- David Epstein
- Jewish Learning on Wheels
The U.S. Constitution, our foundational document, represented a dramatic change in the status of Jews as citizens of the modern world. American Jews were considered full citizens on a Federal level as soon as the nation was founded. Unlike elsewhere, Jews did not have to be emancipated from a less-equal status. (This equality was not always applied on a state and local level.) However, the path to full equality has not always been simple or obvious. A number of U.S. Supreme Court cases illustrate the complex relationship of religious minorities to our Constitution. Some cases deal specifically with “Jewish issues”: for example, the wearing of religious headgear, a kippah, in the U.S. military (Goldman v. Weinberger, 1986); a Hasidic village’s application to redraw school district lines in accordance with their community’s residential area (Kiryas Joel v. Grumet, 1994); and the case of Maryland synagogue Shaare Tefila, defaced with antisemitic graffiti, in which the synagogue argued that the crime should be considered under federal laws offering protection against racially discriminatory acts (Congregation Shaare Tefila v. Cobb, 1987). Other court cases that may or may not directly involve Jews have addressed questions of religious liberty, separation of church and state, support of religious education, displays of religious symbols in public areas, and the status of Jerusalem.
The Foundation’s day trip to the spectacular National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA will allow participants to enjoy one of the premier educational museums on the East Coast and to revel in the Center’s creative presentation of the U.S. Constitution’s history and impact. Special exhibits, biographies of the Constitution’s Framers, a multimedia introduction, interactive displays, and more will illuminate the story of this essential pillar and guarantor of democratic values. As is the Foundation’s tradition, even the bus ride to the Center is part of the educational experience. We will enjoy a discussion about Jews and the U.S. Constitution, led by lawyer David Epstein, initiator of the Foundation’s Jewish Learning on Wheels program. This full-day experience will leave you informed and exhilarated!