Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Because of the Virus is there a need for anyone over 60 to fast tomorrow on Thursday, July 9, 202017 Tammuz, 5780, the Fast of Tammuz 17? See Pros and Cons below and more information on the Fast of Tammuz and The Jewish Patriots Of Fort McHenry By Saul Jay Singer and New York Times reporter says destroying property is ‘not violence’ By Jackie Salo and Aliayah Ministry: No Jew Has the Authority to Close Israel’s Gates

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

Love Yehuda Lave

Because of the Virus is there a need for anyone over 60 to fast tomorrow on Thursday, July 9, 2020 17 Tammuz, 5780, the Fast of Tammuz 17 Is it cancelled? — Pros and Cons on the idea

Tomorrow, Thursday is the Fast of Tammuz 17 

The last fast we had during the Corona Crises was the fast of Esther on March 10, 2020.. At that time, we were new to the virus and no one knew what to do. Soon after, everyone agreed, however, that the preservation of life was more important than going to the synagogue and the synagogue was canceled.

Now we are at the new fast. Do you need to fast or not? Like everything else in the world, it depends on who you are.

Only a Jew has to keep 613 mitzvahs, a Gentile does not. A woman keeps fewer stringencies than a man about many religious practices as she is not obligated in many (some she is) time-bound mitzvah, and a Slave (though we don't have anymore) even less.

Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion, dating back nearly 4,000 years. Followers of Judaism believe in one God who revealed himself through ancient prophets. The history of Judaism is essential to understanding the Jewish faith, which has a rich heritage of law, culture, and tradition.

Over the past 4000 years, we have had many times questions about whether a fast is canceled or not either for medical conditions or over the safety of the Jewish People as other nations like to threaten us with either loss of life or property.

Judaism believes in the principle that life comes first in most instances (not all as there are three primary exceptions–violating believes in Idolatry, Harming others, or sexual immorality may supersede life).

So when life is at stake, the fast may have to go. The Fast of Tammuz is a Rabbinic Fast, not a Torah Fast, so since it was created by the Rabbis, the Rabbis have the right to make the rules about who has to keep it.

So to answer the question, about keeping the fast we turn to history. The Place we start is about the most serious Torah Fast, Yom Kippur. If that fast, a Torah Fast can be put off, then certainly a less serious Rabbinic fast can be put off.

Rabbis and doctors have always considered the weighty issue of fasting.

Whether an elderly person should eat or drink on Yom Kippur depends on whether he is healthy or fragile.

Although religion should promote good health, sometimes the two can clash. In such cases – for example, religious fasts – clergymen and doctors should intervene to ensure that patients are not harmed.

"The fast was initiated by the G-d (or in the case of Tannat Esther and the Fast of Tammuz the Rabbis), "but it is meant for healthy adults, not for the sick or for children or pregnant or lactating women. If you can't fast for health reasons, it's just as good to give charity instead."

RABBI YOSEF Zvi Rimon, the rabbi of JCT (The Jerusalem College of Technology, an Orthodox Jewish educational institution in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood) and head of its Beit Midrash, noted that "medicine develops all the time. Doctors may have said something 20 years ago, and rabbis gave halachic rulings on the basis of that, but maybe the information is obsolete. The principles of Jewish law are the same, but conclusions may be wrong because doctors made statements based on medical evidence and research at the time

One has to go deeper." The rabbi produced a pamphlet with guidelines for patients on Yom Kippur fasting."It there is doubt, one must consult with a rabbi. If it is impossible and there is a real doubt [about whether the fast will cause harm], one should not fast and not endanger life, even if there is no immediate danger but only one that is distant. A patient must not risk his or her health and fast in contravention of doctor's orders."

The rabbi added that if one's doctor and rabbi say the patient can fast, except to drink small amounts of water every nine (or even six) minutes, the permitted amount of water is easy to measure. Fill your mouth with as much water as you can and then spit it out into a cup. Half of that amount can be drunk every nine minutes by chronic patients who need to hydrate themselves. The average amount is 38 milliliters and should be less than 44 milliliters.

