Letters to the Editor: Week of Jan. 1, 2012

Rabbinical Council statement on Beit Shemesh

We, the undersigned pulpit Rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of St. Louis, strongly and unambiguously condemn the recent violence and intimidation committed by a group of misguided individuals in the Jewish community in Beit Shemesh, Israel.   Such actions are diametrically opposed to our Torah, Jewish tradition, and the teachings of all Jewish leaders.  

We urge those in the St. Louis Jewish community to recognize that this reprehensible behavior does not in any way represent the attitude or perspective of the vast, overwhelming majority of all Orthodox Jews throughout the world.  We recognize the great importance of the Jewish virtues of modesty and humility and we call upon all involved to return to the peaceful ways of Judaism and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt, Agudas Israel of St. Louis Rabbi Yosef Landa, Congregation Bais Menachem/Chabad

Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Bais Abraham Congregation

Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Young Israel of St. Louis

Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, Nusach Hari B’nai Zion

Rabbi Menachem Tendler, Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol

Sha’arei Chesed (U. City Shul)

Rabbi Aaron Winter, Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha



600 volunteers made event a success

I want to thank Dave Baugher and the Jewish Light for the fine coverage of the Jewish and Muslim Day of Service.  Your coverage lent great support to our event.

And we extend our deepest gratitude to the over 600 volunteers, young and old, from all over the St. Louis area, who on Christmas Day, participated in the Jewish and Muslim Day of Service. This event was jointly sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the Islamic Foundation and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).  Working at 21 sites in the greater St. Louis area, Jewish and Muslim volunteers, along with participants from other faith groups, worked together, side by side, to offer service to the Christian community on its Christmas holiday. 

Beyond offering members of each community an opportunity to do service, the event built on a growing relationship and dialogue that has developed between the Jewish and Muslim members of our area.  This partnership reflects the enhanced mutual understanding of one another that comes from working and getting to know each other.  Our shared commitments to social justice, equality and charity create a bond that allows us to connect in other meaningful ways.  By working in coalition on social justice projects, we can build civility, understanding and respect for one another.  In each of our religions, the idea of charity runs deep and we find many shared values.

In addition to the three main sponsors, the Jewish and Muslim Day of Service was supported by 20 other Jewish and Muslim religious and secular organizations.  In the spirit of the holiday season and looking toward the New Year, we welcome the spirit of community that was demonstrated in this event.

Phyllis Markus, Bohm Social Justice Initiative Chair, Jewish Community Relations Council