Looking Forward to School
We are thankful to Hashem for protecting our children this summer as they attended in-person day camps in Kew Gardens Hills. Likewise, we are thankful for the camp staff and fellow parents, who took all the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission, and the children who understood the serious nature of the pandemic. It felt like a miracle to watch our children daven, play sports, bake challah, sing, and dance.
Adults can survive without theaters, concerts, and festivals, but our children need social interaction for their development; with our compliance with safety guidelines, Hashem reciprocated with an invisible shield around our camps. We continue to wear masks in shuls, shops, at work, and in public transportation. We are the compliant community that made in-person summer camp a reality and is paving the way for a school year that is as close to normal as possible.
Next week, yeshivos across our community are set to reopen with in-person classes under the guidelines of safety that include daily temperature checks, hand-sanitizer dispensers, HVAC filters, transparent dividers on desks, masks on the faculty and staff, and no interaction between classes. With all of these measures in place, it is not a guarantee that the virus wouldn’t reappear in our schools. We are thankful that our schools have plans for reopening alongside virtual instruction, drafted in consultation with medical, educational, and rabbinic leaders, and approved by city and state officials.
Considering the disagreement between the teachers union and the New York City Department of Education whether public schools are safe for reopening, we are thankful that Jewish educators recognize the importance of in-person instruction in the intellectual, personal, and spiritual development of our children.
We must continue to exercise caution by being reasonable in our public interactions, keeping distance, avoiding large gatherings, and keeping our faces covered when distance is unavoidable. Our children’s future depends on our behavior.
Thank you for publishing last week’s excellent article by Phil Orenstein, which connects Jewish history to our present times. It has always been hard for American Jews to understand how easily conditions in countries could change. At least today we have a hint of that when looking at the changes made, in a short time “for the sake of our health.”
I was a child in pre-war Germany and was fortunate to come to the US in 1938, before Kristallnacht, despite the almost closed door at that time due to the quota and sponsor system. The question that has always been in my mind since the war years is: Can the “brown shirts” ever march freely in the US and can the equivalent roar of “Heil Hiter” be heard? There have been neo-Nazi marches over the years, but until now, they have been condemned by politicians and the media.
During the Roosevelt era, many Jews used the Yiddish word “velt,” meaning “world,” to express their feelings about President Roosevelt. They said, there are three worlds: di velt (this world), yene velt (the world to come), and Roosevelt. He gave social security to the country and fought against Hitler. Since those days, the simple political attitude among many Jews has been: Democrat – good, Republican – bad. The facts are not that simple.
In 1913, Leo Frank was falsely accused, then prosecuted and lynched, in the solid Democratic South. A recent article in Jewish World stated, “What made the South ignore the racism toward Blacks and prosecute Jewish Leo Frank? Anti-Semitism.”
During the Roosevelt administration, the father of President Kennedy was ambassador to England. He wanted England to surrender to Hitler. This was so close to treason that he had to be replaced. When refugees had no place to go, the ship St. Louis was turned away. The German captain of the ship saved some of the passengers by not bringing them back to Germany. A bill to allow 1,000 children to come to the US was not allowed to come up for a Congressional discussion or vote. The State Department head refused to accept some visas that had already been issued.
During the Ford post-war years, German scientists who worked on rockets and jet engines for Hitler were brought to the US to work. Had these rockets and jet planes been in place earlier in the war, Hitler could have won. While Germans were brought into the US to work, survivors were left in the DP camps. Many Jewish survivors married and had children in the DP camps before they could trickle into the US.
There were ant-Semitic voices in the Republican Party in those years. Henry Ford, who was well known for his anti-Semitism, became the chief architect for turning American war production into what is known as the arsenal of Democracy. The speed with which car production was turned into plane, ship, and tank production contributed to the eventual defeat of Hitler.
Today, the really dangerous anti-Semitism is coming from the liberal, progressive, socialistic left side of politics. A so-called “minority” of these voices is coming directly from the Democratic side of the halls of Congress – and they are not condemned. The voices coming from the neo-Nazi side are rightly condemned. Open anti-Semitism is also coming from college campuses, in the form of
“Zionism is racism.” The mainstream media is the propaganda arm that supports these dangerous voices and masks their intent and actions.
Watch any documentary on pre-war Germany. You can see wild “brown shirts” in the streets, causing general terror to communists, their own splinter groups, and eventually to Jews. Statues were taken down and books burned. The energy that drove all this was a form of racism. Germans were told that they were Aryans, a superior form of human being; therefore, they deserve to rule the world. All problems in Germany and in the world are caused by non-Aryans, especially the Jews. The Jews must be destroyed and other non-Aryans enslaved to us. As early as 1923, Hitler led an attempted coup against the government in Munich. A book written by David King details the Beer Hall Putsch and the rise of Nazi Germany. A few lines can be seen in today’s news stories. “Hitler troops charged, pushing the police aside, seizing their weapons, and, in some cases, attacking them with rifle butts. Other people in the procession spit on the officers and insulted them. At least 28 policemen were taken captive and marched back to the beer hall, their hands on their heads.” Newspapers at that time thought that Hitler in his defeat looked ludicrous and less menacing than the state authorities who had stopped him.
