1 page, 4to, toned from sun exposure." />
24 June 2009
ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. Typed letter signed ("Franklin D. Roosevelt"), as President, to Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman (1893-1977), Washington, D. C., 15 December 1942. 1 page, 4to, toned from sun exposure.
"LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED OVER LARGE AREAS OF THE EARTH". FDR celebrates the survival of a Jewish congregation against the backdrop of the holocaust, and proclaims "the everlasting reality of religion." "My hearty congratulations," he tells Rabbi Feldman, "to you and through you to The Congregation Beth Israel on the happy occasion of the centenary of its establishment. In these days of tribulation when liberty of conscience has been suppressed over large areas of the earth, I am sure the members of this congregation will have a renewed appreciation of the security and freedom in which they worship the God of their fathers. In extending cordial greeting may I express the hope that the forthcoming commemoration will inspire all who participate with a renewed appreciation of the strength and power that have their source in the everlasting reality of religion."
Just one week earlier, on 8 December, F.D.R. met with Rabbi Feldman's mentor, Stephen Wise, and a delegation of four other Jewish leaders, who presented the President with the accumulated and by now overwhelmingly credible evidence that the Nazis were engaging in a systematic pattern of extermination and that as many as 2 million people had already been murdered. Roosevelt expressed his outrage ("We are dealing with an insane man," he said of Hitler) and his willingness to support the Jewish leaders in terms of any public statements they wished to make, or any proposals for action they might suggest. But both Wise and FDR seemed at a loss for what to do in the face of this horror. It was a widely shared failure in wartime America. Even the news of the Wise-FDR meeting, and the confirmation of the mass murders, received scant press attention the next day. The New York Times account appeared buried on page 20 of the paper. The present letter is a poignant artifact from this tragic chapter of history. Provenance: Heirs of Abraham Feldman; by sale to the present owner.
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