Letters to the Editor: Week of April 2, 2014

Coalition aims to protect church/state separation

Many thanks to the Jewish Light and Ellen Futterman for highlighting a recent action alert sent out by JCRC concerning HB 1303, a bill in the state legislature that, among other actions, would allow organized student prayer in public schools.  This is a troubling bill that would clearly erode the wall of separation between religion and state.

A new coalition has been formed to track and respond to bills in the state legislature impacting the separation of religion and state.  The coalition, chaired by JCRC,   includes representation by a number of organizations concerned about this issue.  Coalition partners include  the ADL of Missouri/Southern Illinois, National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, American Jewish Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and ACLU of Missouri, as well as representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities.    

JCRC and its coalition partners look forward to keeping the community abreast of proposed legislation of concern in the religion state arena. The coalition appreciates efforts by members of the Jewish and other communities to alert public officials to  the dangers of such legislation  

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Charles Elbert, JCRC Board Member and Chair of the Religion State Coalition & Gail Wechsler, Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice, JCRC

 Joy in finding a new spiritual home

Allow me to share with the Jewish community one of the happiest and proudest moments my wife and I have ever experienced. After many years of being unaffiliated with any temple or synagogue, we recently became members of Nusach Hari B’nai Zion, an Orthodox synagogue in Olivette, presided over by Rabbi Ze’ev Smason.

I can’t begin to tell you of the pure joy and pleasure of being part of a “family” comprised of among the warmest, most wonderful, sincere, people we have ever met. Our comfort level can only be described as being “through the roof,” even though neither of us is Orthodox.

We were made to feel welcomed and accepted from the very first time we ever set foot in the synagogue, and this was long before we even became members.

We were never pressured to join even as we continued to partake in Shabbat services followed by the kiddushes afterwards. Even had we elected not to become members, I feel certain that the congregants would still have continued to have embraced us warmly with their kindness, graciousness, and hospitality, no questions asked.           

 Since joining Nusach Hari, both my wife, Linda, and I have developed a tightly-knit bond and connection with this special Jewish house of worship, which neither of us had ever felt before.

Suffice it to say, we have committed to being life-long members to a place that is truly “our home away from home.”

Gene Carton