Letters to the Editor: March 15, 2017

Statement from cemetery directors 

We, the directors of the Jewish cemeteries of St. Louis, jointly condemn the recent acts of vandalism at cemeteries here in St. Louis and throughout the United States. We hope the perpetrators are found and brought to justice. We as a group are taking action to ensure that our cemeteries are secure and sacred grounds for all. We thank the entire St. Louis community and the global community as well for your concern, support and assistance in our efforts.

Dan Brodsky, New Mt. Sinai Cemetery

Anita Feigenbaum, Chesed Shel Emeth Society and Beth Shalom Cemetery

Barry Needle, B’nai Amoona Cemetery, Chevra Kadisha Cemetery and United Hebrew Cemetery

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Jim Singman, Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol

Jerry Weil, Ohave Sholom Cemetery


 

Avoiding lashon ha-ra

Recent letters and opinion have become increasingly vitriolic and harsh when referring to fellow Jews and is lashon ha-ra, expressly forbidden by halacha. No matter how strongly held an opinion or viewpoint is expressing it while harming another Jew only affects negatively the coming of our Blessed Moshiach. Having the last word cannot be that important.

Bruce Stoliar

St. Louis


 

Purim and Jewish unity

Had the Jewish people in Shushan not united, Esther and Mordechai would not have been able to expose Haman’s wicked plan and defeat him. This idea of unity continues today with the commandments related to Purim (helping the less fortunate, sharing two food items with friends/family/neighbors, and sharing a feast), which are intended to remind us that all Jewish people are still one family and must remain united to defeat the Hamans of today. With the anti-Semitic/terror threats to our schools and Jewish Community Centers and the criminal destruction to Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery, the St. Louis Jewish community has seen our share of threats and terror scare tactics. How do we defeat these terror threats? By remaining united.

After the University City Purim Parade on March 12, a party at a home along the parade route showed this unity: On the lawn and spilling into the street, children were playing, eating and making s’mores, while adults were dancing and bonding. The show of Jewish unity was awe-inspiring and a reminder that we are one family. 

Regardless how you voted in November and whether or not you are encouraged with the direction of the country, we are Jews before we are liberals and conservatives, and we should be more proud of our Jewish label than our political one. Are you a Reform Jew? A Conservative Jew? An Orthodox Jew? We are all Jews — that is the label that should matter.  Until we are all Jews first, and until we advocate for all Jews, we will never truly be united, and the Hamans of the world will continue to be a threat.

Michael Minoff

Olivette


 

An idea for families  

We want to share an experience that might benefit others with a terminally ill family member. Last summer, our beloved cousin Mary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We are a close family living in three different cities: Dallas, St. Louis and Denver. 

A few of us at a time visited Mary while she was still feeling relatively healthy, happy to be in her presence. As Mary’s illness progressed, her amazing husband Billy decided to throw a birthday party for her. 

More than 100 people were invited, and as time got closer to the February party, Mary’s illness had progressed so much, there was a question as to whether Mary would be able to attend. Billy was emphatic that Mary would be there. The night before the party, Mary was unable to get out of bed, but Billy insisted she would be at the party the next day. And she was . . . Sitting in a wheelchair, all the people she loved around, singing her favorite songs.

Throughout the weekend, the children, cousins from different cities, played together, had picnics outside on the grass; the young adults sat and talked about their growing families and their careers and the older generation (ours in our 50s and 60s) talked, ate, caught up on each other’s activities and grandchildren and spent uninterrupted time together sharing life’s most precious commodity: each other.  As we talked about this, we realized that we were sitting shiva with Mary, so she was able to see, enjoy and take in all the beauty, tributes and love everyone felt for her and each other. 

We thought this was an amazingly meaningful and beautiful concept to offer as a way to celebrate the people we love not only after they are gone, but while they are with us. We thought this might help others.

Joy Seltzer and Marla Blanton

Chesterfield

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