July 2020 NEWSLETTER
TAMMUZ / AV 5780
ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES...
Beginning this month, the Tuesday Noon classes will once again be held in the Social Hall at Temple Sholom. This provides space for everyone attending to ''social distance.'' In addition, for those who do not feel comfortable yet at gatherings or who live away from this area, the class will also continue to be available thru Zoom with the weekly link being provided by Rabbi Kozberg.
Services have resumed in the large sanctuary at Temple Sholom under the leadership of Rabbi Kozberg. Safety precautions have been taken with everyone wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, and observing social distancing. Please call the Temple office to verify if the service will be held in person on the evening you plan to attend. For those who wish to worship thru Zoom, every weekly service will be available thru this medium with access information being emailed each week.
Please make a correction to the telephone number listed in the new Directory for Jeff and Ellen Levine. Their number is 937-723-9236. My apologies for this error and inconvenience.
~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
FOR JULY 4: Twice 4 (plus 1)
It is painfully obvious that this year's Fourth of July calls for a lot more reflection than those of recent years. Our institutions are being challenged and the premises on which they were founded are being questioned. One of the premises that has been challenged even before this recent crisis is the one that affirms that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian religious principles by individuals who had a deep faith and an abiding trust in the G-d of Scripture. In response, I would offer eight sources as evidence that this premise is quite accurate. No. 1 and No. 8 are well known; No. 2-7, maybe not so much. The ''plus 1'' is particularly significant for American Jews.
1) We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, ratified July 4, 1776
2) I am put upon a committee to prepare a device for a golden medal to commemorate the Surrender of Boston to the American arms, and upon another to prepare devices for a great seal for the confederated States...Dr. F(ranklin) proposes a device for a seal. Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh, in his chariot overwhelmed with the Waters. This motto, ''Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.'' Mr. Jefferson proposed, The Children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, and on the other Side Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon Chiefs, from whom we claim the honor of being descended and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed.
- Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, August 14, 1776
3) Whereas, the war in which the United States are engaged with Great Britain, has not only been prolonged, but is likely to be carried to the greatest extremity; and whereas, it becomes all public bodies, as well as private persons, to reverence the Providence of God, and look up to him as the supreme disposer of all events, and the arbiter of the fate of nations; therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible, to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation; to implore of Almighty God the forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks, and to beg the countenance and assistance of his Providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war.
- Continental Congress Fast Day Proclamation December 11, 1776
4) I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ''except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.'' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move - that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
- Benjamin Franklin, Opening Prayer at the Constitutional Convention, July 28, 1787
5) By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ''to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.''
- President George Washington, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation,
October 3, 1789
6) Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
- President George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
7) Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
- Message from John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, October 11, 1798
8) ''Proclaim liberty throughout the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof.''
- Leviticus 25:10, cast on the Liberty Bell
And finally, the ''plus 1'' - the additional source that is particularly significant to us as Jews and as Americans:
The two Nations to whom Mankind are under more obligations for the Progress of Science and Civilization, than to any others except the Hebrews. This consideration affects me more than the danger from either or both. I excepted the Hebrews, for in spite of Bolingbroke and Voltaire I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize Men than any other Nation. If I were an atheist and believed in blind eternal Fate, I should Still believe that Fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential Instrument for civilizing the Nations. If I were an Atheist of the other Sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by Chance, I Should believe that Chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate, to all Mankind the Doctrine of a Supreme intelligent wise, almighty Sovereign of the Universe, which I believe to be the great essential Principle of all Morality and consequently of all Civilization.
- Letter from John Adams to F.A. Vanderkamp, February 16, 1809
[NB: the use of the term ''Hebrews'' or ''Israelites'' connoted a respect for the people of the Bible, whom Christians acknowledged as their spiritual ancestors. ''Jews'' connoted the anti-Semitic stereotypes that were systemic (!) in European society for hundreds of years. This is why many American Jewish institutions that began in the 19th century used the word ''Hebrew'' or ''Israelite'': Hebrew Union College, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, The American Israelite (Cincinnati's Jewish newspaper), YMHA/Young Men's Hebrew Association]
To be sure, Adams states in the same letter that he personally has no great love for Jews. And yet, in his communication from one non-Jew to another, he feels compelled to acknowledge the contributions of Jews to Western civilization.
In reminding his correspondent of G-d's (or Fate's) mandate for the Jewish people, Adams re-affirms that our purpose in the world has been to be a ''light unto the nations'': to bring the light of social and moral order where the darkness of social and moral chaos is present; to replace the natural impulse of ''every man does what is right in his own eyes'' with the notion that law and social comity is G-d's will for humanity. From the sources quoted above (and there are many more!), one can clearly see that the Founders' shared this Biblical/Hebrew/Jewish vision. That is why Scriptural sources were often quoted to give support to the efforts of the Patriots, and why the result was a nation whose motto is ''IN GOD WE TRUST.''
Contrast the American Revolution with the one that occurred in France in 1789. Eschewing any basis in Scriptural values, the French Revolution certainly showed the world what can happen when every man does what was right in his own eyes. Social and moral darkness will ensue. What we Americans are witnessing is a time when the tenets which inspired our American Revolution are being confronted by those which inspired the French Revolution, and they are being demonstrated in quite similar ways. We don't have the guillotine (yet), but the impulse is the same: to destroy careers, livelihoods and reputations, national symbols and treasures; to promote a ''cancel culture'' in which firings, disavowals and forced apologies at institutions occur swiftly and in wholesale fashion.
These two opposing strategies to bring about political and social change are before us. As events unfold, it seems likely that as citizens, we will have to make an existential choice that will affect generations to come. Hopefully, as Jews and as Americans our choice will be directed - or at least influenced - by the Torah's teachings.
As we respond to what's happening in our country, may we take to heart the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, recently spoken to a graduation class of Jewish students: Judaism has always taught that the world is changed not by the idea of power, but by the power of ideas.
Or as the prophet Zechariah put it much earlier: ''Not by might, and not by power, but My spirit,'' says the Lord of Hosts.
- Rabbi Cary Kozberg
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
- In memory of Bertha Beloff and Anne Blumberg from Larry and Frayda Beloff
- In memory of Dr. Erika Garfunkel from Itzca Zohar
- In honor of the yahrzeit for my father, Louis Stillpass, from Stan and Phyllis Nedelman
- In honor of the yahrzeit of my mother, Ida Friedman, from Jay and Kitty Friedman
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
JULY 3: Sophie Friedland, Morris M. Levinson, Sidney William Rich, William Rich, Ben Rubinoff, William B. Zitsman, Arthur Marcus (father of Faye Flack)
JULY 10: Hyman Adler, Ida Friedman (mother of Jay), Rose Edith Lapinsky, Helen Weiser, Willis Rider
JULY 17: Ethel S. Freed, Henry Kempler, Albert M. Bandman, Frank Friedsam, Anna Margolis, Dorothy Banks Steed, Robert A. Wile, Richard Melnick Wolf
JULY 24: Ethel Arnovitz, Manya Haas Klein (mother of Sandy Silverstein), Harry M. Stadler, Mollie Flack (mother of Sanford), Dorothy Spier (mother of Ronald), Jack Watts (stepfather of Bill Dixon)
JULY 31: Anne Arnovitz, Ben Broock, Lt. Robert L. Levine, Reda Singer, Maisie Demmel, Samuel M. Draisen (brother of Bernice Goldman)
AUG 7: Joseph Friedberger, Julius Holzberg, Abraham M. Lapinsky, Dora K. Lebensberger, Pearle Romanoff, Dr. David B. Russack (husband of Gail), Riva Stessel, Ben Mazur, Betty Anne Zoldan