Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What will Israel's High Holiday prayer services look like during coronavirus? and Shalom Pollock tour of the Old City August 3 and Calvin Coolidge And The Jews By Saul Jay Singer and The Plan That Could Save the Sea of Galilee and The word, SHAME, cannot begin to describe such an abysmal Jewish humiliation by Victor Sharp and Tisha B'Av on Wednesday the 29th in the evening

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Shalom Pollock tour of the Old City August 3

Monday, August 3
"From destruction to rebirth"

We shall meet at 5:00 at Jaffa gate and tour until sunset (approx. 2 1/2 hours).
This is the perfect time for a leisurely stroll in the old city as temperatures fall and the streets empty.

We will learn of places and history on off the beaten paths in the "Muslim" and "Christian" quarters.

I would like to share with you, sights, and people that belong to our theme, "from destruction to rebirth".
I have only recently discovered some of the things that I am excited to share with you.

cost:100 shekels
Limited participation due to Corona guidelines.

The word, SHAME, cannot begin to describe such an abysmal Jewish humiliation.

To my fellow Jews:

THE SHEMA PRAYER: Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.

This is the fundamental Jewish prayer affirming that G-d is One, indivisible, and besides Him there are none others.

This is what sets us apart from Christianity, which has chosen a triune God, and for which our loyal refusal to embrace such a trinitarian belief led our ancestors to suffer merciless persecution and slaughter by the Church down the dark centuries.

Now in the holiest site of the Jewish faith, the Temple Mount, uttering the Shema prayer - attesting to G-d's eternal and unbreakable Unity - is considered an offence to Islam and results in the three Jewish faithful being tried in an Israeli court.

The word, SHAME, cannot begin to describe such an abysmal Jewish humiliation.

Victor Sharpe

3 young Jews in court for saying the Shema prayer on Temple Mount

July 19, 2020

The three accused of reciting "Shema" on the Temple Mount. (Twitter/Hozrim L'Har/Arnon Segal)

The three said the 'Shema' prayer on the Temple Mount two years ago on Yom Kippur.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Three young Jewish men accused of reciting the "Shema" prayer on the Temple Mount faced the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday in an indictment brought against them, Arutz7 reports. Two are currently serving in the armed forces.

According to the indictment, the three were visiting the Temple Mount on Yom Kippur (or "Day of Atonement") two years ago when, one after the other, they prostrated themselves and called out the "Shema" prayer. The prayer, which declares the absolute unity of God, is a declaration of the basic principle of Jewish belief.

The indictment says their offense comprised "conduct that may disturb the public peace" and "interference with a police officer in the carrying out of his duties."

Although Israel controls the Temple Mount, having won it (liberated it - VS) from the Jordanians in the 1967 Six Day War, under an agreement with Jordan Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray, on the site where the First and Second Temples once stood. It is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Israel's security forces are also interested in avoiding anything that may trigger Muslim violence.

Protesters gathered outside the court in order to support the accused. "The prayer of millions of Jews throughout the generations is on trial in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court," the protesters said, according to Arutz 7.

The group Hozrim L'har (or, "Return to the Mount") posted a picture of the three on its Twitter and Facebook pages with the comment, "On the evening of Yom Kippur in 1930, two young Irgun members were arrested after blowing the shofar in the Western Wall plaza because the British Mandate authorities banned the blast on the grounds that it was a 'provocation' to the Arabs. Since then not much has changed…"

The three youth are represented by Attorney Moshe Polsky of Honenu, a legal aid organization, and Attorney Yitzhak Bam of the Public Defender's Office.

"It is unbelievable that after 72 years of 'independence,' the State of Israel is prosecuting its citizens who are serving as soldiers in combat service in Nahal [an IDF unit] just because they read Shema on the Temple Mount," Polsky said.

