Near the end of the July, I randomly received a copy of The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, in the mail. As I perused it, I was excited to discover that someone I knew in high school (Danya Ruttenberg) was named one of the top 50 female rabbis in America. Back in the day, she had been on of the co-founders of a pro-choice, pro-gay rights club at my conservative high school. She continues to rock on. I did not get another copy of the paper for a few weeks. The next one that magically appeared in my mail box had a very interesting column comparing the evil uproar over Cordoba House, the Islamic center planned in downtown New York City, to the history of banning synagogues in the US. When the first synagogue in Connecticut opened in 1843 (and thanks only to a special legislative act):
The New Haven Register viewed the synagogue as a public defeat for Christendom. “The Jews…,” the paper thundered, “have outflanked us here, and effected a footing in the very centre of our own fortress. Strange as it may sound, it is nevertheless true that a Jewish synagogue has been established in this city — and their place of worship (in Grand Street, over the store of Heller and Mandelbaum) was dedicated on Friday afternoon. Yale College divinity deserves a Court-martial for bad generalship.”
Let's also not forget that as people active in socialist, union, communist, and anarchist movements, Jews were often labeled as terrorists during the early 1900s. Wielding the same wide brush that was used against us is a disgusting disgrace. I love that The Forward is standing up for what is right. (And that they sent me to free copies. I hope I get more.)
This whole thing with Cordoba House makes me ashamed. Americans love blathering on and on about freedom, but most people only want to share liberty with people who are like themselves. I worked near the World Trade Center both before and after 9/11/01. I know what it was like before and what it was like after and what it is like today. I also know the site of the proposed cultural center very well. It is currently - and has been for years - an eyesore. Cordoba House sounds great. It will bring life and amenities to the downtown area. Welcome, neighbor.