Letters to the editor: Week of March 13, 2013

In memoriam

I wish to pay tribute to my mentor, Harry Offenbach, who passed away in January at age 96.

I knew Harry from his days in the schmatta business( selling dress slacks). But I really got to know him as senior mentor and inspirational leader of  Jewish Chautauqua Society and the Brotherhoods of Reform Congregations.

Harry believed and inspired us all to believe that education was the best way to eliminate anti-Semitism. He and a volunteer crew raised enough money to sponsor two lectureships at local universities, putting rabbis as teachers in these houses of learning to teach up-and-coming Christian clergy about Judaism.

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He was so good at raising money nationally that the JCS made him Honorary National President for the last two decades of his life. But he was more than that — he was the heart and soul behind efforts by the Brotherhood and those wanting to make a difference to keep pushing in the fight against anti-Semitism.

If you have a soft spot for Harry O., take a moment to send your contribution to  Jewish Chautauqua Society at  633 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017

 Tell them it’s for Harry O.

Richard Isserman, Creve Coeur


BDS supporter criticizes commentary

A recent commentary in the Jewish Light (“The Road to Peace Does Not Include BDS,”  Feb. 20) condemns a local effort to stop a water contract between St. Louis City and Veolia Environmental because of Veolia’s work for the Israeli government in the occupied West Bank.

The article insinuates this campaign and others like it hurt a potential two–state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In actuality it is the State of Israel, not local human rights advocates, which every day undermines the possibility of a two–state solution.

How can there be a two-state solution if Jewish settlers continue to colonize the land on which a potential Palestinian state would exist? There are now over half a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Their colonies and their roads separate Palestinian communities, steal their water and steal their land.

With the help of Veolia and other complicit multinational corporations, the Israeli government is creating the infrastructure to seamlessly and permanently make these colonies a normal part of the State of Israel, completely divorced from the intentionally fragmented surrounding Palestinian communities.

If the authors truly desire to see “the State of Israel and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace” they should use every means at their disposal, including boycotts, divestment and sanctions, to pressure the State of Israel to stop building colonies.

They could start by urging the city of St. Louis to end its relationship with Veolia.

Michael Berg, St. Louis