Letters to the editor: Week of Jan. 11, 2012

Responses to P-D story on security grants

Many of you saw a recent article on the front page of the Post-Dispatch (Jan. 2), “Jewish Groups Favored for Aid,” regarding federal security grants to local Jewish organizations. Jewish Federation of St. Louis and The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), play a leadership role in addressing our community’s security. We have worked with and on behalf of our local institutions, state and federal officials to obtain Nonprofit Security Program Grants for synagogues, organizations and facilities in St. Louis. In fact, this effort is a key priority in Jewish Federation’s strategic plan, as we work to build a thriving, safe Jewish community for all.

There is a factual need for our concern and our efforts. FBI and Homeland Security statistics bear this out for Jewish communities everywhere. The Security Grants are based on a two-tier review process of state and federal Homeland Security experts. Homeland Security awards the grants based on risk assessments. These grants are a superb example of public- private partnerships to address a public risk.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis and The Jewish Federations of North America will continue to take seriously the security threats to our community and continue to help at-risk nonprofits take appropriate steps to protect citizens from harm, so that we may sustain a Jewish community that is truly Thriving.Together.

Barry Rosenberg

President and CEO, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

I wish to comment on the Jan. 2 Post-Dispatch article, which noted that Jewish nonprofit organizations, including synagogues, received a large percentage of Homeland Security Department grants aimed to protect against terrorism. While the article did not appear in the Jewish Light, I think it is important for [the Light’s] readership to engage in reflection of this issue which affects the St Louis Jewish community.

It is hard to understand why this story is newsworthy at all, much less meriting not only front page coverage but huge headline type. In singling out and questioning Orthodox Jewish organizations as grant recipients, the article evidences the bias of the Post-Dispatch against religion generally and orthodox religion particularly, reflecting its agenda to interpret the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as promoting freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion.

Had it been Islamic groups receiving the bulk of federal grants, the article never would have been run-certainly not on the front page-since, after all, the one religious group (especially among “orthodox” groups) that gets a pass from the Post-Dispatch is Islamic fundamentalism, which the paper seems to consider a “victim” group requiring “understanding” and protection from “hate.”

Why should one be surprised that Jewish groups would qualify for large amounts of aid under the federal anti-terrorism program, given the stated objectives of so many Middle East terrorist groups to kill Jews?

While I do not consider the newspaper anti-Semitic, the article is likely to have the effect of only reinforcing public perceptions of the power of the “Jewish lobby” in American politics. Apparently, the Post has no problem with contributing to Jewish-phobia, even if its editorial staff rails constantly against Islamophobia.

Once again, the Post-Dispatch shows its double standard and a despicable liberal bias in its news reporting. It is one thing to display such a bias on its editorial page; it is something else to put this on the front page of the news section. Readers of the Jewish Light can decide for themselves whether they should continue to read such a newspaper or should join the ranks of so many who have ended their subscriptions.

J. Martin Rochester


Cantorial certification

Thank you for Ellen Futterman’s Dec. 28 “News & Schmooze” column on B’nai Amoona Cantor Sharon Nathanson’s formal certification as a Hazzan by the Cantor’s Assembly.

We mentioned to our children the exciting news about the formal certification as a Hazzan by the Conservative Movement accrediting body for Cantors. Somewhat confused by our elevated level of exuberance, the children replied that this was really not such a big deal. “Come on…Cantor Sharon has been our Hazzan for a really long time.” 

And though this is indeed an auspicious achievement, there is some remarkably profound truth in their commentary. After all, she has been for several years now B’nai Amoona’s Minister of Sacred Music. We have relied on her and her many prodigious gifts of the spirit to teach us, inspire us, comfort us, raise us up, focus our intentions, open us up to parts of ourselves that would otherwise remain hidden and facilitate moments when our hearts and souls are drawn ever closer to the Great Fountain of Existence. So though we are most proud of Sharon and join in the joy of this significant milestone, we who have been touched by your Holy Work actually “certified” Sharon long ago.

One of the most important life lessons that I learned from our beloved Rabbi Lipnick Z”L (and no one would be prouder of Sharon at this moment than he) is that the liminal moments of our lives – those rare moments of incredible transformation – are not only occasions for celebrating current successes, but also opportunities for exponential growth. For the hallmark of a life lived well, a life filled with meaning, includes the constant striving for even greater heights.

I eagerly look forward to joining in the celebration of Sharon’s certification upon my return to St. Louis and to our continued partnership in the service of B’nai Amoona, God, Torah, Israel and the Human Family-for many years to come. 

B’Chvod Rav (with great admiration and respect),

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose

Rabbi Bernard Lipnick Senior Rab-binic Chair (on Sabbatical in Jerusalem from October 2011 – August)