More than 500 turn out for walk supporting Israel

Andrew Kerman
Young participants wave Israeli flags at the ‘Walk in Support of Israel’ held Sunday at the I.E. Millstone Jewish Community Campus. More than 500 people turned out for the event, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. See Bob Cohn’s story and additional photos on page 4. For a gallery of more than 100 images from the event, visit Photo: Andrew Kerman

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

More than 500 people participated in Sunday’s “Walk in Support of Israel,” which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem.  

Even the weather cooperated with the event—a blue sky with white clouds—the national colors of the State of Israel.  At noon, participants of all ages gathered on the back parking lot at the Staenberg Family Complex, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, and then walked to the four corners of Schuetz Road and Lindbergh Boulevard in a show of solidarity for Israel.  The march came off without incident and there were no counter-demonstrators along the way.

After the walk, marchers returned to the pavilion in the back parking lot of the Jewish Community Center for Israeli food, catered by Kohn’s Kosher Deli, as well as lively Israeli music and remarks by event organizers and community leaders. An official proclamation from Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was read, which expressed support for the march and rally and urged all Missourians to support the State of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Speakers included Mike Minoff, one of the organizers of the event; Rick Cornfeld, a local leader of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Michael Oberlander of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis; Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg of United Hebrew Congregation and Rabbi Menachem Tendler of U. City Shul. Students from the Epstein Hebrew Academy and the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School also offered remarks on recent experiences from class trips to Israel.

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“Each and every day, the hearts of millions of people around the globe pray with their bodies facing Jerusalem,” said Tendler. “For the over 2,000 years that we were banished from our homeland, Jerusalem remained the symbol of the yearning Jewish heart. And finally, on June 7, 1967, the dreams of millions of people, who had prayed and composed countless songs of our dreams of Yerushalaim were realized.”

Oberlander offered a prayer of gratitude and remembrance to the Israeli soldiers who died in the 1967 Six-Day War and in all of the various wars in which Israel had to defend itself from destruction. 

“Blessed is the Lord who goes with you into battle,” he said.

Rosenberg noted that she grew up in Houston, “which every year had a major event in support of Israel.”  She spoke of the vital importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people and recalled the stirring song, “Jerushalyim Shel Zahav”—Jerusalem of Gold.  She also recalled the rabbinic wisdom that along with the sweetness of honey comes the sting of the bee. “We bless both the sting and the sweetness.  Israel is a land of desert and great cities. It is modern and it is ancient. It is our home and it has many shades of gray. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Among the enthusiastic participants was Richard Senturia, president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America.  

“I had a pre-existing condition of loving Israel,” Senturia said.  “When I was a kid, my dad, Irwin Senturia was an ardent Zionist who was proud that in 1936 he was able to raise enough money for the pre-state Jewish community in Israel to buy an ambulance.”

Also present were Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and his mother, Beverly Rehfeld, an active council member of the of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Asked what impact the reunification of Jerusalem had on her, Beverly Rehfeld said, “It was profound. I was in Philadelphia at the time, and like Jews all over the world, I was immensely proud that after 2,000 years Jerusalem was again united.”

Also present were non-Jewish supporters of Israel, including Jim Conrady of Christians United for Israel. He said the group grew from a modest beginning decades ago, and now has a membership nationally of 3 million Christian supporters of Israel.

Participants wore blue and white “Walk with Israel” T-shirts and carried Israeli flags, which gave the event a festive atmosphere. “It sure is nice to come together to show support for Israel in the midst of all the negative news lately,” said one happy participant.

Irl Solomon, one of the event organizers, said plans are in the works to make the walk an annual event. 

“Next year we hope to reach 1,000 participants, and the success of this year gives us hope that can happen,” he said.