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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Missouri adopts IHRA antisemitism definition


Dozens of members of the St. Louis Jewish community were on hand in Jefferson City Wednesday as Missouri adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and recognized September as Jewish American Heritage Month. The month was chosen to coincide with the High Holiday season.

“Missouri’s own Harry S. Truman was the first world leader to officially recognize Israel as a legitimate Jewish state, and we continue our proud support for members of the Jewish faith today,” said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson at a gathering Wednesday in Jefferson City, Mo., to announce two new initiatives.

Until today, Missouri was one of approximately 20 states that had neither a legislative act nor a gubernatorial proclamation endorsing the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism.

On hand for the ceremony included Brian Herstig, president, and CEO of Federation, Dr. Francis Levine, Interim Director or the St. Louis Holocaust Museum, Jordan Kadosh ADL Heartland Regional Director, Rabbi Yosef Landa, regional director, of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, Rabbi Chaim Landa, co-director, of Chabad of St. Charles County, Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, Director of the Jewish Student Union and Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, chairman of Coalition for Jewish Values in Missouri. Wanting to put Missouri ‘on the map’ of those states that endorse IHRA, Smason worked to get the governor to act. 

“I reached out to a friend, accomplished attorney and longtime activist on behalf of the Jewish community Harvey Tettlebaum, to ask about placing a proclamation before Missouri’s governor endorsing the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, including the contemporary examples of antisemitism set forth within,” Smason said.

Together Rabbi Smason and Tettlebaum crafted a draft based on similar proclamations from other states. Tettlebaum got the draft in front of Gov. Parson, who last week announced he would sign it on September 20.

The IHRA definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestation of antisemitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions, and religious facilities.”

“We want to take this opportunity to unequivocally reject antisemitism towards Jewish people and bigotry of any kind. Today and every day, we say hate and discrimination have no home in Missouri,” Parson said.

The governor’s proclamation comes on the heels of a recent Anti-Defamation League report showing antisemitic incidents doubled in Missouri between 2021 and 2022.

“The governor of how his many trips to Israel changed his perspective, and you got a profound feeling that he loved and respected the Jewish people, and he and the state were committed to protecting the Jewish people and supporting them,” Smason said.

“The governor’s proclamation is especially noteworthy because it recognizes the contributions of Jewish Americans and sets guidelines for tolerance at a moment when antisemitic activity is the highest it’s ever been,” said Jordan Kadosh, ADL Heartland Regional Director. “We would like to thank Governor Parson for bringing us into early discussions on this effort and for honoring the cultural contributions of all Missourians.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parsons and Jordan Kadosh of the ADL.

In remarks to the group after the governor spoke, Smason said the significance of the proclamation is that it is directed to all minorities in Missouri.

“The rising tide lifts all the boats. We are making a stand against all hate.  This proclamation is significant to the Jewish community, but to all minorities as well,” said Smason.


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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.