I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my Jewish friends and relatives a Happy Chanukah. We may not always agree on matters of state, but we have never let our opinions get in the way of our love and respect for one another. One thing I think we all agree upon however, is the fact that we are blessed to live in a country where there is religious freedom; where Jews, Christians and people of all faiths are able to live and work together side by side in relative peace. Unfortunately, this blessing is not shared equally among the nations of the earth. So how is it that we Americans have been blessed in this way and how do we preserve what we have?
I would like to share with you an excerpt from a letter written by one of my personal heroes (yes, I still do have heroes). These words were written in 1790 in response to the kind words expressed by the Congregation Yeshuat Israel of Newport, Rhode Island:
“The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.”
“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”
“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”