Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pilgrims Confronting Judaism and Hebrew

Nadene Goldfoot                                                
Most Christian bibles start with the "Old Testament, which is the Jewish Tanakh or Bible that starts with the 5 Books of Moses.  Why is that?  The first Christians were Jews of Judea.  According to the Christian narrative, they were laborers that Jesus of Nazareth had gathered up to be his followers; 12 in all, just like the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jesus was teaching Judaism with a more modern upbeat.  Jews feel that everything he taught can be found in the Tanakh.  The differences are great, however, and great enough to keep the Jews with their own religion and not be willing to convert.  They are much greater than the differences between Catholics and Protestants or between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.  The similarities are from borrowing many ideals from Judaism for both Christianity and Islam.
The Pilgrims that first came to America on the Mayflower in 1620 from Holland were Englishmen who had left England in hopes of finding a better climate for their form of Christianity, since England had gone from being a Catholic country to an Episcopalian country, and they still didn't feel that they fit in.  They saw their boat journey as their form of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt going to their destined homeland.  They even viewed the Indians as ancient Canaanites.  For the Puritans, they were then entering into a new covenant with G-d in a new Promised land.  "They saw the struggle of the ancient Hebrews against the wicked Pharaoh came to embody the struggle of the colonists against English tyranny."

The English had expulsed Jews from their land in 1290 and didn't allow Jews back in until 1655, 35 years after the Mayflower had set sail from Holland with the Pilgrims.  Shakespeare, who wrote about Jews in "The Merchant of Venice, lived from 1564 to 1616, before Jews were allowed to return to England.  His references about Jews were just rumor, gossip and the New Testament.  
13 original Colonies: Virginia,  Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia.
As of 2011, the United States, made up now from the 13 Colonies or "Settlements from 1607 to 1732 " to 50 states of various sizes, contain 229,157,250  (230,000,000)Christians out of a population of  324,118,787 people.  They make up 71% of their population with 20.8% being Catholics and 49.8% being Protestants.
The very first thing these people of the Mayflower did besides writing their Mayflower Compact, was to celebrate a Jewish holiday of Thanksgiving.  "Thanksgiving - first celebrated in 1621, a year after the Mayflower landed - was initially conceived as a day parallel to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; it was to be a day of fasting, introspection and prayer. Writes Gabriel Sivan inThe Bible and Civilization:  
Pilgrims and Indians in 3 days of Thanksgiving
On November 9, 1620, the Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers with 50 Pilgrims aboard in search of religious freedom, approached Cape Cod, Massachusetts, having left England 65 days earlier on September 6, 1620. "

Yet we Jews see their celebration more appropriately celebrating our harvest festival that comes after Yom Kippur; Succot.  

Sivan wrote:  "No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the biblical drama of the Hebrew nation... these émigré Puritans dramatized their own situation as the righteous remnant of the Church corrupted by the "Babylonian woe" and saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the Covenant entered into at Mount Sinai.1

Today these same Christians feel that they have actually replaced Jews with their replacement theory and there is no longer a need for Jews in the world.  They have taken their place.  I feel this has taken imitation, which is supposed to be complimentary, way too far and off course completely in understanding Jewish values.  

Jews also have their Oral Tradition, which Christians have not entertained, to understand their Tankakh better, as understanding can always be improved upon, they felt.  So without the same understandings, "Subsequently, the New Haven legislators adopted a legal code - the Code of 1655 - which contained some 79 statutes, half of which included biblical references, virtually all from the Hebrew Bible. The Plymouth Colony had a similar law code as did the Massachusetts assembly, which, in 1641 adopted the so-called Capital Laws of New England based almost entirely on Mosaic law."

The result was that these new Settlers of America  " held to a stricter, more fundamentalist observance than Judaism had ever seen.

"The Hebrew Bible also played a central role in the founding of various educational institutions including Harvard, Yale, William and Mary, Rutgers, Princeton, Brown, King's College (later to be known as Columbia), Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth etc."

Bible studies were required subjects and Hebrew itself was important.  "The schools adopted some Hebrew word or phrase as part of their official emblem or seal. Beneath the banner containing the Latin Lux et Veritas, the Yale seal shows an open book with the Hebrew Urim V'Timum, a part of the breastplate of the High Priest in the days of the Temple. The Columbia seal has the Hebrew name for God at the top center, with the Hebrew name for one of the angels on a banner toward the middle. Dartmouth uses the Hebrew words meaning "God Almighty" in a triangle in the upper center of its seal.

Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania taught courses in Hebrew  Commencement speeches could be delivered by speaking Hebrew or Latin or Greek.  This was not even done in England.  Understand, they taught courses, not just the Hebrew language but courses in Hebrew.  Today only Israelis would benefit from that.  (Note, Hebrew reads from right to left-like Arabic.)
A story was being told during the American Revolution that Hebrew would be replacing English and the language of the USA.  This was either because of its widely popularity in higher education or said through fear that it would happen.  

The "documents of early America make it clear that the concept of a God-given standard of morality is a central pillar of American democracy. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on U.S. currency in 1864.  

In 1956 an Act of Congress (largely passed as a counterforce to Godlessness of communism) made it the official motto of the United States.
Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam (later called New York)
 1612-1672 who worked for Dutch Company from 1647 to 1664

As for Jews living in the United States, that is another story that includes much anti-Semitism because they were not Christians.  "As for North America, the recorded Jewish history there begins in 1654 with the arrival in New Amsterdam (later to be known as New York) of 23 Jewish refugees from Recife, Brazil (where the Dutch had just lost their possessions to the Portuguese). New Amsterdam was also a Dutch possession, but the governor, Peter Stuyvesant, did not want the Jews there. Writes Arthur Hertzberg in The Jews in America: " As it had turned out, these 23 were among the owners in Holland of the Company that most New Yorkers then were working for.  They finally were able to land.  

How quickly these new Americans forgot about Jews and what their ancestors had learned from them to turn away Jewish refugees on a flimsy boat in the ocean.  


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