JCRC welcomes Frankel as new president

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

The installation of attorney Leonard Frankel to succeed Terry Bloomberg as president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, the presentation of awards to veteran and emerging community leaders were highlights of the organization’s 69th Annual Meeting, which was attended by 195 people last week at the Clayton Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Bloomberg, director of Developmental Child Care and a former president of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees, completed two years as president of the JCRC, an umbrella organization for 19 Jewish organizations, which was formed in 1938 to establish a communitywide approach to responding to issues of concern to the entire community. Frankel, a past president of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Congress and an attorney long active in civil rights and civil liberties concerns, was installed as the new president, by Lynn Lyss, immediate past president and chair of the JCRC Nominating Committee.

Bloomberg welcomed the 195 people who attended the JCRC Annual meeting, and took note of the diverse audience.

“We are delighted to have joining our JCRC ‘family’ today, faith leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic communities, leadership of the African-American, Bosnian and Hispanic communities, leadership of educational institutions, including Dr. Dennis Golden, president of Fontbonne University and Dr. David Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary, civic leaders, elected officials and aides, leadership of Jewish communal agencies and organizations, representatives of the Jewish Fund for Human Needs recipient agencies; and, a very special welcome to County Executive Charlie Dooley today.”Bloomberg added that the JCRC “is proud to be a constituent agency of the Jewish Federaton of St. Louis, and with us today are Federation leadership, including President Heschel Raskas, incoming President Sheila Greenbaum, and Barry Rosenberg, executive vice president.”

Raskas extended warm greetings to those in attendance, and praised the JCRC as “the public issues arm of our community,” and for its recognition and embrace of “the diversity of our community across the political, ideological and religious spectrum.”

The Michael N. and Barbara Newmark Emerging Leader Award, established by Michael Newmark, past president of the JCRC and Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and his wife Barbara, a past president of the St. Louis Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, was presented to Susan Mlynarcyzk, a certified public accountant, who began her association with the JCRC as a representative of the Jewish Community Center. She has been chair of the domestic issues committee of the JCRC, a member of the Jewish Environmental Initiative, and a member of the JCRC board of directors.

She was also “a valued Student-to-Student advisor for the past six years,” said Bloomberg in presenting her with the award.

The Norman A. Stack Community Relations Award, named for the late former executive director of the JCRC, was presented to Robert R. Archibald, Ph.d., who since 1988 has served as president and chief executive officer of the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. Archibald, author of The New Town Square: Museums and Communities in Transition, and A Place to Remember: Using History to Build Community, was praised for his “leadership role in many initiatives and organizations, including the St. Louis School Board and the City Government Charter Commission,” and for the ethnic communities project of the Missouri History Museum, which includes a major study of the Jewish community of Greater St. Louis, its history and ongoing accomplishments.

In her remarks, Batya Abramson-Goldstein, JCRC executive director said, “What are some of the issues we have worked on together for the peace of the community:

* We work towards the building of bridges of understanding and the combating of bigotry, whether expressed as racism, or anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, gay bashing, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing or any other vicious ‘ism.’

* We work towards implementation of humane immigration enforcement laws withing the context of comprehensive immigration reform legislation and effective enforcement principles.

* We are working towards the alleviation of poverty and for ensuring conditions that will allow families to move from poverty to ecomomic self-sufficiency, which includes the guarantee of a minimum wage, a position formally endorsed this year by our Council.”

Abramson-Goldstein, turning to foreign policy concerns, said, “looking abroad together, we work towards a resolution of the conflicts in the Middle East and an end to the genoice in Darfur. Looking ahead, we see another issue on the international scene that must be addressed: the threat to world peace created by Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. We will be turning to you, our friends and colleagues, and exploring ways we can educate and mobilize the St. Louis community on this vital issue. Keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a goald that unites people of diverse races, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and religions.”

“But let me be frank,” Abramson-Goldstein continued, “for American Jews, it is the profound threat to Israel posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, as evidence by Iran’s support of terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and the pernicious statements of (Iranian President) Mahmoud Ahmedinejad-including the assertion that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’-that make the prospect of a nuclear Iran terrifying and intolerable. Our heightened apprehension on behalf of the Jewish State, however, does not make this a Jewish issue or an Israel issue. It is a world issue. We believe that the Jewish community must be part of efforts to respond to the threat of a nuclear Iran. But we must not stand alone. I trust we will not. On this issue, as on so many others, we will, I believe, seek peace and pursue peace together.”

In his remarks, Leonard Frankel congratulated the honorees, and praised the leadership of the JCRC provided by Terry Bloomberg in her two years as president, and also expressed admiration for Batya Abramson-Goldstein, “who is regarded nationally by her colleagues as a major figure in this field.”

He recalled the influence on himself “as a young lawyer by such great leaders as Mel Newmark, Irl Baris and Don Wolff, who were wonderful mentors and teachers, and people I considered among my closest fields” who inspired him to volunteer for community relations, civil rights and civil liberties work.

“I look forward to working with all of you in the year ahead.”

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