated the need for organ donors, whether living or deceased (“Gift of life,” July 27). I have known Marc ever since he came to Alameda. We had lunch together the other day and he is looking great. Our best wishes go to him and his donor.

I do take exception to your nephrologist’s view of dialysis as “a fragile and vulnerable existence.” Your readers should know that, although difficult, you can live well on dialysis.  I was on dialysis for 41⁄2 years before my transplant and was able to golf and do most of my routine activities. My wife and I even traveled several times a year arranging dialysis at our vacation destinations. By all means, transplant has been great, but dialysis is not a death sentence.

Robert Kaplan   |   Alameda


Heed E.T. and ‘phone home’

In Sue Fishkoff’s column relating to the Jewish Film Festival in j.’s July 27 issue, she suggests that Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” does little to bring viewers closer to their Jewish roots. Actually, I believe that “E.T.” provides a metaphor for the Jewish experience in the diaspora.

E.T. is an alien being. He is trapped on Earth and trying to find his way home. He is afraid, alone and 3 million light years from home. The Jewish homeland is Israel. In contrast to E.T., who has difficulty breathing and faints, we seem to be doing OK while living far from “home.”

Yet the frequent message for E.T. to phone home is one that resonates deep within the soul of every Jew: Call home. For true vitality, we need to stay in touch with what nourishes us: our holy Torah, its mitzvot and its lessons for how to achieve a fulfilling life.

Because of pressures to assimilate, and for other reasons, many have not yet tapped into our spiritually rich heritage. Young Elliott and his siblings ultimately help E.T. to return home. We should all be so blessed as to heed the call to return home, as proud, knowledgeable Jews.

Marcia Naomi (Fisch) Berger   |   San Rafael


A home in Mitzvah Corps

I delighted in reading the blurb “No summertime blues”

(July 20). I call it a blurb because it was too short for my liking, I wanted more.

I am an alumni of the Mitzvah Corps from way back. It was a wonderful six weeks I spent with other teenagers from various places. What happened for me, and I assume for my fellow Mitzvahites, is that our growing minds were stimulated in the area of justice and how we want to individually pursue justice. Our days and nights were filled with exposure to the less fortunate.

I’m a person with special needs, and I found my place in the program, a very rewarding one at that. After Mitzvah Corps ended, I was given an honor that I would have never received if I hadn’t been in the summer program. The success of my Mitzvah Corps went beyond the education we got that summer. It was transmitted to me when they gave me special recognition.

Susan Cohn   |   San Jose


Facing sobering reality

In the July 27 edition of j. were two articles that saddened me. On page 2a was the touching story of grieving mother Robi Damelin desperately trying to reach out to Palestinians, searching for common humanity. On page 17a, in an op-ed by Guy Herschmann titled “Third intifada, ‘one-state’ solution get traction at confab,” the author describes the hate-fest of the 11th annual convention of the Birzeit Society.

While I am sure there must be good people who genuinely want peace with Israel, I am afraid that the hate attitude of the Birzeit conclave probably represents the dominant attitude of most Palestinians toward Jews (not just Israelis).

Are we deluding ourselves by thinking that by reaching out and extending a hand of peace to these people, they will accept Israel and Jews and stop teaching their children hate? I think we must face the sobering reality of the present situation of unbridled hate.

Sadly, the words of Golda Meir are still true: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Sadly, we are not there yet!

Dr. Marvin Engel   |   Piedmont


Gospel of Barack?

So President Obama arranges to sign an arms deal with Israel just as Mitt Romney arrives there. Of course, this arms package had been worked out long in the past by previous administrations, but it seems like Mr. Obama sure picked the right time to get credit for it.

All politicians do this sort of thing, but gosh, wasn’t it Barack Obama who proclaimed he was going to get rid of the old ways of doing things — that he would bring transparency to Washington? Wasn’t he the person we were waiting for?

However, I suspect my fellow Jews are still true believers in the gospel of Barack, in spite of the fact this president seems more concerned about Israelis building homes in Jerusalem than Jewish children hiding in bomb shelters to escape incineration by Hamas rocket fire.

Scott Abramson   |   San Mateo