Letters to the editor, week of Jan. 18, 2012

The danger of Iran

Western leaders recognize that a nuclear Iran poses a grave danger to the entire world. More than 30 percent of the world’s oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz, over which a nuclear Iran would exercise unchallenged control. That degree of control and correspondingly oil prices should be enough to make Western leaders quake. A nuclear Iran would offer cover to the myriad of terrorist organizations their government sponsors.

Ahmadinejad and his government represents the world’s only openly jihadist power. An increase in Iran’s prestige, through the granting of a forum before the United Nations can only bolster the forces of incitement worldwide. 

The photographer Lewis Hine was once asked why he took pictures. His response was simple, “I want to show things that need to be corrected.” We know through our friendships that the universal ethical calling of justice cannot be readily answered if we live only among ourselves.

“We have learned that we can no longer act as if what happens in our immediate communities is all that matters. We show solidarity to others beyond our communities in order to better appreciate the universality of human dignity.”

I spoke these words over three years ago at a rally challenging the UN decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak at that forum. We have run out of time. The world must act 
decisively immediately.

Jay B. Umansky, President, AJCongress St. Louis

Receptionist’s warmth will be missed

My work and school with the various Jewish agencies frequently take me into the Jewish Federation building. On my way in and out there has always been time for a “schmooze” with Celeste Wieselman, the receptionist at the front desk. Our topics of discussion varied from the state of the world to our beloved Israel.

Oy! Am I going to miss her!

She has been replaced by an armed security guard. Having appropriate security at a Jewish institution cannot be underestimated.

However, from my prospective, it is equally important to have a warm Jewish presence welcoming all who come through those front doors.

This presence also gives insight to those who have not met many, if any, Jewish people, as to who we are. That would include the many non-Jewish kids that come to visit the Holocaust Museum or to other visitors that come into the building.

I have discussed the loss of a receptionist position with Barry Rosenberg, CEO of the Jewish Federation and Bob Millstone, President of the Jewish Federation. They both were very accessible. Each stressed that the demise of the receptionist job was due to the agency cutbacks because of the recession.

The receptionist at the entrance of the Jewish Federation represents the first step into the soul of our Jewish community.

For the past seven years all who have come into the Jewish Federation building have been personally greeted with an attractive, smiling, knowledgeable, Jewish person who has made everyone feel welcome.

Surely, our community can find funding, even if it is part time for both this welcoming reception and the appropriate security.

Interestingly the JCC on the same campus as the Jewish Federation has two full-time receptionists at each of the two main entrances. Off-duty police are utilized at only large public events.

The JCC prefers to present an “Open Environment” that does have measures of security in place that are just not apparent.

Elsie Shemin- Roth

Labadie, Mo.