JCRC admits MaTovu, J Street as members


Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Two local Jewish organizations, MaTovu and the St. Louis chapter of J Street, were approved for full membership in the council of the Jewish Community Relations Council, in a meeting via Zoom Monday evening.

The JCRC is the central coordination umbrella organization; its council is comprised of representatives from now 35 groups (given the two just added), up to 10 at-large members and the JCRC’s Board of Directors. According to its mission statement, JCRC works “to enhance cooperation with other religious, racial, ethnic, and civic groups; foster a just, democratic and pluralistic society; and promote the security of Israel and Jews everywhere. Guided by Jewish values, the JCRC advocates, educates, collaborates, and mobilizes action on issues important to the Jewish Community.”

MaTovu, which tends to attract 20 and 30-something Jews, is an organization based in south St. Louis that sponsors a variety of social, cultural and educational programs designed to enrich connections to Judaism.

J Street St. Louis describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace and supportive of a two-state solution of the Jewish state of Israel and an independent de-militarized Arab state of Palestine.”

JCRC President Deborah Price said that a quorum of eligible voters was present, with 46 out of 57 members. David Bohm, a past president of the JCRC, presided over the new membership discussion. Bohm said that no “ad hominim” personal attacks would be permitted.

Following a spirited but respectful discussion, the Council voted to admit both groups to full membership. MaTovu was admitted by a vote of 41-1, with four abstentions. J Street was admitted by a vote of 36-7, with three abstentions. In order to be admitted, each group needed a two-thirds majority.

In the discussion, no one spoke against admitting MaTovu. J Street was supported by Joe Pereles, a former JCRC President and Rabbi Jim Bennett of Congregation
Shaare Emeth, among others.

Rabbi Ze’ev Smason of Nusach Hari B’nai Zion spoke against J Street for its frequent criticism of Israel and
its use of terms like “occupiers” and “apartheid.” Irl Solomon of the Zionist Organization of America also expressed opposition to the admission of J Street.