Thursday, September 6, 2012 | return to: views, letters



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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 10x20-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


Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/06/2012  at  07:58 PM
The Vast Majority of Jews in CA and Indeed, Throughout the US...

have not bought into the Republican litany of lies delineated by a letter published above.

All reputable polls show that an overwhelming plurality of US Jews are too smart and ethical to be mislead by the nonsense bandied about by the handful of rightwing ideologues whose letters and website rubbish occasionally is seen in J.

No, Jews are too humane and intelligent to vote for a Republican party which will violate the current rights of women, gays and minorities, let the economic elite get away w/o paying their fair share of taxes, debilitate seniors by exchanging the medical care of Medicare for vouchers which further enrich the insurance companies, ignore the staggering perils of climate change, let companies further despoil the environment,  give a carte blanche to big oil, and lift any semblance of regulating the banking industry and other corporations who-under Bush-put our economy in such dire straits.

No, save a few who buy into the erroneous and simplistic solutions spewed by Romney and Ryan, along with the Tea Party fools (“Keep gov’t hands off our Medicare” these morons say), Jews demonstrate the fruits of the education which our culture has so valued over the century.

Accordingly, Jews will not be swayed by Republican hogwash and I suspect even Lisa Cohen realizes that they will do what is best for both our country and our planet by voting for Barak Obama…

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/07/2012  at  09:40 AM
Netanyahu Praises Obama as Did Barak Earlier

Please note Ms. Cohen, Frank and Craven:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praising the Obama administration in a bid to show that Republicans have “lied” about Obama and Israel.

“Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel to tighten sanctions on Iran—and take nothing off the table,” Kerry said Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C., where Democrats are holding this year’s convention.

“Again and again, the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done,” said Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee and believed to be a strong contender for the secretary of state spot in a second Obama term.

“But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight—he said, our two countries have ‘exactly the same policy…’ – ‘our security cooperation is unprecedented…’ When it comes to Israel, I’ll take the word of Israel’s prime minister over Mitt Romney any day,” he said.

Read more:

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Posted by craven_maven
09/07/2012  at  12:27 PM
Obama is No Friend of Israel

The notion that Obama is friend to Israel is a patent lie, perpetuated by the Obama administration and its accomplice, the liberal media.

Just today we learn that:

1)  The State Dept. is pushing for $1 billion in debt relief to Egypt, now taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, a sworn enemy of Israel and Jews everywhere:—business.html

2)  There is marked disharmony, disunity and disagreement between Israel and the Obama over Iran. Obama’s main interest lies not in supporting Israel’s defence needs, but in suppressing any possibility of Israeli military action against Iran, especially before the November election.

A)  The U.S. has cut more than half of its planned participation in joint military exercises with Israel, including mobilization of missile defence systems, a move seen as meant to discourage Israeli military action against Iran.

B)  “Obama Admin Cuts Military Participation With Israel, Increases Participation with Muslim Brotherhood”

“Days after the Obama administration announced drastic cuts in the number of U.S. troops participating in military exercises with Israel, U.S. military planes landed in Egypt for joint exercises with Egypt’s military forces.”

C)  Israel has been continually frustrated by Obama’s stubborn insistence on not setting clear limits, so-called “red lines,” to Iran’s nuclear expansion.

“Intelligence Committee Chair Describes Explosive Confrontation Between Netanyahu and American Ambassador”

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/07/2012  at  01:59 PM
Israel's Minister of Defense, Barak, on Obama

Cohen, Craven and Frank, wake up and smell the coffee. Here is Israel’s Minister of Defense on the Obama Administration. Unless you are a strident rightwing ideologue, what more do you need. Is there no end to the falsehoods you swill while you shill from Obama.

Again, please read this definitive quote interview from CNN:

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said Monday that when it comes to his nation’s security, the Obama administration is doing “more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
“I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound,” Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“I can see long years, um, administrations of both sides of political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israeli and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

Read more:

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/07/2012  at  02:28 PM
For the Handful of Jews Thinking of Voting for Romney...

because of Obama’s alleged “hostility” toward Israel as written here by Cohen, Craven, and (inevitably) Frank, who do you believe? Those rightwing ideologues or Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli Minister of Defense Barak?

Logic dictates that those who promulgate GOP propaganda have no case…

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Posted by craven_maven
09/07/2012  at  04:05 PM
Ehud Barak Is No Friend of Israel

Ehud Barak has little to no credibility with Israelis. He capitulated to Arafat’s demands and sold out Israel in 2000. He offered Arafat everything and only got the 2nd “Intifada” in return. No Israeli trusts or respects him. He has no authority or say in the question of how to deal with Iran, Israel’s major threat. He has even less influence on American-Israeli relations.

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Posted by Lisa Cohen
09/07/2012  at  04:56 PM
The removal of Jerusalem as

The removal of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, the subsequent politically motivated reinsertion, and then the very clear three voice votes that Mayor Villaregosa over rode because it was clear that 2/3 of those voting were not in favor of including on their platform that Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel revealed to the entire world where Obama and the democrats stand.

The national debt has surpassed sixteen trillion since I wrote that letter last Sunday and the jobs numbers are out and do not work in the Democrats’ favor.

Those are hard facts that cannot be “ad hominemed” away.

Wonder what they will be in four years if Mr. Spitzer’s hope that Obama be re-elected comes true.

Having U.S.employment approaching Depression lows and the national debt careening towards a quadrillion is not the change we want.

The Unites States needs a strong economy, a strong national defense, and a strong relationship with Israel.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/07/2012  at  10:57 PM
OK Craven and Cohen, We Get It...

Netanyahu and Barak are wrong about Obama being a superb ally of Israel and 80% of the Jewish electorate will be wrong when they vote for Obama. Only you rightwing ideologues truly understand the way of the world, US foreign policy and the support for Obama by Israel’s political leadership.

Accordingly, I tip my cap and bow to your better understanding.

And yes, Craven, no Israeli trusts or respects Barak. Save of course the Israeli Prime Minister who appointed Barak to that insignificant little post of Minister of Israel’s Defense…

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Posted by CMarie55
09/09/2012  at  12:05 PM
Mr. Spitzer does a superb

Mr. Spitzer does a superb job in creating hostility toward his fellow man. And what is so disheartening is he is apparently extremely proud of such a legacy which reflects favorably on his narrowminded view of life in whole. He only sees through his myopic Jewish vision, which as we all know can be limited at best. This sad man’s vision is filled so full of hatred and animosity for anyone seeing things differently than he, that it has created a thick fog preventing him from seeing anything clearly at all. He is so sure of how Jews see the political arena and in fact places everything of a personal or moral nature within that political arena as well. I would well imagine it is because his view is so limited he has nowhere else to go but throw it all into the same pot for convenience.  Stands/issues reflecting G-d clearly are not of a political Dem/Rep nature, but poor Mr. Spitzer appears not to have the moral fortitude to separate these issues - he just wants to cast aspersions and throw stones to the literal tens of thousands who think differently then he.  I wonder what he must think of Jews for Jesus!

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
09/09/2012  at  06:14 PM
What do I Think of Jews for Jesus?

Since you asked, CMarie55, I think they are as ridiculous and laughable as your comments…

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