- The Hebrew word for marriage is kiddushin, from the Hebrew kadosh, meaning holy or separate. Says Rabbi Steven Leder: "If (husband and wife) treat each other as kadosh--sacred, fragile vessels, easily shattered--they'll be able to hang on, snuggled beneath the blanket of years, come what may."
- President Harry S. Truman, after feeling the intense pressure of ardent Zionists, combined with the demands of other Jewish groups to allow 100,000 Jewish Displaced Persons into the United States. A few weeks after his outburst, however, Truman announced that he would send a bill to Congress (which he did the following January) requesting an expansion of immigration quotas so that more homeless refugees might qualify for entry into the United States. He also deserves credit for supporting the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
- President Lyndon B. Johnson. The ship, the Liberty, was bombed on June 8, 1967. Both Johnson and his Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, were incredulous and outraged, but nevertheless accepted Israel's apology.
- President Richard M. Nixon. In 1973 he signed the Ethnic Studies Heritage Act, which called for the distribution of federal funds in public schools to teach the history and culture of America's minorities. The bill's passage led to the inclusion of Holocaust studies in U.S. schools.
- President John F. Kennedy. The UAHC presented JFK with a historic
Torah in 1963, at the dedication of the Religious Action Center of
Reform Judaism in Washington, DC, held in the White House Rose Garden.
After accepting the Torah, said to be one of the first to be brought
to this country, the president saluted the institutions of Reform
Judaism for putting religious values to the test of action in the
nation's capital. Arthur Goldberg, a member of the Commission on Social
Action, then representing KAM Synagogue of Chicago, then chided him
in jest about not wearing a hat, and JFK promptly replied, "But Arthur,
I am a Reform Jew." Interestingly, Goldberg was also the first to
suggest the creation of a Religious Action Center in Washington.
- The Balfour Declaration of 1917, which firmly established the rights of Jews to establish their national home in Palestine, also included a proviso enjoining the Jews to pay exquisite regard to the rights of Arabs living in Palestine. Says author Arthur Hertzberg: "Some Zionists proposed that his declaration be interpreted to mean a bi-national state, but the Arabs of Palestine rejected any such notion. From the very beginning, the dominant Palestinian policy was war against the Jews. And yet, the deepest current within the Jewish community recognizes that it has a moral obligation to bring as little harm as possible to the Arabs of Palestine."
- Nachmanides believed that God constantly directs the world in two ways: through the natural order, which he called "secret miracles," and through breaks in the natural order, which he called "obvious or open miracles," such as the parting of the Red Sea.
- Bombay. More than a dozen synagogues and prayer halls line this city of 12 million people--which is home to the majority of India's 5000 Jews and the only Progressive synagogue, called The Jewish Religious Union - Congregation Rodef Shalom. Founded in 1925 by Dr. Jerusha J. Jhirad, a Bene Israel woman introduced to Liberal Judaism while studying medicine in England, the WUPJ-affiliated JRU currently blends Indian customs with a certain British-flavored Progressive Jewry. It is also the only synagogue in India where a woman is allowed to read from the Torah.
- Musar is "the practical wisdom that has informed Jewish piety through the centuries," writes Rabbi Eugene Borowitz in "The Jewish Moral Virtues" (a new UAHC Significant Jewish Books selection). "Insofar as we infuse our everyday affairs with our Jewish values, we add our own style to the unbroken chain of musar." Borowitz and his co-author, Frances Schwartz, take their list of "Jewish moral virtues" from a 13th-century musar text, which includes topics such as compassion, generosity, wealth, charity, and humility.
- In the lunar-based Jewish calendar, the new moon indicates a new month. That time is called Rosh Chodesh, or head of the month. It's a biblical commandment to observe and celebrate the new moon. "In fact," says Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen of Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel, "the very first mitzvah that the Jewish people were given had to do with observing Rosh Chodesh." The Talmud instructs women not to work on Rosh Chodesh as a reward for refusing to contribute their jewelry to make the Golden Calf.
- In biblical and early talmudic times, before people depended on astronomical calculations to set the calendar, Rosh Chodesh was announced with great fanfare. When members of the high court gathered in Jerusalem, two reputable witnesses sighted the appearance of the new moon. If their testimony was accepted, the court then proclaimed and sanctified the beginning of the new month. Women prepared and ate festive meals, lit candles, and studied sacred texts in honor of the new moon. Today, Rosh Chodesh is celebrated in the temple with extra readings from the Torah and Haftarah and a special kiddush. Modern women sanctify new moon celebrations by writing new midrashim, creating new songs, and more.