If necessary, to provide sick people with more energy, they can drink a sweet beverage or soup in intervals, Rimon continued. If a patient has to eat at intervals as well, the food should be able to fit inside an Israeli-style matchbox. A patient is allowed to take a shower on Yom Kippur to refresh himself (it is forbidden to healthy people) if he needs it to fast, and is advisable over eating and drinking if the doctor permits.

It is preferable to stay home, pray and fast, if permitted by a doctor or rabbi, rather than go to synagogue and forgo the fast. Pregnant and lactating women who are healthy usually are bound to fast (unless the new mother cannot produce enough milk for the baby), but pregnant women should consult with authorities on whether going without food and drink would harm them or the fetus. Chronically ill patients who must take pills during the fast are advised to take them without water, but if this is impossible, they should do so in a different way, such as adding a bit of salt or something bitter, the rabbi suggested.

DR. EPHRAIM Jaul, director of complex geriatric nursing at Jerusalem's Herzog Hospital, said that ironically, there were many recommendations for vaccination for babies and children up to the age of 18, but only one recommended vaccination (against pneumonia) for those over 65.

"Old age is the most heterogeneous condition, but it is treated as homogeneous." He urged pensioners to walk fast to improve their heart, brain, and gastrointestinal systems, as well as to do mental exercises.

CALLING A person "old" should not be determined by his chronological age but more exactly by his biological age, said Prof. Tzvi Dwolatzky, an expert in geriatrics and internal medicine at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center. "It used to be that kidney-failure patients were not sent to dialysis after the age of 75. Today, one can be 85 or more and still undergo it. The decision is made according to the biological age of the patient," he said, showing a photo of an 89-year-old woman who piloted a plane, and of Jeanne Louise Calment, a French woman who lived to the age of 122 and of a Holocaust survivor and Israeli named Yisrael Kristal, who died recently at the age of 113.

Whether an elderly person should eat or drink on Yom Kippur, said Dwolatzky, depends on whether he is healthy or fragile (living at the edge of his abilities and could fall at a slow walking speed). "From my experience, most old people fast better than young persons.

"DEHYDRATION FROM fasting is a significant risk in elderly patients, noted Dr. Ephraim Rimon of the Hartzfeld Geriatric Hospital in Gedera, who happens to be the older brother of Rabbi Rimon.

"One should drink three liters of water during the 24 hours before a fast, but it's hard for the elderly to drink so much. If a patient is dehydrated, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is higher. An elderly person who wants to fast and drink at intervals may forget to drink water and them harm himself.

"He told the story of Rabbi Chaim Sonnenfeld of the Eda Haredit who learned of a blind woman who was fasting and endangered her health. "He came to her and blew the shofar during the fast and told her it was night and the fast was all over.

But every case is different."DR. RABBI Mordechai Halperin, head of Jerusalem's Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research, added that a patient with irregular heartbeats can even die if he fasts.

"If we make an error in our guidelines, we are spilling blood. If a person is sick and at risk, he doesn't need to drink at intervals. He should eat. If based on medical evidence, a person could be harmed by the fast, he must eat.

"THE ONLY part of the body that needs carbohydrates is the brain, said Prof. David Zangen, a senior endocrinologist at Hadassah University Medical Center."When you haven't eaten for hours and the blood sugar level is low, the liver will release sugar from the liver to reach the brain rather than to remain in storage.

If there isn't enough, a patient can fall and be seriously hurt."Working with observant adolescents with type-1 diabetes, Zangen asked if they intended to fast on Yom Kippur. Thirty-nine of 190 said they would fast no matter what the doctor said.

"They want to be like all the others, but it could be dangerous. Those who nevertheless insist on fasting are advised to check their blood sugar every 2.5 hours and to start eating if they have nausea, vomiting or hyperglycemia. A diabetic should always consult their personal physician, as he or she knows the medical condition well."

Now let us turn to the current issue, not just of health, but of an epidemic condition (Bibi has told us enough times in the Paper that this is an epidemic Condition-good enough for me). One of the most famous cases was:

Following Shacharit on Yom Kippur of 5610, in

September 1849, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, the famous

and pious Vilna rabbi -founder of the Mussar Movement, dedicated to injecting the pursuit of ethical excellence into traditional Jewish observance, ascended to the bimah of the Vilna synagogue.

