All rabbis need to ‘stretch’ perspectives

The article about the Bay Area rabbis’ trip to Israel (“27 rabbis, 7 days, 1 Jewish state: Bay Area rabbis take pluralism to Israel,” Feb. 11) was both informative and revealing. The Orthodox rabbis noted they were “stretched” by their experiences at a secular yeshiva and in meetings with peace activists and Women of the Wall. The “liberal” rabbis, however, who were willing to visit Gush Etzion (some were not) commented that “we are seen by the local population as occupiers, so that’s a problem.”

Perhaps so, but many also think Israel is occupying Tel Aviv. I trust that these rabbis are aware that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told then–Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that it makes no sense to move Gush Etzion, which Abbas recognizes as a well-established settlement. Perhaps the “liberal” rabbis need to do more stretching.

Marc Roth   |   Oakland


Choose optimism in Egypt

I am an Israeli veteran and my love for Israel has not changed because I am now living in California. Yet, at this fateful moment in the Middle East, for the life of me I cannot understand why the government is not filling the airways with offers of trade and all the wonderful benefits the Egyptian people might realize by a closer relationship with Israel, rather than fears that the peace treaty will not be honored or that the relationships will otherwise deteriorate.

   Certainly it is possible that events in Egypt might go badly for us, but if that is to occur it will not be stopped by a litany of fears, and the recital may well further inflame hostile elements in the area.

   On the other hand, I can imagine nothing more likely to improve relations and cement the peace treaty than to join the Egyptian people in their hope and aspirations for a better life. It costs nothing, it risks nothing, and, who knows, if we do have something to offer the Egyptian people perhaps all of our lives might improve.

Robert Grodsky   |   Mountain View


Be on the side of democracy

I see two reasons for Jews to support the demand for freedom now sweeping the Arab world.

   1. Deep in our own tradition we have our own demand for freedom, the story of Exodus. Exodus teaches that when an enslaved people stands up for its freedom, God is with it, the universe organizes in its support and the demand becomes irresistible.

   2. Anti-Semitism as a system depends upon scapegoating and blaming of Jews for misery and oppression. When a people stops being confused by anti-Semitism, and instead understands that its own rulers are the ones responsible, it is seeing through anti-Semitism. When that people reclaims its own power and takes responsibility for its well being, it is also dismantling this system of anti-Semitism.

Glen Hauer   |   Berkeley


J. is a friend to LGBT Jews

I’m curious now how Debbie Friedman’s sister responded to Marc Klein’s sensitive and public apology for any hurt her family may have experienced.

   I was moved by Klein’s self-reflection (“Did Debbie Friedman coverage go too far? ‘Coming out’ debate is an old one,” Feb. 4).

   I also am not quite sure about printing the story … it seems to me that although it was being discussed, because of the nature of the discussion, more discretion could have been used. Or, as it wasn’t, in the future, maybe the decision to publish news that has this kind of potential for defamation (or just hurt) can be framed more sensitively.

   I’m writing, however, not to weigh in on what you should or should not have done. Rather, I am writing to appreciate j. as a paper for the Jewish community that includes LGBT issues — as well as other perhaps less traditionally accepted life elements, such as suicide, mental illness, Palestinian/Jewish relations. I feel safe as a Jew here, knowing that our paper is not afraid to write about these issues.

Elizheva Hurvich   |   Berkeley


Friedman coverage ‘shameful’

After I heard that Debbie Friedman had died, I expected to see a cover story about her in j. She contributed so much, and left a legacy of music to the Jewish community.

   I couldn’t believe you would devote a page to the question of whether she should have used her celebrity status to come out as a lesbian. Who cares? She was entitled to do exactly what she wanted.

   Why couldn’t you talk about her achievements? You could

have filled several pages with that alone.

   I’m glad her sister Cheryl spoke out. I support all she said and was glad you printed her article.

   Who cares if the story first appeared on the Internet? When someone dies, this isn’t what you do to them. What you did was shameful. As her sister said, it is lashon hara, the evil tongue.

Beth Wolinsky   |   Oakland


Tribute to NFL Films’ Ed Sabol

Congratulations to NFL Films founder Ed Sabol on becoming the eighth Jewish member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

   Sabol was an All-America swimmer at Ohio State who declined an invitation to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in protest of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies. He served in World War II and later became an overcoat salesman. But as a hobby, he filmed his son Steve’s football games. In 1962, Sabol bid for the filming rights to the NFL championship game, and the rest is history.

   Sabol combined game highlights with John Facenda’s narration and Sam Spence’s music to elevate pro football’s enduring images to high art. When we remember the NFL’s greatest moments — Dwight Clark ascending into the sky to catch Joe Montana’s winning touchdown pass in the 49ers’ 1981 NFC title game victory over Dallas, John Riggins sprinting 43 yards for Washington’s winning touchdown in Super Bowl XVII, Steve Young running 48 yards through Minnesota’s defense to send San Francisco to the 1988 playoffs, or Aaron Rodgers hitting Greg Jennings in Super Bowl XLV — we see them through Sabol’s eyes.

   Sabol now has a well-deserved place in the hallowed halls of Canton, Ohio.

Stephen A. Silver   |   San Francisco