Segments in this Video

Jewish Life Under President Washington: Introduction (03:27)


In this lecture, Rabbi Soloveichik will discuss several letters sent from the Jews to George Washington after he became President of the United States.

A New President, and the Letters He Received (11:11)

The inauguration of Washington set the tone for the future of American presidential inauguration ceremonies. This was a very religious ceremony, and Rabbi Soloveichik describes the significance of this ceremony in relation to Judaism.

The American Jewish Community During the Washington Administration (14:22)

Rabbi Soloveichik reviews and reads letters to and from George Washington from the American Jews. The Rabbi believes this communication significant because they document the American idea and how Jews are seen as the equals in the society.

Levi Sheftall, the Jews of Georgia, and President Washington's Response (17:22)

Washington's response to the letter from the Jews of Savannah, Georgia is significant because he takes religious liberty a step further than the British. In Britain, Jews were tolerated, but in American society the president wished Jews to be equal to all other religious and non-religious peoples.

The Jews of Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, and Richmond (05:47)

After the Savanna letter was sent, Manuel Josephson drafts and hand delivers a letter to President Washington on behalf of the Jews of New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Richmond. Washington’s response highlights the disunity of the American Jewish people at that time.

Three Letters, Four Lessons (16:50)

A great sense of innovation was aroused within the Jewish American people, but Rabbi Soloveichik argues there is also a strong sense of disunity that comes with the freedom of religion. Hear George W. Bush deliver a speech similar to Washington’s about Israel.

Conclusion (05:40)

Washington uniquely highlights the idea that the god of the Jews and the Christians is the same, and that the story of America is parallel to that of the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. Washington, according to Rabbi Soloveichik, should be recognized as one of the founders of religious liberty in America.

Credits: Jewish Life Under President Washington (00:06)

Credits: Jewish Life Under President Washington

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Continue to Water Them With the Dews of Heaven: Jewish Life Under President Washington

Part of the Series : The Founding Fathers and Insights Into Religious Freedom
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Examining the state of the American Jewish community during George Washington's administration, this video lecture with Meir Soleveichik looks at the lives of Levi Sheftall and the Jews of Georgia; Moses Seixas and the Jews of Rhode Island; and the Jewish communities of Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, and Richmond. It considers President Washington's interactions and correspondence with these communities.

Length: 76 minutes

Item#: BVL145748

ISBN: 978-1-64347-019-1

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.