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This group of students gathered at KU Chabad recently for Shabbat dinner.

A group of K-State, Mizzou and KU students all walk into a room together ... sounds like a joke right? Wrong! On a recent Friday evening in November, Chabad at the University of Kansas hosted tens of young college students for a delightful Shabbat dinner. On the surface it seemed like just another week at Chabad, but truthfully this was a unique blend of many different college kids from schools that are usually so far apart.

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Jessica Kirzane

In the 1890s, as Jewish immigration to America was at a historical high point, opponents to admitting Jews to the United States were vocal and their message was clear: Jews posed a threat to the wellbeing of Americans. In newspapers, journals and on pulpits throughout the country, religious, political and intellectual leaders aired their concerns that Jews would come to dominate and destroy the American economy and even the American government itself, cheat Americans of their livelihood and shirk their duty as citizens. It was these fears, together with anti-immigrant sentiment about many other groups who were considered racially and/or morally inferior, that ultimately led the U.S. to pass immigration restriction laws that radically curtailed the number of Jews who could enter into this country seeking refuge and opportunity.

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Twenty-five months ago, I stood here, excited to start the journey of becoming president of Jewish Family Services. I have loved every minute of guiding this fabulous organization. The best part is knowing that JFS is providing direct service to people in our community, which means sometimes you see the effect.

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Todd Stettner

Last year the Kansas City Royals suffered a heartbreaking loss to the San Francisco Giants in game seven of the 2014 World Series, but not before proving they had the right stuff and deserved to be on a world class playing field. We all shared in their pain and disappointment. This year, as we now know, the World Series  turned out differently as did a bet we placed with Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Kosher barbeque and New York bagels, lox, and cream cheese were at stake. Why them and not the New York Federation? Basically, because New Jersey got to us first and we have a special relationship with them as we share in funding and utilizing our Israel representative Ofer Lichtig. 

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Demand fair and honest reporting

My husband and I live in Jerusalem. The last few weeks have been very upsetting as the incidents of terrorism continue to rise. Many of the people reporting about things here are calling the murdering terrorists victims and ignoring the innocent civilians who are killed and injured.

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Appreciating a wonderful evening

Thanks to Sheldon Wishna, arrangements were made for JBS’s closed-circuit TV production of the Kol Nidre service to be broadcast at Brookdale Leawood. There were about 15 “senior orphans” who watched the service.

As one of the “senior orphans,” I thought you should know we were spellbound for the entire two hours! We enjoyed the ambiance of the Temple, the warmth of the head rabbi, the speaking and singing voice of the Korean rabbi and the local cantor’s ability to engage the congregation. There are really no words adequate in either the English or Hebrew language to express our most sincere appreciation for a wonderful evening.

Todah rabah! May you be inscribed for a perfect 5776.

Patsy Dunn Shanberg

Leawood, Kansas


Gun situation out of control

I read Robert Cutler’s response to Ellen Portnoy’s article in The Chronicle shortly before learning about the tragic shootings in Oregon. I was deeply annoyed with his predictable support of gun control arguments. He clearly refuses to accept what Portnoy was trying to convey, and what President Obama echoed in his heartfelt statement after the horror in Roseburg.  

It is interesting that the sheriff of the county where the tragedy occurred in Oregon is an ardent opponent of gun control. In view of the carnage that has visited his home area, I imagine he’ll rationalize the reason for the tragedy, much like Robert Cutler and other gun enthusiasts do. However, the majority of Americans recognize that the gun situation in our country is totally out of control, and their arguments are no longer acceptable to our citizens’ safety.

I, like so many others, am so tired of this issue, and the inaction of our legislators. If our congressmen refuse to do anything about protecting our citizens, than maybe it’s really time to amend the Constitution. I’m not in favor of restricting people’s access to guns legally, but for those who harbor arsenals and automatic weapons that is something we can’t continue to accept in our society. We’re the only “advanced” nation that has this problem, and I am confident in believing that we’re not the only country that has citizens with mental health issues. 

Carole Plesser

Prairie Village, Kansas


Doing nothing is no longer an option

The recent letters in The Chronicle regarding the rights of gun owners compel me now to respond. No one in the movement to curb gun violence rejects the right of gun owners to own guns, UNLESS they are domestic abusers, convicted felons, people with severe mental illness or other individuals identified as potential threats to themselves or others. We are all well-aware of the Second Amendment — though imagine our forefathers did not envision the proliferation of guns in America today. Nor did they envision that their support of an armed militia, which was the clear interpretation until the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court inserted the word INDIVIDUAL, would be abused as it is today.

Besides the horror of the mass shootings, which we see with depressing regularity, there is an average of 92 gun deaths DAILY. That number includes seven children and teens. Data shows children are more likely to be killed by a gun in the home than anywhere else. A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than seven times if he has access to a gun, and the myth that having a gun in the home makes you safer is proven false by the fact that it is 22 times more likely for a gun to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide or accidental shooting than to be used in self- defense. 