At this time of year, we can only pray to Hashem for a good and sweet year – a sweetness that we can easily understand.
A letter in last week’s issue stated that Kamala Harris is not a natural-born US citizen and therefore not eligible to be a candidate for Vice President, because her parents were not US citizens at the time of her birth.
The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
The term “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” excludes the children of foreign diplomats posted to the United States, whose families enjoy diplomatic immunity and are exempt from many US laws, and Indigenous People (American Indians) who live on reservations, where the laws of the sovereign tribe rather than US law apply.
There were legal decisions between 1866 and 1898, which excluded children of “citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States,” essentially meaning that citizenship is based on lineage rather than birth. This actually is the law in many countries.
In the case of US vs. Wong, the government initially denied US citizenship to Wong Kim Ark, the son of Chinese immigrants, because Chinese law granted citizenship to the children of Chinese citizens no matter where they were born. Since Mr. Wong was a Chinese citizen, he was not eligible for US citizenship. The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that a child born to parents who are foreign citizens is a US citizen unless the parents are foreign diplomats, or citizens of an enemy nation engaged in hostile occupation of US territory. (The question of Indigenous People was dealt with in an earlier Supreme Court decision.)
Far from being “an egregious decision,” Wong vs. Kim interpreted the 14th Amendment according to the plain meaning of the text. Wong vs. Kim is the definitive interpretation of the 14th Amendment and is the law of the land.
But there is something more important than the legal question. If natural-born citizenship is denied to children whose parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth, it would not apply to Kamala Harris alone. It would apply to many thousands of children of Jewish immigrants, including the children of Holocaust survivors, whose parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth.
The legal opinions that denied birthright citizenship to the children of foreign nationals were based on the concept of preventing dual loyalty and excluded people who were “owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.” This came at a time when there was widespread distrust of and discrimination against Catholics, who supposedly owed their primary loyalty to the Pope, and Jews, who were supposedly loyal to various nefarious international Jewish conspiracies to rule the world through Jewish control of banks and finance.
The charge of dual loyalty has been invoked by anti-Semites through the years, from Pharaoh (“In the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting us”) to Haman (“There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm whose laws are different from any other people and do not obey the King’s law”) to Hitler (“The Jews stabbed Germany in the back”) to Ilhan Omar (“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country”).
There are many valid reasons for Americans in general and Jews in particular to oppose the Biden-Harris ticket. No one should resort to using 150-year-old legal interpretations that would disenfranchise many thousands of Jews, which are based on the concept of dual loyalty, a canard that has been used to justify the persecution of Jews throughout the millennia, in order to disqualify a candidate of a different race and ethnic background.
I would like to respond to Warren Hecht’s article in the August 19 edition of the Queens Jewish Link, “A Tale of Two Trumps.” Warren takes Trump to task for praising Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia in her bid for a seat in the House of Representatives. Marjorie is a staunch supporter of Israel. She spoke against the UN resolution 2334 condemning Israel. Marjorie also said that “Israel is the best friend and ally that America has.” She also criticized George Soros. Her quote was, “The Nazi himself [referring to George Soros] trying to continue what was not finished.” She is stating that George Soros is a self-hating Jew who wants to finish the work that Hitler started. She is correct. George Soros is the founder of Open Society Foundations (OSF). This Foundations is an anti-Semitic organization with its goal to exterminate Israel and cause another Holocaust. OSF supports BDS and terrorist groups. Soros has often stated that “Israel is worse than Nazi Germany.” Soros is an evil man; I am shocked that Warren supports him.
In the August 26 edition of QJL, Warren praised the DNC for their wonderful convention. It featured Linda Sarsour, who supports BDS and raises money for terrorism. She supports murdering Jews. Biden condemned her and later apologized for doing so. I am not impressed. Biden says he is against anti-Semitism but supports Iran and giving money to suicide bombers. He says he is against mob violence but refuses to condemn Antifa and BLM, who promote violence. The convention did not even bother to mention the riots, because they support them. Warren loves this doublespeak. The Democratic Party has morphed into a Nazi-like organization that is against all Torah values. Let us pray during Elul and Rosh HaShanah that this disgusting party loses the elections. I wish the best for klal Yisrael and the world. Only Hashem can save us.