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January 19, 2024

Dear Elyse,

This week, we marked 100 days since the horrifying Hamas terror attacks killed more than 1200 people in Israel.

100 days of praying for the release off all those held captive, as 130 innocent people still languish as hostages. Even as medical supplies were sent to them this week, we continue to work and pray for their safe and speedy return to their families.

We have seen, both in our community and in cities around the country, a push for local municipalities to pass ceasefire resolutions, backed by an organized national mobilization effort. The content of these resolutions are one-sided, ignore facts, and do a great deal of harm to our local community, fostering antisemitism.


The City of St. Louis Board of Alderman recently passed such a resolution, after an intense lobby campaign. JCRC staff and volunteers met with several of the aldermen involved with this resolution, and while the language was somewhat improved because of our efforts, we were saddened that so many aldermen felt pressured to engage on an issue so divergent from the business of local government. Sadly, during some of the open discussions on this resolution, supporters of Israel who spoke up publicly were subject to verbal harassment and hateful language.


JCRC staff is monitoring an effort to engage the St. Louis County Council to consider a ceasefire resolution. Before any such resolution is drafted, we are bringing groups of constituents to meet with each county council member to provide them with facts and how this war and ceasefire resolutions impact our local Jewish community. We want people to be able to express their thoughts and feelings to their elected representatives, and it is incumbent on each of us to build our relationships and advocate for measures that keep our community safe.


If you are interested in attending a meeting with your county council member to talk about how attitudes toward Israel by groups who use the tools of antisemitism are affecting our local community, please contact Rabbi Scott Shafrin who is arranging meetings in the weeks ahead.


You can also reach out to your elected county council members directly. Here is a link to determine your council district. There are some sample talking points further down in this email. Please, reach out to your elected leaders, especially at the County Council, and let them know that resolutions, bills, and public addresses that utilize antisemitic tropes and inaccurate information hurt our community.

We know that there is much work to be done, and we have been so heartened by your support and your willingness to reach out to us with concerns, ideas, and so many of you who give of your time, talents, and resources to help ensure the safety and growth of our community.

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 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.

St. Louis Marks 100 Days Since October 7

On Sunday, January 14, St. Louis joined others around the world to commemorate 100 days following the October 7th terrorist attack on Israel. Our hearts remain with those still held captive in Gaza and all who have been impacted by the ongoing war.

Click here to read the Statement from President Joe Biden Marking 100 Days of Captivity for Hostages in Gaza

Updates from Israel

Prayer for the Welfare and Return of Those Still Captured and Missing
Names of Those Still Held Captive (Updated 1/5/2024)

The War Continues...

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a series of statements that according to recent assessments of the ongoing Hamas war, the conflict could continue for months and possibly into 2025. Netanyahu announced the possibility of continuing into 2025 while speaking with heads of the authorities of the Gaza border communities.

After the initial briefing, Netanyahu addressed the state of the war to them. "The war continues, and it will continue until the end until we complete all our goals: the return of the hostages, the elimination of Hamas, and the promise that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel."

Attack in Ra'anana

A car-ramming and stabbing attack in the in the central Israel city of Ra’anana caused the death of an elderly woman and leaving 17 others, including children and teenagers, injured.

The perpetrators — two West Bank Palestinians who were working in Israel illegally — seized three vehicles and rammed pedestrians in several locations in the city, also stabbing one or more of their victims, according to police, medics, and eyewitnesses. Both had been blacklisted for entering Israel illegally numerous times in the past.

Judicial Reform in Israel

In an 8 to 7 ruling, Israel's Supreme Court struck down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governmental overhaul plan to limit the powers of the judiciary.

The bill, passed by the Knesset last year, removed the Supreme Court power to declare government decisions unreasonable. Controversies surrounding the bill led to months of protests and accusations of the government weakening Israel's democracy.

The Israeli Supreme Court made a second ruling which delayed a law passed by Netanyahu’s coalition shielding him from being removed from office if convicted in his still ongoing corruption trial. The coalition passed the amendment known as the “incapacitation law” last year which allows a prime minister to be deemed unfit to rule only for medical or mental health reasons. Under the amendment, only the prime minister or the government has the power to determine a leader’s unfitness. The previous version of the law was vague about the circumstances in which a prime minister could be deemed unfit, as well as who had the authority to declare it.

This comes at a time when Israel is still at war with Hamas following the October 7 attack. Both the war and governmental reform are crucial to Israel's future and identity.

US and Israel News

On Tuesday, January 16, the Senate voted down (72 to 11) legislation that would have leveraged U.S. military aid to Israel. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, shows significant concern among the Senate Democratic Caucus with Israel’s handling of the war. The administration did not back the resolution, with the National Security Council’s John Kirby saying it was not “the right vehicle to address these issues,” and several senior Democratic senators agreed.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. has been speaking to Israel “about a transition to low-intensity operations” in Gaza. “We believe it’s the right time for that transition. And we’re talking to them about doing that,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

Further Reading:

Statements & Newsletters:

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 Webinars

JCRC of Greater Philadelphia Webinar Series with David Horovitz: Times of Israel

January 22 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm CST

Zoom | Click here to register

David Horovitz, Founding Editor of the online newspaper The Times of Israel will lead this series of online briefings about the latest events happening in Israel and the Middle East.

Session Dates:

You can choose to attend one or more of the following webinars:

January 22

March 11

May 13

Click Here To Register

Navigating Myths: Humanitarian Law & Urban Warfare in the Israel-Hamas War

January 24 | 12:00 pm CST

Zoom | Click here to register

Join Jewish Federations for an informative webinar addressing the myth's of the Israel-Hamas war from the lens of urban warfare and humanitarian law. We will be joined by one of the world’s foremost experts in urban warfare, Major John Spencer, and expert in law of armed conflict Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey S. Corn, who have nearly five decades of combined military experience. They will share perspectives from their own lived experiences on the battlefield and researching warfare to help you combat disinformation.

Click Here To Register

The World Must Know: Antisemitism in the Wake of October 7 with Dr. Michael Berenbaum

January 28 | 3:30 pm CST

St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum

The 2024 Annual Rachel Miller Lecture, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Michael Berenbaum on the topic, “The World Must Know: Antisemitism in the Wake of October 7.” During the program, Dr. Berenbaum, renowned Holocaust scholar and former Project Director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will speak about the rise in antisemitism we have witnessed over the last few months.

Click Here To Register
Israel At War Resource Page
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