Letters to the Editor: Week of Nov 25, 2015

Mizzou hospitality

The Nov. 11 front-page article, “Jewish students react to hate on Mizzou campus,” begins with a description of a Tuesday morning tradition at Hillel.  Free bagels are provided to students, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. We have witnessed such hospitality and commitment to community first-hand at Mizzou Hillel and are most grateful.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis presently provides financial support to 85 students at Mizzou, a significant proportion of the 600 students we fund annually.  When half of those students responded to an email inquiry indicating they would very much appreciate our presence, a listening ear, to help process all that has happened on the campus in recent weeks, we sprang to action.  Five staff members set aside a day to drive together to Columbia to meet with students.  Our contacts at the university did not respond to our requests for space to meet confidentially with students.  Our phone calls to nearby churches to see if a classroom or basement might be made available were unsuccessful; evidently such requests by “outside groups” take four to five weeks to process.

Thanks to an e-introduction by Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, securing space for the day at Hillel (right on the edge of campus) took no more than 20 minutes.  The Hillel staff provided full access to the building and the parking, and made catering recommendations that would respect kosher guidelines. They welcomed our staff, and more importantly our students, with warmth and no hesitation. During the day, we learned that our students (no matter their color or faith tradition) are strong, that they understand racism is not limited to the campus they attend, and that they are all the more determined to succeed.

As we drove back to St. Louis, we could imagine the smiles of our founding mothers, members of a committee of National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section. Though the reach and support of The Scholarship Foundation now extends well beyond the Jewish community, Mizzou Hillel welcomed us as travelers, as family and not outsiders, and made us at home.

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Faith Sandler, Executive Director, 

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis