(From left) Rabbi Jeremy Sher, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Rabbi Dev Noilly at a protest in front of the San Francisco ICE office, July 12, 2019 (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
(From left) Rabbi Jeremy Sher, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Rabbi Dev Noilly at a protest in front of the San Francisco ICE office, July 12, 2019 (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

Dershowitz is canceled; Jewish activists are trouble; It’s the president, stupid; etc.


Security at our synagogues

Gabe Stutman’s otherwise excellent article on the challenge of securing synagogues was marred by the cover page sub-headline, “Bay Area Synagogues get serious about security.”

Synagogues have been serious about security since Day 1. Bombs, fires, burglary, earthquake, floods and vandalism have been the focus of our attention for decades.

What is new, and disturbing, are the recent terrorist attacks by armed gunmen. As the article details, this threat has prompted all of us to rethink access to our buildings and the responses we can prepare. As a synagogue executive director, I know my colleagues take our responsibilities to see to the safety, security and well-being of the congregations we serve and the buildings that house them with a seriousness that has few equals.

Gordon Gladstone
San Francisco


It’s simple: It’s the president

I read with great interest your July 26 editorial.

I completely agree with your conclusion that “This is still America. We have our allies, we have our Constitution and we have each other. That is how we will get through these times.”

You also pose the most important question we need to ask ourselves: “Why is this happening?” Your editorial states seemingly unconnected reasons, but there is a connection. We all know the answer, but for some reason — my guess is political cowardice — we as the Jewish community don’t state it.

But if we don’t name it, we won’t effectively fight it. This is America. Say it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. We in the Jewish community cannot remain neutral on this issue.

It’s happening because the occupant of the White House created the atmosphere that enabled the American Nazis and white supremacists to come out of their holes. And to add insult to injury, he uses Jews and Israel as a shield to claim other minorities are anti-Semitic. I challenge us to say it, and to work day and night, as I do, to encourage Jews and all Americans to rise up and do something about the racist occupant of the Oval Office, Donald Trump.

Bernard Catalinotto
Mill Valley


Worry over migration

The Jewish community’s efforts to support the current wave of migrants at our southern border reflect a commendable concern for humanity but a complete myopia regarding many legitimate issues that arise from this migration.

First, there is no mention that the migration is a massive violation of our border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports an excess of 100,000 cross-border apprehensions each month from March to May of this year. Others evade detection.

Neither is there any recognition that the U.S. maintains reasonably generous legal immigration, with more than 1 million legal immigrants annually since at least 2014. These numbers suggest that more may enter the United States outside of our lawful immigration system this year than through it, which is unacceptable.

Then there are the legitimate public safety concerns of an uncontrolled border. The killings of Kate Steinle and police officer Ronald Singh were national news. In March, SFGate and others reported on Arevalo Carranza, who was jailed in Santa Clara County, had a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainer, but was released due to sanctuary policies. Shortly thereafter, he was re-arrested for the murder of 59-year-old Bambi Larson. While such cases do not reflect on the majority of migrants, they should be a concern.

Those who have attacked border enforcement without qualification have incentivized these increased numbers to make the perilous journey through Mexico and across the Rio Grande. They must bear some responsibility for both the dangers the migrants have encountered and the current overcrowding at federal detention facilities.

Hopefully we can agree on policies that will assure a secure southern border, humane treatment for those already in our country (without criminal records), and assist our Central American neighbors to achieve better governance and thereby stem the lawlessness at our border and beyond.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill


Activist Jews are trouble

Most Jews agree that the threat of anti-Jewish violence in America is real and growing, but there’s much disagreement over the cause.

Perhaps Judaism itself can offer some enlightenment.

The Torah never promises a time when Jews would have no enemies, but it does say that as long as we follow the laws that God gave us, those enemies would have no power to harm us. Any time our adversaries can attack us with impunity, it’s a sure sign that we’ve deviated from the right path.

So, what are we doing wrong? Is it possible that Jewish social activism, despite its seemingly good intentions, is actually one of the leading causes of violent anti-Semitism? Such activism usually consists of left-wing Jews waging aggressive campaigns to force their ideologies on a society that doesn’t want them and feels threatened by them.

Although these ideologies typically make no reference to God and often stand in direct opposition to true Jewish values, their proponents often make the false claim that they’re acting according to the “highest” Jewish values, which makes many people believe that Judaism itself is the enemy, which must be pushed back hard if people are to maintain their existing way of life. And such people may not be averse to violence if all else fails.

Jews should not turn a blind eye to injustice just to avoid antagonizing unjust people. But we should also get over the conceit of thinking we’re much wiser than other people and therefore entitled to dictate to them how they must live their lives. And trying to force false, corrupted and non-Jewish ideologies on people in the name of Judaism cannot possibly end well for the Jewish people.

Martin Wasserman
Palo Alto


Israel’s enemies love this

The political spectacle conjured up by Israel-haters was given impetus by Bernie Sanders’ recent assertion that he would consider cutting aid to the Jewish state. Sanders is effectively threatening to renege on President Obama’s written commitment to provide aid to Israel for 10 years without reduction.

If the United States’ closest ally can’t count on the words of a written agreement, even one made by an anti-Israel president who revealed his ugly intent at the U.N. just before his term ended, why would anybody trust the word of Americans? Israel’s enemies love this stuff.

Jewish supporters of Sanders should comprehend that they are supporting self-destructive behavior. While they might reassure themselves that they are upholding their lofty principles, they are surely smart enough to draw the line at suicide.

Desmond Tuck
San Mateo


No respect for Dershowitz

I respected all Jews until Alan Dershowitz defended a man called Epstein that he knows is a very sick man.

What if this happened to your daughter or mine?

That’s all I got to say about that.

Timothy Dean
McDonough, Georgia

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