Letters to the editor: Jan. 13, 2021


Staenberg family’s generosity deserves community’s deepest gratitude

In my 50+ years of residence in St. Louis, I have never written to the Jewish Light. However, learning of Michael Staenberg’s decision to step back from lead fundraising I wish to add my name to the torrent of appreciation which will be tendered to the Staenbergs. We have been blessed to have the Staenbergs as members of our community. Their good deeds are boundless. Kol Hakavod to this wonderful family. 

Harvey Friedman, University City

Counterpoint to recent column   

After I read Marty Rochester’s op-ed in the Dec. 30 issue, I found myself confused and even a bit insulted. He would have us believe that Americans are “idiots” because they can’t be sure of the founding date of the United States (the United States was not founded in 1619 or 1776 but 1789) or the stagnation of civics proficiency test scores.

This is after he pointed out that the 2020 Presidential election turnout was a record 73.7% and that both candidates exceeded previous election numbers making Biden’s win even more impressive. I find it more upsetting that he concludes that this is “the worst combination of participation alongside growing ignorance.” He goes on to cite the demonstrations by Black Lives Matter or those protesting the manner in which the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled.

Perhaps Rochester needs to become informed as to the reasons there have been responsible demonstrations by Black Lives Matter, those concerned about the COVID pandemic and the following incomplete list: the need for police reform, attention to the immigration crises, income inequality, gender inequality, climate change, access to health care, gun violence, white supremacy, air and water pollution.

These are some of the reasons we look to government for leadership and services. 

Let’s not waste more newsprint debating the importance of the words of the Gettysburg Address or whether college graduates can associate Franklin Roosevelt with the New Deal. If we focus on the many crises our country faces, we can begin to begin to address the many issues that divide us.

Participation then becomes more than nice declarations and speeches that we memorized in school. Real civics is about citizens and government officials becoming informed and taking action to correct the inequities and injustices in our system so that everyone has an equal chance for a safe and meaningful life

It may be worth listening to children. The Jan. 2 New York Times published submissions from 11 children, 5 to 13 years old, who offered their ideas to President-elect Biden about access to health care, poverty, treating people fairly, etc. This is the real civics lesson. 

Gary Ratkin, Creve Coeur

Pollard arrives in Israel      

Regarding the Dec. 30 online story, “Jonathan Pollard arrives in Israel 35 years after arrest for spying”: As  readers of the Light may be aware from my past letters, my contempt and hatred for Pollard knows no bounds. To have sold out his own country to a foreign nation — albeit, a friendly ally, Israel — was a deplorable act that should be excoriated by any true American patriot. 

To see that Pollard was welcomed with open arms by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was nauseating and disgraceful.

My wish is that he live a very long life so he can contemplate and reflect upon the egregious, abhorrent, reprehensible, act he committed against the country of his birth.

God may be able to forgive him for his transgression, but I know one thing for sure: I never will.   

Gene Carton, University City

A closer look at call for ‘less government’  

In the Dec. 30 article “Meet 2 new ‘liberty loving legislators’ and Jewish Republicans,” new state representatives Michael Davis and Adam Schwadron favor making “Missouri a freer state.” Davis wants “less government” and for “Missourians to have more freedom.” Really? Is that the same less government that Republicans historically invoke when they restrict abortion or gay marriage rights? One has to wonder, what freedoms are white, Jewish Missourians being deprived of?

Davis proposes that front license plates, required in Missouri, are an infringement on people’s freedom. Hit-and-run drivers often are intoxicated and flee accidents. Law enforcement uses plate photos as a tool to enforce driver accountability. They’ve worked great against me on restricted-turn intersections, but based on their potential benefit to law enforcement compared to impositions on my freedom I hardly think they should be eliminated.

I am suspect of those who claim the banner of smaller government because they are the first to impose government on people’s personal lives. Davis’ contention that “the Democratic Party tries to use minorities in a way where they want everyone to think that they are being oppressed” is nothing more than a middle-class white person ensuring that those who start with nothing do not get away with anything.

Schwadron’s belief that he should “not rely on the government to provide for me,” seems disingenuous for someone who like me, grew up in the cradle of St. Louis, white, Jewish privilege. The call to public service is noble but I caution that there are many who do not come from Creve Coeur or Maryland Heights who look to government to improve their opportunities. There is a temptation to punish those with less; I hope that they both consider the consequences of enforcing the contemporary edicts of “less government.”

Richard Cassell, Los Angeles