Letter to the editor: Dec. 11, 2019


Embarrassment, dismay at company’s practices

As a volunteer tutor through OASIS, I recently had the privilege of attending a workshop presented by Bruce Hunter, a former school principal and facilitator for “CharacterPlus.” A program initiated by Sanford McDonnell, former CEO of McDonnell Douglas, its mission is to provide guidance to teachers in order to encourage students to become good citizens, develop kind souls and grow into ethical people.  

One of the sources the seminars quote is Dr. Thomas Lickona, psychologist, educator and author of “Character Matters.”  “When we think about the kind of character we want for our children, it’s clear that we want them to be able to judge what is right, care deeply about what is right, and then do what they believe to be right—even in the face of pressure from without and temptation from within.”  While not a religion-based program, those ideals certainly fall in line with our Jewish values.

At the same time, I’ve been reading with interest Tony Messenger’s columns in the Post-Dispatch about T.E.H. Realty and the company’s lack of attention to the low-income housing projects they run in St. Louis and Kansas City.  I was sad and disappointed to learn that the owners of this corporation are Jewish citizens of Israel. 

From the time I was a youngster, growing up in the 1950s not so long after World War II, my parents made it clear to me that we were expected to be model citizens, be good examples of “our people” and that when a Jewish person did something wrong or illegal, it reflected badly on all of us.  “Is it good for the Jews?” was a phrase that still resonates in my brain. 

Historically it doesn’t take much for uneducated folks to buy into a negative stereotype of Jewish people.  So it is with embarrassment and dismay that I read about the terrible conditions in which tenants are forced to live, how the local managers fail to be accountable to their clients, their legal representation is dismissive of the courts and how the Israeli owners are bilking their investors out of millions of dollars. 

Call me idealistic.  I’ll admit I’m naïve.  I think it’s a shonda that a sad situation is being perpetrated by members of my faith. Sandy McDonnell expressed it beautifully when introducing his Character Plus training program:  “Since retiring as chairman of McDonnell Douglas in 1988, I have been devoting myself full-time to getting character education back into the public schools.  We don’t want young people graduating into our corporations or communities who are brilliant but dishonest, who have great intellectual knowledge but don’t really care about others.” 

 Amen, sir.  Amen.

Sherilyn Krell, Olivette