Bicentennial Marked by KETC/Channel 9

Jewish Light Editorial

Thanks to the generosity of the Melvin L. Newmark Memorial Fund, established by Mr. Newmark’s family in memory of a past president of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees, we are able to include in this edition of the St. Louis Jewish Light a special section as a companion piece to the upcoming one-hour documentary on KETC, Channel 9, St. Louis Stories: The Jewish Americans . The program, produced locally by Jim Kirchherr of Channel 9, is a local sidebar to the acclaimed, three-part, six-hour series, The Jewish Americans , shown in January on Channel 9, the local affiliate of the PBS network. The original series, produced by the Emmy Award-winning documentarian David Grubin, covers the full scope of the 350-year history of the American Jewish community, dating back to the arrival in 1654 in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam of the first 23 Jews to come to what is now the United States of America, escaping from the Portuguese Inquistition in Recife, Brazil.

Just as was the case with the award-winning Ken Burns series, The War, which covered the history of World War II from the vantage point of the home front, and which included St. Louis Stories: The War Years, our friends at Channel 9 decided to produce a one-hour documentary on the St. Louis Jewish community, which dates back to the arrival, in 1807, of Joseph Philipson, a Jewish merchant from Philadelphia, who settled here three years after the Louisiana Purchase made what is now Missouri and St. Louis part of the United States.

It is significant to note that Isadore E. Millstone, often called “The Patriarch” of our local Jewish community, who is now 101 years of age, has lived through half of the two centuries of the history of the St. Louis Jewish community. Millstone, Honorary President of the Jewish Federation, past president of the Jewish Community Center, and a major benefactor of the JCC, the Federation, Hebrew University, United Hebrew Congregation and scores of other organizations, symbolizes the best qualities of the civic, philanthropic and business leadership of our community.

Back in the 1950s, I. E. Millstone purchased 108 acres of prime land at Lindbergh and Schuetz, for the Jewish Community Center’s Carlyn Wohl Building. The Millstone Jewish Community Campus now also is home to the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, the Covenant Chai Apartments, the community Mikveh and the offices of the St. Louis Jewish Light . When Millstone first acquired the land, there were those who doubted that members of the Jewish community would ever move “all the way out” on Lindbergh and Schuetz.

I. E. Millstone’s vision and “can-do” attitude, along with the leadership of many others among our lay and rabbinic and professional figures through the years, helped the St. Louis Jewish community grow from its original single family of Joseph Philipson back in 1807, to a thriving, dynamic and diverse community of 60,000 members, served by an outstanding Jewish Federation and family of agencies, 22 synagogues representing all streams of Judaism, day schools, educational, cultural and recreational activities, facilities for youth, children and the elderly.

This year, as we celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary of independence, thanks to our friends at KETC, Channel 9, we can also again celebrate the bicentennial of our local Jewish community, many of whose members played key roles in the building and sustaining of the Jewish State. We are indeed blessed by one of the oldest and strongest Jewish communities on earth, and we look forward to enjoying the Channel 9 special program on April 8 at 7 p.m., and on April 13 at 4 p.m. Viewing the program will be a reminder of how privileged we are to live in such a community, and of our obligation to generously support the Jewish Federation campaign, our temples and synagogues, day schools and all of the organizations and programs which enhance the quality of Jewish life and assure that our future will be even brighter than our distinguished history.