STL Jewish Light: Hundreds turn out for rally to support Israel

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015 12:19 pm | Updated: 12:30 pm, Mon Nov 9, 2015.

A few weeks ago, Mike Minoff was frustrated that Jewish Federation of St. Louis leaders decided not to organize a rally in support for Israel — which has seen Palestinian terrorists consistently carrying out attacks over the last two months.

After hundreds of people turned out for an event Sunday that Minoff and a couple other individuals privately organized he said, “It doesn’t matter who put it together. I’m glad it was put together, and I’m glad St. Louis supported it.”

The rally at LaVerne Collins Park in Creve Coeur featured local rabbis —  from the Conservative, Orthodox and Reform streams — musicians and State Sen. Jill Schupp, among others.

“I think it needs to be underscored that this is a grassroots rally from individuals in the community,” said Nancy Lisker, director of the American Jewish Committee St. Louis chapter.

Lisker and others said they were publicly supporting Israel because they felt the attacks had not received enough attention in the United States.

“I think [the rally] raises awareness about Israel,” said Rabbi Moshe Shulman of the Orthodox congregation Young Israel of St. Louis. “I think people are often unaware just because they are not educated.”

He also said that the rally was important because the recent attacks, which have included Palestinians stabbing and running over pedestrians, have had a different effect than previous modes of violence such as rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

“People need to understand that this is a very different kind of violence. It’s much more intimate. There’s a certain irony in the fact that in terms of stabbing one person, it’s not bombing a whole bus, but the intimacy, the closeness of taking a knife and stabbing someone is very scary,” he said.

A number of the speakers emphasized the religious and economic ties between St. Louis and the Jewish state. State Sen. Jill Schupp, who represents Creve Coeur and is Jewish, mentioned Israeli companies such as Evogene, an agricultural technology company, located at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center down the street from the rally.

“Israeli companies that have located here in our community — some of the hundreds of Israeli companies that are making important changes in the world,” said Schupp.

Minoff, a health economist who belongs to the modern Orthodox congregation Nusach Hari B’nai Zion, said he was motivated to stage the rally because of some advice he got on an Israel trip last year organized by Aish HaTorah and Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project.

“When you see something that’s wrong, that you disagree with, do something about it,” he said. “Don’t wait for someone else.”

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