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Rabbi Talve calls for peace and understanding at White House Hanukkah celebration

Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation prepares to give the blessing at a Hanukkah party at the White House Dec. 9.
Screen capture | White House video

A St. Louis rabbi has used an appearance at the White House to highlight efforts to reduce violence and deal with radioactive contamination.

“I stand here for two groups of St. Louis moms,” Central Reform Congregation Rabbi Susan Talve said Thursday before offering the blessing at a White House Hanukkah reception. “One working to get guns off our streets and the other working to help clean up the fires of toxic nuclear waste that are threatening our lives in St. Louis and across the country."

She also called for more understanding among people with different religions and backgrounds.

“I stand here to light these lights to say no to the darkness of Islamophobia and homophobia and transphobia and racism and anti-Semitism and all the other 'isms' that dare to dim our hope.”

Talve is a longtime activist for social justice and has a prominent role in efforts to address race and other tensions that spilled over following last year’s death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

But, as the  St. Louis Jewish Light recently reported, Talve has recently been criticized by some in the Black Lives Matter/Hands Up United movement for not speaking out enough against Israeli actions against Palestinians.

Her White House remarks, described by a pool reporter as “spirited,” came on the same day President Barack Obama met in the Oval Office with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

The two discussed several issues facing the Middle East including the threat from the so-called Islamic state and Israeli and Palestinian leaders taking steps to reduce violence.

Bilateral talks involving the U.S. on a 10-year memorandum of understanding for assistance to Israel resumed last week.

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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