The first instance of affirmative action in American Jewish history occurred when Abe Lincoln selected a New York Jew named Chemie Levy to a military position because, the president wrote, “we have not yet appointed a Hebrew.”
Exhibit at New-York Historical Society reveals rich relationship between Abraham Lincoln and the Jews.
On June 2, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln issued a parole pass to Charles Jonas, a Confederate prisoner of war, to return to Illinois to see his father on his deathbed. The soldier arrived in Quincy just in time to see his father, Abraham Jonas, still alive.
Shame on me for not knowing that May was Jewish American Heritage Month. To be sure, it lacks the profile of Black History Month, but apparently in Washington it’s a big deal. I was reminded of that when I read about Obama’s closing remarks at the White House on Wednesday, when he took pains to highlight the central anecdote of historian Jonathan Sarna’s new book, “When General Grant Expelled the Jews.”
Move over Talmud: there’s a new Jewish commentary in town. This week, the Posen Foundation and Yale University Press announced the publication date for the first in a 10-volume series anthologizing 3,000 years of Jewish culture and civilization.
Do you ever wonder what, one hundred years from now, historians will make of Obama’s record? And how about something more specific: his record with Jews? I do. But reading Jenna Weissman Joselit’s review of a new book on Ulysses S.
If I were hard-pressed to describe the state of American Jewish life today in 10 words or less, I surely couldn’t top Steven M. Cohen’s assessment: “We are demographically distressed and culturally creative.”
On eve of national conference and third anniversary, lobby group says it will moderate message in Congress.
James D. Besser
When J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace process” group that has become a lightning rod for volcanic differences in American Jewish life, distributed the schedule for its upcoming national conference, nervous members of Congress were quick to note one session: a panel on the boycotts, sanctions and divestment movement that will include a leading Jewish supporter of BDS.
That, in a nutshell, points to what could be the biggest problem facing the political action committee and lobby as it nears its third anniversary.
With all due respect to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, whose magnificent stained glass window by Kiki Smith is all the talk of town, the shul gets too much attention. It is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Manhattan, dating to 1887, but its congregation is decidedly not.