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Dear Community Members,

Please take the time to read this important letter from Jewish Federation of St. Louis and Jewish Community Relations Council, supported by many in our community. As political disagreements become a larger issue each day, it is important we stand united and respond appropriately to those who look to threaten and attack our people.

A Plea for Civil Discourse
The St. Louis Jewish community has recently confronted a number of significant political disagreements that have led to hateful and inflammatory language. What began as reasonable disagreements on substantive issues quickly turned into threatening personal attacks. The pattern began this summer with the debate about the Iran nuclear deal. It continued with the disagreement about how our community organizations and rabbis have chosen to respond to the ongoing terrorist attacks in Israel. And now we witness our friend and colleague Rabbi Susan Talve labeled with the designation “terrorist.”

We will no longer watch in silence as reasonable political disagreement reflecting the sacred diversity of our community becomes dangerous and ominous.

We recognize that the strength of feeling around these issues is due to the sense that so much is at stake for our region, the Jewish people and for us. However, we must not turn our disagreement about ideas into attacks on the individuals supporting them. Doing so violates the Jewish value that all people are created in the image of the Divine. Targeting the motivations and character of individuals with whom we disagree rather than focusing on the disagreement itself does more than undermine civility. It contributes to a pattern that we as Jews have borne witness to for millennia: hateful language is often the precursor of physical violence.

To be clear, our Jewish community does not have a single point of view, particularly on some of the most pressing issues before us today. Nor is our call for civility linked to any particular view of social justice. We do not all support or agree with any one political view. But whether one agrees or not, is simply beside the point.

Last week, we read the parsha Vayigash, a story that opens with Judah approaching Joseph, the man he believes to be an Egyptian, to plead for the release of his brother, Benjamin. After countless cycles of violence between brothers—Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers — we read of the first instance in the Torah of a brother standing up to defend his sibling. We, too, have allowed the cruelty in our community to go on for far too long. Today, we stand with our brothers and sisters to plead for a release from hate-filled rhetoric and a return to the civility and respect that must remain the foundation of our entire society.

A Statement by Members of Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ Rabbinic Advisory Council
Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg, United Hebrew Congregation
Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Bais Abraham Congregation
Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Young Israel Congegation
Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, Nusach Hari-B’nai Zion
Rabbi Lane Steinger, Shir Chadash Reconstructionist Community
Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation
Rabbi Noah Arnow, Kol Rinah
Rabbi James Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth
Rabbi Amy Feder, Temple Israel
Rabbi Seth Gordon, Traditional Congregation
Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Temple Emanuel
Rabbi Yosef Landa, Chabad of Greater St. Louis
Rabbi Carnie Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Supported by
Rabbi Michael Alper, Temple Israel
Cantor Ronald D. Eichaker, United Hebrew Congregation
Rabbi Randy Fleisher, Central Reform Congregation
Rabbi Jordan T. Gerson, St. Louis Hillel at Washington University
Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Congregation Shaare Emeth
Rabbi James Stone Goodman, Congregation Neve Shalom
Rabbi Yaakov Green, Epstein Hebrew Academy
Rabbi Brad Horwitz, Jewish Community Center
Rabbi Ari Kaiman, Congregation B’nai Amoona
Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, Rabbi Emeritus, United Hebrew Congregation
Rabbi Shaya Mintz, St. Louis Kollel
Rabbi Gavriel Munk, Louis and Sarah Block Yeshiva High School
Rabbi Tracy Nathan, Jewish Family & Children’s Service
Rabbi Hershey Novack, Chabad on Campus
Rabbi Naftali Rothstein, Yeshivat Kadimah High School
Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, Jewish Student Union
Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro, United Hebrew Congregation
Rabbi Mark L. Shook, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Temple Israel
Rabbi Scott Slarskey, Director of Jewish Life, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School
Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Shaare Emeth
Rabbi Deana Sussman, Central Reform Congregation
Rabbi Max Weiman, KME
Rabbi Jonah Zinn, Congregation Shaare Emeth

National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis Section
Darien Arnstein, President
Ellen Alper, Executive Director

American Jewish Committee-St. Louis
Joan E. Silber, Ph.D., Regional Board President
Nancy Lisker, Regional Director

Anti-Defamation League-Missouri/Southern Illinois
Robbye Frank, Chair, Regional Advisory Board
Karen J. Aroesty, Regional Director

Jewish Federation of St. Louis
Board of Directors
Harvey N. Wallace, Board Chair
Patricia F. Croughan, Immediate Past Chair
JJ Flotken
Burt Garland
Susan K. Goldberg
Sheila Greenbaum
John Greenberg
Gerald P. Greiman
Brad Gross
Gianna Jacobson
David Kaslow
Susan Godwin Kofkoff
Ken Kranzberg
Michael Lefton
Emily Stein MacDonald
Robert Newmark
Michael Oberlander
Ruth Raskas
Michelle Rubin
Sue Schlichter
Sherry Shuman
Ian Silberman
Michael Staenberg
Les Sterman
Timothy Stern
Toby Warticovschi
Hank Webber
Sherri Frank W eintrop
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President and CEO

Board of Directors
Robert D. Millstone, President
Phyllis Markus, Immediate Past President
Rick Abrams
Cheryl Adelstein
Gail Appleson
David Bohm
Hilary Cedergreen
Lawrence Friedman
Gerald P. Greiman
Roberta Gutwein
John Kalishman
Ira Kodner, MD
Steven Malter, Ph.D
Joe Pereles
Jeffrey Sparks
Les Sterman
Arlene Stiffman, Ph.D
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director