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God said to me,

“Don’t say, ‘I am a youth,'”

Wherever I send you, you will go:

Whatever I will command you, you will say.

Do not be afraid of them

Since I am with you, to save you.”

Says God.

Jeremiah 1:7-8


24 December in History

In 1914, during World War I The “Christmas truce” begins on the Western Front. Bruce Bairnsfather, who served throughout the war, wrote: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.

For more about this amazing tale read Silent Night: The Story of The World War I Christmas Truce by the Jewish author, Stanley Weintraub.

17 Tevet in History

In 1684, a group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition held a Rosh Hashanah service in New Amsterdam, thereby founding congregation Shearith Israel (“Remnant of Israel”). On this 17th of Tevet in 1728, the congregation purchased a lot in Lower Manhattan to erect the first synagogue in New York.

25 December in History

In 1886, today is the birthdate of Franz Rosenzweig. Born in Germany, Rosenzweig was “an existential philosopher.” According to one description of The Star of Redemption, his seminal philosophic work Rosenzweig “sees the world as consisting of three elements – man , the universe and God, which enter a relationship through revealing themselves to one another. The three points form a triangle, which intersect with a second triangle of creation, revelation and redemption. Their relations become historical forces” which in one case is Judaism – hence the star. Revelation, which is a continuing process of good, leads to redemption. Man helps to bring the universe to redemption by converting his love for God into his love for his fellow man.

Rosenzweig pioneered the construction of a Jewish-Christian relation without polemic, which became the basis for postwar interfaith dialogue.” In his personal life, Rosenzweig fought crippling paralysis with the assistance of his wife. He passed away in 1929.

Quotes from Rosenzwewig: “Jewish prayer means praying in Hebrew.” (This from a man who translated the entire Bible into German) “We owe our survival to a book – the only book of antiquity that is still in living use as a scroll.”

Asked, ‘What does Judaism think about Jesus?” he answered ‘It doesn’t.’

18 Tevet in History

In 1841, today marks the passing of The 18th of Tevet the yahrtzeitof Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dynov (1783?-1841), author of the Chassidic work B’nei Yissachar.

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