It was 8:15 on Saturday morning, and Rabbis Shmuel Fuerst and Moshe Unger of Chicago were dressed in their Sabbath best: beaver-pelt shtreimels, or Polish-style hats on their heads; long black silk caftans draping their bodies; and thin white socks over their black knickers.
But last Saturday morning, these two bearded, ultra-traditional Orthodox Jews were not walking to synagogue on the city's heavily white North Side; they were riding in a car driven by a non-Jewish friend to meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson on the city's mostly black South Side.
As tension built between Washington and Jerusalem last week, Dr. Mandell Ganchrow, a leader of the Orthodox movement, rose to urge American Jewry’s primary umbrella group to issue a clear statement strongly condemning U.S. pressure on Israel.
Instantly, a chorus of no’s echoed in the Manhattan meeting room of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. And conference chairman Melvin Salberg, ever sensitive to the consensus the group needed to act, told Ganchrow quickly, “I think you have your answer, Mendy.”
Washington — They came from Memphis and they came from Midwood. They bused in from Bayside and they rode the rails from Richmond. There were Hoosiers and Bluegrass Staters and a soul or two from Alaska who took a long day’s journey into the Lower 48 wearing their love of the Jewish state — and their fears over its future — on their sleeves.