America’s Oldest Synagogue and the Death of Abraham Lincoln

Meir Soloveichik reflects on the reaction of American Jews to Abraham Lincoln’s death, and the influence of Judaic ideas on Lincoln’s worldview:

Because the president died on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the first utterances from the pulpit in response to the assassination were heard in synagogues. . . . One of the most striking—and indeed, controversial—moments took place in Congregation Shearith Israel, in New York, the oldest Jewish congregation in America. There, [as historian Isaac] Marken recounts, “the rabbi recited the Hashkabah (prayer for the dead) for Lincoln. This, according to the Jewish Messenger, was the first time that this prayer had been said in a Jewish house of worship for any other than those professing the Jewish religion.” This seeming deviation from tradition in Shearith Israel—known to this day for its fierce devotion to preserving religious and liturgical tradition—was noted by many. . . .

The prayer for Lincoln . . ., one of the first religious reactions to Lincoln’s death, embodied the belief in human equality that lay at the heart of Lincoln’s worldview: that this was a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the idea that all men are created equal. At the same time, the recitation of the prayer—which asks on behalf of the deceased for a “goodly portion in the life of the world to come”—also embodied the belief the members of Congregation Shearith Israel had in Lincoln’s spiritual immortality.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Abraham Lincoln, Afterlife, American Jewish History, History & Ideas, Religion & Holidays, Shearith Israel

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security