Letters to the Editor: Jan. 27, 2016

Compassion and creativity beats funding cuts

I read the Dec. 30 article, “Reduced county funding leads to cuts at JF&CS.”  I don’t get it: A person shows up for the group to find out that the program is cut? Surely there is/was a plan for funding cuts that minimizes discontinuity in services. How many smart people does it take to put their heads together and find another way?

There has been a small and loyal group of us who have been devoted to working on the secret surrounding mental illness. In just the last seven months, we’ve been doing a program a month, called “Shanda: There Is None.” Shanda means shame, and we are talking about lifting the veil that conceals mental illness in our community.

The sessions always begin with an airing of the anger than many people feel when they cannot get the services they need from our community. We get through that part of the meeting and then we get on to strategizing, teaching and listening. 

But we need better institutional, community help than we are getting. In our community, we could be doing a lot better to respond to the helplessness, hopelessness, pain, isolation that characterizes what is commonly referred to as mental illness. We all know somebody. 


We could act more like a community. There is no shanda in living with mental illness, but the stories I read in the paper have shanda written all over them.

We can do better. We will have to think how to serve rather than push people away because of this because of that. I am looking for a thoughtfulness: How to bring the power of compassion on this least understood, least attended to of all our problems of living these days. 

Let’s reason together and get creative with what resources we have. Let’s respond with yes, and how can we do this and lose the jargon and overcome the obstacles. Let’s catch up to what other communities are doing in this area. Take a look across the state at the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition (jfskc.org and itsok.us). 

This is a “we” problem. If the tent is big enough, there is no one outside the camp who cannot be brought within. There is no them at all, only us.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman

Jewish Attention to Mental Illness-Mental Health



[The next ‘Shanda: There Is None’ meeting is at 1 p.m.  Sunday, Feb. 21 at Central Reform Congregation. Another is planned for the same time and place on April 10]


Acknowledging nation’s troubling past

African-American slavery as United States law and the egregious treatment of Native Americans as U.S. law are the two worst moral failings of this country resulting from government policy. The nation is still dealing with the shame of racism, as the authors of a recent letter commenting on Marty Rochester’s Dec. 30 commentary rightly make. 

There is no such recognition of the current governmental mistreatment and ongoing shame of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. Native Americans have had 90 million acres of their land confiscated, and to name but a few events, they have suffered 4,000 deaths during the Trail of Tears alone, offered assimilation or death in 1806, and as recently as February 1973 at Wounded Knee, S.D., were confronted by the FBI, U.S. Marshals, National Guard and CIA merely for attempting to remove a corrupt tribal leader in an attempt at self governing, as guaranteed by a U.S. government treaty. Stolen land remains uncompensated. As Jews we are commanded to seek justice. The civil rights advances against racism for African Americans is a work in progress. The other blight on justice, the Native American tragedy, calls out for us to involve ourselves in their search for their civil rights.

Bruce Stoliar

St. Louis


A lesson from Jewish Tulsa?

A Jan. 13 Light article notes that Lutheran Senior Services will purchase the Cedars of Town and Country, “a senior care center with deep Jewish roots.” Compare St. Louis to Tulsa, Okla., which has managed  to maintain a full service (independent, assisted, skilled nursing, memory care and free standing villas) completely Jewish Retirement and Health Care Center (TjRHCC). The center recently completed its third expansion and has a waiting list. Whereas  TJRHCC is open to all and has several non-Jewish residents, it is a Jewish facility with a separate kosher kitchen for the retirement center and for the health care center. No chometz is served during Pesach, and the kitchens are “kashered” for the holiday. Non-Jews who move into Tulsa Jewish, as it is fondly known, understand that they will be living in a Jewish environment. There will be no Christmas tree in the lobby; no ham for Easter Sunday dinner.  

What does this say about the priorities of the two communities, one with over 60,000 Jews and the other with approximately 2,000?

Rosalyn Borg

University City