In 1863, Isaac Mayer Wise—American’s foremost rabbi at the time—led a delegation of Jewish leaders to the White House where they met with President Lincoln. According to Wise’s account, the president stated that “he believed himself to be bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh” and “supposed himself to be a descendant of Hebrew parentage.” Wise further claimed that Lincoln “preserved numerous features of the Hebrew race, both in countenance and character.” Stuart Schoffman writes:
Did Abraham Lincoln Tell American Rabbis That He Was of Jewish Ancestry? And If So, Why?
Despite Reasons for Worry, Jews Shouldn’t Lose Faith in the American Promise
From synagogue shootings, to attacks on Jews on the streets, to the gathering strength and viciousness of anti-Zionism, especially in the corridors of political power, American Jewry has ample reason for concern about its safety and wellbeing. But, surveying both the present situation and the deep roots of what has made America a welcoming home to Jews with “no analogue in the 2,000 years after the destruction of the Temple,” Josef Joffe argues that the U.S. remains exceptional. The bad news, however, is still bad: