A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Biondo’s career arc in Jewish community began 25 years ago

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Even before Scott Biondo went to work as community security director for Jewish Federation of St. Louis, he was well-known in the St. Louis Jewish community.

“My first foray working in the local Jewish community was with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), we’re talking maybe 25 years ago,” says Biondo, who is not Jewish and has traced his ancestors from Sicily back to the 16th century.

As he remembers it, Karen Aroesty, who was regional director of the ADL Heartland from 2000 until 2021, had asked a mutual acquaintance, FBI agent Bill Francis, if he knew of anyone who could discuss security precautions at a seminar about antisemitism and domestic terrorism.

“Karen told Bill she wanted someone who could talk about securing facilities across a wide range of organization types as well as someone who understands domestic terrorism, domestic terrorist groups, and how those groups function,” Biondo says. “She was tossing it out to Bill like this, and he says, ‘I know the guy, Scott Biondo. This is what he does. He consults with a lot of major corporations.’ So I did the seminar and it went well and was very well-attended.”

For her part, Aroesty barely remembers a time not knowing Biondo, explaining, “He was one of the key people who was around the community for security even before I became (regional director), when I was an ADL board member.

“Then when I became (regional director), it was natural to engage him as personal security for (then-ADL national director) Abe Foxman when he came to town,” she says. “Scott’s attention to detail, his professionalism, and his willingness for flexibility – I had confidence and a sense of being safe because Scott was on top of it. He stayed as our main go-to.”

Biondo believes that cultivating relationships cemented his connections even more with the local Jewish community.

“It’s important to the Jewish community to feel that anyone they work with is recommended, referred, and liked by other people in the community,” he says. “And so it started to grow with Jewish groups that would contact me.”

Early on, he recalls Aish Hatorah contacting him to provide security for one of its galas. Then another Jewish organization did the same and another.

“Back then, I also got called to provide security for controversial figures that might be brought into St. Louis to speak, so people like (Israeli) Ambassador Dore Gold and Walid Shoebat, a Palestinian terrorist who had converted and was on a speaking tour. These guys had put themselves in harm’s way by speaking against the cause. There was a white supremacist who had woken up and saw the light named T.J. Lyden.,” says Biondo.

“The community would use me for that type of work. I still had my other business, and all the other stuff I was doing, but getting more engaged in the Jewish community.”

| RELATED: What people say about Scott Biondo

 

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About the Contributor
Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief
A native of Westbury, New York, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, neither guessing at the full range of her talents, nor the extent of her shoe collection. She went on to work at the Post-Dispatch for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on "Women Who Kill" and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, 'Children Having Children.'" Among her many jobs at the newspaper, Ellen was a columnist for three years, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Critic-at-large and Daily Features (Everyday) Editor. She invented two sections from scratch, one of which recently morphed from Get Out, begun in 1995, to GO. In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won 16 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzer’s — including two personally for Excellence in Commentary for her weekly News & Schmooze column. She also is the communications content editor for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Ellen and her husband, Jeff Burkett, a middle school principal, live in Olivette and have three children. Ellen can be reached at 314-743-3669 or at [email protected].