Letters to the editor: July 29, 2020


Funds urgently needed for elections

For 125 years, National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis has worked diligently to ensure nonpartisan voting rights for all, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted egregious deficiencies in Missouri’s voting system. While politicians of both parties argue about many things, democracy shouldn’t be one of them. Experts estimate we need at least $4 billion to ensure that states can prepare for elections during the coronavirus. Without this necessary funding for election infrastructure, many voters will be disenfranchised and unable to vote.  

Recently, Congress passed $400 million in election funding in the first stimulus bill, which is a start, but we have to go much further and pass the $3.6 billion that was allocated to ensure safe elections in the HEROES Act. Every voter needs safe and secure options to vote by mail, absentee, early and on election day. Missouri passed a law in June which will allow many more Missouri voters to vote absentee or by mail for the August and November elections. More funding is a necessity for hiring poll workers during COVID and implementing many other key reforms to ensure safe voting for all.  

It’s now up to the Senate to pass the additional $3.6 billion needed to be ready for our November elections. This funding is crucial for Missouri to have safe elections. NCJWSTL urges Sen. Roy Blunt, who is the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, to make this funding a priority. The people of Missouri should not have to choose between their health and their vote. 

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We urge everyone to contact Sen. Blunt’s office now to insist on fair and safe voting for all.

Andrea Powers Schankman and Debbie Gilula, NCJWSTL Voting Initiative Co-Chairs

COVID-19 and the start of the school year

Regarding the July 15 article, “Doctor would greenlight day school opening this fall, with conditions.” Stunned. I am stunned. With lives on the line, I think an actual list of conditions and in what context would be the only ethical way to convey the doctor’s opinion. While the question and answer format of the article is interesting, I am still trying to figure out the parameters that the article headline promises.

If I understand well what is being said….” Classrooms are no more dangerous than going to the grocery” as well as looking to Australia and “other” countries where schools are in session…if they can do it, so can we. 

That’s just not true. Our children have far more comorbidity issues than other countries that makes them far more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 (See CNBC’s July 13 article, “ U.S. students are at ‘higher risk’ from the coronavirus than kids in other countries, Dr. Scott Gottlieb says.”)

For students and their families as well as school staff and their families to have the protection implied, each person and each scenario would have to be perfectly played out. There are so many moving parts that I submit, that the risk of infection and the spreading take just a handful of missteps.

Masks need to be worn and taken off perfectly. Hand hygiene, the same. Even if people do their best, they are human. We all are familiar with the two-second rule…or the five-second rule? If we can scoop up the piece of toast off the floor in under five seconds, it’s all good. No harm, no foul. 

Now, imagine each parent, child and teacher applying their own five- second rule to life in school. 

COVID-19 doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. Unless we depend on science and not broad opinions from scientists, we will remain victims.

Lois Ockner, University City

Russian Americans in St. Louis: We don’t want to be a silent majority

On July 11, a group of the Russian Americans in St. Louis got together to demonstrate their support for our police. These demonstrators, who gathered in front of the Olivette and Creve Coeur police departments, strongly oppose proposals to defund the police, and are aghast at the humiliation of police officers and the lawlessness that has ensued in our own and other American cities. 

Many of us, who came to United States as the Jewish refugees 20, 30 or 40 years ago, watch with disbelief and horror at what is happening in today’s America. The reality is that the grim past that the former Russians, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Koreans and Cubans left behind for a better future for their families has become a reality right here and now. Unfortunately, the bloody and tragic history of those countries that became socialist and fell victims of Marxist-Leninist ideology, is not an antidote to those who organize lawless riots and what I would describe as a pogrom in a Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles. 

We know too well, that compliance (called “political correctness”) leads to silencing, censorship and disappearance of free speech. 

With disbelief we observe that many Jewish communities around the country, as well as Jewish papers and mass media, keep silent at worst or are meek at best when it comes to addressing the anti-Semitic destruction organized in Los Angeles this May during Shavuot. Instead of strong support for their Orthodox brothers and sisters, they express alliance with the Black Lives Matter movement, which I believe is anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. It seems that the long and tragic Jewish history has not been learned. 

We former Soviet Jews cannot be a silent minority watching this great country face catastrophe as Russia and many others have. We cannot be silent watching great American history being attacked and monuments being destroyed by mob action or mob hysteria. And we cannot be silent when the police officers that keep American streets safe are humiliated.

Wake up, all ye who believe that the events of the Old World will turn out differently in the United States.

Lena Fish, St. Louis

Response to editorial

Regarding the June 19 editorial, “Defund, Defend, Define” highlighting the number of cases of police brutality that have occurred across the nation in the past several months. First allow me to say how deplorable I find these miscarriages of justice to be.

Having said that, however, the thought of defunding police departments entirely, or in great measure, is certainly not the answer and is counterproductive. 

I can unequivocally say that the overwhelming majority of police officers in our nation do an exceptional job to serve and protect, and are the epitome of honesty, integrity and decency, putting their lives on the line for the public every day. 

Unfortunately, there are those officers who fail miserably to uphold the highest standard and quality of law enforcement. These men and women must be weeded out and punished to the fullest extent of the law when they dishonor their badge and commit egregious crimes, which has occurred too often recently.

Police training needs to be upgraded and policies enforced vigorously so that law enforcement is the very best it can be while protecting the rights of all citizens. We are a nation of laws and must never lose sight of that hallowed and never-ending principle.

Gene Carton, University City

A ‘misguided and disturbing’ commentary 

Even though Marty Rochester is a friend and a colleague, his July 15 commentary (“Let us reason together to defeat the pandemic”) was so misguided and disturbing that I felt obliged to reply.  

Let me start with the COVID-19 pandemic. It should be clear to everyone now that there should be no debate between fighting the pandemic or restarting the economy. Without the pandemic under control, it is impossible to restart the economy. President Donald Trump’s decision to prematurely open up the economy was solely based on his mistaken idea that this decision would benefit him politically. My guess is that this year more than 100,000 Americans will prematurely die due to that decision. May I encourage Rochester to look at the three pages of obituaries in the last edition of the Jewish Light; in normal times, there is usually less than a page.

More significantly, it is now apparent that virtually every decision Trump makes is solely based on his political benefit, even if it is not in our country’s interest. This includes his extortion of Ukraine, his request for political help from China, his withdrawal of troops from Syria, and his deal with the Taliban. How about his embrace of the Confederate Battle flag, the one that even the state of Mississippi has now decided to remove from its state flag? How about his racism and race baiting, when so many Americans are marching for racial justice? And Rochester finds that the Democratic Party “more odious” than Donald Trump? Unbelievable.   

Bernard J. Feldman, Creve Coeur 

Reader responds to recent letter

I have to respond to the July 1 letter titled “President deserves credit for Israel support.” Look at President Donald Trump’s history while in office.  In a few short months he has made the United States a laughingstock in the eyes of the world. If he does anything for Israel, it’s solely to solidify his base.  He is immoral and unjust when it comes to the plight of others.  Trump is an unlearned racist who probably has never picked up a book to educate himself about Israel’s lengthy and complex history. Please don’t be fooled.

Melody Boime, Clayton 

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