Steuart Street entrance to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation (FILE PHOTO)
Steuart Street entrance to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation (FILE PHOTO)

Thank you, Federation; You forgot our temple shop; Empty shelves and anti-Semitism

Shoutout to Fed, Janet Harris

I am the director of a small Jewish preschool in Marin County (Gan Preschool). I am writing today to say thank you to the Jewish Community Federation (“Federations, JFCS, Hebrew Free Loan announce coronavirus emergency funds,” March 18). The Federation supports Jewish preschools in so many ways. The financial help the Federation extends to preschools is so appreciated and the value is understood clearly.

I want to say thank you for something equally as valuable, but less quantifiable. That something is actually a someone. Thank you Federation, for employing a knowledgeable, courageous, clear thinker to lead this program. Janet Harris, Director of the Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative, is someone who over the years has advised, directed and encouraged many, many directors (including me) to expand our vision, support each other and create a place for everyone in the Jewish community.

During this current crisis, I am super thankful for Janet’s reassuring, competent leadership. She is holding all of us, in this newly fragile Jewish early childhood world, in a tight, reassuring embrace. At this difficult time, when I have to be a strong leader for my community and families, it is vital as a community leader to have a strong, competent pillar that I, and all early childhood leaders, can turn to for encouragement, support and advice.

Janet and Denise Moyes-Schnur, associate director at the Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative, deserve a standing ovation!

Gittel Goodman,
San Rafael

Oversight on temple gift shops

We are sorely disappointed that our fully stocked Judaica shop was not mentioned in your recent article (“With Passover approaching, temple gift shops pick up where now-closed Judaica stores left off,” March 26). Our volunteers have been serving the South Bay and Santa Cruz area for over 30 years, under the roof of Temple Beth El in Aptos.

We carry ritual items and Israeli-made products similar to those of the stores you cite. Our profits fund camperships and a host of worthwhile projects for congregants and the broader Jewish community.

Our staff feels that you would rather purchase a tallit you can try on in front of a mirror, hold the Kiddush cup in your hand, be dazzled by a selection of over 50 mezuzot, and ask questions of friendly, knowledgeable mavens, than shop online.

Shirley Ginzburg and Ruth Solomon,

The Torah’s way

Thank you, Vladimir Kaplan (“Illogical use of Torah,” March 20) for responding to my March 6 letter (“A Torah-values voter”). In my letter I quoted parashah Mishpatim, in which Jews are directed to take care of strangers, and then asked whether these Torah principles G-d commanded us to follow are as important to consider as is support for Israel — if not more so, when judging the president or any Democratic candidate.

Mr. Kaplan graciously responded that “[p]lacing support of Israel on an equal footing with caring for strangers — and claiming that this is the Torah’s way — could have come only from misplaced priorities.” This response avoids the import of the question. The Torah’s way is much more than the creation of a Jewish homeland. Torah is about the 613 mitzvot, it’s about living a righteous life, it’s about honesty. Our Torah is about G-d.

Our Torah is about more than I can understand, and I will not pretend to do so. My priority is Torah, and I trust Mr. Kaplan would agree that it is not misplaced to consider all that our Torah teaches — not just the creation of a Jewish homeland — when judging our president or a Democratic Party candidate.

Mark P. Cohen,

Empty shelves, empty promises

An old adage asserts: Nothing is so bad that it isn’t good for something. Those who have supported presidential candidates advocating socialism fail to understand the huge difference between increasing the social programs, within a democratic system, and “political socialism.”

Amid the Covid-19 epidemic, Americans have seen grocery store shelves completely emptied of toilet paper, Kleenex and frozen vegetables. The same empty shelves were a hallmark of socialist/communist regimes, as all residents of the former Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc vassal states will attest.

Further, there has been a recent disconnect among a notable portion of American Jews and the Jewish State of Israel. It is not just an issue of being critical of Israel’s political positions. Every democracy expects criticism. However, when candidates — such as Bernie Sanders — seeking the highest office in the land, seek and accept support from our era’s most well-known haters of Jews and Israel, such as Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, it behooves us all to consider how our support of such candidates could put our own lives at risk here in the USA.

America’s tacit anti-Semitism of the 1930s and 1940s, well described in the 1947 movie “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” has had a noted resurgence in recent years. We must unite against those who welcome, or support, any Jew-haters, lest we all be drowned by the growing acceptability of that dogma here in America.

Fred Korr,

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