I could quote statistics all day, and the NRA and gun rights folks would quote them right back. The reality is we do have a gun problem in this country, related to the culture of violence and the abundance of guns (one for every man, woman and child in this county.) It is clear we need a better system of background checks without loopholes. For those who say that many slip through these checks, as the Oregon shooter did, that does not mean we shouldn’t try to do something, since doing nothing can no longer be an option. Data has shown since the Brady Bill mandating background checks was passed in 1993, more than 2.4 million attempts to purchase a firearm have been blocked. Law-abiding citizens need not fear background checks, but we owe it to our children and grandchildren to work harder to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, so they can be safe at home, at school, and in the community.

Judy Sherry


Grandparents Against Gun Violence


Mean-spirited characterization

Gratuitous would be a charitable way to characterize Benyamin Korn’s pot-shot at J Street (“A different take on Ann Coulter, Sept. 24). Mean-spirited is more apt. Please reconsider printing dreck like this.

Rabbi Scott White

Congregation Ohev Sholom


Opposing anti-Muslim rhetoric

Following recent remarks made by presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) would like to remind the greater Kansas City area that we stand in solidarity with our Muslim friends, and are deeply saddened by these xenophobic and anti-Muslim statements.

Dr. Carson’s remarks are not an isolated sentiment. Another presidential candidate, Donald Trump, also recently refused to rebuke or correct a supporter at a town hall meeting who said “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. ... How do we get rid of them?” These incidents remind us of the urgent need for more education and engagement about world religions and culture in the Greater Kansas City area to dispel lack of understanding and bring an end to divisive rhetoric.

Today, we invite you to join the GKCIC in focusing our words, thoughts and deeds on promoting peace, inclusion and acceptance. Art Chaudry, GKCIC community adviser, reminds us, “We must stand united against hate speech. The foundation of interfaith dialogue is advocacy of tolerance and an embrace of diversity. We need to be strong against efforts to marginalize and paint a whole community with a broad brush of stereotyping and negativity. Let’s do the right thing in standing firm against Islamophobia.”

Barb McAtee, Baha’i Faith director of the Interfaith Council, says, “It is hurtful, anti-American, divisive, and should not be part of political debate.” McAtee further cautions that “...media who give airtime to these speakers and their hateful rhetoric are simply contributing to the problem.”

The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council celebrates the gifts of religious pluralism in our city because it is a celebration of the interconnectedness of all life. Whatever our individual faith traditions, we simply can’t imagine being separate. … We can’t imagine our lives without each other. We are growing a sustainable, pervasive culture of knowledge, respect, appreciation, and trust amongst people of all faiths and religious traditions in the greater Kansas City community.

The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, which has a board of directors that strives for inclusiveness. The Council is comprised of faith directors, as well as at-large directors, who belong to 22 distinct faith philosophies represented in the greater Kansas City area. Working through directors, alternates, advisers and friends, the Council strives to provide engaging and educational programs about the many diverse faiths and traditions represented in Greater Kansas City by joining religion, spirit and community. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

Rev. Mary Gibson McCoy


Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council

Gun control debate  

Ellen Portnoy gives a number of reasons why she writes favoring gun control — Sept. 10, 2015.  The first is the understandable emotional grief reaction to the senseless violence inflicted on her friends;  criminal  acts for which there is no excuse.  However, emotional reaction is a poor foundation for policy decisions.

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Jewish Family Services is one of the many Jewish organizations participating in #GivingTuesday. JFS is collecting rolls of toilet paper for its food pantry clients, and used these clever centerpieces at its annual meeting Sunday.

First we had Black Friday. Then we had Cyber Monday. Now we have #GivingTuesday.

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Yosef and Daniella Silver

Kansas City has an awesome entertainment scene. Between Starlight Theatre, The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts and the appeal of the Crossroads District, there’s always something to do in town. As transplants who have been happy to call Overland Park home for four years, we try to see, and taste, all the flavors Kansas City has to offer.

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Sandi Fried

Many of us are lucky enough to have our parents at an older age and it’s a wonderful blessing. There are so many life events we are able to share with them. But as our elders live to more advanced age, there are inevitable challenges we must navigate. Helping them remain active and independent is no easy task for us, the sandwich generation. Parental aging brings uncertainty, concern and even fear for caregivers and family members.

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NCJW members met with Kansas representatives while attending ‘Gun Violence: A Public Health Issue’ last week. Attendees included Kansas Rep. Barbara Bollier; Ellen Portnoy, NCJW; Barbara Holzmark, NCJW; Kansas Rep. Linda Gallagher; Linda Sander, co-president NCJW; Carla Oppenheimer, past president NCJW; and Judy Sherry, president Grandparents Against Gun Violence. NCJW and Grandparents Against Gun Violence were two of the event’s co-sponsores.

Recently I continued my promise to work to stop gun violence by going to the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence Community Forum: “Gun Violence: A Public Health Issue.”

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Todd Stettner

If you are like me, you were horrified at the scenes shown on the nightly news concerning the death of the young boy being carried from the shoreline by the Turkish policeman. My thoughts drifted to this scene as I sat in synagogue on Yom Kippur. The rabbi’s sermon focused on immigration to the United States and all the related issues. Resolving these issues is not as simple as some presidential candidates would like us to believe. More importantly, the rabbi was talking to the congregation about the Jewish values surrounding immigration. He pointed out that the Torah reminds us 33 times that we were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Even today, there are people who want to leave their homeland. Syrian refugees would love to emigrate to the United States or Europe, or just about anywhere they would be welcomed.

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