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A Toast to the Fathers

June seventeenth is Father’s Day throughout the country, and “Women Wise—And Otherwise” unite on this day with all those who pay tribute to the fathers. Of course, we are especially concerned with Jewish fathers, and we feel it a duty as well as a privilege to speak here of the splendid qualities of the typically Jewish father and to testify to the deep and lasting influence he has on the lives and the careers of his children and through them on the development and the destiny of the entire nation.

The Jewish father—is he different from all other fathers? Yes and no. He shares with all other fathers the feeling of love and ambition for his children, but in the case of the Jewish father, his love is perhaps tinged with a deeper anxiety, the ambition is more fervent and of a wider scope. The inheritor of a racial history of persecution and frustration, the Jewish father desires for his children two essential blessings: justice an_ freedom. The Jewish father may be rich or he may be poor, he may be clever with the wisdom of the world or merely learned in the traditional lore of his people, but justice will always be his ideal. Belle Moscowitz, one of the most interesting and most successful women of our country, whose untimely death was a blow to a great political party, spoke once of her father, a simple tradesman, and said: “The desire for justice, for personal, political, and social justice I inherited from my father. When he prayed that justice should reign all over the earth, he did more than utter a ceremonial formula. He gave vent to a passionate desire of his heart.” Yes, justice is always a passionate desire of the heart of the Jewish father, for he knows only too well that where injustice wields the sceptre he and his nation, his people and his children, will be the first to suffer.

FREEDOM IS PRICELESS

And with justice the Jewish father desires freedom. No sacrifice is too great for him to procure freedom for his children. From the ghettos of the Old World he came to this country, willing, nay eager, to work in sweat-shops and to peddle through the streets so that his children may grow up in an atmosphere of real liberty. And when he had procured for them personal and political freedom, when he was certain that in this blessed land of equal opportunity they would never have to suffer under the restrictions and humiliations that had embittered his life, he was yet not satisfied. He then desired for his children the highest boon of all: intellectual freedom. A life of wider opportunities, an education of a more universal scope than the one he himself could acquire.

All fathers, of course, want their children to succeed, but where but among Jewish fathers will you find a little tailor working uncomplainingly deep into the night, cheered and consoled by the happy thought: “My son, the Doctor.”

ALWAYS LOOKING AHEAD

And those Jewish fathers who are in more fortunate circumstances, who have attained to a modicum of material success, who have even won honor and success for themselves, they are yet always eager to see their children climb a step higher, they always work to see the generations that come after them progress on the path that leads upwards to a fuller and more abundant life. There is no Jewish father who is satisfied to speak of the past glories of his family; the Jewish father lives for, and believes in the future. The Messianic time is something that is still to come, and his hope and pride is that his children will bring it nearer to reality.

And because the Jewish father is thus selflessly serving justice and freedom, and the future of mankind, we greet him today wherever he may be and whatever may be his worldly part and portion. O Jewish Father, may your dream for your children come true! May they, if nowhere else, find at least in this country forever the spirit of true freedom, of real justice, and may they be able to work hand in hand with their co-citizens for social progress. Out of the bitter and dark root of your sacrifices, O Jewish Father, may bloom forth the luminous flower of a better and fairer world!

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