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Jewish World Review
Feb. 13, 2009
/ 19 Shevat 5769
Still Sick But Better, Thank You
Well, I'm not completely over my cold yet. Actually I'm much better than I was last week at this time, but not yet totally recovered. It's funny how colds seem to hang on longer than they did when I was a kid. Back then I'd catch a cold and in two or three days it was over. Now I get a cold and it takes up residence for the season. Fortunately for me I have a loving wife also in residence who makes me chicken soup and hot tea so I should be fit as a fiddle in no time.
"Fit as a fiddle." When was the last time you heard that expression? And why "fit as a fiddle" anyway? What makes a fiddle so fit? Why not "fit as an armchair?" Why fiddle? If it's because both words start with the letter f, than why not "fit as a fork?" Or if it must be a musical instrument, than why not "fit as a trombone?" Things like this annoy me. Especially when I'm sick and a bit more cranky than usual.
On another subject, I'd like to take this occasion to honor a man of whom it is said is "first in the hearts of his countrymen." Whose image and name appear everywhere throughout our nation and whose integrity has set the standard to those who follow. Whose courage and convictions have made our country the greatest land on earth. To those of you on the left who assume I'm speaking of Barak Obama, sorry to disappoint you but I'm referring to George Washington. As crazy as this may sound to Chris Matthews and others in the mainstream media, President's Day is really about the celebration of Washington's birthday, not the inauguration of Obama.
The father of our country was a proud and yet sometimes humble man. A man of many sides, he was a Virginia farmer, a great general, a devoted patriot, and always a hard working honest man. George Washington was probably the best suited man in the country to serve as our first president. Still, there are little known facts about Washington that are interesting and should be brought to light.
One of these little known facts is a letter he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island on August 21, 1790 in which religious freedom is laid down as a basic principle of the new republic. Here it is in its entirety.
To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island
While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.
The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.
If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy-a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants-while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
Happy February 22nd everyone! (That's Washington's real birthday, kids)
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2008, Greg Crosby