Letters to the editor, Oct. 31, 2012

ADL perspective on interfaith dialogue

With the greatest respect for Rosalyn Borg’s tenure with American Jewish Committee, I must respond to her criticism  (Letter to the Editor, Oct. 24) of ADL’s decision to withdraw from the then upcoming meeting of the National Christian-Jewish Roundtable. Some key facts need be acknowledged following the extraordinarily insidious anti-Israel letter sent by the leadership of 15 American Protestant denominations to Congress.

First, it was submitted on Oct. 5, the eve of the National Roundtable (Oct. 22 and 23), and just before the long holiday weekend that concluded with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

Second, it was sent without notice, formal or informal, to Jewish partners. Let me underscore that — we are partners with our Christian colleagues in an eight-year dialogue relationship. Their decision to send the letter in such a manner severely demoralized the trust that had been developed over a significant period of already challenging dialogue on Israel.

Third, the tone of the letter resounded with a lack of balance that had us wondering what the previous eight years had truly wrought. At some point, we needed to interrupt the pattern of only blaming Israel and not acknowledging the whole host of complex facts contributing to continuing conflict. 

Finally, Jewish communal colleagues, American Jewish Committee among them, followed our lead and subsequently cancelled the meeting outright.

That said, just after our decision, we were in contact with our regional offices, encouraging them to continue grassroots interfaith relationships.  It may be that there is a disconnect between Protestant leadership and their congregational members, and thus, it is incumbent upon our local friends and partners to gather and talk sincerely about concerns on both sides. In St. Louis, with our colleagues from the Jewish Community Relations Council, we have already been in touch to seek that opportunity and hope to report back successful engagement on the issues.

Dialogue will inevitably continue; it is valuable. But it must occur in an atmosphere that truly respects all at the table. We consider it a privilege that we can have such conversation with important Christian religious leaders. American Protestant leadership hasn’t shown us they feel the same.

Karen J. Aroesty, Regional Director of ADL, Missouri/Southern Illinois

Resource for ballot issues voters will face

As I have been talking to people about the many issues that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, I have been struck by how many people have no idea about the issues upon which they will have to decide. For those who have heard of the issues, many still know little about their purpose — or the consequence of a yes or no vote. However, with a little effort and the many resources available, every voter can and should research the issues.

For information on the state and county issues that voters will see on their ballots, visit the League of Women Voters of St. Louis website, www.lwvstl.org to see a Voter’s Guide prepared by the League of Women’s Voters and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (a printed copy was included in the Thursday, Oct. 26 edition of the Post-Dispatch, and is available on the Post’s website, stltoday.com, as well).

Sydell Shayer, Creve Coeur