Hello. I’m with Election Protection. We’re not connected to any party or candidate. We just want to make sure that everyone who is eligible can vote. Do you have the identification you’ll need on you?”
I repeated words like these hundreds of times this past Tuesday. I was sent to Cincinnati as part of Project Nitzavim, an effort by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to work with other groups to ensure that no one was improperly denied the franchise. Nitzavim is the Hebrew word for standing proud and upright. It’s what we tried to do, although after a few hours, I was also content to lean on the occasional railing for support.
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Arthur Lelyveld was bleeding badly. Lelyveld was the senior rabbi at Fairmount Temple in Cleveland. He had come down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to help register black voters as part of Freedom Summer in 1964. He was returning at the end of the day with two white civil rights workers and two local African American women whom they had registered. Two thugs attacked him and the other men and beat them with tire irons. They all survived, but “Rabbi Lelyveld was hospitalized with a deep gash over his right eye, a cut over his left ear, and bruises on his chest and abdomen.” The two attackers received a suspended sentence and a fine of $500.
Please rise for a minute. I want to open the ark. Okay, you can be seated now.
You’ll notice that we have two different colors of Torah covers. The large Torah has a green cover. That’s a Temple Etz Chaim special. It’s a cover just for shalosh regalim, the three Pilgrimage Festivals of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. Before I got here, I’d never seen a special Festival Torah cover. I think it’s nice that we have something unusual like this.
The Fifty-Fifth Reserve Paratroop Brigade was encountering surprisingly little resistance. The war had begun two days before. Israel had launched an attack on the Sinai Peninsula, seeking to break the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Hormuz, which had closed off shipping to Eilat. Israel had advised Jordan to stay out of the conflict, but King Hussein chose to attack. Israeli troops repelled the Jordanians and moved into Jerusalem the next day. Now, on June 7, the Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, gave them the clearance to take the walled Old City. Nobody realized that Jordanian troops had by then pulled out of Jerusalem toward Jericho.
Colonel Mordechai (“Motta”) Gur prepared to obey the order. He got out of his half-track, which was parked overlooking the Lion’s Gate. Journalist Yossi Klein Halevi describes the scene:
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It happened once that there was a king who had a precious ruby. He loved that ruby and enjoyed taking it out of its vault just to look at it. Once a year, he would display it in the palace, and people would flock to admire its beauty.
And why shouldn’t they? The ruby was perfect in every way. First, it weighed almost five carats. It was just the right shade of red. It was expertly cut. Finally, it had absolutely no blemishes.
That is, until one day. The king himself was looking at the ruby when he heard a noise. It distracted him briefly, but long enough for him to drop the ruby. It hit the ground, and he heard an awful sound. When he picked up the gem, his worst fears were confirmed: the ruby now had not only a blemish but a genuine, unmistakable scratch.