"Beyond the folly of it and the tremendous damage to the sense of justice, it is a reminder that we are in the days between the straits when we mourn the destruction of the Temple," Polsky said referring to a mourning period that began on July 9th this year commemorating important dates in the destruction of both Temples.

"And here is actually a discussion which is a painful reminder of the state of exile in which we and the government find ourselves," he said.

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

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Tisha B'Av 2020 In 2020, Tisha B'Av begins at sunset on Wednesday, July 29

2020, Tisha B'Av begins at sunset on Wednesday, July 29

Tisha B'Av Rituals and Practices

Mourning the destruction of both temples, as well as a number of other Jewish tragedies.

Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the month of Av, is a day of mourning for Jews. It is the day Jews remember the destruction of both Temples that once stood in Jerusalem as well as a number of other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the course of history.

A three-week mourning period preceding Tisha B'Av began on the 17th day of the month of Tammuz.

According to the Mishnah, this was the day the Romans succeeded in breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.; the Mishnah also mentions other tragic events that occurred on this day in Tammuz . This three-week period leading up to the major fast of Tisha B'Av is called "Bayn Ha-Metsarim"–"in the Straits." Orthodox Jews do not get married or celebrate other joyous festivities in these three weeks.

Before the Holiday

Nine days prior to Tisha B'Av, a new period of more intense mourning begins. Jews do not eat meat, cut their hair, or wash their clothes unless they are to be worn again during the nine days. All these actions are considered signs of joy or luxury inappropriate for this time of mourning.

The Shabbat immediately preceding the festival is Shabbat Hazon (vision). The name derives from the haftarah (prophetic reading) for the day. Taken from Isaiah 1, the reading describes Isaiah's vision of national disaster befalling the Israelites because of their sins.

Tisha B'Av cannot be observed on Shabbat, so if the date falls on Shabbat , the festival is postponed until Sunday. On such occasions, there are some small changes to Maariv (the evening service) on Shabbat. Also, during havdalah (the concluding ceremony of Sabbath), the blessing over the wine is postponed until after the fast on Sunday night, though the blessing over the havdola candle is still said at the close of Shabbat.

The Fast Begins

Tisha B'Av is a full fast day, so the last meal must be eaten before sunset prior to the ninth of Av. This meal marking the boundary between periods of eating and fasting is called the "seudah ha-mafseket." The meal often is comprised of round foods like eggs or lentils, which symbolize mourning in Jewish tradition because they evoke the cycle of life. Some people eat an egg or bread sprinkled with ashes, and some Jews may sit on the ground during the meal. The birkat hamazon (grace after meals) (this is not thanks to Amazon for sending you stuff-the joke is Brachat HaAmazon) is said individually and in silence. As I have written several times before, this year because of COVID, as the other biblical fasts have been canceled because of health, so is this fast cancelled for people over 60 or with health challenges. However, the other parts of the rituals for Tish A'bov should be kept.

One thing is for sure. The Health Department and BiBi tell us we are in a pandemic. And during a pandemic, while the Halacha does not change, the circumstances have changed and we must adjust.

For the first time, we have two classes of people. Those under 60 and those over. The disease attacks those over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions so the two classes of people must behave differently.

I have some friends over 60 that have not come out of their house for 5 months. This, of course, is an over the top reaction, but the media and the government have done a great job in scaring everyone, so everyone is scared.

Now we turn to the Jewish holidays. Praying in synagogues used to be good for you, now the great leaders have decided maybe the germs are spread in the synagogue. There must be 10 men for a minyan, and so the numbers have been going up and down from 10 to 50 to now down to 10.

Fasting. It just makes common sense that not eating or especially not drinking on a hot day (both are part of a Jewish fast by Jewish law as opposed to fasting in the general sense of the term) would reduce your resistance to a virus or germs. There are six fasts in a Jewish calendar year. Five are of Rabbinic origin and one is mandated by the Torah. In Orthodox Judaism today, we practice what is called Rabbinic Judaism, so that the Rabbis fasts are just as important as Yom Kippur in terms of stringencies.

