George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom

News

Here are a few stories in the news about the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom and on the topic of religious freedom in general.

American Jewish Historical Society Honors Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr. with Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award

Courtesy: The American Jewish Historical Society
Published August 6, 2015

The Board of Trustees of the American Jewish Historical Society cordially invites you to the 2015 Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award Dinner to honor Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr.

The event will be held on November 11, 2015 at the Roosevelt Hotel, 45 East 45th Street, New York, NY.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to: http://www.ajhs.org/emma-lazarus-award.

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George Washington’s birthday reconsidered

By John L. Loeb, Jr.
Courtesy: The Star-Telegram
Published February 6, 2015

Let’s give his birthday back to George Washington.

Is there some timely reason? Yes.

Since 1879, Washington’s Birthday, February 22, has been celebrated as a Federal Holiday—although, in 1968, as part of a grand plan to create three-day “holiday” weekends, it was pegged to the third Monday of the month.

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“To Bigotry No Sanction”

Jewish Virtual Library

American Jewish Historical Society

On August 17, 1790, Moses Seixas, the warden of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, better known as the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, penned an epistle to George Washington, welcoming the newly elected first president of the United States on his visit to that city. Newport had suffered greatly during the Revolutionary War. Invaded and occupied by the British and blockaded by the American navy, hundreds of residents fled, and many of those who remained were Tories. After the British defeat, the Tories fled in turn. Newport’s nineteenth-century economy never recovered from these interruptions and dislocations.

Washington’s visit to Newport was largely ceremonial—part of a goodwill tour Washington was making on behalf of the new national government created by the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. Newport had historically been a good home to its Jewish residents, who numbered approximately 300 at the time of Washington’s visit. The Newport Christian community’s acceptance of Jewish worship was exemplary, although individual Jews such as Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizer were unable to obtain full political equality as citizens of Rhode Island. The Jews of Newport looked to the new national government, and particularly to the enlightened president of the United States, to remove the last of the barriers to religious liberty and civil equality confronting American Jewry.

The Priority of Religious Liberty

By Andrew J. Ratelle
Courtesy: The Distributist Review. Copyright © 2013
Published December 15, 2012

“And there shall be none to make him afraid.”

These days, the words of the prophet Micah would be an odd fit in a presidential address. With a large segment of society standing by with their slings and arrows of “establishment clause” and “separation of church and state” at the ready lest any politician or statesman appear too attached to his religious convictions, lines from the Bible can be difficult to get by within a setting apart from the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

But once upon a time, it wasn’t so difficult. At the very dawn of his administration, that icon of the American presidency, George Washington, addressed the Hebrews of Newport, Rhode Island, with such just words. “There shall be none to make him afraid,” the new president wrote, assuring that each man “shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree” and “continue to merit and enjoy the good will” of the citizens of a newly-founded nation.[1]

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Hanukkah’s “Don’t Tread On Me” Message Is Universal In Its Appeal

By Eric Rosenberg
Courtesy: Forbes Magazine
Published December 12, 2012

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which is celebrated this week, is compelling for Jews and non-Jews alike because of its clarion call to religious liberty. Anyone remotely versed in American political thought will recognize the spirit of the Hanukkah story, with its “don’t tread on me” quest to worship as one chooses without fear of retribution, in the language of the U.S. Constitution.

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