Letters to the editor: November 30, 2019


Story on youth groups missed Friends of Israel Scouts

On Oct. 9, the Jewish Light Ohr Chadash page published an article about Jewish Youth Groups in St. Louis. One Jewish Youth group, however, was missing from the list. That group is Shevet Keshet, the St. Louis troop of Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim. 

In many ways, Tzofim is similar to Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts of America. Like the American organizations, the Israeli one also focuses on character building, leadership, outdoor skills, a commitment to pluralism and democracy and service to the community. However, unlike its American counterparts, Tzofim is co-ed. It also emphasizes a connection to Israel and Zionism and is youth-led (as opposed to adults as troop leaders), and all of the activities are in Hebrew.

In Tzofim, all of the activities for scouts in grades 3-9 are planned and facilitated by scouts in grades 10-12, who are called “schachbag” (Hebrew for “older level). This means that the schachbag truly develop leadership skills, as they need to be prepared to handle all situations that can arise. Additionally, the schachbag plan the entire curriculum for the weekend camping retreats in the fall and spring. (The spring camping weekend is supported by a grant from the Kranzberg Family Foundation.) Our most recent fall camping weekend was held Oct 18-20 in Eureka, and was very successful.

Scouts in Shevet Keshet come from school districts all over the St. Louis area. The experiences they have in Shevet Keshet create long-lasting bonds of friendship.

Shevet Keshet is unique among St. Louis Jewish youth groups. I hope that other Hebrew-speaking students in the St. Louis area will choose to join us.

Liam Harir, 11th grade, Lafayette High School Wildwood

Questions remain after reading commentary

Before reading Rafael Medoff’s “Why Eisenhower deleted the Jews,” reprinted from JNS (Jewish News Syndicate) in the Oct. 23 Jewish Light, I was aware that the Roosevelt administration and the British government had hidden the Holocaust from the American and British people.  But I never understood why.  It has always seemed to me that those populations would be even more enraged at the Nazi government if they knew the Holocaust was taking place. 

Now, thanks to Dr. Medoff’s commentary, I discover that General Eisenhower also took part in that cover-up.  We understand that the Holocaust grew from old seeds of anti-Semitism, but even after reading “Why Eisenhower deleted the Jews,” I don’t understand why Eisenhower deleted the Jews.

Fred Blumenthal, St. Louis

United States should continue ‘welcoming the stranger’ 

The commentary in the Oct. 9 Jewish Light “JCPA delegation bears witness on the border” ends by noting the tradition of welcoming the stranger, arising from a history of displacement and forced migration. 

Unfortunately, this tradition is being challenged by a recent action of the Trump Administration. It has been announced that, for the upcoming fiscal year, the number of refugees admitted to the United States will be limited to 18,000, a new low. The resettlement program, which has enjoyed bipartisan support, has accepted an average of 95,000 refugees annually. 

At a time when the number of displaced persons is at an all-time high, we should not be shutting the door in the face of the world’s most vulnerable. Refugees are highly vetted before being resettled in the United States, and they add immensely to our communities by starting new businesses, reviving neighborhoods, and adding cultural diversity. 

Fortunately, our local community is standing up against these cuts. Numerous organizations and political leaders, including ADL Heartland, Congregation Shaare Emeth, the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, and State Sen. Jill Schupp, have signed onto a statement issued by the International Institute condemning the proposed refugee reductions. 

Likewise, a bill before Congress, the GRACE Act, would set refugee admissions at their historical level of 95,000 per year. Those who believe in the shared American value of welcoming the persecuted should call on their members of Congress to support this legislation. 

Greg Campbell, Creve Coeur


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