The difference is that since the Rabbis created these fasts, they can also regulate how stringent they are. There is a general rule that for Rabbinic regulations you can be quite lenient as they are considered extra mitzvahs to be able to get close to G-d. And since the most important mitzvah is the preservation of life, it makes sense to limit these fasts. All of the other 5 besides Yom Kippur are Rabbinic and this includes Tis A'bov, although people think it is holier than the other 4 but it is not. It is called the Black Fast.

Here are general rules about fasting as agreed to by a majority of Orthodox Rabbis (In Judaism although we welcome every opinion, we go according to the majority in general).

One who is healthy-General law by pandemic: The Poskim[6] rule that during a pandemic one is not to abstain from eating and drinking, as it can make one more susceptible to the illness. However, it is unclear if this directive applies only to non-fast days, and it is coming to negate the establishment of fasts during a pandemic, or if it coming to negate fasting even the established fasts of the Sages. Practically, it all depends on the severity of the illness.[7] Regarding Covid-19: Some Rabbanim view Covid-19 as a clear danger of life for all people and therefore advise the general public not to fast this year during the pandemic even on the 17th of Tamuz and Tish A'bov. Many Rabbanim, however, take a more complex view differentiating between areas[8], age groups, and risk groups, and so is to be followed in all areas absent of their own Mara Deasra to give them direction. Anyone who is fasting must take extra care to avoid leaving their home the entire day, and if they do leave their home, must do so while wearing a mask.[9]

The following are the practical directives publicized by the majority of Rabbanim:[10]

People exempt from the fast:

  1. Women who are pregnant, even if in general they are stringent to fast.
  2. Women who are nursing, even if in general they are stringent to fast.
  3. Anyone sick with Corona, even if feeling healthy and not bedridden.
  4. Anyone with Corona symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, cough, difficulty in breathing.
  5. Anyone who is within a high-risk group for Covid-19, as listed on the CDC website[11] and other health ministries. ( in this case, it certainly includes anyone over 60)
  6. Anyone who has a specific medical worry from the illness and has discussed with his doctor who instructed him not to fast.
  7. People in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus are not to fast if they have been instructed by their doctor not to fast. Otherwise, if they feel healthy, they are to fast. Again this applies to anyone under 60. And if you are depressed, you are also not to fast. It seems to me that it would be impossible not to be depressed if you are in quarantine, so you certainly can opt-out of fasting if you so desire. The point is you are not required to eat and or drink like you would be if you are over sixty. In this case, it is more of a personal choice depending on your mood.

So you have to see what class you fall into, but for many people the Tish A'bov fast is cancelled this year. Next year, let's hope the Mashiach comes and Tish A'bov becomes a feast like it is supposed to!

In addition to abstaining from food or drink during Tisha B'Av, Jewish tradition also mandates refraining from wearing leather, engaging in sexual relations, washing one's body, and using perfume or other such ointments. Visiting cemeteries on this day is encouraged, as if to heighten the sadness.

Uniquely on Tisha B'Av, Torah study, meant to be joyful, is not permitted. Some parts of the Bible or Talmud are allowed, like Job or Jeremiah, or sections of the Talmud or Midrash that discuss the destruction of Jerusalem. In the synagogue, the lights are dimmed and the ornamental parokhet (covering) is removed from the ark as a sign of mourning before the evening service. Congregants remove their leather shoes and do not greet each other.

Prayers & Customs

Megillat Eicha (the Scroll of Lamentations)–which is a lament for the destruction of the First Temple — is chanted during the Maariv service, along with several kinot, elegies or dirges written at different periods of Jewish history. The kinot speak of the suffering and pain of Jewish tragedy through the ages. An extended set of kinot are traditionally recited during the morning service, and some communities repeat the chanting of Eicha in the morning as well. The traditional Torah reading is Deuteronomy 4:25-40 and the Haftarah is Jeremiah 8:13-9:23, which is chanted to the same tune as Lamentations the night before. This year again, many people will not be in the synagogue and will pray at home or at outdoor minyans.

Tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries), which are usually worn during morning services, are instead worn during Minchah (the afternoon service). During Mincha, prayers that were omitted in the morning are recited. The Torah and Haftarah are the same as on other public fasts.

The meal ending the fast traditionally omits meat and wine, in acknowledgment of the fact that the burning of the Temple continued until the next day. Finally, the sorrow that began on the 17th of Tammuz comes to a halt and the Shabbat immediately following Tishah B'Av is called Shabbat Nahamu (Shabbat of comfort) because the Haftarah begins with the words "nahamu nahamu ami" ("comfort, comfort my people"). This begins a period of consolation and comfort leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Jews are said to be Hard Headed and stiff necked according to the Bible

Little Rivkah Saltzman, the Rabbi's daughter, ran into the house, crying as though her heart would break.

"What's wrong, dear?" asked the Rabbi.

"My doll! Moishie broke it!" she sobbed.

"How did he break it, Rivkah?"

"I hit him over the head with it."



What will Israel's High Holiday prayer services look like during coronavirus?

Blowing the shofar at the Western Wall
Blowing the shofar at the Western WallFlash 90

Due to the rise in coronavirus infections, there is a high chance that Israelis will be forced to spend the upcoming holiday season at home, with prayers held outdoors.

On Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), many Israelis who define themselves as secular or traditional and do not usually attend synagogue, come to their local synagogues to join the holiday prayers. As a result, preparations for for larger-than-usual numbers of worshipers are underway, in order to ensure that social distancing will be possible.

According to Israel Hayom, the Association of Community Rabbis has requested that the National Security Council (NSC) allow more than 20 worshipers in large synagogues, since the larger compounds can contain more people while still allowing a two-meter space between individuals. If the NSC does not agree, Israelis will be forced to hold Selichot prayers - which begin in just over a month for the Sephardic community - at odd times and in parking lots and courtyards, while at the same time trying not to bother the neighbors with their early-morning prayers.

Meanwhile, the Association of Community Rabbis and the International Association of Synagogues are working to erect tents and shade canopies to accommodate worshipers while still maintaining the required social distancing measures.

Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, chairman of the Association of Community Rabbis, noted that some localities are already working to prepare the ground for groups of worshipers.

Israel Hayom also noted that the Association of Community Rabbis is working to formulate a guideline to shorten the holiday prayer services, since most people cannot stand or sit in the sun for four or five hours on Rosh Hashana, and especially on Yom Kippur, which is a fast day.

"Among other things, it could be that prayers will begin at 'Shochen Ad' and not with the Verses of Praise, due to the understanding that people will need to stand in the sun for a long time," said Rabbi Shmuel Slotky, who heads the International Association of Synagogues. "In addition, we are examining removing some of the liturgical verses, learning what is important and what is less important, and examining according to that whether we can pray at length or need to shorten it."

The possibility of holding prayers earlier in the morning, when the weather is cooler, is also being examined, he added. "In any case, if there is a question regarding whether to pray in an open area or to continue fasting - it's obvious that fasting is more important."

Rabbi David Stav, who heads the Tzohar organization, told Israel Hayom, "The greatest challenge will be on Yom Kippur, since usually it's a hot day. Praying outside will make it very difficult to fast, and therefore the prayers will be earlier in the day or will be shortened, since it will be very difficult to hold long prayers under the burning sun, while fasting. It's going to be challenging and sometimes even dangerous."

The organizations are also working to train additional cantors, prepare booklets with prayers for those who are unfamiliar, train additional shofar-blowers, and train the sextons who will be in charge of the courtyard prayer services.

