Jewish Community Statement on the situation in Ferguson

Editor’s note: The following statement was released on Tuesday, Aug. 19 by the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and Jewish Community Relations Council, with 60+ signatories representing a broad swath of local Jewish community leadership.

The Jewish On Saturday, August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old was shot and killed after an encounter with police in Ferguson. In the days that followed, our region has experienced violence, along with anger, fear, rage, disbelief and bitterness. Even as the details are still emerging, we recognize the great sadness in our community today.

We mourn the loss of a young man. We mourn for a family who will never have the pleasure of watching their son accomplish his dreams. We see the bravery and devotion of our public servants who are attempting to maintain peace in the area. And we respect the hundreds, if not thousands, of non-violent protesters, including leadership from the St. Louis Jewish community, whose presence sends an important message that the citizens of St. Louis support a peaceful and just response to what occurred.  

We also recognize the difficulties that lie ahead. The continued violence and looting by some individuals is reprehensible and demonstrates that there will be no quick fix.  Even as we recognize that something must be done to protect all citizens and property from harm, we support continued thoughtful approaches to law enforcement. 


Ultimately, the situation in Ferguson is much broader than the tragic events that we are now witnessing.  We all must redouble our efforts to combat racism, poverty and economic inequality, so that every individual, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, has a chance to live a decent, meaningful life. And we must recognize the political and institutional changes that will be required to help achieve that end and to mitigate future conflicts.  

Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) are committed to furthering Jewish values for the benefit of all. As Jews, we offer our prayers (tefillot) for community healing. We ask for mercy (chesed) so that we all may act with kindness and empathy through this grief.  Our tradition compels us to do what we can to repair the world (tikkun olam), a world where trust and faith, hope and joy seem, at times, almost unreachable.   

Federation and JCRC, in coordination with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, our congregations and regional leadership have already supported the residents of Ferguson in multiple ways, including providing contributions of food and supplies. We have been in talks with community leadership to offer our help in a manner that would be productive. Longer-term efforts are being planned to sustain our community’s engagement with regional issues.  

Federation and JCRC will continue to work behind the scenes and, when appropriate, out front to ensure that our community plays a role in strengthening the St. Louis region.    

May we all join in the hope of healing what is broken; working together to build a St. Louis that is safe, equal and just for all. That is a place in which every person will ultimately be remembered for the life he or she has fully lived, not mourned for a future that will never be.  

Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Patty Croughan, Board Chair, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Bob Millstone, Past Board Chair, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Batya Abramson Goldstein, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council 

Phyllis Markus, President, Jewish Community Relations Council

Gerry Greiman, Past President, Jewish Community Relations Council

Community Leadership Co-Signers 

Listed in alphabetical order by organization

Nancy Lisker, Regional Director, AJC

Kara Turner Newmark, Board Chair, AJC

Karen J. Aroesty, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League, Missouri/Southern Illinois

Roberta (Robbye) Frank, Board Chair, Anti-Defamation League, Missouri/Southern Illinois 

Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Bais Abraham Congregation 

Dr. Gregory Storch, President, Bais Abraham Congregation 

Sonia Dobinsky, Executive Director, Central Agency for Jewish Education

John Greenberg, President of Board of Directors, Central Agency for Jewish Education

Rabbi Randy Fleisher, Central Reform Congregation

Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation

Rabbi Josef A. Davidson, Adjunct Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Rabbi Ari Kaiman, Assistant Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Cantor Sharon Nathanson, Hazzan, Congregation B’nai Amoona 

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Michael Samis, Executive Director, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Cindy Schuval, President, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Rabbi James Stone Goodman, Congregation Neve Shalom

Rabbi James Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Rabbi Jeffrey B. Stiffman, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Cantor Seth Warner, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Greg Yawitz, President, Congregation Shaare Emeth 

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Rabbi Michael Alper, Congregation Temple Israel

Rabbi Mark L. Shook, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Temple Israel

Rabbi Amy Feder, Congregation Temple Israel

Dee Mogerman, President, Congregation Temple Israel

Joan Denison, Executive Director, Covenant Place

Alan Witte, Board President, Covenant Place

Monte L. Sandler, Board Chair, Jewish Community Center

Lynn Wittels, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Center 

L. Louis Albert, Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Fred Steinbach, President, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

David S. Weiss, Past President, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Rabbi Noah Arnow, Kol Rinah

Rabbi Mark Fasman, Kol Rinah 

Mitch Shenker, Chair of Board, Kol Rinah 

Lewis C. Chartock, Ph.D., President/CEO, MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries 

Enid Schatz, PhD, Chair of Board, Mizzou Hillel

Jeanne Snodgrass, Director, Mizzou Hillel

Paul Kravitz, Commission Chair, Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library

Barbara Raznick, Director, Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library

Betsy Gallop Dennis, President, Board of Directors, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School

Cheryl Maayan, Head of School, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School

Allen J. Karlin, Ph.D., President, Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community  

Rabbi Lane Steinger, Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community

Jacqueline Ulin Levey, President & CEO, St. Louis Hillel at Washington University

Lawrence Wittels, Board Chair, St. Louis Hillel at Washington University

Jean Cavender, Director, St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center

Kent Hirschfelder, Chair, St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanuel

Tzvi Freedman, Executive Director, Torah Prep School 

Rabbi Seth D. Gordon, Traditional Congregation

Cyndee Levy, President, Traditional Congregation

David Rich, President, U.City Shul

Cantor Ron Eichaker, United Hebrew Congregation 

Lexie Goldsmith, President, United Hebrew Congregation 

Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, Emeritus, United Hebrew Congregation

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg, United Hebrew Congregation 

Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro, United Hebrew Congregation 

Max Gornish, President, Young Israel of St. Louis

Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Young Israel of St. Louis