Lawmakers Urge Maimonides Stamp

A move is going on in Congress to urge the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp in 1985 to mark the 850th anniversary of the birth of the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides.

It was initiated by Reps. Gary Ackerman and Robert Garcia (both D. N.Y.), Benjamin Gilman (R. N.Y.) and Tony Coelho (D. Cal.), all of whom are members of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee.

A spokesman for Ackerman said they acted at the suggestion of Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

The four Congressmen have so far got the signatures of 53 of their colleagues on a letter to Belmont Faries, chairman of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, the body that decides who should be commemorated on postage stamps. A decision is expected this month.

“1985 marks the 850th anniversary of the birth of Moses Maimonides, the distinguished Jewish philosopher, physican and spiritual leader whose humanitarian spirit and scholarly influence are appreciated by Jews and non-Jews alike,” the letter said.

“The many accomplishments of Maimonides in scientific research, medical practice, and the codification of Jewish law and practices, make him one of the most important spiritual and intellectual figures of the Middle Ages. His ability to transcend cultural differences and act as a bridge between East and West is also a worthy model for all of us in these critical times.”

Hoenlein, in urging Jewish community support for the effort, said that “this would be a meaningful gesture not only for the Jewish community but for the community as a whole. Together with an educational campaign, it will help establish Maimonides as a role model, a hero to be emulated by young people.”

Maimonides, whose grave is in Tiberias, is best known today for his “13 Principles of Faith,” which is traditionally recited at Friday evening services, and his work, “A Guide for the Perplexed.”

The legislators, in their letter, also stated: “As members of Congress we believe that it would be most appropriate for the United States to honor this great figure by issuing a commemorative stamp next year. Both Spain, the place of Maimonides’ birth, and Israel where he is buried, are similarly, honoring his birth.”

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