Letters to the editor | Jan. 20

Islanders write about the schools levy and react to the Texas synagogue hostage standoff.


Vote yes to renew schools levy

On Feb. 8, Vashon residents will have the opportunity to vote on the renewal of the Educational Programs and Operations Levy for Vashon Public Schools. This levy is a renewal of the current levy about to expire and is not a new or additional tax. It is a vital renewal of the existing source of funding for an array of programs that enrich, extend, and empower our public school students’ high-quality education and personal development beyond state-funded “basic education.”

Our district is exceptional in the enhanced classes, programs, and activities offered to its students and it is one of 160 other school districts in the state with levies on the Feb. 8 ballot. $3.9 million (16%) of our school district’s budget is derived from the levy funding!

We on Vashon take pride in our community and our public schools. One can see the hundreds of off-island students arriving and departing our island by ferry each day to get their education in Vashon public schools. There is a reason those families are committed to undertake the additional time and effort to provide their children the excellent education offered in our public schools.

The attraction is a selection of academics and extracurricular experiences including levy supported AP courses, sports, arts, theater, clubs, nature study, and enrichment programs. The levy also funds programs that support cultural diversity, and personal and emotional health and wellbeing.

Faculty and staff development is a significant part of the student, faculty collaboration that makes this possible. The levy provides the funding, not otherwise available, to provide the professional development and training that supports a high level of faculty and staff skill and performance.

Our children will find before them an array of complex and never considered issues as they find their place as adults in the world. We ask ourselves, “What can we do to support their success?”

One very effective response is to vote YES in support of the Vashon Public Schools levy on Feb. 8.

— Craig Klinkam


Vashon Havurah responds to national news

The Jewish community breathed a collective sigh of relief Saturday night to learn that the four Jewish hostages held in Texas were all released unharmed.

I spent the day Saturday oblivious to what unfolded. I have long had a goal to honor Shabbat by unplugging from screens and have begun that practice. Along with millions of observant Jews who are not connected to the news on Shabbat, I experienced the shock of coming out of the peaceful space of Shabbat to discover that my community was once again under attack.

In this era of electronic connectivity, it’s hard to unplug. The news cycle is so volatile, signing out for a day can feel scary, not knowing what might be missed. The three large anti-Jewish terrorist events of the past few years have all, not coincidentally, occurred during Shabbat services, making it more nerve-wracking to detach from the news cycle to honor the sabbath, let alone attend services. That Shabbat now carries this extra weight is sadly poignant. It is salt in the wound to the Jewish soul.

Sadly, even here, on rural and progressive Vashon Island, the Jewish community needs to take precautions to stay safe when attending services and events at the Havurah. The board will be discussing what training and actions we need to take to stay safe. It is a sad statement of the current climate.

Grief and outrage at situations like these are always helped by action. One action you can take now is to contact our senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, to ask them to confirm Professor Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Go to action.adl.org/0LmeztI.

Much repair is needed in these times as we work together to create a better world.

— Suzanne Greenberg, President of Vashon Havurah, for the Havurah Board