Letters to the editor: week of June 22

Can We Talk? series draws responses

In the op-ed piece by Karen Aroesty (June 8), she concludes, “Terrorism can never be justified, even when cloaked in the respectability of artistic license.” I absolutely agree.

However, after seeing the dress rehearsal of Opera Theater’s “The Death of Klinghoffer”, I must say that this production certainly does not justify terrorism. Rather, it is a deeply moving display of the horrible nature of terrorism in general and this terrorist act in particular. The production makes some effort to explain the motivations of the terrorists, but in no way does it excuse or justify what they did. Rather, it makes clear how terrible and utterly inexcusable were their actions.

I encourage readers of the Light to see the production and judge for yourself.

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Martin H. Israel


I totally agree with Karen Aroesty’s commentary about “The Death of Klinghoffer” (June 8). In his commentary on the topic, Rabbi Howard Kaplansky failed to take into consideration the Klinghoffer family’s views. The daughters of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer anonymously attended the 1991 world premiere of the opera in New York City. Afterward they said they disapproved of the dramatic portrayal of the events.

If it were my family being portrayed I would not want some fiction written about my father and/or grandfather used to further a political debate about an issue that my family had no part of. Leon Klinghoffer was a random victim of violence, and when he died he was an American Jew, not an Israeli Jew, and he had no relationship to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Give Mr. Klinghoffer the respect our religion grants all who perished and do not make him a cause. His children did not want that and we as a Jewish community should not want it either. As Aroesty wrote, “Where he goes terribly wrong is in attempting to explain Leon Klinghoffer’s murder from the terrorist perspective as personal or political dilemma. Terrorism does not lend itself to moral give-and-take.”

Rick Isserman

Creve Coeur

Grunbergers‘ impact

Jackson Browne tells a story about a song he wrote when he was very young that was recorded by another artist and then used in a movie, for which he had forgotten giving permission. Then, one day while sitting in a movie theater, some guitar music came on that made him think “Well, I used to play just like that!”

That story came to mind when I saw a recent photo in the Light that made me think, “Well, I used to look just like that!”

Twenty six years is plenty of time to fashion changes to one’s looks and locks, as evidenced by the two vicenarians bookending the venerable Rabbi Noah Weinberg and munificent Izzy Goldberg, in a photograph included in the story (June 8) about Rabbi Elazar Grunberger’s impending aliyah. I commend the Light for doing the story and recognizing Rabbi Grunberger’s contributions to Jewish life in St. Louis.

The truth is, however, that the article only scratches the surface of what Rabbi Grunberger did for the community. One cannot quantify the value of a mitzvah performed, a prayer uttered, or a kindness extended. Spiritual currency is just a domain name waiting to be; it cannot be counted. But if living Jewishly were to be the coin of the realm in the St. Louis Jewish community, then Rabbi Grunberger is responsible for enriching the community far beyond any mortal’s ability to appraise it. Long after he and his family have alighted in the shadows of Temple Mount, their impact will be paying dividends in the supernal abode and right here in earthly St. Louis.

Mordechai Simon

Los Angeles

Millstone Institute for Jewish Leadership

Thank you for the recent coverage of the launching of the Millstone Institute for Jewish Leadership (June 15). We would like to share additional information that we hope is helpful to your readers.

The Institute has been created to support the work of today’s leaders, cultivate new generations of leaders and strengthen the sense of connection among the men and women who lead the diverse non-profit, philanthropic, social services, educational and religious institutions that form the fabric of the St. Louis Jewish community.

The Institute builds on the efforts of JProStl, the association dedicated to supporting professionals working at 60+ Jewish organizations. Our close partnership with senior managers, clergy and hundreds of colleagues throughout the community has been central to supporting the work of our organizations.

Planned for 2011-2012 are a wide range of innovative initiatives, including the Lens for Young Adults, Millstone Fellows, and Women’s Leadership Initiative. We also look forward to sharing with your readers information on upcoming workshops, governance training and Jewish educational programs to help current leaders strengthen their volunteer board service.

We are presenting compelling results from a community study of recent board members on perceptions of board involvement to be shared with all organizations.

The Institute is guided by the understanding that people who are stirred by the impulse to serve can enhance the leadership skills they possess, acquire and sharpen new skills and assist other leaders in improving the lives of all the people of the St. Louis region.

We are grateful to the support of the Lubin-Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and the Millstone Foundation for providing the resources to create the first local initiative of its kind in the country approaching leadership development across the spectrum of the entire Jewish community.

Mont Levy, Millstone Institute for Jewish Leadership Advisory Committee Chairman; Marci Mayer Eisen, Director;

and Karen Sher, Senior Program Associate

Circumcision ban editorial

May I humbly suggest that the arrogance you mention is that of the proponents of the right to circumcise his or her offspring in the name of religion? What is involved here is the individual freedom not to be forced to undergo a surgical operation resulting in the loss of a body part. This constititional freedom trumps his parents’ purported religious right to force it on him. The irrelevant garbage involved is your arguments about potential health benefits and absence of a deleterious impact which are not at issue. The issue is that a person has the sole right to decide whether to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure and that a newborn baby is not competent to make that decision.

If yours were a religion requiring female circumcision would you similarly advocate it? And if not, would it not merely be a matter of degree of harm done? If you are against female circumcision logic requires you to be against male circumcision also, regardless of the religious aspect.

But I’m afraid logic has no standing here, nor has reason. If it had you would not invoke the correctness of an overwhelming majority of scientists. In science a single exception to a rule invalidates it. Science is not a democracy and even in politics the majoritiy is not necessarily right, some would argue more likely wrong.

A. E. Lippman

Creve Coeur