Week of Sept. 24, 2008

More to Jerry Springer than talk show persona

I’d like to give you my opinion of Jerry Springer. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Springer on a few occasions as he is a very good friend of my wife’s Aunt and Uncle. I have talked with him one onone. The person I have met is a kind, articulate, very smart and caring individual. He has helped numerous charities both with his time and money without any concern for recognition. He truly cares about people. The person you see on The Jerry Springer Show is merely a role he is playing. Not any different than watching a play. We may not all agree with the content but advertisers rush to be part of his show because it gets huge audiences.

This is show business. This is not the real man. If you watch America’s Got Talent, you will see the real man: a caring, light-hearted person who is caught up in the same excitement of the show as the viewers.

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Let us not be too quick to judge others without truly knowing the real person. Isn’t this really what our parents and grandparents have taught us?

David Kaiser

Chesterfield

Having read the “Letters to the Editor” in the Sept. 10, 2008 edition of this newspaper, I felt compelled to respond to their accusations against the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival in their choice of Jerry Springer for this year’s keynote speaker.

The two gentlemen cite Mr. Springer’s long-gone television show of which they seem to be very well acquainted. However, they do not mention and may not be aware of his present endeavors in the show America’s Got Talent. On this show he exhibits great compassion for the contestants and for their families.

For those who may not know, Jerry Springer is the son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who escaped the Holocaust in 1944. He is an attorney who returned this year to his alma mater of Northwestern University and received a standing ovation as the 2008 commencement speaker. He has helped to raise millions of dollars to benefit children with AIDS; flood victims; famine relief; and to promote Breast Cancer education. Does this sound like the horrible person described in the two previous letters?

I think not.

The St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, of which I am proud to say I am a past co-chairperson, has many authors and something for everyone. Might I recommend NBC News Israeli Bureau Chief Martin Fletcher, Yitta Halberstam, Gregory Levey, or Tatiana de Rosnay? These are only a few of the great speakers who will appear this year at the Festival.

In closing, I would like to quote from You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, another celebrated author this year: “We tell people that if they don’t meet our measure, it’s their problem, and sometimes that may be true, but it’s a good idea for people doing the measuring to take a hard look at their rulers first. It always seems that their markers of success look suspiciously like themselves….”

I hope to see you all at the Book Festival.

Judi Scissors

Chesterfield

Another look at Agriprocessors

“What has not been said about the Agriprocessors debate,” by Rabbi Hyim Shafner (St. Louis Jewish Light, Sept. 3) is a very good piece, but I am afraid the author is guilty of just what he is fighting for two reasons.

First, the Torah addresses the need to help the poor of Israel, not those of other nations. Yes, we still have a strong moral responsibility to be fair to all people and even to contribute to the needy of the nations, but not exactly the same way and in the same degree as we are bound to care for the Jewish people.

Also, we have to be certain that we are not guilty of deeming the Rubashkins guilty before anything has been proven. Sure, there were young workers at Agri — but was it known? Sure, some workers got little money and overtime, but was a law being broken?

Payment of workers is based upon supply and demand. No-one is forced to take a job. Many people moved to the city just to get a job at Agriprocessors.

If a company breaks no laws, are we to preach the morality of paying $8 instead of $10 to a worker. Surely to treat all workers with kindliness qualifies as a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the divine name), but not offering health benefits is not a chilul Hashem (profaning the divine name).

Rabbi Yosef Wikler

Editor, Kashrus Magazine

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Editorial on Rice visit misses mark

The last time I checked the greatest threat to world peace was fundamental Islamic terrorism- think Al Qaeda and Iran. Libya has gotten out of the terrorism business and is pursuing good relations with the West, and is in fact setting a good example of how a moderate Islamic state should operate.

So why the slam on Secretary Rice? I think it is misplaced and wrong. Would that other Moslem states, such as Saudi Arabia, followed Libya’s lead. Shame on you for picking on Ms. Rice and Libya.

Jeffrey H. Citrin, D.C.

Chesterfield

Editor’s Note: Many letters to the editor were received near press time regarding political coverage and advertisements. A selection of those letters will be published in the Oct. 1 issue.