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March 26, 2024

Dear Elyse,

This month, we have seen the war between Israel and Hamas move into its fifth month. Our hearts are heavy with the traumas we have each suffered, compounded by the traumas of all who have been killed, injured, displaced, kidnapped, and otherwise harmed by this war and the terrorist attacks that began it.

It is especially painful as both Jewish and Muslim communities around the world celebrated sacred festivals of Purim and Ramadan. Being able to celebrate in joy while there is still so much pain has been a challenge everyone has tried to handle differently. In Jerusalem, there was a controversy over whether or not a public parade and celebration was appropriate given the ongoing war, the reality of hostages still in captivities, and the pain that everyone is feeling in various different ways throughout the nation and the wider region. While the festivities were ultimately held without much incident, it is worth noting how hard it is to even gather in our normal ways in such a difficult time.

Even so, it was inspiring to see so many locally in St. Louis and in communities around the world sharing their joy and being open and honest about how they were able to participate in, and even enjoy, the sacred rituals of their tradition amid the ongoing war. Our holy days are meant to give us strength and renew our spirit in dark times, as well as remind us that just as there have been times of turmoil in our history, these have passed into the annals of memory and better days have come. We will continue to work and hope and pray for those days of peace and freedom and the return of all those held captive to come soon.

Kol tuv,

Rabbi Scott Shafrin,

Deputy Director and Lee & Milford Bohm Director of Social Justice

Talking Points on Local Ceasefire Resolutions

  • Local resolutions have no bearing on the policies of other nations, and don’t advance the business of local government.
  • These resolutions are performative and sow division locally; they advance infighting between communities and discourage discourse.
  • Resolutions like this are popping up around the country because of a national effort designed to push Hamas-supported propaganda and narratives. 
  • The text of the resolutions is, in many ways, immaterial
  • Even when bans call on Hamas to cease aggression alongside calls for Israel to cease fighting, these resolutions are billed as calls to “end Israel’s violence and oppression,” not as a call for a negotiated end to the war.
  • Engaging in this debate only adds fuel to the argument that one side is right and one is wrong.
  • Passing these resolutions allows people to reframe Hamas terror as legitimate acts of rebellion against oppression.
  • Compels others to see black and white lines where nuance is needed.
  • Ceasefire agreement only works if both parties are ultimately looking for a peaceful solution. In this war between Israel and Hamas, Hamas has made it clear that peace is not an option. 
  • The terrorist organization has broken every ceasefire agreement they and Israel had in place in the past, including on Oct. 7 when they attacked Israel. 
  • Hamas also broke the most recent agreement back in November when they began firing rockets into Israel, and just last week Egypt put forward a new ceasefire agreement that Hamas rejected. 
  • While it is acceptable and even responsible to criticize the Israeli government for particular policies or actions, it is equally important to acknowledge that groups like Hamas use violence and terror to achieve their goals, which is unacceptable in any civilized society. We must unequivocally condemn terrorism and the atrocities committed by terror groups so that we can work towards creating a more just and peaceful world for everyone.

Local Israel Programs

Shaving Israel - The Aftermath of October 7

Sunday, March 31

Arrive at 3:15 PM | Event starts at 3:30 PM

Nusach Hari B'nai Zion | 650 N. Price Road, 63132

Join JCRC partner Chris Hexter as he shares his own experiences and eyewitness accounts of the current situation in Israel. Chris will also be sharing the story of his grandson, Yair Hexter, an IDF soldier who was killed during intense fighting in southern Gaza.

Click here to read more about this moving and important program and register below.


Women’s Philanthropy CommUNITY: Make the Desert Grow

Sunday, April 7, 2024 | 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The J | 2 Millstone Campus Drive, 63146

Tickets: $36

Join Women's Philanthropy and our St. Louis Shinhinim for a powerful evening marking the 6 month anniversary of the attack on Israel, raise awareness of the gender based sexual violence committed against Israeli women on October 7, and highlight the strength and resilience of Israeli women in the months that have followed, including stories from survivor Naomi Petel Adler who was living in Nahal Oz on October 7 and was under siege in her shelter with her husband and three young kids for 19 hours.

Due to the sensitive nature of the evening’s topic, this program is recommended for women over 16, however, participation for those younger is welcome at your own discretion.

In memory of the female victims, we will be collecting donations of feminine hygiene products to be donated to the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. Please consider bringing a pack of sanitary pads, deodorant, or body wash. To purchase items directly, click here.

Heavy appetizers will be served. Vaad certified. For any questions, contact Sabrina Gornish at sgornish@jfedstl.org.

Click Here to Register

Israel Solidarity Mission 

April 7-12

Join Jewish Federation of St. Louis CEO Brian Herstig and members of the St. Louis Jewish community to support the people of Israel and our partnership communities.

Mission Highlights:

  • Visit Kikar Hahatufim, Hostage Square
  • Bear witness to the devastation in the Gaza Envelope
  • Meet with survivors and heroes of the October 7 attacks and hear stories of Israeli resilience
  • Discuss the challenges and realities of post-October 7 life in Israel
  • Visit with hostage families and social service agencies serving on the front lines
  • Visit our partnership community and learn about St. Louis’ commitment to members of Kibbutz Nahal Oz
  • Participant in hands-on volunteer activities
  • Hear from, and speak with, Israeli government, military & professional experts
  • Travel with one of Israel’s top guides



  • 3 nights at a 5-start hotel in Tel Aviv
  • All meals
  • Gratuities for guide and driver
  • 4 days with licensed guide and armed security guard


Price: (land only) 

$4,900 single occupancy & $4,550 double occupancy

Reserve Your Spot
Prayer for the Welfare and Return of Those Still Captured and Missing
Names of Those Still Held Captive (Updated 2/12/2024)

Israel In the News

Debate at the UN

The United States on Monday abstained from a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire and the release of all hostages in the Israel-Hamas war in the embattled Gaza Strip. The non-binding resolution passed out of the security council with 13 in favor and 1 abstention (US). Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately condemned the resolution and the Biden Administration for not stepping in to veto the resolution.

Further Reading:

Opportunities to Support Israel

Donate to the Israel Emergency Fund through the Jewish Federation of St. Louis


Urge your elected officials at the federal, state, and local level to speak out and make a clear and unequivocal statement in support for our ally Israel and its right to defend itself

Click Here To Contact Local Officials
Israel At War Resource Page
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