Every synagogue a winner

Is it only me, or is it a rather sad statement about the nature of our contemporary Jewish communal life when we include synagogues on the same list that includes plumbers, caterers and spas (Readers’ Choice Awards, Aug. 31 supplement)?

Our religious institutions have a hard enough time fighting the consumer-driven mindset of our times without being reduced to a simple list, similar to a survey of favorite restaurants or retail outlets.

I’ve spent 25 years in the rabbinate. Without a doubt, the synagogues highlighted in your list are worthy of recognition. However, having said that, virtually every synagogue I know of offers tremendous programs in the areas of adult education, outreach and social justice. Virtually every synagogue I know of uses every creative programming tool at their disposal to recruit and retain members, as well as to contribute in some way to the communal good. In fact, no other institution in all of Jewish life has sustained Jewish communal life more than the synagogue … every synagogue.

Perhaps a more effective and respectful approach at this sacred season would be to highlight at least one program done well at every synagogue. That would be a list perhaps more worthy of publication and shared communal pride.

Rabbi Mark Schiftan   |   Nashville, Tenn.

Editor’s note: Rabbi Mark Schiftan was an associate rabbi at S.F. Congregation Emanu-El and rabbi at San Jose’s Temple Emanu-El.


What j. doesn’t say

Since the j. is so convinced that the Jewish community overwhelmingly supports abortion, why devote a 437-word editorial to mischaracterize the very broadly written 146-word GOP platform on abortion (“GOP’s abortion stance flies in face of common sense,” editorial Aug. 31).

The GOP platform, like halachah, strongly promotes the holiness of life while it promotes options other than abortion. Like the Constitution, which Obama wants to revise, the platform is vague and subject to legal interpretation and legislative debate.

That being said, the j. says nothing about:

• The 716 billion dollars that Obamacare stole from Medicare which will result in less reimbursement to seniors.

• That Medicare will be broke by 2024.

• The almost sixteen trillion dollars of U.S. debt.

• Unemployment has been over 8 percent for the past 42 months.

• That candidate Romney, like halachah, makes exceptions for abortion.

• In a second Obama term, how much further will the U.S.-Israel relationship deteriorate?

• How will the U.S.-Russia relationship play out? Perhaps we should ask Mssrs. Putin and Medvedev.

This electoral season we shall see if the j. chooses to be an impartial professional source for information pertaining to all these menacing issues or a propaganda tool for Obama’s agenda.

Lisa Cohen    |   Menlo Park


Dayenu, dayenu, dayenu

Thank you for the article “Facebook Israel-Arab youth group has first meeting” (Aug. 31). If there were only the YaLa Young Leaders group of Israel and other Middle East countries, it would be enough. If YaLa Young Leaders also had a Facebook page, it would be enough. If YaLa Young Leaders also convened international meetings to promote their goals, it would be enough.

Dayenu, dayenu, dayenu. YaLa is putting into action their yearnings for peace in the Middle East. How can we not reinforce their efforts by working to bring about a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians?

Molly Freeman   |   Berkeley

Chair, J Street SF Bay Area Local


No fairy tale ending

Bravo to Gerardo Joffe for his continued mission to educate the world about the reality of Israel and the Middle East through his organization FLAME (“Flame still burns for man who breathes fire for Israel,” Aug. 24). He is a lone voice who is willing to forsake political correctness and the typical liberal anti-Israel viewpoint to present the hard facts about how the world really is for Israel and Jews.

If this annoys some people, then you can be sure he is doing a good job. Facts and reality are often upsetting to a naive world hoping for fairy tale endings in the Middle East.

Sloane Citron   |   Menlo Park


Stop vitriol and breathe

Continuing the “Support for Israel should not be built on bigoted bus ads” discussion (Aug. 17), I hope that all readers will read the JTA op-ed “Israel must punish rabbis who preach hatred” by Anat Hoffman, executive director, IRAC, addressing the lynching of Arab youths in the streets by Israeli youths.

Who were the “savages” in that street? Fomenting hate has the propensity to create a clear and present danger, which is the kind of language that is not protected under the First Amendment. Stop the vitriol. Breathe deeply. Think clearly. We must challenge ourselves and others to make peace. Ah, to live in the Undiscovered Country.

CJ Kingsley   |   Alameda


Balanced and fair

Reading Mr. Sales’ article (“Judge absolves Israel of responsibility in Corrie death,” Aug. 31) one gets the impression of reading the UK Guardian. This slanted article projects doubt on Israel’s legal system. This system proved itself repeatedly as balanced and fair to all: It convicted Israel’s president and sent him to prison, and recently ruled in favor of Palestinians by ordering the eviction of Migron’s residents.

Consider the facts of this tragic event, which is not different from many events in the U.S., where scores of naive youngsters act irresponsibly, drink, drive, and end up dead in a smashed car. Ms. Corrie acted similarly, entering a military zone of empty houses marked for demolition. These structures hid underground tunnels used by Palestinians to smuggle weapons and explosives aimed at Israel’s civilians. To imply the bulldozer’s operator acted maliciously is ludicrous. Such a military bulldozer is fortified with armor plates around its cabin except for a couple of 10×20-inch windows, which give the operator a limited view of his surroundings.

Everybody is sorry for the Corries’ tragic loss, yet it seems there are segments of the media and Jewish society that will not be satisfied unless they get their wish to vilify Israel’s image and tarnish its right-to-center government.

Sam Liron   |   Foster City