Letters To The Editor: November 2 issue


Warm, welcoming experience at St. Louis synagogues

I have read with much interest the recent contributions that have called out synagogues for their unwelcoming environment. As someone who migrated to St. Louis just 34 years ago, I am unable to rely on the usual ice-breaker (“Where did you go to high school?”) when meeting new groups of people. 

Yet, in all of my interactions with St. Louis area synagogues — including TICK, Traditional Congregation and NHBZ — I have felt seen and warmly embraced by my fellow congregants and their rabbis. I attribute this to my attitude, behavior and expectations. For example, I make a concerted effort to always smile when I walk into shul: A smile signifies a willingness to open ourselves to others. I try to make it a point to ask people about their lives – children, parents, health, work and travels – and listen in a focused, caring way. I commiserate with the tsuris of others, realizing that my troubles pale by comparison.

I try to attend shul on Shabbos and have found that this small cadre of “loyalists” immediately bond with each other; likewise for study groups and synagogue sponsored activities. While newcomers to any group often remain on the sidelines awaiting an invitation, my advice is not to stand on “ceremony.” Your generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for shul life will inevitably bless you with a wonderfully supportive, welcoming prayer community!

Susan Feigenbaum

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Shining a spotlight on all of St. Louis’ women rabbis

I’m writing regarding the Oct. 19 cover story 50 years of women in the rabbinate, which is a milestone to celebrate.  I noticed that the cover and article photos and text did not include Rabbi Jessica Shafrin or Rabbi Pamela Barmash.  I saw the caption read “Some of the women rabbis serving in the St. Louis area include,” but it appeared that almost all of the other women rabbis in St. Louis had been included in the article. 

Rabbi Pamela Barmash (L) and Rabbi Jessica Shafrin (R)

As an architect, not a traditionally female profession, I know how important it is that “a generation grew up seeing someone in a high-profile job who proved that women could be leaders and wives and mothers” (page 5A), and it is also important, as you showed with Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, that women rabbis can serve the community in many different ways and roles.  Being inclusive can also show these academic and pastoral care work roles. 

Rhiannon Kaye

We were very interested to see the article highlighting women clergy in St. Louis. However, you omitted Rabbi Jessica Shafrin from your list and we are very disappointed. Apparently, your search didn’t extend beyond the superficial. Hope you repair your misstep.

Amos and Barbara Shamir

Election day approaching

The constituents of MO-1 deserve competent representation in Congress. In a district whose inhabitants number over 700,000, 65,000 democrats voted to keep Cori Bush as the democratic nominee in the congressional race. 

Cori Bush does not reflect our values, nor does she represent her party’s agenda. Instead of MO-1 being considered “overwhelmingly democratic,” I suggest that MO-1 is overwhelmingly in favor of good leadership and safe streets.

Cori Bush advocates defunding the police while increasing her private security. She has brought nothing to this region in the two years that she has been in congress, other than grandstanding in the constant search for the spotlight.

People succeed and their businesses flourish when the streets are safe and when people can conduct their lives without fear of violence. The core metropolitan area is awash, with empty storefronts and shuttered offices. I believe that MO-1 should look beyond party and look for an alternative. There is one alternative for the ballot; can we overlook the “R” next to his name — and just set back to a functioning representative?

Nathan S. Cohen
St. Louis