"It could be that in the current reality, less people will attend prayers - those who are older, or who are in a high-risk group, and possibly also because of the heat," Rabbi Slotky said. "We will need to learn to work with that, as we managed and learned to do and to accept things that we did not believe we would do. We will see situations in which people connect to the prayers on their own, at home. It's a challenge in the service of G-d, one which we've never experienced, but we don't need to fear - it won't cause a break or distancing from synagogue. Next year, everything will return to normal."

The Plan That Could Save the Sea of Galilee

Sea change: 90 percent of Lake Kinneret's beaches will be preserved in the plan, which was 10 years in the making

The Galilee Sea development plan aims to regulate the local tourism industry and protect the region's sensitive ecosystems.


People gather near an island that was

exposed by low water in the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel on Aug.

30, 2018. Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images.

Rina Bassist

Rina Bassist

Topics covered

holy sites, pilgrimage, christianity, development, environmental protection, tourism, galilee

Jul 13, 2020

An Israeli subcommittee approved a development plan for the Galilee Sea and its environs on June 30. The National Planning Committee is expected to adopt the plan soon, opening the way to the much-needed development of the area after decades of neglect, addressing bureaucratic obstacles and protecting sensitive ecological areas.

The Sea of Galilee region offers visitors an exceptional experience with a unique natural habitat, beautiful pebble beaches, water attractions, archeological digs and Christian holy sites. The east bank of the Galilee Sea, which is actually a lake, looks over Israel's border with the Hashemite Kingdom.

The Galilee Sea — Kinneret, as it is called in Hebrew, after its violin shape — is the only natural freshwater lake in the country, and its history is long and rich. The site of Nahal Ein Gev, three kilometers east of the lake, contains a village from the late Natufian period. The hot springs of Hamat Gader, five miles southeast of the lake, were built by the Romans 2,000 years ago and are still functioning. Another attraction is an ancient wooden boat discovered in 1986 and dated to the period of Jesus. Christian pilgrimage sites include the village of Capernaum on the old road that led from Tiberias to Damascus, as well as places where Jesus performed some of his miracles according to the New Testament, such as walking on water. There are plenty of reasons for tourists from Israel and abroad to visit.

Over the years, the authorities have fought with entrepreneurs who took control of the beaches and made them profitable private tourism enterprises. Buildings were constructed all around the lake with little thought to protecting the environment.

A major step toward changing the situation came in 2006, when the National Planning Committee adopted a proposal by the Society of the Protection of Nature in Israel for the construction of a circle-Kinneret trail. The plan allowed the authorities to force the entrepreneurs that controlled some of the beaches to open the way for hikers. They then began looking into ownership claims on the beaches, buildings constructed without permits, boat rentals operated without authorization and so on. They had their work cut out for them.

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A second major step came in 2010 with the establishment of the Kinneret Urban Union, a forum of all the municipal councils around the Galilee Sea that ultimately formed this new plan for the preservation and development of the region. The idea was to put together a comprehensive development plan to address the tourism potential of the region and enable the public to enjoy the beaches while nurturing and preserving the open spaces, preserving the Galilee as the country's largest open water reservoir, developing the religious sites and protecting the ecological heritage.

Former journalist Idan Grinbaum has been serving for several years as both chair of the Jordan Valley Regional Council and as head of the Kinneret Urban Union. Having grown up in the region, he knows it well and cares about it deeply. Grinbaum also knows the Kinneret plan inside out.

Grinbaum considers the plan very significant for the future of Israel's national lake. "The plan regulates the different uses that would be authorized along each of the lake's 65 kilometers [of shoreline]. It includes areas designed for the development of tourism and areas where nature will be protected and preserved, and so on. For instance, the plan recommends moving Highway 92 from its current route along the east coast of the lake. Doing so will enable widening the beaches for the benefit of everyone," he explained.

He also emphasized that contrary to some reports, the plan will not stop the construction of two vacation villages that were previously authorized, but merely regulates issues with the entrepreneurs in the villages. He added that the plan offers residents as well as entrepreneurs a clear framework for future development of the lake.

Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/07/israel-jordan-sea-of-galilee-christian-pilgrims-development.html#ixzz6SBiOVAdK

Calvin Coolidge And The Jews

By Saul Jay Singer

Coolidge (1872-1933), who grew up in Vermont amongst Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists, had little general contact with Jews.

He did, however, have personal relationships with a handful of Jews, including Adolph Ochs, owner and publisher of the New York Times; Louis Marshall, a prominent attorney and founder of the American Jewish Committee; Eugene Isaac Meyer, whom he appointed to clean up the Federal Loan Board, which had been wracked with scandal; and, as we shall see, investment banker and mining mogul Adolph Lewisohn.

White House card signed by Coolidge.

As president, he largely ignored the Jewish community and took no part in the debate that continued to rage during his administration over the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford. To the great disappointment of the American Jewish community, he also signed the Johnson-Reed Act, an immigration bill that restricted Jewish immigration (see discussion below).

When Charles Levine, "the Great Jewish Ace," flew with Clarence Chamberlain to Berlin – and broke Lindbergh's record a mere two weeks after Lindbergh's historic flight – the Jewish community was irate when Coolidge invited Chamberlain to the White House but pointedly snubbed Levine.

Nevertheless, Coolidge signed "The Anglo-American Convention on Palestine," a covenant with Britain that recognized the British Mandate over Eretz Yisrael. A more formal government recognition than Wilson's recognition of the better-known Balfour Declaration, the Convention was characterized by Coolidge as a reflection of his sympathy with "the deep and intense longing which finds such fine expression in the Jewish National Homeland in Palestine."

Through Coolidge's ratification of the Convention on March 2, 1925, the United States formally recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people with Eretz Yisrael and the reconstitution of their national home there. Pursuant to Article 6:

The administration of Palestine shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency, close settlement by the Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purpose.

Original newspaper photo of President Coolidge meeting at the White House with attendees at a rabbinical convention on November 11, 1926. Shown, left to right, are Rabbi Meyer Margolis of New York, dean of the American rabbis; the President; and Rav Meyer Belin, president of the rabbinic organization.

The Convention defines "land" as the entire Land of Israel included in the British Mandate and, significantly, it specifically prohibits the British from partitioning the land and its use for any purpose other than the creation of a national Jewish homeland.

(The treaty, which remains in effect and constitutes the law of the land, prohibits the right of any successive American administrations from limiting the right of Jews to settle any lands under the administration of the British Mandate, a prohibition blithely – and illegally – ignored by a number of American presidents.)

In 1924, Coolidge received Rav Kook, Eretz Yisrael's Ashkenazi chief rabbi, at the White House, thereby (as far as my research indicates) becoming the first president to receive a chief rabbi from Eretz Yisrael. Rav Kook thanked the president for his support of the Balfour Declaration and for aiding in Jewish relief during World War I, and the president responded that the American government would be pleased to assist Jews whenever possible.

Brochure containing Coolidge's address at the laying of the cornerstone of the D.C. Jewish Community Center.

Shown here is an exceedingly rare – it is only one of four copies known to exist – first edition of President Coolidge's address at the laying of the cornerstone of the D.C. Jewish Community Center on Sunday, May 3, 1925, when he became the first president to speak at the dedication of a Jewish community institution that was not a house of worship.

In one of the most beautiful pro-Jewish speeches by a chief executive in American history, he affirmed that "Hebraic mortar cemented American democracy" and lauded the history and achievements of American Jews:

We have gathered this afternoon to lay with appropriate ceremony and solemnity the cornerstone of a temple. The splendid structure which is to rise here will be the home of the Jewish Community Center of Washington. It will be at once a monument to the achievements of the past and a help in the expansion of these achievements into a wider field of usefulness in the future.

