The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 16 April 2011 / 11 Nisan 5771

A Letter to the President

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

On the occasion of the first Yahrzeit of his mother, a renowned Torah scholar in Jerusalem, American-born Rabbi Yisrael Berle, published a distinguished commentary on prayer. In his introduction he includes the following story about his mother:

More than half a century ago U.S. President Harry S. Truman decided to give a series of weekly radio talks to the nation in imitation of the famed "fireside chats" of his predecessor. The time chosen was Friday evening. Fearful that some Jews would be so anxious to hear the President that they would put aside observance of Shabbat in order to do so, Mrs. Berle dashed off a letter to the President calling his attention to the fact that Jewish Sabbath observers would be denied the privilege of hearing him if the broadcast were on the Sabbath eve.

Her efforts were rewarded with success. A letter from the President’s secretary informed her that her letter was being given serious attention. Ten days later an announcement was made that the President’s talks would be switched from Friday night to Tuesday.

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