Letters to the Editor: April 23, 2014

Standing together as one Jewish community

I am writing to my fellow Jewish people in the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox communities. As a proud Conservative Jew, I received an education from Solomon Schechter Day School while I was growing up. I was exposed to Conservative traditions and the balance of Jewish studies and secular studies gave me all the tools I needed to succeed. 

Today, the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School is looking to find that balance. For the first time in the history of Jewish education, a Reform school and Conservative school merged together and formed one beacon for Jewish education. This dream was carried out through the passion and dedication to Jewish education. Key members of the community devoted their time to see this opportunity through.  

We are at a very important juncture in our Jewish education community. The Reform, Conservative and Orthodox community must work together. For me, a Conservative Jewish education is the most beautiful thing I have been exposed to in my 26 years. I was taught about kashrut, and why we keep these key laws and tradition intact. It is our connection to Hashem, our lifeline. We have a duty to keep our children open-minded to the all of the ideas of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements. Each holds the key for the future of our people. 

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We have the freedom of being a community that does not have to endure anti-Jewish laws. We are a community that should be finding every reason to work together. 

The reason we are able to stand together as a Jewish people is because of our historical ability to evolve. Let us be that resolve. We have one People, one Torah and one Promised Land — on those three pillars we all stand. 

Daniel Movitz

St. Louis

Meaningful seder

I wanted to share the update I felt needed to be included in our seder this year. As well as honoring tradition, it is important to make our celebrations meaningful and relevant. 

Many of our holidays are about freedom and freedom to practice our religion. Because this is such a central tenet of Judaism, we have long been proponents of freedom for all. In many ways, we as a country, and as a civilization, have come far. Persecution and slavery are no longer accepted, legalized institutions. Laws can be hard to change, but it is harder to change human nature. The hate crime shooting in Kansas City makes us very aware that while slavery no longer exists, the hate and ignorance that led to it still do. We cannot become complacent.

I suggest that this Passover season, while we celebrate the joy of our people escaping bondage in Egypt, we pray for a time when all people can escape the bondage of hate, ignorance and mistrust. Only in this way, do I believe, can we truly work for peace. I suggest we also take a moment to pray for the families of those who were murdered in Kansas City, and for all those who are affected by hatred.

When we celebrate the holidays, frequently they are on autopilot. I don’t know if I have ever really challenged myself, or my family, to dig deeper and think about what all of this really means, beyond just practicing the accepted ritual.

In that spirit, I proposed a twist on one of the most well known rituals of Passover: The Four Questions.

I’d like you to think about the answers, but maybe more importantly, think about what the questions really should be. Here is my version:

Tonight’s Four Questions

• Can we truly be free if our freedom comes at someone else’s expense?

• Must there always be a persecuted group?

• What were some of the baby steps we’ve taken in our progress and what were some of the giant steps? How can we take more of these?

• What can I personally do in the coming week? Month? Year? To help move toward the goal of true freedom for all?

Loren Ludmerer