Letters to the Editor: Jan. 6, 2021


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All veterans should stand and be honored

[Regarding the recent commentary, “Why I do not stand when fellow veterans are honored,” by Jim Winnerman (Dec. 15 Jewish Light)]

I totally disagree with the writer’s stance that his service is not worthy of recognition. Mr. Winnerman, please stand and be recognized.  

I am often asked by fellow veterans whether their service “counts” because they served during peace time, or they were not in the combat zone, or their duty did not consist of offensive action. My answer is always an unqualified “yes”, their service does count. It doesn’t matter where you served, stateside or overseas, or what your assignment was. The fact is you served. You gave a portion of your life to the service of the United States in order for the rest of us to enjoy freedom and peace. Every duty has a purpose. Mr. Winnerman, your duty assignment contributed to the ultimate successful outcome of the mission.  

In the past several generations, fewer and fewer citizens serve in our volunteer military. There was a time when every family had at least one member in the service or knew someone in the service.  That is no longer the case.  Those who serve make our American lifestyle possible.  Those who served and those who are currently serving stand and be recognized. It is important that preteens and teenagers around you see that you served to ensure they enjoy freedom and democracy and hopefully a few of them will want to emulate you and serve as well.

I encourage every Jewish service member who is now serving or who has been honorably discharged to join the Jewish War Veterans (www.jwv.org) and help support those who have served, those who are serving, and their families.

Ellis M. Frohman; Major, United States Army Retired; Commander, Post 644, St. Louis Jewish War Veterans

Improving security without violating building codes

Synagogues nationwide are modifying their buildings in an effort to secure them against threats.  I am a retired architect and have seen changes local synagogues made in their buildings that result in building code violations.

Synagogue administrators are typically unaware of the building codes incorporated into their building’s design.  For example, what may seem like a minor change to a door could render the door in violation of the code and contribute to harm in an emergency. The synagogue could be liable if there is a tragedy caused by the non-compliant door.

Synagogues would be wise to seek the professional services of an architect for all building modifications. With an understanding of the organization’s staffing and operations, the architect can develop solutions and implement the changes while adhering to the code.

Homeland Security at the federal level and local organizations’ security personnel are sources of good advice.  However, there are differences between security expertise vs. building code expertise. The latter is overseen by the municipality’s code inspectors as well as architects and engineers.  Homeland Security’s focus is to protect occupants from security attacks and threats. Their expertise is not the complex building code requirements which are the result of decades of study of building disasters with loss of life.

Improper planning can lead to unintended consequences. For example, a vendor might suggest a device to solve a very specific problem without taking into consideration the wider issues. The result can make the synagogue less secure.

Architectural services determine the safest way to achieve the synagogue’s goals while incorporating security recommendations and code requirements into the building and site modifications.

Susan Shender, St. Louis

Reader responds to Rochester column

An Open Letter to J. Martin Rochester:

For an academic, your use of words is occasionally ambiguous. Some carry a heavy emotional impact rather than educating the readers. Your Dec. 15 op-ed in the Jewish Light is a good example.

The obvious example is your persistent use of the words “insane” and “insanity” when it comes to America’s political culture. These words define a state of mental illness or repetitious behaviors expecting different results. The words add no intellectual value to a discussion about the American political culture.

Your use of the labels “the right” and “the left” may be convenient for creating your desired mood, but it does little to define the values of the ideologies. Please allow me to offer my two very basic definitions.

The core value of the right is rugged individualism. It elevates the needs of the individual above all else. The core value of the left is humanism. It elevates the connections and needs of the population above all else. The American political culture at any point in time is where these conflicting sets of moralities coexist.

The American political culture is not “insane.” It is in conflict. It is a conflict over deeply held moralities. Blaming the other side for the conflict — right or left — is counterproductive to constructive conflict resolution. Blaming the other side creates the impression of victimization. Blaming and promoting victimization results in destructive conflict resolution. It results in more intense conflict.

You wrote, “I think both sides of the political spectrum have contributed to insanity . . . However, I think the left is especially blameworthy…it is the left, not the right, that dominates our…government, media, academia and corporate board rooms.” I actually laughed out loud when I read you think leftists dominate corporate board rooms. I had this image of Karl Marx and Fidel Castro discussing shareholder value.  But then I realized you redesigned the anti-Semitic trope used against Jews for centuries. Just so you know, I was offended.

Please consider Hillel’s wisdom, “If I am not for myself – who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”

Gary Weiss, Denver

Praising support of Israel

I was very pleased to learn that Pro-Israel America (PIA) has officially endorsed Congresswoman Ann Wagner. The goal of Pro-Israel America is to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel, primarily by helping to support the election of Pro-Israel candidates to federal office. PIA’s executive director, Jeff Mendelsohn, released a statement explaining: “we are working hard to ensure that the 118th Congress reflects broad, bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.” 

Rep. Wagner has a long history of supporting security assistance to Israel in her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She recently sent a bipartisan letter with other members of Congress asking for $3.8 billion for security assistance to Israel including Iron Dome funding. She also went through the effort to personally testify in the Missouri senate in Jefferson City in favor of anti BDS legislation which passed the senate without a single vote against it.

We are very fortunate to have a Congresswoman who is such a strong supporter of Israel representing us in Washington.

Stuart Klamen, St. Louis