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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2009 / 26 Shevat 5769

The lost holiday: Quick, whose birthday is this?

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Despite the outward signs last Monday, there's actually no such holiday as President's Day to be found in the federal statutes. Or should that be Presidents' Day? Or just plain old, apostrophe-less Presidents Day? Like its legal standing, even the name of the holiday is uncertain.


Unmoored from the past, like a Presidents' Day connected to no particular president, holidays lose their meaning. Honor all presidents and you honor none; pretend all presidents are equal and they all fade into an equal obscurity.


It would be a harmless practice, designating the third Monday in February as an all-purpose, all-presidents holiday, if it didn't obscure what used to be two real holidays and the real significance of our greatest presidents — Washington and Lincoln. If we lose touch with them, we lose touch with how we came to be, and stayed, a nation. We lose touch with what we are. For without them, America wouldn't be America.


Today, February 22, is not President's/Presidents'/Presidents Day, but Washington's birthday, at least according to the Gregorian calendar we now use. He was actually born February 11, 1731 Old Style. That is, according to the calendar then in use in this part of the world. That was before the colonies skipped 11 days to make the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and young Washington obligingly moved his birthday to the 22nd. That date would become widely celebrated even in his own lifetime by a grateful nation.


But over the years General and President Washington faded from real-life hero into icon. His was the face on the dollar bill, his the portrait that used to hang in every American classroom. Like those pictures, he became just part of the background.


In the story once told to every American schoolchild, George Washington was the little boy who chopped down the cherry tree and wouldn't tell a lie. That tall tale was invented by his biographer and mythmaker, Parson Weems, but the parson's stories can't begin to compete with the saga of Washington's real, improbable life:


An awkward, rawboned countryman teaches himself to be a gentleman by laboriously copying "The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation," and makes every one of them his own. For life. Those rules become not only his practice but his self.


A rash young soldier learns from a disastrous defeat at the hands of the French and Indians. He goes on to many another defeat before somehow emerging with a world-changing victory. It would become a pattern: As a military commander, Washington had a way of losing almost every battle but the last.


At the great, wrenching moment of decision in his time, this prosperous, ambitious Virginia planter risks everything he has—life, fortune, sacred honor—when he chooses to join the patriot cause.


A general without an army, he proceeds to raise one, and goes on to defeat the mightiest empire on the face of the earth. No wonder the band played "The World Turned Upside Down" at Yorktown.


The one thing that disorganizes more than defeat is victory. After eight long years of war (1775-83), and all the turmoil, sacrifice, divisions and confusions that go with war, the new country somehow emerged victorious. Also deeply in debt, adrift and desperate for strong, stable government. The sophisticates of Europe waited to see how long this notion of a people governing themselves could possibly last.


There used to be a name for the painful, uncertain pause in American history between the Revolution and the Constitution. It was called the Critical Period before revisionist historians got their hands on it. And it was well named, for one crisis followed another.


At one point an army demanding to be paid urged its commanding general to disband the incompetent, demoralized and widely despised Congress, and take control of the country himself. Instead, Washington resigned his commission and returned to Mount Vernon.


It would not be the first time this Cincinnatus turned his back on power and returned to his fields. Victorious generals have been known to seize power; this one could hardly wait to let it go. How antique.


As the woefully weak government under the old Articles of Confederation proved inadequate to deal with one challenge after another, the aging general would look on with growing concern as the nascent Union foundered. British troops refused to leave frontier forts, the national currency grew worthless, the economy faltered, trade was paralyzed, and the new government, largely paralyzed because it required the unanimous consent of all the states to act, seemed powerless to reverse the sad trend. Mobs marched and a rebellion flared in Massachusetts.


This leader who had surrendered the stage to others didn't just sit back and watch the dissolution of his country. To form a new, more perfect Union, he convened a meeting of the best minds and the most sagacious statesmen of his generation. As he told the delegates at the outset of their deliberations: "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair." They did.


The result of their labors would be what a British statesman of some note, William Ewart Gladstone, would call "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man" — the Constitution of the United States. Washington would preside over its birth. His presence at the head of the constitutional convention of 1787 gave it a moral authority no one else could have supplied.


Once again Washington had led us to independence — to liberty and order. Ending the murk of President's Day and celebrating this day as Washington's Birthday would pay due homage to the man who pursued, and achieved, both for his country.


At the heart of this new Constitution there was envisioned a singular office: president of the United States. There can be no doubt about the provenance of a strong, unitary American presidency. It was modeled after, inspired by, and designed for just one man: George Washington. It is an institution created in his image.


The first president of the United States would appoint a cabinet that contained two of the most brilliant, mercurial and completely opposed statesmen ever to serve together: Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.


Surely only a Washington could have kept them pulling in the same direction. Avoiding the impetuosity of both, this wartime hero managed to keep the peace with the two greatest, and warring, powers of his day, Great Britain and France — no mean feat. The old general could be a brilliant statesman himself.


And when it came time to lay down the burdens of office, and at last be granted the return to private life so long denied him, Washington's farewell address would be his final gift to the nation he had molded.


First in war, first in peace, Washington is no longer first in the hearts of his countrymen on President's/ Presidents'/ Presidents Day. For the first president now has been merged with all the others in order to fabricate a generic new American holiday. This remodeled holiday is no longer just about Washington, or even Washington and Lincoln. With the introduction of President's Day, they've been reduced to just two more faces in the crowd.


It's not easy to trace how President's Day supplanted Washington's Birthday. Some attribute the whole, annoying innovation to Richard Nixon. (Why are we not surprised?) What we have here is another triumph of bland, indistinct, impersonal, egalitarian "diversity" over the individual hero — this time among presidents. What a sad loss. For we need all the heroes we can hold onto.


But this loss — in taste, in perception, in judgment — need not be permanent. It is not irreversible even if it feels that way. A renaissance may begin with a single gesture. Like forgetting President's Day, and celebrating the real thing: Washington's Birthday.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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