Volume 49 Number 66
                    Produced: Tue Aug 23  5:15:31 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Church and State
         [Nathan Lamm]
Jefferson and the wall.
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Napoleon and the first Lubavitcher Rebbe
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
One Nation, Under God
         [Carl A. Singer]
Separation of Church and State (4)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Bernard Raab, Art Werschulz, R E


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 05:59:04 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Church and State

It should be pointed out that not only does a letter from Thomas
Jefferson not have any legal value, such a letter can't even tell us
what was in the mind of the Framers of the Bill of Rights: Jefferson had
no hand in the writing of the Constitution.

More practically, for all the horror stories of what life in America was
like in the '50's, I wonder if Jews were really flocking to convert to
Christianity as a result of singing carols in public schools. And I
think we can safely say that many of the "What if" examples proferred by
Leah Gordon are things that aren't advocated by the most fundamentalist
Christians, and certainly wouldn't be a result of the Supreme Court
reversing a few of its more extreme decisions.


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 12:20:07 EDT
Subject: Jefferson and the wall.

Bernie, the argument against what appears to be a clear statement by
Jefferson about a wall of separation lies in his public actions, which I
am told, directly contradicted the existence of any such wall.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 08:38:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Napoleon and the first Lubavitcher Rebbe

In MJ 49:62, Michael Kahn commented on a post by Nadine Bonner
in 49:56:

> > So called religious freedom has always been a two-edged
> > sword. The first Lubavitcher rebbe chose to pray for Tsar
> > Alexander to defeat Napoleon, even though Bonaparte offered
> > Jews civil equality under French law. He believed that such
> > civil freedom would lead them to abandon Torah.
> I do not doubt what you are saying. However, I am curious if
> anyone can point me toward the source material (historical
> documentation) that backs up the above assertion.

R' Shneur Zalman himself wrote the following, to his chassid Reb Moshe
Meisels, shortly before his passing (published in his Igros Kodesh,
no. 64 - my own translation):

"I was shown [in a Heavenly vision] the following during Mussaf of the
first day of Rosh HaShanah [5573/1812]: if B[ona]p[arte] wins, Jewish
strength will be raised and their wealth will increase, but the hearts
of the Jews will be separated and severed from their Father in
Heaven. Whereas if A[lexander] wins, Jewish strength will diminish and
poverty will increase among Jews, but their hearts will be ever more
firmly attached to their Father in Heaven."

His son and successor R' Dovber, in a letter to the same chassid (his
Igros Kodesh, no. 8), expands on this at some length, explaining on
Kabbalistic (and other) principles the spiritual evil represented by
Napoleon and the French, as opposed to the (relatively) better qualities
of Russia.

Chassidic tradition records that R' Shneur Zalman entrusted this Reb
Moshe with the mission of spying on the French army; R' Dovber hints at
this in a passage of the above letter, and Reb Moshe himself, towards
the end of his life, wrote a letter in which he described the episode
(although there he attributes his commission to the Czar). Another
chassidic tradition - I don't recall the source now - has it that most
of the other contemporary chassidic leaders favored a Napoleonic victory
(some because they viewed him as more favorable to Jews, others because
they saw him as Gog of Magog, precursor to Moshiach's arrival), and that
R' Shneur Zalman was one of the few holdouts.

Kol tuv,


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 07:45:00 -0400
Subject: One Nation, Under God

> It is my understanding that both "In God We Trust" on all our money
> (although it appeared sporadically earlier), and "under God" in the
> Pledge of Allegiance were added by Congress in the 1950s as a
> proactive response to "godless communism." It isn't clear to me that
> many during McCarthy's reign would have proposed subjecting those
> phrases to "ceremonial deism" tests.

I don't know about coinage, but the pledge of allegiance was altered as
Tom points out.  The following classic audio from Comedian Red Skelton
might be of interest.


Click on the "audio" to hear.

BTW -- In my previous post -- it was Justice Scalia who spoke.

Carl Singer


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 11:31:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
> Ari Trachtenberg writes, in v49n53,
>       But specifically taking God out of existing material (such as
>       coins) is an establishment of a different religious point of view
>       - atheism.  The correct stance for the government is
>       non-religious, not anti-religious.
> Why would that constitute an establishment of atheism? If not having "In
> God We Trust" on coins, originally, was not establishment of atheism,
> then how could returning to that situation be the establishment of
> atheism?

To the best of my understanding, secular law (or probably more
specifically common law) often recognizes value in a long-term action
regardless of its original validity (e.g. if people regularly trespass
through your field for a long enough time, they can continue doing so;
if someone mows part of your lawn for long enough, with some conditions,
that part of the lawn becomes theirs).  This is in contradistinction to
halachah, which rules a custom based on an invalid premise to be

Thus, regardless of the original validity of putting "In God We Trust"
on coins ... taking it away now would consitute a proactive statement.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 03:47:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

>From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
>Recently, however, there has been a new stream of thought.  It is
>commonly expressed as "freedom of religion means freedom from religion",
>meaning that there can be no government support of the very concept of
>religion, because that offends atheists, who have an equal right to
>their faith.  This concept has been gaining much traction, leading to
>advocates for the complete abolishment of religion, except in people's
>own homes.