About this institution will be organized, and from it will be radiated, the influences of those civic works in which the genius of the Jewish people has always found such eloquent expression. Such an establishment, so noble in its physical proportions, so generous in its social purposes, is truly a part of the civic endowment of the nation's capital. Beyond that, its existence here at the seat of the National Government makes it in a peculiar way a testimony and an example before the entire country…. This edifice which you are erecting here is a fine example for other communities. It is a guarantee that you will keep step with liberty….

The Jews themselves, of whom a considerable number were already spread throughout the colonies, were true to the teachings of their prophets. The Jewish Faith is predominantly the faith of liberty. From the beginnings of the conflict between the colonies and the mother country, they were overwhelmingly on the side of the rising revolution…. Not only did the colonial Jews join early and enthusiastically in the non-intercourse program, but when the time came for raising and sustaining an army, they were ready to serve wherever they could be most useful….

It is easy to understand why a people with the historic background of the Jews should thus overwhelmingly and unhesitatingly have allied themselves with the cause of freedom. From earliest colonial times, America has been a new land of promise to this long-persecuted race….

This capacity for adaptation in detail, without sacrifice of essentials, has been one of the special lessons which the marvelous history of the Jewish people has taught. It is a lesson which our country, and every country based on the principle of popular government must learn and apply, generation by generation, year by year, yes even day by day. You are raising here a testimonial to the capacity of the Jewish people to do this. In the advancing years, as those who come and go shall gaze upon this civic and social landmark, may it be a constant reminder of the inspiring service that has been rendered to civilization by men and women of the Jewish faith. May they recall the long array of those who have been eminent in statecraft, in science, in literature, in art, in the professions, in business, in finance, in philanthropy and in the spiritual life of the world. May they pause long enough to contemplate that the patriots who laid the foundation of this republic drew their faith from the Bible. May they give due credit to the people among whom the Holy Scriptures came into being.

The official opening of the Community Center was on Washington's birthday, February 22, 1926, and it went on to become the meeting place for several Jewish organizations, including B'nai Brith, Hadassah, and the American Jewish Committee.

* * * * *

In this March 2, 1926 correspondence to Adolph Lewisohn on his White House letterhead, President Coolidge writes: "I have been interested to see the letter from Minister Motoji, many of which you were good enough to send to me with your thoughtful note of February 27th. Please accept my thanks and my best wishes."

Shinguma Motoji (1876-1947) held various high-level positions in the Japanese government, including Director-General of Bureau of Prisons of the Ministry of Justice, Public Prosecutor General, and Chief of the Japanese Supreme Court, but, following the Japanese defeat in World War II, he was purged from public office.

Although the subject of the Motoji letter that Lewisohn provided to President Coolidge is not specified, it is undoubtedly related to the Johnson-Reed Act, also called The Immigration Act of 1924. The Act, which included the Asian Exclusion Act that effectively all but cut off Japanese immigration to America, was aimed at further restricting immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans – particularly Jews, who were "less racially desirable." It set strict immigration quotas, provided important funding and an enforcement mechanism to carry out the immigration ban, established the U.S. Border Control, and introduced the term "illegal alien."

Japanese immigration – the "Yellow Peril" that had been upsetting the West Coast in the early 1900s – was addressed by Theodore Roosevelt through an agreement pursuant to which Japan would cease issuing passports to American-bound emigrants in exchange for American acceptance of the Japanese already settled here.

Coolidge believed this agreement was sufficient to address the problems presented by Japanese immigration and that the exclusion clause in the 1924 act was unnecessary; he therefore expressed misgivings about needlessly irritating Japan, with whom the U.S. maintained good relations. He was proven right when the furious Japanese declared a "national day of humiliation," which engendered a strong counter-reaction by the U.S. Senate so that Coolidge ultimately lost the battle to modify the exclusionary clause.

