Calling all readers

Shaving Israel

An IDF soldier points to a Shaving Israel insignia on one of 40 winter fleece jackets the group provided. 

Calling all readers

Reader input is critical, at least at the Jewish Light where we rely on our audience for feedback and fodder. As for the latter, we could really use your help ASAP.

To begin with, we’re working on an article about St. Louis natives who either have celebrated, or plan to celebrate, a simcha in Israel. These include b’nai mitzvahs, weddings and anniversaries – any celebratory event that takes special planning and coordination. 

What we need are the names and contact information of St. Louisans either planning a simcha in Israel, or have recently – as in the last few years – celebrated one. In both cases, we would like them to discuss their experience with us. If you know someone(s) who qualifies, please contact staff writer Eric Berger at or give him a call at 314-743-3674.

Next up: Jewish St. Louisans who have found fame, fortune or some other (legal, PG-rated) notoriety in another U.S. city. We’re looking for St. Louis natives who hit the big time elsewhere, doing inspiring and innovative work in the arts and culture, science and medicine, fashion, education, business and the like. Of course the caveat is that they can’t be too busy to talk to us. But if you know of someone who has left St. Lou and gone on to greatness (or even goodness), email me at or call 314-743-3669.

And lastly (at least for now), I want to invite you to attend the next installment of Can We Talk? at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, a quarterly series on topics of interest to the Jewish community presented by the Light, Jewish Community Center and Jewish Community Relations Council. This time around we are switching up the format to focus on a wide variety of subjects of concern to Jewish audiences here in St. Louis as well as across the globe and in Israel (think Jewish “Donnybrook.”). We’ve invited a panel of news and community leaders to debate and discuss these issues, most of which we hope will be suggested by our readers. Yes, that’s where you come in. 

Please feel free to submit topics and suggest questions on the St. Louis Jewish Light Facebook Page or email And while the evening is open to the public and no charge, we’d appreciate that you RSVP to Diane Maier at or 314-442-3190 or online at


Winter warm-up

Shaving Israel is one of those no-nonsense nonprofits with a specific mission, namely educating U.S. citizens about the needs and essentials of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and funding the purchase of toiletries, personal items and food vouchers from Israeli suppliers for members of the IDF in need of them. 

Begun roughly 10 years ago by St. Louisan Rachel Miller, a Holocaust survivor and 2013 Jewish Light Unsung Hero, the organization has raised more than $180,000 for the IDF. It works with the Libi Fund in Israel, which provides medical, educational and financial assistance to IDF soldiers.

While Shaving Israel has a global reach, it also has a special affinity for its St. Louis home base.  So when Ilanit Michelson, a native Israeli who now lives with her family in the St. Louis area, wanted to learn more about the organization and how she could get involved, she found herself embraced in more ways than one.

As it turns out, after Michelson’s son graduated from high school here in 2014, he joined the IDF. While back in St. Louis in September during a break from the Israeli army, the son (whose name is being withheld for intelligence reasons) met with Shaving Israel and explained that his guard unit, which is stationed on the northern border, was in need of warm, fleece jackets.

“They didn’t have the right coat for the weather conditions,” explained Mike Minoff, a board member of Shaving Israel. “The coats provided (to the unit) were so thick, the soldiers would get overheated in them when they had to run or move about. But if they took them off, they would freeze. Fleece was just the right material. So we took it upon ourselves to supply them.”

As is the case with all Shaving Israel supplies, the organization reached out to buy the jackets from an Israeli company. “We want to help the Israeli economy,” Minoff explained. “Also, the company has a relationship with the IDF so (it knows) what requirements the jackets must meet.”

Roughly 40 jackets were purchased for the unit through Shaving Israel efforts. “We had just finished a fundraiser last August so we were able to use some of the money for the jackets,” said Minoff. “We also sent appeal letters around Hanukkah explaining what we were doing. People were really generous. I think they understood the importance of a good coat. 

“Thanks to the generosity of the Hanukkah appeal and future fundraisers, we hope to supply hundreds of additional soldiers with jackets, gloves and winter caps,” Minoff added.

Next month, Michelson will travel to Israel to present the jackets at a ceremony that coincides with her son’s unit graduating to the next level of training. The unit’s logo will also be on the jackets. 

In addition, Shaving Israel has been in touch with parents at Congregation B’nai Amoona whose 18-year-old daughters are currently in the IDF. “Once they finish basic training, we want to find out what their units need and how we can help,” said Minoff. “It’s nice to work with units that have a St. Louis connection.”

For more information about Shaving Israel, go to