OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home
Forgotten Her es
FEBRUARY 22, 2018
Really, Really Forgotten Heroes
THE BALTIMORE JEWISH HOME
By Avi Heiligman
B A LT I M O R E J E W I S H H O M E . C O M
Were they short a minyan on the Mayflower?
Author’s note: I have to put this annual disclaimer for those that are comically challenged. This Purim article only contains marginally true facts and was done in a manner to enhance the Purim spirit. Not funny enough? Try it with a bit of whiskey.
olks, it’s that time of year again. When the words “put on your tin pot hat” and “oh no, that wasn’t me who chopped down your cherry tree” appear in the same sentence it means that it is time for another edition of revisionist history. Your fearless author of the Forgotten Heroes column has plowed through many feet of dust to pull previous unknown facts about famous people and stories from our gloried history. I am not talking about the recently discovered version of the Declaration of
Independence that was signed by John Hancock without his signature autograph that looks like he was practicing to write his name in the same manner of a typical first grader. No, we’re talking about Revolutionary facts that have come to surface from the perspective of Jews living in the U.S. at the time. Our story starts with the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower after their first ship, April Blossom, sank. The Puritans, as they were known in England, had a secret compartment on the ship filled with Jewish families. Unfortunately, the Jews had only nine men in their community and were coming to America to start a new life – and to look for a tenth man for their minyan. When they landed they met a Native-American named Squanto. While history doesn’t record his last name we know from
mesorah (Artscroll’s grandfather during Colonial times) that his last name was Goldberger. He was a secret Jew living among the Chumash Indian tribe (it really is the name of Native-Americans who inhabited California), and he soon became the rav of their shul. As any good Jew knows, where there is one shul there must be a second one close by where under no circumstances members of shul #1 will daven. Soon after Anshei Squanto was established, another one was set up. Congregation Oheiv Emes eventually moved to Virginia near the boyhood home of a curious little guy named George. His father, Augustine, knew from the congregants about the mitzvah of always telling the truth. Little George learned this lesson one day when he cut down his father’s cherry tree. The members of the shul
had just read Parshas Mishpatim and were singing the popular folk song “Midvar sheker tirchak” (stay far away from telling lies) on their way home from a delicious kiddush chulent. Their ears perked up when they heard Augustine scolding his son and came over to George to teach him about this mitzvah. Little George Washington listened and confessed that he did indeed damage the cherry tree. For this simple act he gained trust and respect in the community’s eyes and eventually became to be the first president of the United States. Listen, my children and you shall hear of the real purpose of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. At chatzos – midnight – Paul set out to let the Patriots of Massachusetts know that the “British are coming!” In the ensuing years, the end of the chant got left off of the famous
Baltimore Jewish Home - 2-22-18