In 1790, a Jewish congregation wrote to George Washington. He wrote an amazing response.

George Washington.

This guy, amiright? Portrait by William Matthew Prior/Wikimedia Commons.


The father of our country — and a complicated man.

On the one hand, he defeated a global superpower in war, helped usher the world's first modern federal democratic republic into existence, and single-handedly established a system of peaceful presidential succession. Total pro moves.

Dude was literally money. Photo by the U.S. government/Wikimedia Commons.

On the other hand, dude owned literally hundreds of slaves. Definite negative 1,000.

Painting by Junius Brutus Stearns/Virginia Museum of Art.

But on the issue of religious freedom, Washington was on point.

Jewish immigrants on their way to New York City in 1887. Image by Frank Leslie/Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

Witness this amazing letter he wrote in 1790 to the largest Jewish community in America at the time, the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Jews had sent a message to Washington, basically congratulating him on being awesome.

A few days later, Washington responded (emphasis mine):

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington




Here was the president of the United States telling one of his country's most vulnerable religious minorities: You're safe here.

Photo by Bain News Service/Library of Congress.

Not only "tolerated," but endowed with rights — to live safely and worship freely — that can't be taken away by anyone.

For that reason, Washington's letter is read by many American Jews on Passover to this day.

These days, there are some loud voices who want to shut the doors that Washington wanted to keep open.

Thanks in no small part to President Washington's example, America's Jews are doing pretty OK these days. We do suffer a disproportionate number of religiously motivated hate crimes, but we're also pretty prosperous, educated, and integrated.

We've even got our own popular dating app.

However, with a massive refugee crisis rocking Europe and the Middle East, a leading presidential candidate...

Not naming names, not saying who. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

...has called for members of the world's second-largest faith — an impossibly diverse community of over a billion people — to be banned from entering the United States.

Over 30 governors have spoken out against resettling Syrians in their states.

Others have proposed admitting refugees, but only Christians.

These voices are, essentially, calling for a religious test in order to establish who can and cannot be American.

In times like these, we'd all do well to remember what President Washington said back in 1790:

"May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy."

More than anything, that's who we are.

On Passover, a day when Jews all over the world celebrate their liberation from tyranny, it's especially important to remember.

A Passover seder at the White House in 2011. Photo by The White House/Flickr.

Here's to making sure America remains a place where people of all nationalities and all faiths are welcome, safe, and free to sit "under their own vine and fig tree."

Happy Pesach.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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