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On Saturday, August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old was shot and killed after an encounter with police in Ferguson. In the days that followed, our region has experienced violence, along with anger, fear, rage, disbelief and bitterness. Even as the details are still emerging, we recognize the great sadness in our community today.

We mourn the loss of a young man. We mourn for a family who will never have the pleasure of watching their son accomplish his dreams. We see the bravery and devotion of our public servants who are attempting to maintain peace in the area. And we respect the hundreds, if not thousands, of non-violent protesters, including leadership from the St. Louis Jewish community, whose presence sends an important message that the citizens of St. Louis support a peaceful and just response to what occurred.

We also recognize the difficulties that lie ahead. The continued violence and looting by some individuals is reprehensible and demonstrates that there will be no quick fix.  Even as we recognize that something must be done to protect all citizens and property from harm, we support continued thoughtful approaches to law enforcement.

Ultimately, the situation in Ferguson is much broader than the tragic events that we are now witnessing.  We all must redouble our efforts to combat racism, poverty and economic inequality, so that every individual, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, has a chance to live a decent, meaningful life. And we must recognize the political and institutional changes that will be required to help achieve that end and to mitigate future conflicts.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) are committed to furthering Jewish values for the benefit of all. As Jews, we offer our prayers (tefillot) for community healing. We ask for mercy (rachamim) so that we all may act with kindness and empathy through this grief.  Our tradition compels us to do what we can to repair the world (tikkun olam), a world where trust and faith, hope and joy seem, at times, almost unreachable.

Federation and JCRC, in coordination with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, our congregations and regional leadership have already supported the residents of Ferguson in multiple ways, including providing contributions of food and supplies. We have been in talks with community leadership to offer our help in a manner that would be productive. Longer-term efforts are being planned to sustain our community’s engagement with regional issues.

Federation and JCRC will continue to work behind the scenes and, when appropriate, out front to ensure that our community plays a role in strengthening the St. Louis region.

May we all join in the hope of healing what is broken; working together to build a St. Louis that is safe, equal and just for all. That is a place in which every person will ultimately be remembered for the life he or she has fully lived, not mourned for a future that will never be.

 

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.                                                     Batya Abramson Goldstein

President and CEO                                                Executive Director

Jewish Federation of St. Louis                                Jewish Community Relations Council

 

Patty Croughan                                                     Phyllis Markus

Board Chair                                                            President

Jewish Federation of St. Louis                                 Jewish Community Relations Council

 

Bob Millstone                                                          Gerry Greiman

Past Board Chair                                                     Past  President

Jewish Federation of St. Louis                                 Jewish Community Relations Council

 

This statement has been supported by 50+ leaders in the St. Louis Jewish community.
Visit JFedSTL.org/Ferguson for a full list of signatories.

To be added to this list, please send your full name, title and organization to Amy Pakett at APakett@JFedSTL.org.