When a noxious letter appeared in the St. Louis Jewish Light, castigating Jewish communal leaders for not sharing false and antisemitic narratives about Israel, the leadership of CJV Missouri refused to stand idle. The result was an outstanding rebuke to the letter-writers, a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name), and a demonstration of the unique power and role of CJV.
The letter falsely accused Jewish synagogues and Hebrew schools of misleading their Jewish members about Zionism and Israel’s true character. Signed by seventy-five local community members, it demanded an immediate ceasefire to halt the “atrocities” committed by Israel.
Contrary to its dishonest presentation as a native community effort, the letter was drawn from the rabidly antisemitic IfNotNow group’s “You Never Told Me” campaign, in which misinformed Gen Z-ers solemnly pledge, one after the other, to “end our community’s support for the occupation.” Never mind that Gaza, far from being “occupied,” was Judenrein since 2005 until Hamas launched its unprovoked massacre.
Enjoy what you're reading? Subscribe for more!
This, of course, was unacceptable, both regarding Israel and the besmirching of Missouri’s own Jewish institutions. It was CJV Missouri that crafted the response.
Chairman Rabbi Ze’ev Smason and Executive Vice President Rabbi Yonason Goldson authored a letter, in consultation with other rabbis and community leaders, supporting Israel’s actions and, without even mentioning it, dismantling the lies and slanders of the original letter. Whereas the IfNotNow-inspired letter referred to the writers’ participation in b’nai mitzvah celebrations, youth groups, and camps, the response referred to Yeshivas, seminaries, a love for Torah study, and critical thinking. And it proceeded from there.
CJV Missouri’s original goal was to obtain 500 signatures, enough to demonstrate the true opinion of the Jewish community of St. Louis, and especially those who chose yeshiva education over leftist indoctrination. But the letter was so well-written, so powerful, and yet so uncontroversial to the mainstream of the Jewish community, that over 1000 community members and alumni signed the letter—with Rabbi Smason’s signature at the end the only hint of CJV’s leading role.
Thanks to the generosity of several members of the community, CJV secured the centerfold of the January 11th issue of the St. Louis Jewish Light to publish the letter as a two-page ad.