He explained to the congregation that because of the raging cholera epidemic in Vilna, they must not spend the day gathered together in the synagogue, but should leave the building and walk outside. Fresh air was believed to prevent the spread of the disease.(My oh My nothing seems to have changed-same advice today!)

Furthermore, he said, it was imperative that everyone maintains their strength so that they would not fall, victim, to disease. And so, on that Yom Kippur, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter explained, everyone should break their fast, eat and drink so that they could protect their health and survive the disease.

Cholera is a horrific disease. It is painful, terrifying, and deadly. The Hebrew word for cholera- רעחולי sounds similar to "cholera" but more literally can be translated as "evil disease."

Over the course of the 19thcentury, modern medical science learned how to prevent the spread of cholera, and also how to effectively treat cholera.

However, in 1849, in Eastern Europe, nobody knew how the disease spread and there were no effective treatments.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was one of the mostfamed rabbis of Vilna.

He threw himself into the fight against the disease.He volunteered to care for the sick, and was instrumental in organizing the Jewish community to take care of the sick and to watch over orphans left behind in the wake of the disease

The TorahTidbidstells us

Shiva Asar b'tamuz begins at 4:15 A.M. Ends at 18:18 pm.

Concerning Shiva Asar B'Tamus, a person in isolation should not fast, so as not to weaken his immune system, since there is a chance that he is infected or can infect others

Other Doctors and Rabbis have stated that anyone over 60 is at great risk from the new flue (younger people don't seem to be as affected). It is not much of a stretch than to Poskin, that even if you are in good health, anyone over 60 should not fast, and of course, if you are not in good health, no matter what your age you should not fast. Either go to the synagogue or not (some are afraid of the potential virus in crowds), but as my Grandfather who lived to a ripe old age used to tell me, Stay home, take a bath, safe money and be healthy!

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

Thursday, July 9, 202017 Tammuz, 5780, the Fast of Tammuz 17

The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז‎ Shivah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

It falls on the 17th day of the 4th Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B'Av.

The day also traditionally commemorates the destruction of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and other historical calamities that befell the Jewish people on the same date.

The fast of Tammuz, according to Rabbi Akiva's interpretation, is the fast mentioned in the Book of Zechariah as "the fast of the fourth [month]" (Zechariah 8:19). This refers to Tammuz, which is the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar.

According to the Mishnah, five calamities befell the Jewish people on this day:

  1. Moses broke the two tablets of stone on Mount Sinai
  2. The daily tamid offering ceased to be brought;
  3. During the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the city walls were breached (proceeding to the destruction of the Second Temple);
  4. Prior to Bar Kokhba's revolt, Roman military leader Apostomus burned a Torah scroll;
  5. An idol was erected in the Temple.

The Babylonian Talmud places the second and fifth tragedies in the First Temple period.

The Book of Jeremiah (39.2, 52.6–7) states that the walls of Jerusalem during the First Temple were breached on the 9th of Tammuz. Accordingly, the Babylonian Talmud dates the third tragedy (breach of Jerusalem's walls) to the Second Temple period.However, the Jerusalem Talmud (Taanit IV, 5) states that in both eras the walls were breached on 17th Tammuz, and that the text in Jeremiah 39 is explained by stating that the Biblical record was "distorted", apparently due to the troubled times.

The Seventeenth of Tammuz occurs forty days after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Moses ascended Mount Sinai on Shavuot and remained there for forty days. The Children of Israel made the Golden Calf on the afternoon of the sixteenth of Tammuz when it seemed that Moses was not coming down when promised. Moses descended the next day (forty days by his count), saw that the Israelites were violating many of the laws he had received from God, and smashed the tablets.

Not only did the sieges of Jerusalem during the First and Second Temple periods occur on, or near, this date, but the breach of the walls of Jerusalem during the First Crusade occurred on the 17th of Tammuz.


As a minor fast day, fasting lasts from dawn to shortly after dusk. It is customary among Ashkenazi Jews to refrain from listening to music, public entertainment, and haircuts on fast days, and on this occasion, because it is also part of The Three Weeks (other deprivations applicable to the major fasts (i.e. Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av) do not apply.

