Letters to the editor: May 7, 2014

Judaism’s big tent

Daniel Movitz’s letter to the editor April 23 envisions a Jewish community simply defined by a few movements. The Jewish community that Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism, envisioned in his writing and teaching, encompassed a people who took the best of America and of Judaism and connected them. His ideas led to the creation of the Jewish Community Center movement. Reconstructionists were the first to call a young woman to the Torah as a bat mitzvah. Kaplan saw Judaism as the evolving civilization of the Jewish people.

While we Reconstructionists only encompass about 40,000 Jews nationally, our tent is much broader and we welcome persons regardless of whether they see themselves as Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. The recent Pew survey attests to this in how it identifies the many Jews who are proud of themselves without necessarily having a label. The Reconstructionist movement through its rabbinical college has tracks for training Hillel rabbis and those interested in social justice and community organizing. At Shir Hadash in St. Louis, we are committed to relevant and progressive Judaism.

When we discuss our Jewish community, let us try and envision ourselves in the broadest sense. Yes, there are  movements out there as well as proud Jews who don’t define themselves through one of our movements. We need to be able to be open to finding ways to create the tent that has room for all.

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David Roberts, Chair, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Reconstructionist Movement

Interfaith support for Jewish community

[Editor’s note, the following “Resolution of Support for the Jewish Community of Saint Louis,” was recently presented to Jewish Community Relations Council Executive Director Batya Abramson-Goldstein. It was also submitted to the Jewish Light as a letter to the editor.] 

With the recent attack on the Jewish Community in Overland Park, Kan., the Elders of Saint Paul’s Evangelical Church wish to express our grief at the loss of life and our outrage at the extremist that murdered innocent people because he thought they were Jewish. 

We wish to express our firm support of the Jewish Community here in St. Louis. 

We do this on the basis of shared values, strong and enduring friendships between individuals in our communities, and the conviction that we cannot be silent when faced with this kind of evil.

We pray that such anti-Semitic hate will cease and that all people will soon be able to live in peace.

Pastor Mark Friz, Pastor Dan Walker, Pastor Chris Kaiser, Chair of Elders Frank Serdy and Robert Binns and Elders Eric Button, Scott Dieckgraefe, Janet Rolle, Robert Schalk, Kelly Schjenken, Scott Schurwan and Rod Toro — of Saint Paul’s Evangelical Church, 9801 Olive Boulevard