An inclusive community?

Our sages teach that the Second Temple was destroyed due to sin’at chinam, baseless hatred. The implication, of course, is that the Jewish people must overcome its inclination toward groundless hatred before we can merit the rebuilding of the Temple.


Emissaries of the Torah MiTzion Kollel strive to exemplify ahavat achim, love of one’s fellow man. Ahavat achim is rooted in God’s commandment, “ve’ahavta lereacha kamocha, you should love your neighbor/fellow as yourself.” In addition to their vast formal teaching, Uria and Vardit Teperberg — like their predecessors Boaz and Heftzi Genut — have modeled the value of ahavat achim in their teaching and in their relations with others. Through their exemplary adherence to this principle and mitzvah, they have done much to unite the St. Louis Jewish community.

The shameful letter from Michael Hamm, published in the June 18 Jewish Light, is like a beacon reminding us that, despite the many accomplishments of the kollel, much work remains in order to successfully erase sin’at chinam from our community.

Jeffrey Melnick

Creve Coeur

I was a lifetime resident of University City (56 years) until the fall of 2007. We relocated to the East Coast at that time for several reasons. But I have to say that the contrast in the Jewish Light June 18 certainly gave me a good laugh. It better reflected my view of the Jewish community that I knew and left 10 months ago. The Light’s article about University City’s top 10 status for Jewish living sounded nice and several quotes in the article referred to the cohesive Orthodox community which may be where my views differed. But the contrasting letter to the editor by Michael Hamm was more the St. Louis community that I watched develop over the last number of years. He was “dissappointed” in the Light’s article “Yachad Day Schools Unite”. He did not want his children receiving any information from a Solomon Schechter Day School teacher. That was quite a contrast to the references in the other article. He reinforced my differing view of the Jewish community that I saw. That Jewish community may give lip service being a “mosaic” of differing views that respect one another’s differences but I saw more of the views expressed by Mr. Hamm. His references to possibly being comfortable with some “innocuous” songs and blowing of trumpets by the others clearly paints a more realistic picture of what went on in my neighborhood.

I do want to say that University City itself was a wonderful place for me for a long time and I know for many it still is but it is the Jewish community that I found so disappointing. I will always love the U. City of my youth and my children’s childhood but today’s Jewish community is a very different place.

Rhona Yolkut

Riverdale, N.Y.