If the 17th of Tammuz falls on a Shabbat, the fast is instead observed the next day, the 18th of Tammuz. This last happened in 2019, and will happen again in 2022.

A Torah reading, a special prayer in the Amidah (Aneinu), and (in many congregations) Avinu Malkenu are added at the morning Shacharit and afternoon Mincha services. Ashkenazi congregations also read a haftarah (from the Book of Isaiah) at Mincha. Congregations also recite during Shacharit a series of Selichot (special penitential prayers) reflecting the themes of the day.

Cycle of fasts

The 17th of Tammuz is the second of the four fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish exile. It is preceded by the fast of the Tenth of Tevet and arrives three weeks prior to the full-day fast of the Ninth of Av. The cycle is also associated historically with the Fast of Gedalia, which is observed on the third day of Tishrei.

 The Three Weeks

The three weeks beginning with the 17th of Tammuz and ending with the Ninth of Av are known as Bein haMetzarim ("between the straits", i.e. between the days of distress), or The Three Weeks. Some customs of mourning, which commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem, are observed from the start of the Three Weeks.

The oldest extant reference to these days as Bein haMetzarim – which is also the first source for a special status of The Three Weeks – is found in Eikhah Rabbati 1.29 (Lamentations Rabbah, fourth century CE?). This midrash glosses Lamentations 1:3, "All [Zion's] pursuers overtook her between the straits."

The three weeks of mourning between the 17th of Tammuz and 9th of Av is cited as a rabbinically instituted period of fasting for the "especially pious". Such fasting is observed from morning to evening, common with other rabbi-decreed fasts.

Coinciding with Fourth of July

The fast of the 17th of Tammuz coincides with American Independence Day every 10 to 20 years (most recently in 1996 and 2015, and will happen again in 2034 and 2080). The most famous of these occurrences was on July 4, 1776, when the United States declared independence.

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

The Price of Admission

Rabbi Adler was making his customary announcements after Shabbat morning services when he announced that the admission to the upcoming shul barbeque would be twenty dollars per person. "But if you're over 65," Rabbi Adler said, "the price will be only be nineteen dollars."

From the back of the congregation, Mrs. Sharfman piped up, "Rabbi, do you really think I'd give you that information for only a dollar?"

New York Times reporter says destroying property is 'not violence' By Jackie Salo

New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones argued that rioters destroying property is "not violence" — and referring to the crimes as such goes against what's moral.

"Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things, I think is really not moral to do that," Hannah-Jones, who is Pulitzer Prize winner, told CBSN.

Hannah-Jones, who writes for the Times Magazine, said the language should be reserved for crimes such as the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a white cop, Derek Chauvin, held his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes.

"Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man's neck until all of the life is leached out of his body," Hannah-Jones told the outlet.

Her comments come as cities across the nation have been locked in days of heated protests over the death of Floyd — some of which have resulted in vandalism, looting and arson.

"Any reasonable person would say we shouldn't be destroying other people's property, but these are not reasonable times," she said.

"These are people who have protested against police violence again and again and again, year after year after year and still, we can have videos of law enforcement with witnesses taking the life of a man for the alleged crime of passing a fake $20 bill."

"The law is not respecting them. You can't say regular citizens should play by the rules when agents of the state are not," she continued.

Aliayah Ministry: No Jew Has the Authority to Close Israel's Gates

During Wednesday's meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Aliyah and Integration MK Penina Tamanu estimated that some 90,000 Jews will immigrate to Israel by the end of 2021.

While briefing the Committee on the preparations of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration for the expected wave of immigration to Israel due to the corona crisis, Tamanu mentioned the contributions of new immigrants in various areas and stressed the importance of encouraging Aliyah and absorbing new immigrants in the best possible way, particularly with regards to welfare, education, employment and the personal service provided to the new immigrants.

Tamanu informed the Committee that upon assuming office about a month ago, she decided to give the special corona grant to thousands of families that had immigrated to Israel over the past year but are not eligible to receive social security benefits.

