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Lincoln and the Jews




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David Early

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“Lincoln and the Jews” Event Set for January 13
Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Jewish Museum to Mark Florida Jewish History Month

WASHINGTON – Abraham Lincoln’s extension of freedom, equality, and opportunity to Jews of his time is a little known story.

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Jewish Museum of Florida will celebrate Florida Jewish History Month with a panel discussion – “Lincoln and the Jews” –  on Sunday, January 13, 2008, at 3:00 p.m., in Miami Beach, Florida.

Panelists include:

  • Harold Holzer, ALBC co-chair and noted Lincoln scholar;
  • Gary Zola, executive director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Ohio; and
  • Jean Soman, a historian and co-author of a book –  A Jewish Colonel in the Civil War: Marcus Spiegel of the Ohio Volunteers – about her great-great grandfather.

The event will be held at the Jewish Museum of Florida, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, Florida.  It is free and open to the public.  Reserved seats are required.  Seats may be reserved by calling 305-672-5044 ext. 3175.

President Lincoln opened the military chaplaincy to rabbis during the Civil War.  He had a Jewish photographer and a Jewish doctor.  He worked with Jewish financiers on innovative ways to fund the war. When General Grant ordered Jews, “as a class,” expelled from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, Lincoln immediately countermanded the order.

Jean Soman is the great-great granddaughter of Marcus Spiegel, a Jewish colonel in the Union Army, on one side of her family, and the great granddaughter of noted Lincoln photographer Samuel Alschuler on the other side of her family.  Panelists Gary Zola and Harold Holzer both noted that Lincoln's protection of the growing Jewish communities in the border states and his outreach to Jews in the metropolitan areas are among the more interesting facets of lesser known but significant Lincoln lore.

A reception will follow the panel discussion.

In addition, a dinner to benefit the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission's work will be held later that evening.  For more information, call 202-707-6998.

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was established by Congress to plan educational, public, and legacy events to mark the 16th president’s 200th birthday in 2009.  Its 15 members, who are appointed by the president and congressional leaders, include political leaders, jurists, historians, and collectors.  The ALBC aims to renew Americans’ appreciation of Lincoln’s ideals of freedom, democracy and equality of opportunity, and to encourage all people to “live the legacy.”