Letters to the editor: Nov. 4, 2020


Praise for Mirowitz Center programming

Kudos to Susan Kemppainen and Stephen Cohen on the diverse programming via Zoom offered to the entire community through the Mirowitz Center. I especially enjoyed the recent program on Ruth Bader Ginsburg given by Judge Susan Block. All the programs are offered without charge as opposed to other Jewish organizations that do not have this pandemic-friendly policy.

Jackie Gerson, University City

Some “choices” are beyond our control


I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices I’ve made since reading Marty Rochester’s column [“Making good choices improves odds of a good life,” Oct. 21]. The most relevant choice I made was to be born to parents who were loving, educated and middle class. Loving meant that I could form trusting relationships with adults; educated meant that ideas were talked about at home; and middle class meant that my neighborhood was safe, and my school was not chaotic. What a well-thought out plan for someone who wasn’t even born yet! I can’t be responsible for the choices other kids make, like the young man to whom Rochester was a Big Brother. What was that kid thinking, to choose a drug- addicted single mother as his parent?

Yes, I am being facetious. And yes, I made good choices in my life — mostly to study hard, be frugal, and seek medical treatment rather than alcohol or street drugs when I fell into a depression. But making those choices was not much of a stretch — everyone in the group of people I grew up with did that. Whereas for a kid with a drug-addicted mom or an incarcerated dad, or one who lost a beloved relative to street violence, it would take almost superhuman inner resources to make some of the good choices that were available to me. What social justice warriors like me want is to create some outer resources, like health insurance, good schools and safe streets, that help nurture those inner resources. Yes, this will cost money, and no, it won’t result in a perfect society where no one ever takes unfair advantage of the resources offered. But it’s more practical than getting together a bunch of unborn kids and teaching them to choose their parents wisely.

Ruth Berson, St. Louis

Picking a fight

Amy Fenster Brown’s column, “Ugh, Politics: Do you want a fight or a relationship?” was amazing in that it is one of the few articles I’ve ever read by a professional writer where the last sentence completely negated and contradicted everything she wrote prior to that point. She spent the whole article bemoaning the fact that people no longer seem to be able to have calm and rational discussions with one another about politics. She states that people should be able to agree to disagree and retain their relationships and friendships, a point with which I wholeheartedly agree. But then, she renders everything she wrote as meaningless pablum by choosing to deliberately make her last sentence (“It might even be best to avoid the topic altogether, the same way our current president has avoided wearing masks and sharing his tax returns.”) a gratuitous criticism of President Trump, rather than remaining neutral to both sides. So she sacrificed her article’s theme to make her political point. Apparently, the answer for Amy Fenster Brown to the question “Do you want a fight or a relationship?” is that she wants a fight.

Benson Portnoy, St. Louis County

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