|Statements, politics and policy
Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ support for a secure and sustainable democratic Jewish State of Israel is one of our six strategic priorities. We recognize, however, that there are many conflicting views about what policies should be followed to achieve our goal.
Reflecting our role as a community organization, Federation does not routinely take positions on policies, particularly where there is significant principled disagreement around them in the community. From time to time JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America) does issue policy statements. While our local St. Louis Federation is a participating member of JFNA, JFNA is a separate and independent organization. It does not necessarily speak for our community or any other individual community within North America.We do encourage the engagement of the community in policy and advocacy related to Israel. For those of you who are interested in policy and advocacy, we recommend getting involved with the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council, an independent and representative voice of our community. Other key organizations and lobbying groups include the AJC, ADL, AIPAC, NCJW and JStreet.
For those of you interested in furthering your own skills in advocacy, we will be sponsoring a training program in Washington, D.C. this May. The program, co-sponsored with the JCRC, is non-partisan and focuses on providing participants skill training to be actively engaged. For more information please contact Karen Sher at KSher@JFedSTL.org or 314-442-3824.
Supporting Israel and the work you do
Federation can help you connect with Israel in the following four areas: Travel, Education, Social Services and Economic Development.
* Travel: Federation’s Israel Center consults with individuals, groups and synagogues to create meaningful Israel travel experiences and offer limited funding. Programs range from Birthright missions to year-long opportunities and more. For more information on how we might help you or your organization experience Israel, please contact Israel Center director Karen Rader at 314-442-3756 or KRader@JFedSTL.org.
* Education: Your synagogue and congregation are the single best place for your learning and engagement about Israel; we strongly encourage you to seek out your clergy and educational leadership to learn directly from them. Additionally, we encourage you to read and subscribe to The St. Louis Jewish Light, and to explore the Jewish Community Center’s cultural and educational programs-including their New Jewish Theatre, the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival and the St. Louis Jewish Film Festival. Federation’s Center for Jewish Learning and our Brodsky Library can also be used as resources, providing reading programs and talks through the SH’MA: Listen! Speaker Series, adult education classes and support for your own congregation’s teacher and curricular development. For more information, please contact the Director of the Center for Jewish Learning, Cyndee Levy at 314-442-3754 or CLevy@JFedSTL.org.
* Social service support: Federation supports a range of social services in Israel as part of our sense of collective responsibility to the Jewish People. We maintain our close partnership with the city of Yokne’am and Megiddo region, as well as supporting targeted projects throughout the country. We support the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee as they help new immigrants resettle in Israel and ensure food, clothing, housing and education for those in need. Additionally, we provide targeted grants for programs that strengthen civil-society, including those that foster Arab-Jewish coexistence and religious pluralism. For more information on how you can get involved please contact Stephen Cohen, Vice President of Planning and Allocations at SCohen@JFedSTL.org, 314-442-3800 or Michael Oberlander, Chief Philanthropy Officer at MOberlander@JFedSTL.org, 314-442-3845.
* Economic development: Jewish Federation of St. Louis believes we must promote the economic strength of Israel and use economic development to build stronger and more permanent economic relationships between our regions. We are a founding and sustaining partner of the Israel Action Network that has been the most effective organization countering the boycott Israel movement (BDS) on campus and throughout the United States. We have supported the establishment of a Missouri trade desk in Israel that promotes economic development between our state and Israel. We continue to work with BioSTL and other community partners to attract North America offices of Israeli companies to our region, promoting human and financial relationships for mutual benefit. For more information please contact Don Hannon, Chief Financial Officer at DHannon@JFedSTL.org or 314-442-3755.
To deepen your understanding
Finally, I recommend the following sources to help you deepen your own understanding of the dynamics of what is now happening.
* This collection from Moment magazine provides short perspectives by a range of writers on the growing gap between American Jews and Israel. It is an excellent overview.
* On the UN Vote itself, I have found this page from Boston’s Jewish Federation helpful. These columns from David Harris, AJC’s executive director have been useful as well: a commentary about the Palestinians’ desire for a state; the second is Harris’s response to Kerry’s speech.
* As a single volume history, I strongly recommend Daniel Gordis’s Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn. I have read many treatments and have found nothing better that covers the origins of Zionism through contemporary times.
* Finally, for those of you who would like to understand the ideological struggle at the core of the settlement debate, I would recommend Gadi Taub’s The Settlers and the Struggle Over the Meaning of Zionism. Taub does an excellent job explaining the tension between traditional Zionism and settler Zionism. This key dynamic has been reflected in some of the debates within our own community over the last few weeks and I suspect it will continue to grow.