Most of the 90,000 Jews who are expected to make Aliyah in the next year and a half are between the ages of 18 and 35, she said. "No Jew has the [authority] to close the gates of Israel. Not in times of distress either," Minister Tamanu stated, while stressing the need for increasing the number of apartments in public housing.

She vowed to bring to Israel all those who are waiting in Ethiopia to make Aliyah, as well as the members of the Bnei Menashe community in India. Minister Tamanu also mentioned the decrease in the absorption budget of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration over the past three years, despite the increase in immigration to Israel.

Old print of By the Dawn's Early Light, Percy Moran's 1912 painting depicting Francis Scott Key standing on a boat, with right arm extended out toward the American flag flying over Fort McHenry during the bombardment of Baltimore Harbor.

The Jewish Patriots Of Fort McHenry By Saul Jay Singer

The Battle of Baltimore – which most historians believe to be the seminal battle of the War of 1812 – was fought on both land and sea with American defenders successfully repulsing British attacks against Fort McHenry. The American resistance during the bombardment of the fort by the Royal Navy on September 13, 1814 famously inspired Francis Scott Key to compose "The Defense of Fort McHenry," which later became the lyrics for The Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem.

Baltimore was defended by about 1,000 volunteer citizen-soldiers of the city, including several Jews who made important contributions to ensure that "the star-spangled banner yet wave[d]." There is no definitive list of the Jews who fought at Fort McHenry, or in the War of 1812 for that matter, but we know that many Jews served in the war with distinction (despite a total Jewish population in America of less than 10,000 at the time).


According to A History of the Jews in the United States, there is "a definite record of 43 Jews who served in the armed forces [during the War of 1812], besides a special group in Baltimore, who were enlisted in the home defense force of that city when it was attacked."

* * * * *

The Etting family is considered the oldest Jewish family in America whose roots can be traced with academic certainty. One of its members, Solomon Etting, was a central figure in Baltimore during the War of 1812 who, among other things, organized a hospital for wounded soldiers and assisted the Quartermaster General in finding housing for American militiamen. (Intriguingly, he also corresponded with Robert Fulton, the inventor of the commercial steamship, in developing and building a steam-powered warship to help defend Baltimore.)

Solomon was the owner of a hardware store in Baltimore and the city's first shochet. Pursuant to one highly credible account, all the Jewish defenders at Fort McHenry ate kosher food supplied by Solomon. According to a written account by Benjamin Cohen – based on conversations with his uncle, Mendes Cohen (a Jew who fought at Fort McHenry) – each member of the volunteer militia at Fort McHenry was responsible for his own provisions, and "every morning at about six o'clock a small covered cart left the northwest corner of Howard and Market Streets for the fort, with food sent by their families for the members of the company."

Solomon's son, Private Samuel Etting (1796-1862), then 18 years old, served during the War of 1812 in Captain Joseph Hopper Nicholson's Baltimore Fencibles during the bombardment of Fort McHenry. He was wounded during the attack, but he recovered and went on to become an important figure in the Baltimore Jewish community.

Original November 24, 1849 Samuel Etting letter.

Exhibited here is a rare November 24, 1849 handwritten correspondence from Samuel Etting to lawyer Joseph R. Evans, a prominent Philadelphia Jew, regarding their business relations.

Two of the more interesting War of 1812 items at the Maryland Historical Society are objects owned by Etting. The first is a rare banyan (men's dressing gown) worn by him. The second is the famous "Etting Cup," a 6-inch tankard black mug used by Etting and signed by the officers who served with him during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, including fort commander Major George Armistead. The cup served as the centerpiece of the War of 1812 Veterans Reunions through the 19th century.

According to the "Muster Roll of Citizen Soldiers at North Point and Fort McHenry," one of the few extant lists of War of 1812 fighters, Jews who fought at Fort McHenry include:

Fifth Regiment of Maryland Cavalry Militia
Maryland Chasseurs:
Jacob Myers, Lieutenant
Andrew Levy, Private
First Regiment, Franklin Artillery:
Joseph Myers, Captain
Baltimore Fencibles:
Philip L. Cohen, private
Mendes Cohen, Private
Samuel Etting, Private

Members of the Cohen family, one of Baltimore's leading and most influential Jewish families, played notable roles in the Battle of Baltimore. Mendes I. Cohen was 18 when he joined the 27th Regiment of the Maryland Militia, but his unit failed to get to the Battle of Bladensburg in time to help defend Washington.

