Letters to the Editor: March 8, 2017

Takeaways from cemetery incicent

The Jewish Light’s coverage of the recent events at Chesed Shel Emeth and the Jewish Community Center has been excellent and measured. While I can understand how some may fear this is the work of people who don’t like Jews, the fact that there was no (anti-Semitic) graffiti (at the cemetery) or claims of responsibility leads me to believe that it was probably the work of garden-variety morons with nothing better to do on an unusually warm winter evening. Likewise, the bomb threats to the J, where I work out many times each week, are unsettling, but could easily be the work of four or five people with disposable cell phones.

Even if I am wrong, and one or more of these events is the work of anti-Semites, it’s unfortunate that some in our community seem to think this is the beginning of the Fourth Reich. It’s quite the opposite. The people who made the threats or knocked over the tombstones, even if they targeted us, are a tiny minority unlike the mobs that jeered my grandfather on Kristallnacht in Frankfurt. The fact that the gentile community responded so overwhelmingly should make us be grateful and proud to live here, not afraid.

And while like others, I made a modest contribution to the Jewish Federation to repair the damage it appears that other organizations in our community seem to have used this incident as a fundraising opportunity. The Federation should demand that groups which are member organizations account for the funds or lose Federation funding.

Norman Pressman, Crystal Lake Park

Singing praises of Songleader Boot Camp

When I heard about Songleader Boot Camp (SLBC) it sounded like a fun weekend. I thought I would go, learn a few cute children’s songs, and bring them back to the second graders I teach at Central Reform Congregation. Within the first hour of SLBC, I realized my expectation had been completely backward: I wasn’t at SLBC for my students, I was at SLBC for myself. And now, with a new spiritual fullness, I return to my students more awake, more passionate, and, in some deep way, more Jewish. 

Songleader Boot Camp is impossible to describe. Did I learn some cute kid songs? Absolutely! (Just ask me to sing “YodeladoPotato” for you). But that was the least important thing I learned. The real treasure I found was community, questioning, and celebration. 

In too many spaces, asking questions is taboo. Or worse yet, we assume that we already have the answers. But at SLBC, every iota of the human and Jewish experience was studied. What does it look like to pray? What is connection? How do we change over time; each year, each day, each moment? What is true “tzedakah”? Is it empathy? Action? Awareness? 

I found few answers, but I found a safe space to ask questions, surrounded by the intimate love of profoundly familiar strangers. I cried, laughed, and danced, many times over. SLBC has been a blessing. It has made me feel more fully connected. More fully alive. 

To Rick and Elisa Recht and all of SLBC, thank you. To all of those who made the scholarships for SLBC possible (The J, Jewish Federation, PJ Library, Central Reform Congregation and others), thank you. Thank you for holding such a sacred and beautiful space. Until next year.

Corinne Char, St. Louis