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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Iron Lady's Rabbi and School Prayer

Jack Kemp

In the book "America's Real War" by Rabbi Daniel Lapin (yes, this is "Glenn Beck's rabbi"), I discovered the following information on pages 343-345. I will go in reverse order, stating the connection to Lady and former Prime Minister Thatcher before including the rabbi's letter to Americans concerning his opposition to the removal of Prayer in Schools in 1962.

"Shortly after the publication of this letter, Rabbi Jakobovits was appointed Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. His move to London deprived America of his heroic stands and he quickly became a favorite moral mentor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher under whose administration Rabbi Jakobovits was honored with a knighting and became Lord Immanuel Jakobovits."


"While this Supreme Court decision banning the recitation of the New York State 'Regents Prayer' at public schools was greeted with an outburst of enthusiastic applause from national Jewish organizations and leaders, a few Jewish voices were raised in dissent. Among the first of these was the following letter, published in the New York Times on July 4, 1962.

Lest it be thought that all rabbis concur with the recent statement by the New York Board of Rabbis praising the Supreme Court Decision on prayer at public schools, I wish to express my dissent from, and utter dismay at, this strange alliance between teachers of Judaism and the spokesmen of atheism or secularism who secured and applauded the verdict.

As spiritual leaders of the people that gave birth to the immortal vision of the days when 'the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,' we can scarcely, I submit, be jubilant about outlawing the acknowledgement and worship of God from any area of life, least of all from schools, which pre-eminently fashion the outlook of our future citizens, would making a travesty of Jewish thought and history.

For many centuries devout Jewish parents have taught their children, long before they could read or even speak properly, to include in the simple morning prayers the verse from the Hebrew Bible: 'The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord,' so as to instill in them the conviction that knowledge or education without a religious foundation is worthless.

The United States is now probably the only country in the world outside the Iron Curtain to brand as an offense the public acknowledgment of God in schools. How can rabbis, heirs to the Prophets of Israel, rejoice over this?

Freedom cannot be maintained without religion, just as the brotherhood of man requires the Fatherhood of God. A generation of heathen hedonists, worshiping the idols of happiness and material success, will be unable to evoke the Herculean strength necessary to maintain the mighty tide of godlessness in the defense of liberty. Furthermore, even statistics show that only children reared in a wholesome religious atmosphere are likely to develop the maximum immunity to the scourge of juvenile delinquency corroding our society and undermining its security.

'The wall of separation' between state and church must be constructed with ample gateways to prevent the divorce of education from religion if that wall is not to lay siege to our civilization and starve it to death.

These are purely my personal views, but I have not doubt that they are shared by many of my colleagues, whether they are members of the Board of Rabbis or not.

New York, July 1, 1962
Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits
Fifth Avenue Synagogue
New York City"

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