This Day in History

23 Jul

Jews-and-Civil-Rights

Historically Jews around the world have worked towards equality; equality of all people. On this day in 1847, while under the reign of Frederick IV, equality for Jews of Prussia became legal. This is not the first time we were legally declared equal, but it is interesting to note today, July 23rd.

Between the years 1847-1923, nineteen countries and one U.S. State (New Hampshire) made it legal to be a Jew. This history is troubling to say the least but it is not as troubling as being emancipated while standing by as another group of people is still not free. Which is why it is so uplifting to see that Jewish leaders were partners with W.E.B. DuBois in forming the NAACP or that Jewish leaders marched right along-side Martin Luther King Jr. in the pursuit of civil rights for African Americans.  In more recent years, we’ve seen Jewish leaders instrumental in helping to advance civil rights for gay Americans. Harvey Milk is an iconic Jewish Politician for gay rights and in recent weeks, when the Defense Of Marriage Act was found to be unconstitutional, 2 out of the 5 Supreme Court justices who voted against DOMA were Jewish.

An old Jewish Proverb says “Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.”  It’s no coincidence that Jews are passionate about equal rights for others, as we ourselves have been oppressed in such a way; it’s how we have acted and continue to act once we get equal rights that proves our wisdom.

What other instances in history can you think of when Jews have helped another group of people further themselves?

Jessi Sheslow is the Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

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One Response to “This Day in History”

  1. sidneyt289@aol.com July 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Excellent!

    Now put out a letter supporting John Kerry’s efforts in bringing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

    (see the letter put out by San Francisco JCRC)

    best, sid.

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