The truth is in recent times, particularly under the current President,
the "wall of separation" between church and state has been reduced to a
very porous fence. Among the events experienced in the US recently:

 *  Billions of federal tax dollars has been transferred to religious
    institutions for social services, even if provided by members of the
 *  The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case brought by an atheist
    objecting to the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegience
    recited by his daughter's class in public school.
 *  A National Chanukiah has been added to the south lawn of the White
    House alongside the National Christmas Tree.
 *  A federal law provides that a government employee be allowed to make
    up time lost from work for religious observance unless the employer
    can prove undue hardship.
 *  An annual Congressional Prayer Breakfast attended by almost all
    members of Congress (but not federally sponsored) features a program
    and speakers extolling the virtues of accepting Jesus into your life
    and into public life.

It seems that none of this has been judged to violate the establishment
clause, in that it falls short of establishing an official state
religion.  Personally, I think most of these attacks on the famous wall
of separation to be a serious mistake, especially for religious
minorities like Judaism. The "wall" has served us, and all religions,
very well. It has been noted that church attendance in the US on a per
capita basis exceeds that of any other western country, especially those
with state religions. I believe that the free market place for ideas as
well as for goods is way beneficial. I personally find that other (i.e.,
non-orthodox) streams of Judaism have no attractiveness for me, but I am
thankful that they exist for those who find them meaningful. We have
many "religions" in America which are granted tax exempt status (also a
mistake) which exist mainly to enrich its founders. But I would rather
allow them to exist than to have the state judge which are worthy and
which are not worthy to be called religions. Unfortunately, the
attorneys general are too reluctant to investigate them for fraudulent
practice, but that is another matter.

These issues should engage our interest not only in America, but most
especially in Israel. I suspect that most of us in this list would
prefer a stronger state religion in Israel, where the other forms of
Judaism are de-legitimized, and where Sabbath observance and kashrut are
mandated by state law. But is this really in the long-term interest of
either Israel or of Judaism? Having grown up in America, I have seen
first hand how the "wall of separation", however porous, has served to
strengthen our religious communities in ways which could not have been
imagined 50 years ago. Might it not be similarly advantageous for
Israel? I am anxious to hear other opinions.

b'shalom--Bernie R.

From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 12:22:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...> writes:
> During the 50's Jewish kids were expected to sing Christmas Carols in
> public school. I think a priest actually addressed my fathers high school
> in upstate NY and spoke about "their guy." I don't think we want America
> to return to such practices. Bringing down the wall would.

I grew up in the South (Louisville, KY).  In elementary school, every
morning started out with a prayer.  Sometimes this was led by the
teacher; sometimes, it was led by a student.  Except in the rare
circumstance that a Jewish kid was leading the prayer, it was invariably

I also remember that during the mandatory Christmas concert in high
school, Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" was one of the selections.  The
band director insisted that we all rise for same.

It didn't stop there.  Our town's high school has a "Winter Concert",
during which the Handel piece is the Grand Finale.  Again, everybody is
expected to stand for same.

You can only imagine how the Jewish kids felt under such circumstances.
In fact, the incidents from my childhood *still* make me wince with

IMNSHO, any religious observance should be kept out of the public
schools.  Any Jew who supports efforts to bring religious observance
into the schools is being extremely short-sighted.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7060, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325

From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 07:33:04 -0400
Subject: Separation of Church and State

Church and State jurisprudence - on both federal and state levels - is a
pretty big mess. Really, the slogan on our money (and its significance
or lack thereof) is the least of it. Part of what makes it messy is that
a lot of it has centered on primary and secondary education (in
particular school prayer in public schools and the funding of
parochial/private schools), and the Supreme Court has long distinguished
the application of the Establishment Clause where children are concerned
from the clause's application in general practice. Also, from the
perspective of the Jewish community in America, where once we were
primarily concerned with not having Christianity forced upon us, we now
have an interest in getting government funding for religious activities,
so our relationship to this jurisprudence has shifted somewhat.

The other half of church/state jurisprudence, the Free Exercise Clause,
has more or less been gutted at this point. Unless a statute
discriminates against religion on its face (e.g., Use of wine in
religious ceremonies is forbidden) or can be proved to have been enacted
with discriminatory intent (e.g., if there were a law forbidding
shechita-type slaughtering that didn't reference Jews but clearly only
applied to shechita with the purpose of obliterating shechita), it will
almost certainly pass constitutional muster.

For people interested in these matters, I would refer you to the
excellent work of Sarah Barringer Gordon (who has a PhD in History, a
Divinity degree, and a JD -- and who is very, very smart) and Marci
Hamilton. Hamilton's recent book - God vs. The Gavel: Religion and the
Role of Law (Cambridge 2005) - should be of particular interest.

Ruth Sternglantz


End of Volume 49 Issue 66