Fire fighter

I have lived near Ocean Beach for 20 years and I can tell you that you don’t need signs to know that you don’t litter the beach and you don’t vandalize public and private property to obtain wood for your polluting fires.

Incinerators were banned 50 years ago because of pollution. Yet the people from Berkeley’s Yeashore Community think that it is commendable to come out to San Francisco and burn open fires and pollute our air.

Ostensibly, they want to observe Havdallah. The Torah speaks out about willful destruction of trees. Deliberately polluting is hardly in keeping with Jewish traditions.

Michael Samson | San Francisco

No respect at Brandeis

By awarding playwright Tony Kushner with an honorary doctorate, Jehuda Reinharz, Brandeis University’s president, and the university’s board of trustees, demonstrated not only poor judgment in selecting this candidate, but also their ignorance in creating an embarrassment of major proportion. They exhibited their lack of dignity, pride and respect not only for Louis Brandeis, the founder of this prestigious university, but also for the state of Israel and for the entire Jewish community in the United States and the world.

Kushner’s depiction of Israelis in his movie script for “Munich” as well as his statements to the reporters that the founding of the state if Israel is a “mistake” and that “it would have been better if Israel did not happen” show how narrow-minded he is and how undeserving he is of any honors.

What’s next for Reinharz and his board of trustees? Presenting an honorary doctorate of arts to Adolf Hitler for his watercolor paintings? Yogurt has more culture, Mr. Reinharz.

Lina Broydo | Los Altos Hills

Circle of friends

My letter is in response to Dafna Jo Simon’s May 19 letter “Help sought,” in which she requests help from the community to help facilitate respite care and programs for children with special needs.

The Friendship Circle in the Greater South Bay was established to meet those exact needs, to help parents like her have a few moments of rest, while providing friendship, activities and Jewish lessons for the children.

The Friendship Circle matches typical teenagers with special-needs children for weekly home visits, Sunday afternoon respite programs, and summer and winter camps.

Although our base program is far from you, we do have contacts in Santa Rosa who would be happy to set up a weekly buddy for your son.

For more information, call (650) 858-6990 or go to www.friendshipcirclepa.org.

Ezzy Schusterman | Palo Alto
director, Friendship Circle

Too young

Joanne Catz Hartman did the right thing when she refrained from explaining the details of the Holocaust to her 5-year-old daughter (May 12 column “Unlocking a photo”).

One of the only academic studies of what happens to young kids when they learn about the Holocaust was conducted by Simone Schweber.

Schweber found that students in the third grade were too young to learn this material in any depth. While the parents and teachers in Schweber’s study thought the kids were old enough to confront these horrors, the kids themselves wished they had been older before learning about it.

If we are serious about listening to kids’ voices and valuing their opinions, the results of this study seem pretty persuasive. Schweber and I co-wrote a textbook on how to teach the Holocaust that will be published this fall by Torah Aura Productions. The book addresses this issue as well as other pertinent topics relevant to teaching the complexities of the Holocaust.

Debbie Findling | San Francisco

Hospital needs help

Thank you for interviewing Dr. Elchanan Bruckheimer, cardiac catheterization laboratory director at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel (SCMCI).

Bruckheimer’s palpable dedication and passion for his patients is shared by the doctors, nurses and staff of this 250-bed hospital, whose overriding goal is to maintain a level of excellence.

SCMCI is the only hospital in Israel and the Middle East dedicated exclusively to the health care of children from 0-18, regardless of religion or nationality. It offers all pediatric subspecialties under one roof.

A National Referral Center, it receives the most severe cases of child and adolescent chronic illness, complex surgeries and serious injuries. All types of surgical procedures are performed, including heart, lung, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantations.

A child is not a small adult, and treating children is more expensive than treating adults. Bursting at the seams, many departments routinely operate at 130 percent capacity. The emergency room, built to handle 15,000 patients, is Israel’s busiest, treating 52,500 children in 2005, including terrorism-related trauma cases. SCMCI is in urgent need of expansion, new equipment and personnel.

For more information, contact Marlene Siminow at (415) 441-6108 or [email protected]

Bill Lowenberg | San Francisco
national vice president

Marlene Siminow | San Francisco
West Coast development director

Brought to justice

Congratulations to the Israeli Defense Forces for the capture of Hamas terrorist Ibrahim Hamed in Ramallah earlier this week.

Bringing Hamed to justice is a significant accomplishment. He was likely responsible for killing 55 Israelis and wounding hundreds more in a string of terror attacks, including the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem and blasts at the city’s Hebrew University cafeteria and Zion Square. I hope his interrogation leads to the arrest and punishment of many other terrorists of his ilk.

While Hamas may have been democratically elected by the Palestinian people, it certainly does not reflect the democratic values of peace and justice that we all cherish. There are consequences for every decision and the Palestinians will not recognize their national aspirations until they elect a responsible leadership. Perhaps taking terrorists like Hamed out of the equation is part of the solution.

Steve Lipman | Foster City

Improper barriers?

Some time ago, Israel constructed a barrier to help keep out terrorists who had goals of killing its citizens on school buses, in hospitals and restaurants and wherever else disguised suicide bombers could find victims.

A U.N. body ruled that the barriers were improper, although protecting its citizens is a government’s first duty. Now, U.S. legislators propose constructing a barrier along the Mexican border to help keep out immigrants who have goals of filling job needs that American prefer not to fill.

Any bets that the United Nations will declare this barrier to also be improper?

Bernard Rubin | Palo Alto

Shavuot reminders

Since Shavuot commemorates the Jewish people receiving the Torah, many religious Jews stay up the entire night studying Torah. Hence, this important holiday provides a wonderful opportunity to consider if we are properly applying Torah values:

• Since the Torah teaches that we are to be guardians of the earth (Gen. 2:15), why are we not sufficiently addressing the many current severe environmental threats?

• Since the Torah stresses that we should very diligently guard our health, shouldn’t we consider the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

• Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of causing unnecessary pain to animals, shouldn’t there be far greater concern about the horrible treatment of animals (10 billion annually in the United States alone) on factory farms?

• Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, shouldn’t we address the fact that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States is being fed to farmed animals, while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition annually?

Let us make this Shavuot a time to begin truly applying Torah values in order to produce a more humane, healthy, environmentally sustainable, just and compassionate world.

Richard H. Schwartz | Staten Island, N.Y.

War of the words

Sanford Diller and Arthur Cohn are certainly right about the ways even Jews are disseminating words that work against us Jews (April 28 local voice “Failing to get the word out in the information age.”)

It’s probably too late now, however, as even my nicest non-Jewish and liberal Jewish friends have internalized these words and images, with their accompanying values and world views. They see Israel — a dot on the Middle Eastern map — as the powerful aggressor against poor, oppressed Palestinian murderers, and have succeeded in reducing the land mass of tiny Israel and supplanting the name “Israel” with the Roman-invented “Palestine.”

I have to wonder if Israel and the Jewish people will exist in the coming decades.

Pam Kimball | Palo Alto