Cairo Jews need support

I read, with great interest, the stories in the Post-Dispatch and Jewish Light , about the efforts of dozens of people in the small town of Cairo, Ill., to convert to Judaism. With great effort, Phillip Matthews and his congregation endured hardships and came to St. Louis to learn our history, ethics, life cycles, and religion. They currently meet in a home to worship when they are unable to go to Carbondale.

The Jews of Cairo are now one of us and part of us. They converted to make a difference. We Jews in St. Louis can also make a difference.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

I respectfully call upon the St. Louis Jewish Federation, all the synagogues and temples, and all social action committees to come together to build a green, sustainable synagogue in Cairo with and for the Jews of Cairo. Perhaps our efforts can be combined with the Southern Illinois Federation and other nearby federations. With donated material and with the work of our hands, we can create a permanent tent that our patriarch, Jacob, would find pleasing.

I realize that money is a scarce resource and that there are many, locally and internationally, needing our help. However, I think we can pool our resources and help our fellow Jews in a very real and meaningful way. In so doing, we would recognize their efforts and welcome them in our hearts and our religious community.

Will anyone heed the call?

Myra Rosenthal, St. Louis

Is ‘gentile’ appropriate?

Perhaps, I’m being overly critical, but one of the things I find so disconcerting is the fact that so many of us of the Jewish faith refer to non-Jews as “gentiles.” Sure, the word gentile is in the dictionary, and means any person not a Jew, but nevertheless, I feel that its usage is degrading and demeaning to non-Jews as it reeks of divisiveness and alienation.

Wouldn’t the term “non-Jew” suffice just as well, not to mention, be more appropriate and palatable?

Religious bigotry, especially anti-Semitism is, no doubt, alive and well throughout the world. In a recent editorial in the Jewish Light, it was said that anti-Semitism today is the worst it’s been since 1938, when the clouds of war and Nazi-ism were hovering over Europe. I couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, religious intolerance is becoming more and more vociferous and virulent. Such bigotry and discrimination begets violence and destruction, and is tearing the very fabric of our civilized society apart.

Such abject conduct and behavior must not be allowed to thrive and flourish. Pragmatically speaking, religious bigotry will never be completely eradicated, but we must never stop trying.

What I’m saying is that, in order to wage the fight against religious bias, perhaps, if we Jews were to eliminate the word “gentile(s)” from our lexicon, I really believe that it could help, even if only in a small way, to combat such an insidious social problem.

Gene Carton, Olivette