Letters To the Editor: Week of Dec. 23, 2015

Responses to criticism of Rabbi Talve

The attack on Rabbi Susan Talve by some members of Black Lives Matter/Hands Up United  and Jewish Voice  for Peace reported in the Dec. 9 Jewish Light is both deplorable and damaging as well to the cause of racial and social justice and to those who rightfully criticize the policies and practices of the Israeli government. Such criticism should not be confused with demands for or threats of the destruction of Israel as a state. There are many Israeli Jews and many American Jews, including Rabbi Talve, who have spoken and worked on behalf of Palestinians living in Israel and in the occupied terri-tories. Indeed, the failure of Israeli governments, past and present, to address these grievances is contributing to Israel’s international isolation and is a recipe for its national suicide.  

The attack on Rabbi Talve also risks isolation of those legitimately struggling for equal rights in our own community and is a potentially suicidal course of action.

Henry Berger

University City

Advertisement for The J


Rabbi Susan Talve has earned national respect for the monumental work she does to initiate understanding among all people. Even though I am a New York resident, I am familiar with the rabbi’s infinite kindness and compassion and am writing to express utter dismay regarding Hands Up United and Jewish Voice For Peace’s incendiary accusations of the rabbi. The accusations are erroneous, detrimental to both organization’s reputation and ill-advised.

The article indicates both organizations acknowledgment of Rabbi Talve’s leadership and continued efforts over the years to fight for peace for all humanity yet they have taken a stance with verbal falsehoods.

So, I question the motives of  both organizations making these vicious assaults on her character.

I would hope both organizations would clarify their positions to initiate a platform for meaningful discussion.

Lois A.Schaffer

Great Neck, N.Y.


I am deeply saddened by the recent vulgar attacks levied against my Rabbi, Susan Talve.

As a member of Central Reform Congregation, and as a pro-Israel activist and AIPAC member myself, I support Rabbi Talve and deeply admire the courage she demonstrates on issues that affect the quality of life here and in Israel.

Rabbi Talve has always led our community in the “good fight.”  Her name is on every cause at the heart of justice and fairness, whether it be same-sex marriage, gender equality in all holy places, Black Lives Matter, Medicaid expansion, toxic waste clean up, and for peace here and in the State of Israel.

At the very core of the attacks against Rabbi Talve is her support of Israel. Her support for a safe and secure Israel has, in the eyes of some, diminished her credibility as an advocate for other social justice causes. While I am encouraged by the support of many in our community, I am struck by this misguided, withering criticism.

Pro-Israel activism is diverse.  Within our own community, support for Israel is broad and multi-faceted, and this should be celebrated and encouraged. Today, support for Israel can be a thankless task.  Whether you are conservative or liberal, I ask that you show the same courage Rabbi Talve has shown in supporting Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

Nathan S. Cohen

University City


I was very disturbed to read the article on the unwarranted attacks on Rabbi Susan Talve, which I was personally aware of from social media beforehand. I believe this illustrates a fundamental challenge we have in the Jewish community these days among supporters of Israel’s right to exist and their basic human right not to be indiscriminately attacked as is happening all too often throughout the world, most recently in Paris, France and San Bernardino, Calif. 

In recent years I have heard so many people complain about being challenged for their views on Israel, including in fora which have no logical connection to Israel. I strongly implore all Jewish individuals and organizations to reexamine which charitable organizations they support. I believe that you can always find another avenue to support any cause. For example, I have volunteered and worked in North St. Louis, and have great sympathy for the plight of the African-American community and their complicated relationship with law enforcement. However, I felt uncomfortable with some of the groups in Ferguson. I was very fortunate a friend of mine started Paint for Peace, and I was thus able to help contribute to the rebuilding of Ferguson in a meaningful way to me. There is always another way.

I want to make clear that I am not advocating that anyone abandon a cause that their hearts desire to help, but rather urge everyone to be open to finding another way, if it makes them uncomfortable. 

I am also not advocating not working with people on causes who may have diametrically opposed views on Israel. I just feel they should put those feelings aside and work together, just as anti-death penalty advocates do when they work with the Catholic Church, though that may be the only issue they agree on. 

Lastly, I am also not advocating support of any particular policy of any Israeli government, present past or future. I am aware that regardless of those policies, unfortunately Jews have been physically targeted throughout the world, and I will never support organizations that attempt to silence those who feel this way. 

Stuart Klamen

University City