Week of July 23, 2008

RJC ad prompts response

I am writing to protest the inclusion of the advertisement run by the Republican Jewish Coalition with the headline “I used to be a Democrat” in the Jewish Light.

St. Louis Ballet ad

The ad speaks for itself. It is full of silly, meaningless generalities that offer no intelligent information about the very important election this November. Unfortunately, it attempts to make Jews feel guilty if they vote for a Democrat by insinuating that the Democratic Party is no friend of Israel.

As a Jew who happens to be a Democrat, I would offer my reasons for “Why I am still a Democrat”: the war in Iraq, the national debt of trillions of dollars, $4 gasoline, Katrina, massive civil rights violations, the attempt to destroy our independent judiciary, “Mission Accomplished,” the decline of the dollar in the world market, and (fill in the blanks).

In spite of the Republican attempts to convince the Jewish community that they deserve four more years, I am convinced that no amount of fear-mongering on their part will be successful.

Lary Baker


Central Reform and URJ

Although I am no longer a member of Central Reform Congregation and in fact no longer live in the St. Louis area, I felt that I must answer the commentary appearing in the July 9 issue of the St. Louis Jewish Light authored by Rick Isserman of Temple Israel regarding the Union for Reform Judaism. I am a past member of CRC and was a member there until last October.

I must advise all of the readers that one has to live CRC in order to understand it. It is not an organization that can be summarized in a word or two or even in a sentence or two — such a summarization would take volumes and even then it has a way of changing itself daily, weekly, and monthly.

CRC does the impossible at the High Holy Days by serving thousands with a much needed plate of religious experience without ever checking tickets at the services or turning anyone away, regardless of ability to pay, from its doors. And let’s not forget that is true every Shabbat of the year and each Holiday of the year as well. Nor is anyone turned away due to color, gender, or religious preference. It is truly an open door to anyone in need of spiritual experience.

Moreover, it is located in a place that everyone said was a disaster — the only Jewish presence in the City of St. Louis. Along with this address comes the need to be a part of a community that is in trouble: some hungry, others in need of health care, still more without clothes to keep them warm, etc. CRC requires no credit report or proof of earnings to join. It caters to any and all who wish to be a part of this great, open, and caring Religious Jewish Congregation. And it does all of this because people come first — an attitude that is singular with this congregation.

To my knowledge CRC has never shirked from their duties to URJ but has had a problem with how that organization figures the dues required. CRC does so much for so many and does so on a budget that is a marvel in itself. I know that the Board of Directors will never cry poor — but when any organization does so much for so many on a limited amount of money — well, you add the figures.

All congregations are not equal — All dues assessments also should not be equal. It is imperative that we all recognize this fact and ask the URJ to not try to treat each of them as equal.

Ray Davidson

Overland Park, KS