Letters to the editor: July 15, 2020

Letters+to+the+editor%3A+July+15%2C+2020

Early Childhood Centers reopening

Thank you to the St. Louis Jewish Light for last week’s article highlighting the dedication of the Early Childhood Directors’ Council members and the amazing teachers that work together throughout our greater Jewish community (read the story online at https://bit.ly/ecc-reopening). I want to also acknowledge and celebrate Saul Spielberg Early Childhood Center at United Hebrew Congregation and Kol Rinah ECC, which also worked tirelessly and set high standards to reopen. 

As the chair of the Early Childhood Directors’ Council, I am proud to be part of this collaborative and supportive group of dedicated education professionals. We continually strive to support each other and acknowledge that we all work towards the common goal to create safe, loving, and engaging environments for our children and families. We look forward to all 12 of our directors at our 11 schools continuing this important work. 

Anita Kraus, Director of Early Childhood Education, Congregation B’nai Amoona

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A missed opportunity in land sale

Thank you for the article in the June 17 edition describing the sale of 10 acres of land by New Mt. Sinai Cemetery to McBride Homes. New Mt. Sinai is a beautiful, historic cemetery that has been lovingly tended for more than 150 years. It is admirable that board members have made sure there will be space for interments for at least another 100 years and are taking steps to ensure proper maintenance. 

We are somewhat dismayed, however, because an opportunity was lost here. We wish that cemetery board members had looked beyond those lovely stone walls to consider the current resting places for some actual living souls in St. Louis County. 

There is a tremendous lack of affordable housing in the county. It would have been so wonderful if there had been a condition on the sale requiring a portion of this property be used for affordable housing. Think what a difference this might have meant to those families that are cost-burdened when it comes to having a place to live (paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing). And think what a visible demonstration of Jewish values this would have been. Yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

 Probably such a condition was not imposed upon the developer because negotiators simply did not think about it. That is one reason why we have gross housing inequities in our community: people don’t think about it. Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice will be working to raise awareness of this issue. 

 Maybe it’s unfair to expect sellers of large undeveloped tracts of land to do the work that our government is supposed to do. If St. Louis County imposed a tax on real estate deals, including commercial property, with proceeds going to the development of housing for lower-income folks, we could remove some of the stumbling blocks that stand in the way of our less fortunate citizens.

It will be interesting to see how this special piece of property adjacent to the cemetery is developed. Members of Women’s Voices will be following this and other real estate and development proposals in the County. It is our hope that we all can become more aware of the housing needs in our community, and then do something to make a difference.

Barbara L. Finch, Batya Abramson-Goldstein and Carol Wofsey, Members, Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice