Letters to the Editor: June 8, 2022

Submit letters to the editor to [email protected]. Letters should be no longer than 250 and should include the writer’s name, municipality and a daytime phone number. The Light may edit letters for length or clarity.

Author/advocate sets inspiring example

In response to “Advocacy leaders work inspires others to become activists” (May 4, 2022) about Cynthia Changyit Levin: Like many people, I wanted to “do something” about global health but was paralyzed into inaction because every effort seemed too small. I joined Results in 7th grade because I was friends with Levin’s daughter but did not become an active member until March 2020.

Levin has been so supportive as she helped me draft emails to representatives and op-eds. Because of her, I have learned so much about health policy on the national and international level.

One of Results’ goals right now is to convince lawmakers to extend the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. These pieces of legislation provide qualifying low-income families with tax breaks and help front line workers access affordable housing. As a result of these policies in 2021, child poverty sank to record lows and many workers could make ends meet. I have been making phone calls to the offices of Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley asking them to extend these provisions. In the past, my friends and I have also gotten together to write members of congress emails and handwritten notes- In some cases we have even received replies from their offices.

My favorite Results memory is sitting in Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s office talking about maternal and child health bills. She was patient and responsive, listening to each of us as we presented the cause before she agreed to sign onto it. It is conversations like these that make me continue advocacy, because I feel that I can influence the priorities of my representatives.

I think that more and more people are turning to advocacy organizations because we believe policy changes are the most effective solution to issues like climate change, wealth inequality and the spread of disease. If you are interested in joining Results, you can find instructions on how to get involved at https://results.org

We would love to see any new members at one of our meetings.

Arushi Katyal

CAJE served treasured role in the community

I wholeheartedly thank Russel Neiss for his excellent piece in the Light’s May 25 edition, “It’s time for Jewish Federation to revisit education priorities.”

I thought it was a shame to get rid of the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE) and then eliminate the Center for Jewish Learning. Cyndee Levy was excellent as its head, and it is terrible to have lost her service and commitment to our whole community.

Years ago, a group of us enrolled in the Melton two-year course and it was fantastic. We studied with Pearl Borrow and Esther Zimand. I took classes from CAJE’s rich offerings every year. It showcased the many Jewish educators in our community.

While the Federation’s response to Russel’s piece sounds good on paper, the whole notion of not duplicating offerings is an idea with no basis. The people who study at a specific congregation are in large part members of said congregation.

The community that CAJE served was broad and included both members of various synagogues as well as the non-affiliated. It provided a place for Jewish educators in our community. The loss of our Jewish adult educational program is very sad and was a huge mistake.

Susan Shender
St. Louis

Jewish law and the abortion debate

The May 11 op-ed (“The Fall of ‘Roe’ would also be an attack on religious liberty”) calling Roe’s overruling an attack on religious liberty misses the mark in form and substance. The Talmud (Eruvin 13b) teaches us to argue by first stating the other side’s position. Instead, the op-ed starts with an opinion poll and a statement by pro-Roe Reform Jews. The op-ed then grossly mischaracterizes Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, following up with an irrelevant sexist attack on the Founders. This attack in fact undercuts the op-ed’s insistence that a constitutional right to abortion exists.

Finally, the op-ed misstates Alito’s analysis of the 14th Amendment and distorts common-law attitudes towards abortion.

If the op-ed writers had real confidence in their argument (or had a real argument), they could have made it by following rather than violating Talmudic principles.

Nor does the op-ed — while claiming concern for Jewish religious freedom — bother addressing traditional Halakha’s deep-seated aversion to abortion.

Trends in Halakha favor Maimonides and Unterman, in allowing abortion “only for the gravest of reasons” (Feldman, HM 425:2.1983a), which is what the Mississippi law before the Supreme Court provides by permitting abortions after 15-weeks gestation for a mother’s medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities.

Robert Zafft
St. Louis