Traditional to hold Israel Bonds dinner


After starting out in a congregant’s basement, Traditional Congregation’s annual Israel Bonds dinner has become an enduring tradition and a point of pride for the congregation. For more than thirty years, Traditional Congregation has held the event, supporting the sale of the bonds, which help provide investment capital for the State of Israel.

This year, the event will take place on Dec. 1 at the synagogue, located at 12437 Ladue Rd. The event, which is open to the community, starts with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Robert M. Evans, Middle East correspondent for CNN Radio, will be the featured speaker. Evans will speak on “Israel at 60: Thriving Under Threat.”

Congregant Esther Abramson-Krut, who is co-chair along with Dr. Isaac Boniuk of this year’s 2007 State of Israel Bonds Dinner, has been a driving force in establishing the annual event.

After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Abramson-Krut said she wanted a way to have ongoing financial support of Israel.

“I was thinking of a way of connecting with Israel, not sporadically when there is a catastrophe and raising funds, which we always do, and are very good at, but not doing it as a charity — doing it more as an act of investment and connection,” she said.

So back in 1974, she hosted the first Israel Bonds Dinner in her home. The forty people attending purchased $45,000 in bonds.

“For such a small gathering, it was quite astonishing,” Abramson-Krut said. “And it gave me the chutzpah the following year to go back to the board and show how successful we had been.”

Since 1975, the Israel Bonds dinners have taken place at the congregation, with Abramson-Krut and Dr. Boniuk working together on the events. Boniuk said these days, the event typically raises funds for the purchase of about $200,000 in Israel Bonds, although it has reached as high as $600,000.

State of Israel Bonds is an international organization that offers securities issued by the government of Israel. The organization has secured more than $26 billion in investment capital to help develop Israel’s infrastructure and improve the Israeli economy.

For Abramson-Krut, buying Israel Bonds is an important act of tzedakah. “According to Maimonides…the highest form of tzedakah is enabling the recipient to be self-sufficient,” she said.

Abramson-Krut said she was a recipient of charity as a child when her parents immigrated to Israel from Europe after the Holocaust.

“It wasn’t a very dignified position to be in,” she recalled. “As an adult, I thought ‘we have to state our connection with Israel not just when things are awful, but on an ongoing committed sort of way,'” Abramson-Krut said.

In addition, purchasing bonds shows a commitment to the stability of Israel, she said.

“On a psychological level, when we invest our money in a corporation for example, we seek one that is firm, that is there to stay,” she said.

“And so psychologically when we buy a bond, we say, you are not there just in between wars, you are a firm entity that will be there forever,” she said.

Boniuk said that the annual dinner has taken on a new significance after the St. Louis office of State of Israel Bonds closed a couple of years ago. Now Boniuk and Abramson-Krut work to maintain St. Louis’ support with the help of the Chicago office.

And for 2007, Abramson-Krut said that although some congregations have held bond drives, Traditional Congregation is the only St. Louis synagogue that is holding a State of Israel Bonds event for the year.

This year’s Israel Bonds Dinner will recognize this year’s honoree, Dr. Alan Rosenberg, who is also the president of Traditional Congregation.

Abramson-Krut said Rosenberg has been a consistent, strong supporter of State of Israel Bonds. Rosenberg served as the organization’s chairman from 1971 to 1975, when he lived in Connecticut, and has been an active supporter in St. Louis.

Rosenberg said that buying Israel Bonds is a “win-win situation.”

“It’s something I’ve supported over the years, because you kind of kill two birds with one stone: you help Israel on the one hand, which is a mitzvah, and you have a very safe investment with a good return, so you help yourself at the same time,” he said.

As far as being this year’s honoree, Rosenberg said, “While it’s flattering, I’ve been in this long enough to realize, that its really not about the honorees. It is really about supporting Israel and Israel Bonds.”

Tickets to Traditional Congregation’s State of Israel Bonds Dinner are $40. Dietary laws will be observed. For more information contact the synagogue office at 314-576-5230, or call Esther Abramson-Krut 314-997-0430. Or, for more information about State of Israel Bonds, call Lee Lazar at 1-800-969-3987.