Anti-semitism | St. Louis Public Radio

Anti-semitism

Visitors walk through Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery Tuesday morning to check on the graves of their loved ones. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A man who confessed to damaging more than 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery has been sentenced to three years’ probation.

Alzado M. Harris, 35, of St. Louis County, admitted to knocking down more than 100 gravestones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the state, in February 2017.

J. Samuel Davis plays Antoine in New Jewish Theatre's production of "District Merchants." 1/24/19
Eric Woolsey | New Jewish Theatre

In a heated conversation during the first act of “District Merchants,” a white immigrant tells a black man that he understands the other’s plight: “I know what is to be poor, hated and looked down on just because you’re, you know, you.”

The African-American points out that he lives with that stigma every day. White people see the word “thief” written on his face, he says. The immigrant replies: “Not everyone sees that!”

A version of this conversation could have been had in 16th-century Venice or post-Civil War Washington, D.C. — or a Twitter thread in 2019.

That’s part of the point of “District Merchants,” Aaron Posner’s 2016 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” A production by New Jewish Theatre begins performances Thursday.

Rabbi Amy Feder (left) and Karen Aroesty (right) discussed the local Jewish community's reaction to the tragic event in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went behind the headlines to discuss the local Jewish community’s reaction to last weekend’s tragic event in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were killed.

“It feels like we’ve seen this uptick in anti-Semitism for a while now,” Rabbi Amy Feder of Temple Israel in St. Louis County told Marsh. Also joining the conversation was Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

After a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, killing at least 11 and wounding others in what federal prosecutors are calling a hate crime, faith leaders around the country are re-examining security tactics while trying to ensure their religious institutions remain accessible community centers.