As he watched Washington burning, he understood that the next British attack would come against Baltimore and, determined to participate in the defense of his hometown, he transferred to the Nicholson's Artillery Fencibles, a volunteer company under the command of Capt. Joseph Nicholson, who served as the Chief Judge of Baltimore County.

Mendes' brothers, Philip and Benjamin, followed him to the Baltimore Fencibles and also served at Fort McHenry. There is some dispute as to whether a fourth Cohen brother, Jacob, was at the fort at the time of the bombardment or was on temporary leave visiting an ill relative in Philadelphia.

Sharing his memories of the defense of Fort McHenry years later with his nephew, Mendes specifically recalled that on the morning of the attack, he had overslept, having failed to hear the alarm announcing that the British fleet had entered the mouth of the Patapsco River. Realizing that his brother Philip had already left for duty, he rushed to join him at his garrison and, dashing through the streets of Baltimore past Federal Hill, he saw the British fleet off North Point just beginning to enter Baltimore Harbor.

When the offensive against Fort McHenry commenced, a British shell struck its southwest stronghold and the explosion instantly killed two American militiamen, Lieutenant Levi Claggett and Sergeant John Clemm. (The Americans would sustain only two additional casualties during the entire battle of Baltimore.) Not two feet away from Clemm and conversing with him at the time of his death was Philip Cohen, who was miraculously unharmed.

Only a few minutes later, a British shell crashed through the storage room where the fort's gunpowder was stockpiled. Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, sought volunteers to enter the room and remove the gunpowder kegs, and one of the brave men who stepped forward for this very dangerous mission was Mendes Cohen.

Mendes (1797-1879) lived a noteworthy Jewish life. Born in Richmond to a German father and an English mother, the family moved to Baltimore in 1809 after the death of the family patriarch. The Cohens held religious services in the Sephardic tradition at their home, and the service participants formed the nucleus of what would later become Baltimore's first congregation.

U.S. War of 1812 stamp

After the War of 1812, Mendes worked as a banker and also entered the lottery business with his brothers, becoming enormously successful selling tickets to raise funds for public and private buildings, including Baltimore's monument to George Washington.

Much of the Cohens' success was attributable to their sterling reputation for honesty in an otherwise unsavory field. Nonetheless, they were on the losing side of one of the most historic and important Supreme Court decisions, Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264 (1821).

Congress had enacted a bill establishing a National Lottery to raise money in the District of Columbia. Virginia, however, which had launched its own state lotteries, passed a law prohibiting the sale of out-of-state lottery tickets within its borders. Enter Mendes and Philip Cohen who, after being charged by the Virginia authorities and convicted of illegally selling National Lottery tickets in Virginia, appealed their conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The main issue in the case was whether Virginia had the unfettered right, unreviewable by the federal courts, to interpret and apply federal law. In unanimously rejecting this argument, the high court established the now well-known proposition that state laws repugnant to the Constitution and federal law are void and that the Supreme Court is constitutionally vested with the ultimate authority to rule on state applications of federal law.

However, writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall went on to affirm the Cohens' conviction, ruling that Congress had not intended to authorize the sale of lottery tickets outside of the District of Columbia and that, as such, Virginia's statute prohibiting lotteries in Virginia was exclusively a matter of state law and not contrary to federal law.

Mendes was so successful in the banking business that, even after his lottery business failed, he was able to retire at age 33 and pursue his interest in seeing the world, particularly Eretz Yisrael. A lifelong bachelor – many historians believe he never married because of the dearth of eligible Jewish women in 19th-century Baltimore – he had no familial responsibilities to hinder a lengthy six-year journey through Europe and the Middle East.