Original newspaper photograph of Polish Chief Rabbi Ezekiel Libshitz meeting with President Coolidge on May 8, 1926. The Rav came to America to personally thank the Chief Executive for aid given by Americans to destitute Jews in Europe. Shown are Rabbi B.L. Leventhal, Philadelphia; Rabbi M.S. Margolies, New York City; Hyman Ehrlich, secretary to Rabbi Leventhal; Rav Libshitz; Rabbi Eliezer Libshitz; Polish Minister Jan Ciechanowski; and NY Congressman Nathan D. Perlman.

Nonetheless, Coolidge decided not to veto the bill, signing it with an attached statement condemning the exclusion clause. Many commentators argue persuasively that the Asian Exclusion Act played an important role in the rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and ultimately led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A central concern of the law was limiting Jewish immigration from Poland and Russia; supporters of the Act argued that it was necessary to protect American identity and preserve its ethnic homogeneity by barring the entry of immigrants who could not assimilate, would not contribute to the American economy, and would never adapt to American culture.

The law all but eliminated America as a refuge for Eastern European Jews, and the severely restrictive quotas were maintained even as Jews tried to flee Hitler in the 1930s, resulting in the deaths of countless Jews. Former First Lady Grace Coolidge campaigned to admit refugee Jewish children into America during this time period, and even volunteered to personally care for 25 of them, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – and most of the American public – remained unmoved.

Legislative hearings cited the Jewish population of New York's Lower East Side as the perfect example of an immigrant group that could never be assimilated, and the law sharply reduced immigration from countries from which the vast majority of American Jews had come.

Renowned "eugenicists," who were invited to testify before Congress regarding the "inferior stack" of European Jews, played no small part in the broad congressional support for the act. Particularly persuasive was eugenicist Harry Laughlin, who argued that immigrants, "mainly Jews," were "a large part of the insane population."

According to Secretary of Labor James A. Davis, the problem was exacerbated because "the Hebrews, above all other races, come [to America] to stay." Even President Coolidge, in his first address to Congress, announced, "New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American." In Mein Kampf, Hitler praised the 1924 Immigration Act for finally rejecting Jews from America's shores.

Ironically, some commentators credit the Johnson-Reed Act for, albeit unintentionally, facilitating the dramatic growth of Zionism in the United States and the ultimate birth of Israel. With the Act effectively closing America to European Jews, the Jews turned their attention to establishing Eretz Yisrael as a Jewish homeland.

Letter from President Coolidge to Adolph Lewisohn.

Lewisohn (1849-1938) – the recipient of this letter from Coolidge – was an investment banker, mining magnate, and renowned philanthropist. He immigrated to New York City at age 16 to help his brothers in the family mercantile business but, after meeting Thomas Edison, urged the family to invest in copper instead and went on to establish several highly successful mining companies.

In particular, Lewisohn Bros. broke new ground in the electrolytic processing of copper, and the brothers became "copper kings," with just one of their mines earning $35 million by the early 1900s, when Lewisohn turned his efforts to philanthropy, particularly Jewish philanthropy.

He began Hebrew lessons at age five, attended daily synagogue with his father, and described his paternal family tree as an unbroken line of pious Jews "of the strictest orthodoxy in the matter of old traditional ritualistic customs." However, he ultimately rejected his strictly observant father's tradition, became an active Reform Jew, and all but ceased his religious devotion.

Notwithstanding his lack of Jewish observance and practice, however, he continued his extensive Jewish philanthropy; served as an important "shtadlan" in world Jewish affairs; and, in particular, became a powerful advocate for persecuted Jews in Czarist Russia. He was also at the forefront of the battle against restrictions and limits in Jewish immigration, and he often used his warm relationships with presidents Wilson and Coolidge to intercede on behalf of the Jewish interests.

Although by no means a Zionist – he opposed the creation of a Jewish state, and his aim was "the integration of the Jews, not another exile" – he nonetheless welcomed the Balfour Declaration.

See you  tomorrow Bli neder 

We need Mosiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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