Women’s March, Jewish journalism, interfaith honors

Ellen Futterman

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Walk this way

I’ve been reading a lot in newspapers and on social media about the controversy dogging the third annual Women’s March, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday at numerous locations around the country, including St. Louis. Organizers started the event soon after President Donald Trump took office in 2017 in an effort to promote gender equality, civil rights, reproductive rights and other women’s issues.

A number of cities — Chicago, New Orleans and Cincinnati, among others  — canceled their marches this year because of issues of anti-Semitism and mismanagement on the part of some of the co-chairs of Women’s March Inc., based in Washington, D.C. According to several articles and news reports, national organizers Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory came under fire because of their connections to the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of anti-Semitic statements.

Lauren Davis, one of the organizers of the St. Louis Women’s March, who happens to be Jewish, wants women (and men) here to understand that the local event is separate from the one in D.C., or any other city, for that matter. And, she adds, the local march certainly does not condone anti-Semitic or hate rhetoric of any kind.

“The D.C. march makes it seem like it’s a national parent to the other marches, and it’s not,” she explained. “Even though we share the Women’s March as part of our name, each individual march is run by completely different people, including myself. We use our own funds to plan it, we have no affiliation whatsoever with the D.C. march or any others so I cannot speak to them about their connections to Farrakhan or any anti-Semitic behavior.  

“I think it is unfortunate that they have tried to claim this as a national system, when each of us individually is suffering the effects of their behavior and their choices.”

Davis hopes women of all faiths, races and backgrounds will take part in Saturday’s march because “this

movement has brought so much inspiration to so many. Our goal is to take that a step further and connect women here with resources so they can see their work making a positive change in the community.”

She said more than 30 community organizations will be set up to offer volunteer and outreach opportunities to forward the goals of the march aimed at “dismantling the systems in place that marginalize people, be it women, Jews, African Americans,” or any other disenfranchised group.

The event here will begin with a program at 10 a.m. in front of Union Station, with the march to begin at 10:30 and head down Market Street. Davis noted that the actual march portion would be shorter this year because participants cannot use the Arch grounds, which are off-limits due to the government shutdown.

Davis said that she, too, has read a lot about the controversy as it relates to Jewish women, in particular. What resonated most was a comment from a woman rabbi in California who said no one is served by ceding her seat at the table out of spite or anger, especially women who need that seat to help facilitate change to advance themselves and their sisterhood.

For more information, go to www.stlwomensmarch.com.


Jewish journalism needs your support

From June 23 to 26, St. Louis will welcome the American Jewish Press Association for its 2019 annual conference. This is the first time in 45 years that our city has hosted the conference, so this is a pretty big deal.

Journalists and newspaper leaders from across the United States and Canada will spend three days here attending workshops and seminars aimed at growing their audience and tackling the most pressing issues facing Jewish media today. The conference will culminate in the 38th annual Rockower Awards, given in multiple categories for excellence in Jewish journalism. In the past 10 years, the Jewish Light has received more than 35 of the awards.

As a member of the local Jewish community, I urge you to support the 2019 AJPA Conference by becoming a sponsor of the event. Sponsorships can be something as simple as a congratulatory advertisement in the conference program, contributing to the cost of a conference meal or even underwriting the Rockower banquet, where the awards are given out.

Hosting the 2019 conference allows us to show the rest of the nation just how unique and supportive the St. Louis Jewish community is. Sponsors who donate $4,000 or more will have the opportunity to address the AJPA group at the conference, which includes journalists from some of the largest Jewish newspapers in the country as well as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). 

For more details about sponsorship, call me at 314-743-3669 or email [email protected]

TI honors Muslim doctors who started local clinic

Temple Israel is hosting a special Shabbat service and award ceremony Friday, Jan. 18 to present its Malachi Interfaith Award to Salam Clinic, a free clinic founded by St. Louis area Muslim doctors with two locations in north St. Louis. The award aims to honor the clinic for its work in providing free medical care to in-need St. Louisans.

The clinic was chosen by faith leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Catholic communities after a month-long nomination process that yielded many submissions for worthy programs, services, and leaders that serve people of all faiths and bridge communities. Salam Clinic was chosen both for its extraordinary work in serving others, as well as its decision to provide services in locations based on greatest need, regardless of faith, race or ethnicity.

The Friday event begins at 6 p.m. with heavy hors d’oeuvres at Temple Israel, #1 Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin Dr. Shabbat services and the award presentation are at 6:30 followed by a dessert reception. Representatives from Salam Clinic will be awarded the Malachi Interfaith Medal of Honor and a $5,000 cash prize.

TI established the Malachi Award Competition in 1986 to showcase individuals, programs and acts of outstanding excellence in the area of interfaith relations. The award seeks to honor individuals and groups that have acted at the highest level of religious tradition with a positive course of action. 

Save the date

Women’s Philanthropy, an agency of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, is inviting women in the community to attend its 2019 Community Engagement Event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. at the Frontenac Hilton. The event focuses on the nearly 30 women’s organizations in the local Jewish community and feature an inspirational talk entitled “Finding your Niche” by Rucki Koval, an Orthodox mother of seven who is co-founder and director of the Jewish Family Experience in Cleveland. And not to worry — kosher food from St. Louis’ kosher caterers will be on hand.

The cost of the event is $36 and valet parking is included. Invitations will be mailed but for more information, contact Katie Sheldon at 314-442-3751.

News and Schmooze is a weekly column by Editor Ellen Futterman. Email Ellen at: efutterman@thejewishlight.com