Ari, help them 'get it'
A proclamation issued by the White House this week made us wonder once again: Will Christians ever get it?
President George W. Bush has issued a proclamation declaring April 22-29 as Jewish Heritage Week, urging all Americans to join in "in observing this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities."
Like similar proclamations issued by presidents before him, including Bill Clinton and Bush's father, this year's proclamation notes the vital role the Jewish community has played in our nation's history.
And, like his predecessors, this president, in affixing his signature, has "set his handÉin the year of our LordÉ."
The year that Jesus was born sets the standard for the secular calendar. As Jews, we live by both that calendar and the Hebrew calendar. And, we have no problem doing so. It's not as if we expect even a resolution marking Jewish Heritage Week to note that it is the year 5761 (not that it wouldn't be nice if it did).
We do have a problem, though, when our elected officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, presume for all of us that whatever given year is being noted marks the year of "our Lord." Doing so is a slap in the face to those of us who do not recognize Jesus as the messiah or the son of God.
It is sending the message that this is a country for Christians, and the rest of us - whether Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, etc. - are just allowed to live here. Never mind that this was a country founded on religious freedom, where many of us cherish the First Amendment separation of church and state, that no matter what religion we hold dear, we vote, pay taxes and serve our nation in countless ways. Never mind that the non-Christian American population keeps increasing.
To include those simple words may be a tradition at all government levels, but the message they send is one our elected officials should rethink: Those of you who don't believe in Jesus are not really one of us.
Interestingly, this year's resolution was issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary. That press secretary, Ari Fleischer, happens to be Jewish.
So here's our appeal.
Ari, see what you can do to get your boss to change this tradition, not just on proclamations pertaining to the Jewish community but on any formal document he signs.
It's something you can do for your fellow Jews - and for all your fellow Americans.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, April 12, 2001
and was last modified on: Tue, Apr 24, 2001