Mendes' high social standing and universal respect earned him access to some of the most notable people and significant events of the day, and his travels included a stop in London, where he spent time with the Rothschilds (fellow Jewish bankers) and attended the coronation of William IV (June 1830) and the funeral of King George I (August 1830), and a stop in Paris for the coronation of Louis Philippe in Paris (September 1831). His adventures included surviving shipwrecks and a trek by camel across the Sinai desert.

When he was introduced to the newly-elected Pope Gregory XVI (1831) during a visit to Rome, he refused to degrade himself by kissing the Pope's foot, which was not only revolting to him but, as he later wrote, would be nauseating to any self-respecting American. He specifically presented himself to the Pope by using his very-Jewish name, "Signore Cohen, un Americano."

Mendes Cohen became the first American to receive permission from the Ottoman Empire to visit Eretz Yisrael, where he spent several months visiting its holy Jewish sites, which he said was the highlight of his life. The first American ever to visit Jerusalem, he met with the leaders of its Sephardi community and, in detailed diary entries and correspondence with his mother and brothers back in Baltimore, offered rare and important insights into Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael.

Discussing the destitution and suffering of the Jews of Jerusalem, he wrote: "The appearance of the synagogues is that of poverty as they are not allowed to build or add to their buildings without paying a large sum to the Turks." His love for Jerusalem was such that he used a stamp to press sealing wax on his correspondence featuring the beautiful quote from Psalms (122:2): "Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem."

During a journey down the Nile River, Mendes created a makeshift American flag, flew it from a mast, and persuaded the crew of his vessel to salute it and promise to defend it. While in Egypt, he collected hundreds of important antiquities that later became the "Cohen Collection" and the foundation for the archaeological museum at Johns Hopkins University.

Returning to the United States, Mendes served in the Maryland House of Delegates (1847-48); on the board of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad; and as an aide to Maryland Governor Thomas Veazey. He also was active in several Jewish charities, serving as vice president of the Hebrew Benevolent Society for over two decades and working to establish a Jewish hospital in Baltimore.

He relished telling strangers about his experiences in the Battle of Baltimore – including one hilarious story about how he and his fellow militiamen had read Frances Scott Key's poem and sat around amusing themselves by trying to find a melody to sing it. Mendes' portrait by renowned artist Rembrandt Peal hangs in the St. Louis Art Museum.

* * * * *

Other Jews who defended Fort McHenry include Jacob Moses, a Dutch Jew who served as a private in the Union Yagers and later became a jeweler; Andrew Levy, a private in the Maryland Chasseurs; and Levi Collmus, who had come to Baltimore from Bohemia and served as a private in the Maryland Artillery and sustained injuries in battle that rendered him permanently disabled.

Old print of By the Dawn's Early Light, Percy Moran's 1912 painting depicting Francis Scott Key standing on a boat, with right arm extended out toward the American flag flying over Fort McHenry during the bombardment of Baltimore Harbor.

Other Jewish fighters may include Benjamin Pollock; the Holland-born Isaac De Jung, who may have been Jewish; and several "Levys" with non-Jewish first names who may or who may not have been Jewish.

Samuel Etting and the brothers Cohen (Mendes and Philip) all received commendations for their service. As the result of the dedication and sacrifice of Jewish fighters and defenders during the War of 1812, the Jews came to be respected as great patriots and citizens of the United States.

Yet, all the Jews who served during the War fought for their country and risked their lives for a nation that denied them citizenship. For example, Samuel Etting wanted to be a lawyer, but he was steadfast in refusing to take the qualifying Test Oath which required him to declare a belief in Christianity.

The only reason the Jews were able to serve in the Maryland state militia during the Battle of Baltimore was because they were attached to a U.S. Army artillery unit and were thus not required to take a qualifying oath swearing that they were Christians. It was only when the state legislature enacted the "Maryland Jew Bill" in 1826 – which the Etting and Cohen families played key roles in helping to pass – that Maryland's Jews were granted full civil and political rights.

After the War of 1812, Jewish veterans maintained membership in patriotic societies, served in state militias, and were prominently featured on the battle monument commemorating defenders killed during the war.

See you tomorrow bli neder --Either fast or not depending on your circumstances. It may be important for you to drink, even if you fast. We need Mosiach now. If Mosiach came it would no longer be a fast, it would be a feast!

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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