Letters to the Editor: March 1, 2017

City residents should vote yes for Prop. S

Following a recommendation from the Ferguson Report, Jews United for Justice (JUJ) established an Opportunity to Thrive Task Force. The task force chose reduction of predatory lending as its first target. As part of its advocacy work, the task force is supporting the passage of Proposition S on the March 7 ballot in St. Louis City.  

Prop. S is our chance to rein in predatory lending, an industry that sucks millions of dollars a year from our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Missouri has more payday lenders than McDonalds, Starbucks and Wal-Mart stores combined. We have the highest rate cap in the country allowing the equivalent of a 1,950 percent annual interest rate charged in two-week increments of 75 percent. 

If passed, this ordinance would require payday lenders in the St. Louis City to pay a permit fee ($2,500 to 5,000) to operate in the city. This money would be used by the city to implement local regulations and the fee could not be passed down to consumers. Payday lenders would be required to change the terms of their agreements so that the interest rate and other terms of the loan are more transparent to borrowers. They would also be required to provide a list of nonprofit alternatives for short-term lending. 

This proposition is based on a similar one in Kansas City that passed and has been working well so far. 

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Prop. S is our chance as a city to step up. For more information, visit jujstl.org.

David Lander, President

Jews United for Justice 




Responses to cemetery desecration

The desecration of Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, which has received national attention, has personal meaning for me.  I am not Jewish, but my wife’s parents are buried there, as are many of her relatives whose services I have attended. 

The rise in such incidents since November, 2016 should concern not only Jewish Americans, but all Americans. They powerfully evidence that Donald Trump’s hateful and divisive rhetoric has empowered those who espouse such views, which his belated and inadequate response only reinforces. 

February 19 was the 75th anniversary of the executive order condemning to forced detention more than 100,000 Americans whose only offense was their Japanese ancestry. The national and local Jewish community has historically resisted such appeals to fear, ignorance and prejudice. All Americans must resist them, against whomever directed.  

Alan B. Hoffman



To our dear friends in Jewish community: I am contacting you on behalf of our community and congregation that serves mostly Bosnian Muslims. I would like to express our community’s support, as we were shocked to learn of the vandalism at the Jewish cemetery

Our whole community feels the pain you are grieving, and would like you to know that we are here to help or assist in any way we can. These are challenging times for all of us, and easiest way we can get thru them is by staying together. In recent months, both Jewish and Muslim communities have been targeted, our buildings, organizations, cemeteries have been vandalized, our members have been singled out. Yet, this is the time when we have to stay strong.

We Bosnian Muslims feel an obligation to show you our neighborly support, in the same way as it has been done between us many times before when, especially in World War II: We had to be and to work together to stay alive. As everyone else, we hope that they will catch the people responsible for this act, and that they will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Alija Dzekic, Board President

St. Louis Islamic Center



I recently joined thousands of fellow St. Louisans to clean up the recently vandalized Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery, where my grandparents and many other relatives are buried. I was shocked and upset to see Vice President Mike Pence there, giving a speech, next to Jewish Federation of St. Louis President and CEO Andrew Rehfeld.

Pence was part of a presidential campaign celebrated by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. For the last year and a half this campaign and administration have promoted hatred. They have helped create an environment that encourages increasingly violent attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. Pence should not have been given an opportunity to use our ancestors’ graves for a photo op.

The issue goes far beyond our Jewish community. This administration incites hatred against Muslims and subjects them to biased immigration policies and increased law enforcement scrutiny. As the Muslim community has shown solidarity with us in reaction to the desecration of our cemetery, we should have shown solidarity with them — by telling Pence and the world that we will not tolerate bigotry. Rehfeld and the Federation should have told him not to come.

Michael Berg

St. Louis



On behalf of St. Louis Jewish families like mine, who have loved ones in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, I would like to thank the Muslim community, which stepped up to help raise funds for the cemetery. To date they have raised $130,000, which organizers plan to use for desecrated Jewish cemeteries here and elsewhere.  Fundraising was supported and promoted by Council on American–Islamic Relations’ Missouri director Faizan Syed and the Imam Council. Thank you again.

Rick Isserman 

Creve Coeur