One of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year is Lincoln. It has been nominated for 12 academy awards, including nominations of Daniel Day Lewis for best actor, Tony Kushner for best screenplay, and Stephen Spielberg for best director. I think it is a movie no one should miss. It is an inspiring portrait of a brilliant and brave President who ended slavery and helped bring our country together after a brutal civil war.
Far less known is Lincoln’s relationship to and identification with the Jewish community. In her article titled: Life and Times of a “Jewish Saint,” in the May, 2010 issue of The Jewish Daily Forward, Ann Levin gives us a glimpse into Lincoln’s compassion for the American Jewish community.
She refers to the story of Major-General Ulysses S. Grant’s order to expel Jews from areas in the South that had been defeated by Union armies. The expulsion was supposedly part of a Union campaign to control the black market in Southern cotton, which Grant thought was being run by Jewish merchants. Lincoln soon overturned Grant’s order. According to Dara Horn, author of the Civil War era novel, All Other Nights, “Lincoln is among the very few leaders in world history ever to overturn an order of expulsion of the Jews,” In an email to The Jewish Daily Forward, she added: “It was clear that he (Lincoln) appreciated the particular pain this expulsion had caused to a people so often expelled who had thought that at last they had found their promised land.”
For this and other reasons, Lincoln was, and still is, revered by many American Jews. Brandies Professor Jonathan Sarna, co-editor of Jews and the Civil War: A Reader, says, “It’s no surprise that Jews are interested in the man who has been compared to both Abraham and Moses. Lincoln’s death — on Good Friday and Passover — was understood in religious terms from the time it happened. In Jewish circles, … Lincoln became something of a Jewish saint.”
To read more, click here: The Life and Times of a Jewish Saint
American and Reform Jewish values of equality and justice have been the aligned since the beginning of the Reform Jewish Movement. Our Classical Reform mission says:
“A focus on American Jews in the expression of our religious identity; celebrating the richness of the experience of our faith and people in the free, open and pluralistic society of the United States of equality and justice, are very much aligned. ”
To learn more about the Society for Classical Reform Judaism, click here: Society for Classical Reform Judaism