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  • Remarks by President George W. Bush at the National Dinner Celebrating 350 Years of Jewish Life in America
Abstract

A national dinner, marking the conclusion of the year-long celebration of the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in North America, was held on September 14, 2005, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The dinner was jointly sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and Celebrate 350, the organization that coordinated the year of anniversary activities. The following remarks were made by President George W. Bush after receiving a commemorative anniversary medal from Robert S. Rifkind, chairman of Celebrate 350.

A national dinner, marking the conclusion of the year-long celebration of the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in North America, was held on September 14, 2005, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The dinner was jointly sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and Celebrate 350, the organization that coordinated the year of anniversary activities. The following remarks were made by President George W. Bush after receiving a commemorative anniversary medal from Robert S. Rifkind, chairman of Celebrate 350.

Thank you all very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. Thanks for the invitation to be here. My only regret is Laura is not with me—I left her behind to do some diplomacy in New York City.

Bob, I want to thank you for your kind introduction. I'm honored to accept this medal commemorating three and a half centuries of Jewish life in America. I consider it a high honor to have been invited to celebrate with you.

Back in 1790, the Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, wrote to congratulate George Washington on his election as the country's first President. Some say he was the first George W. In his reply, President Washington thanked the congregation and pledged to defend vigorously the principle of religious liberty for all. Here's what he said. He said, the United States "gives [to] bigotry no sanction; to persecution, no assistance." And he expressed his hope that the "stock of Abraham" would thrive in America.

In the centuries that followed, the stock of Abraham has thrived here like nowhere else. We're better and stronger, and we're a better and stronger and freer nation because so many Jews from countries all over the world have chosen to become American citizens.

I want to thank Rabbi Gary Zola, who is the Chairman of the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History. I want to thank Ken Bialkin, who is the Chairman of the Board of the American Jewish Historical Society. I want to thank members of Congress [End Page 73] who are here. I want to thank members of the Diplomatic Corps, especially the Ambassador from Israel, Danny Ayalon.

I want to thank two members of my Cabinet who've joined us—Secretary Alphonso Jackson, of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, and his wife Marcia, and Josh Bolten, who is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

I appreciate the Archivist of the United States who has joined us today, Allen Weinstein; Dr. Jim Billington, who is the Librarian of Congress. I can't help but notice and welcome Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City. I want to thank my friend, Fred Zeidman, from Houston, Texas, who's the Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. I want to pay my respects to Lynn Schusterman, who's the President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. And Sid Lapidus, who's the President of the American Jewish Historical Society.

This may sound a little odd for a Methodist from Texas saying this, but I just came from shul. I was just given the grand tour of the great American landmark, the 6th and I Historic Synagogue. I want to thank Shelton Zuckerman and Abe Pollin for taking it upon themselves to restore this important historical structure. If you haven't been there, you ought to go. It is a—there's a wonderfully warm...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3141
Print ISSN
0164-0178
Pages
pp. 73-76
Launched on MUSE
2007-07-10
Open Access
No
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