Friday, July 2, 2010

What Inspired Jimmy Carter?

The following is a profound letter from the Rebbe to a philanthropist involved in Jewish causes in New York and Israel. The Rebbe describes his thoughts on the Jewish Diaspora and the exciting Kiddush Hashem made by Israeli Prime Minster Menachem Begin at the White House, July 1977, during his meeting with President Carter.

The Rebbe Archive would like to present a photo from the historic visit of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin with the Rebbe, This meeting took place prior to Begin’s trip to Washington. Special thanks for the photo goes to Dan Patir, who served as adviser to two of Israel’s prime ministers.

Good Shabbos

By the Grace of G-d
17 Menachem Av 5737
Brooklyn, NY

Greeting and Blessing:

Thank you for your letter of July 22. I am pleased to note that you recall our discussion. However, your inference from the recent black-out in support of your thesis is debatable.

At any rate, following the example of your letter, I will also make reference to a recent event in support of my position. I have in mind the visit of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and no doubt you also had an opportunity of meeting him and have evaluated the results of his visit to the USA.

One of the obvious elements of the Prime Minister’s visit is that it has demonstrated once again how vitally important it is for our people in the Holy Land to have strong and viable Jewish communities in the outside world. For, however important aliyah is, it would be a mixed blessing if it were to erode the Jewish voice and influence in such strategically important countries as the USA and others.

And speaking of the importance of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, the emphasis is not merely on numbers as they appear in a national census, but also and primarily on the quality of the Jewish population and leadership, namely, the extent to which Jews identify themselves with Jewishness and Jewish causes. Here again, as I pointed out in our discussion, it is not enough just to write a check—however indispensable financial assistance is, but it must be a more meaningful identification and personal commitment, touching deeply every Jew and reflecting in his daily life as a Jew.

Such identification is not limited to the home and synagogue or when one is in the society of fellow Jews, but it must be evident everywhere, even among non-Jews, and even in the White House, with truly Jewish self-respect and avowed trust in G-d, the Guardian of Israel, and with pride in our Jewish heritage and traditions—as was so eminently expressed in word and deed by Prime Minister Begin. It is the general consensus that this worthy deportment of the Jewish representative during his first encounter with the President of the USA had an immensely favorable impact and has established a personal rapport between the two leaders which will hopefully have far-reaching beneficial results also in terms of American support.

I trust you have followed closely the highlights and details of this visit and compared it with those of his predecessors. Here, for the first time, came a Jewish Prime Minister who declared in a loud and clear voice that he comes strengthened by the prayers of his fellow Jews at home and abroad and trusts in G-d and the security of his people that his mission will be successful. And, as you surely know, when he sat down to break bread with President Carter, he made sure that it would be a kosher meal, and as he put on a yarmulke and made a bracha and explained to the President the meaning of it. All of which has earned him the respect and admiration of the President and of all others who came in contact with him. Even from a pragmatic statesmanlike viewpoint this approach is bound to be a sure winner, though, regretfully, it had not been recognized by his predecessors.

To conclude on the concluding note of your letter, may G-d bless you with strength and wisdom to use your good offices and influence in the said direction, especially in view of your prominent position in the Jewish community.
With kind regards, and with esteem and blessing,