We were wrong about the history of the Yom Rishon school; Etc. – J.


Yom Rishon’s story was wrong

I was quite surprised to read your September 17th article on Yom Rishon School in Los Altos. My child is in the photo used for the article, and my two children have been in school for several years, as toddlers, early elementary school and now pre-teens. While it is true that our family is from one of the countries of the former Soviet Union and we speak Russian at home, I think you misunderstood the school and what it does.

Yom Rishon is a Jewish school, a place to learn about Jewish festivals and traditions, listen to Jewish songs, do Jewish-themed crafts with your youngest children, and talk about Torah and Torah characters. art with your 10 year old.

He does not teach Russian language or literature, and never has.

Classes are taught in Russian, as it is a common language shared in our community, but it is a school of Jewish heritage, not a school for teaching the Russian language and of Russian heritage.

It’s not that different from the weekend religious schools for kids in Bay Area synagogues, and I can directly compare as my kids have attended both. It’s not that different from teaching Jewish traditions in any diaspora, in that diaspora’s language.

Just look at the name and content of the taught courses. Gan Haggim, for the youngest, concerns Jewish holidays, My Jewish Discovery is intended for the first children of elementary school, teaching the stories, values ​​and traditions of the Torah.

All school events are organized around Jewish holidays. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed Rosh Hashanah picnics, shofar, celebrating Chanukah, super colorful Purim shpiels, and wonderful Passover seders.

For our part, we are grateful for what the school does and everything it has taught our children over the years as it began their Jewish journey in a language they knew well.

Hanna Firman

“A big bad service”

I was appalled to read your article on the Yom Rishon school. As a parent of two school graduates, I was surprised to learn that we send our children to study Russian culture and cinema.

The program and the experiences you describe in the article couldn’t be further from the truth.

The aim of the school is to promote Jewish culture and traditions, not Russian ones.

School children learn about Jewish holidays, Jewish texts and Israeli culture. Many young children who attend school do not yet speak English. Their first exposure to Jewish traditions comes from Yom Rishon in Russian.

Yom Rishon is a unique institution in the Bay Area that caters to Russian-speaking Jews. It offers our children the opportunity to immerse themselves in Jewish life, something we were denied growing up in the Soviet Union.

Your newspaper’s characterization of the institution as a place for learning Russian culture is doing the school and its mission a huge disservice.

Georgiy Goldenberg
Los Altos

J. should apologize

J.’s article on the Yom Rishon school, unfortunately, grossly distorted the nature and philosophy of the school.

My children have attended this school in the past, and it is solely focused on Jewish culture, religion, language, history and traditions.

The article stated that it focused on Russian culture and language. The only relationship the Yom Rishon school has with Russian is the fact that he teaches Judaism in Russian, just like the Jews who live in, say, Mexico learn Judaism in Spanish.

I ask you to post a public apology, remove these inaccuracies, and indicate the correct information. It is a school entirely dedicated to Judaism and to Jewish culture, religion, language, history and traditions.

Alex levich
mountain view

EDITOR’S NOTE: The three letters above represent nearly two dozen similar letters sent to J., and the authors are correct. “Passing on the joy of the Russian language to the next generation,” our September 17 article on the Yom Rishon school, misrepresented what the school does. Yom Rishon School teaches Judaism and Jewish traditions; the main language of instruction is Russian, which is the language shared by students and their parents / grandparents. The school does not teach Russian language or literature. We apologize for any problem this may have caused.

Yes, interfaith inclusion!

Many thanks to Edmund Case and J. for his opinion piece on including partners from different religious backgrounds in synagogue life (“Who is included in the ‘we’ of our prayers?” August 26) .
I am in a long term interfaith relationship and can attest to many of the points mentioned in the article. A rabbi once told me that he told his daughters that he hoped they would marry Jewish men, and regarding interfaith marriage he said, “We have lost this battle.

Needless to say, these comments didn’t help my partner feel at home. To be fair, I believe the rabbi was sincere and was trying to adjust to the changing demographics within Judaism.

I particularly appreciate these comments from Mr. Case regarding the conversion: “Conversion should not be a condition of inclusion. This should be seen as a positive result of inclusion.

Inclusion should happen on its own, to create that sense of belonging that we want and need. This is the best way to foster a strong sense of community in any congregation.

Myriam Menzel
San Francisco

Dogs, God and ‘thank you’

Shortly before opening the August 31 issue of J. and reading the article on Jon Grobman (“He was sentenced to life in prison. Rescue dogs – and a rabbi – helped him find redemption ”), I said to my husband:

“After a day of reading and re-reading the attributes of God on Yom Kippur, I understand what dogs mean to us. They share the attributes that we attribute to God. They are all loving, all forgiving, all compassionate, all faithful. The dogs stay close to us, and if they are not nearby, they will be as soon as we call them.

With the help of dogs and a Chabad rabbi, Jon Grobman was redeemed from a painful decree from a judge. He was rescued by the dogs as much as he rescued them.

This story touched me on several levels. Thank you.

Natalie Krauss Bivas
Palo Alto

Difficult abortion decisions

Reading Dena Stein and Rabbi Daniel Stein’s opinion piece on pregnancy and abortion (“Our Pregnancy Story Shows How Bad Texas’ New Abortion Law Is,” September 2, m ‘broke my heart.

They received a frightening ultrasound revealing that their baby may have “disorders ranging from Down syndrome to much more frightening results.” If further tests had confirmed a diagnosis, they would have undergone an abortion to avoid “a substantial risk of giving birth to a child who would perhaps only experience suffering and death”, but they “were blessed. [when] test after test came back negative.

A diagnosis of Down syndrome can be frightening for a new parent or a future parent. People with developmental differences are a minority, were largely institutionalized in the 1970s, and inclusion in schools is a relatively new and not universal practice, so many of us do not have a deep experience. and direct to be together.

The truth is that people with developmental differences are b’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God) just like the rest of us. They are exactly as they are meant to be.

We are all people. Neither of us has the prospect of judging whether another’s life is worth living or not, or whether he is experiencing the right emotions to make his life worth it.

Before my daughter was born, I probably would have felt the same as the Steins. I am fortunate that my wife refused genetic testing and that our daughter was born with Down syndrome. Being his parent is the greatest honor and blessing of my life (my typical developing son is an equal honor and blessing).

My heart opened in a way I never thought possible, and the experience was an impetus for tremendous growth.

She experiences all the emotions that everyone else feels – joy, love, upset, anger, silliness – and is a ray of sunshine in the world.

I think most people’s decision to have an abortion instead of having a child with a developmental difference comes from their fear of the unknown and the false premise that it’s kindness to stop certain guys of people to be born. I hope sharing a bit of my story will help people dig a little deeper.

Jack halperin
El Cerrito

AB 101 makes me say “eh”

I thank Tye Gregory, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and all of the other organizations, individuals and politicians who have worked to improve the proposed ethnic studies curriculum model and thus Assembly Bill 101 (“The Battle for Studies ethnicities gave us insight and resolution for the long run, ”online, September 22).

The final version of the program appears to correct critical flaws in previous versions. However, I note that Mr Gregory – as well as other speakers on the subject – seem to be hiding from the good faith of AB 101, indicating that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Why is that?

It appears that AB 101 allows a school district to use (at least part of) older and materially defective versions of the curriculum.

And while supporters argue that the very first openly racist version of the program can’t be used (although I’m not sure that claim is absolutely true), they don’t dispute later but still very flawed versions.

In one of these versions, some Jews would benefit from “white privilege”. No other group is called for the same.

So why are these groups supporting AB 101? Is it because they are afraid of fighting against other liberal-leaning groups with which they also have a lot of affinities? Because they fear the alternative?

It is not enough, in my view, to simply recognize that challenges remain. What are these challenges? Why should we accept a faulty AB 101 if these challenges persist?

If the idea is that we can save some fights for another day, let’s at least be frank about what those fights will be so that we have a fuller and more candid discussion of the pros and cons of the current legislation.

Again, this does not detract from the tireless efforts of our Jewish organizations and leaders to protect the Jewish community. It’s just that after making great strides, they should please let us know what issues remain, why they persist, what the tradeoffs are and what to expect.

Bob shind
Los Angeles


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