Adams, Jefferson, and the Jews: Introduction (01:35)
In this lecture, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik discusses the two founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and the important roles they played within the Jewish community. Rabbi Soloveichik considers these two men to be the intellectual minds behind the American Revolution.
Reason and Religion in the Correspondence of Adams and Jefferson (11:04)
Rabbi Soloveichik explains something which distinguishes America from Britain is that it was the first country in a millennium to be founded upon an idea instead of a leader. The intellectual architects of the Revolution were Jefferson and Adams; both were Unitarians religiously, but Jefferson can be thought more of as a deist.
Adams and Jefferson Look at Jewish History and Jewish Ideas (11:30)
Jefferson was known for writing letters deeply criticizing the Jews and rabbinic tradition; ironically, the biologist Michael Hammer studied Jefferson’s genes and found he was of Middle Eastern Jewish descent. Hear reading from Adams and Jefferson’s written correspondence.
How Their Views of Judaism Illuminate the Beliefs and Commitments of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (08:06)
While serving as Vice President, which he thought a pointless office, Adams wrote and published a book about the French Revolution; Adams predicted this revolution, since the French people rejected their religious and moral foundation, would lead to tyranny and mass murder. Rabbi Soloveichik describes the conflict between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.
Why Jefferson Earned the Adoration of the American Jewish Community and Why John Adams did not (06:48)
The Jewish people liked Jefferson, despite his harsh criticisms of their traditions and ancestry, because of his staunch devotion to religious liberty for all and his actions to enshrine this right into the law. The Jews also found Jefferson much more likable and well-spoken than Adams; Mordecai Manuel Noah was the most prominent American Jew in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Mordecai Manuel Noah (12:54)
Noah was raised by his grandfather Jonas Phillips after the death of his mother and the abandonment of his father; he was the first Jewish American to be elected into federal office, and preserved the home and legacy of Jefferson. Hear readings of three letters from Jefferson and Adams to Noah.
The Legacies of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (04:09)
Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, July fourth, 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence; Jefferson had a bust of Adams in the room in which he died. The American Jewish people can experience religious liberty thanks to Jefferson.
Adams, Jefferson, and the Jews: Conclusion (05:13)
Rabbi Soloveichik discusses the differences between the French and American revolutions in reference to how they treated religion. Silver and the Rabbi discuss an overview of the entire lecture just given.
Credits: Adams, Jefferson, and the Jews (00:07)
Credits: Adams, Jefferson, and the Jews
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