Letters to the Editor, April 16, 2014

Taking a stand against hatred 

The shootings in Overland Park remind us yet again that the scourge of anti-Semitism is alive and well right here in Missouri. This critical issue has all but fallen to the back burner as Jews of all stripes grow comfortable in their surroundings and lifestyle. Unfortunately, that sense of comfort appears at best ill placed.

We cannot allow groups like those supporting the likes of Frazier Glenn Cross to continue unchallenged. Unfortunately, this is another reminder that the days of fighting anti-Semitism are far from over. We can no longer lull ourselves into a false sense of security, assured that our abilities to practice Jewish traditions as we see fit will continue and improve. The growing disparity in income between the “haves” and the “have nots” in this country will likely foment social unrest that will result not simply in an increase in anti-Semitism but all forms of racial strife.

At this Pesach season we must remind ourselves that no one is free until we are all free. Free from prejudices that cause the kind of horror witnessed on Sunday in Overland Park. Let us learn from this tragedy. Let us talk with our children.  Let us talk with friends and family. We cannot stand idly by as we watch the embers of hatred smolder and burn. The time is now.   It is our obligation to rise as one and take a stand against hatred.

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Jay B. Umansky

President, The Midwest Jewish Congress


‘Right to Work legislation is deception

The “right to work” legislation before the Missouri legislature should be called the “right to work for less.”This is an organized effort to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing. These  so-called  “right to work” laws threaten the very foundation of our country by taking away the voice of workers to protect the basic rights of fair wages, freedom from discrimination and the right to organize. Economists tell us that “right to work” laws devastate economic justice. They lower wages and benefits for all workers. They increase poverty for all people. Workers tell us that these laws decrease cooperation, collaboration and solidarity.

“Right to Work” laws drive down wages and make it harder for working families to find jobs with good wages and decent pension plans. If “right to work” becomes law, working families are going to have less money to spend, which means businesses could suffer. In this economy, I think we should be focusing on ways that businesses and labor unions can work together to create good jobs instead of the government focusing on such divisive, partisan issues. If Missouri were to pass this law, wages would go down and our entire community would suffer. As Governor Jay Nixon pointed out recently, last year Missouri ranked in the top 10 nationally in private sector job growth — better than every single one of our “right to work” neighbors.

Every major religious denomination has condemned this legislation as attacking the most vulnerable. “Right to work” laws go against everything we believe. They profit those who already hold power and wealth and lead to even more extreme disparities and extreme divisions. Each of us must take responsibility for speaking out and taking action to prevent a terrible injustice from occurring in Missouri.

Rabbi Susan Talve

Central Reform Congregation