Week of May 13, 2009

Yom HaShoah

On Behalf of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, I wanted to clarify several issues raised in two letters printed in the April 29 edition of the Jewish Light. The annual Yom HaShoah commemoration is open to the entire Jewish community, as well as members of the interfaith community. Among the approximately 800 attendees at Shaare Zedek Synagogue, were religious leaders and congregants representing all branches of Judaism, as well as the unaffiliated, and followers of other faiths.


Mr. Chase correctly enumerated other significant dates on which the Holocaust is commemorated. The HMLC has organized a memorial program on Tisha B’Av, the infamous date of so many tragedies throughout Jewish history. In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly designated Jan. 27 as a date of international commemoration. The Museum has scheduled a candle-lighting ceremony marking the liberation of Auschwitz, a lunch and learn program facilitated by the St. Louis Chabad Rabbi, and several appropriate film programs.

Since its inception, The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s mission has always been to serve as a resource and teach the history and lessons of this tragic period to all of our visitors, regardless of religious affiliation. One need not wait for any particular date in the calendar — religious or secular — to visit the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center and learn these relevant lessons.

Marci Rosenberg, Chair, St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center

In Memory of Gloria M. Goldstein

As a Conservative Jew, I was disappointed by the letter to the editor dated April 29, commenting on the absence of “the most observant branch of our Orthodox community ” from the Yom HaShoah program at Shaare Zedek.I was sitting near the author of the letter and from our position, at the front of the synagogue, I wonder how he could possibly know the religious affiliation of the other 700-plus attendees? Also, there were 50,000 plus members of the St. Louis Jewish community not in attendance. If we are going to condemn those who were not in attendance, shouldn’t we condemn all, regardless of religious affiliation?

To ask any Jew to “put aside their petty differences ” would be to ask them to change their religious beliefs. We don’t know why any Jewish person was not in attendance, but no matter what reason, we have no right to ask anyone to change his or her religious practice. In recent weeks the international Jewish Community has been subjected to the outrageous, hateful words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the farcical U.N.Durban anti-racism Conference which attempted to become an Israeli-Jewish hatefest and St. Louis was revisited by the American Nazi Party. I am saddened by the mean spirited words directed towards “the most observant members of our community. ” As Jews we have enough hate directed at us from outside our faith.

My appreciation goes out to all those at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center who worked so hard on yet another moving Yom HaShoah program. I pray for the time when all Jews will love and respect each other. I pray for the time when we are as tolerant of each other as we are of those of other faiths.

Howard P. Loiterstein, Chesterfield