American Presidential Jewish History (US Presidents and Jews)
Information below received by email and was not verified.
American Presidential Jewish History (US Presidents and Jews)
This is not to be considered offensive to anyone. It is just an FYI.
GEORGE WASHINGTON 1789 - 1797
was the first President to write to a synagogue. In 1790 he addressed separate
letters to the Touro Synagogue in Newport,RI to Mikveh Israel Congregation in Savannah
GA, and a joint letter to Congregation Beth Shalom, Richmond,VA, Mikveh Israel
Philadelphia,Beth Elohim, Charleston,SC,and Shearith Israel,New York.His letters are an
eloquent expression and hope for religious harmony and endure as indelible statements
of the most fundamental tenets of American democracy.
THOMAS JEFFERSON 1801 - 1809
was the first President to appoint a Jew to a Federal post. In 1801 he named Reuben
Etting of Baltimore as US Marshall for Maryland .
JAMES MADISON 1809 - 1817
was the first President to appoint a Jew to a diplomatic post. He sent Mordecai M.
Noah to Tunis from 1813 to 1816.
MARTIN VAN BUREN 1837 - 1841
was the first President to order an American consul to intervene on behalf of Jews
abroad. In 1840 he instructed the U.S. consul in Alexandria , Egypt to use his good
offices to protect the Jews of Damascus who were under attack because of a false blood
JOHN TYLER 1841 - 1845
was the first President to nominate a U.S.consul to Palestine. Warder Cresson, a Quaker
convert to Judaism who established a pioneer Zionist colony, received the appointment
FRANKLIN PIERCE 1853 - 1857
was the first and probably the only President whose name appears on the charter of a
synagogue. Pierce signed the Act of Congress in 1857 that amended the laws of the
District of Columbia to enable the incorporation of the city synagogue, the Washington
ABRAHAM LINCOLN 1861 - 1865
was the first President to make it possible for rabbis to serve as military chaplains.
He did this by signing the 1862 Act of Congress which changed the law that had
previously barred all but Christian clergymen from the captaincy. Lincoln was also the
first, and happily the only President who was called upon to revoke an official act of
anti-Semitism by the U.S. government. It was Lincoln who canceled General Ulysses S
Grant Order No. 11 expelling all Jews from Tennessee from the district controlled by his
armies during the Civil War. Grant always denied personal responsibility for this act
attributing it to his subordinate.
ULYSSES S. GRANT 1869 - 1877
was the first President to attend a synagogue service while in office. When Adas Israel
Congregation in Washington D.C. was dedicated in 1874, Grant and all members of his
Cabinet were present.
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES 1877 - 1881
was the first President to designate a Jewish ambassador for the stated purpose of
fighting anti-Semitism. In 1870, he named Benjamin Peixotto Consul-General to Romania .
Hays also was the first President to assure a civil service employee her right to work
for the Federal government and yet observe the Sabbath. He ordered the employment of a
Jewish woman who had been denied a position in the Department of the Interior because of
her refusal to work on Saturday.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT 1901 - 1909
was the first President to appoint a Jew to a presidential cabinet. In 1906 he named
Oscar S. Straus Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Theodore Roosevelt was also the
first President to contribute his own funds to a Jewish cause. In 1919, when he
received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts while President to settle the
Russo-Japanese War, Roosevelt contributed part of his prize to the National Jewish
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT 1909 - 1913
was the first President to attend a Seder while in office. In 1912, when he visited
Providence,RI he participated in the family Seder of Colonel Harry Cutler, first
president of the National Jewish Welfare Board, in the Cutler home on Glenham
WOODROW WILSON 1913 - 1921
was the first President to nominate a Jew, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, to the United
States Supreme Court. Standing firm against great pressure to withdraw the nomination,
Wilson insisted that he knew no one better qualified by judicial temperament as well as
legal and social understanding,confirmation was finally voted by the Senate on June 1,
1916. Wilson was also the first President to publicly endorse a national Jewish
philanthropic campaign. In a letter to Jacob Schiff, on November 22,1917, Wilson called
for wide support of the United Jewish Relief Campaign which was raising funds for
European War relief.
WARREN HARDING 1921 - 1923
was the first President to sign a Joint Congressional Resolution endorsing the Balfour
Declaration and the Palestine Mandate supporting the establishment in Palestine of a
national Jewish home for the Jewish people. The resolution was signed September 22,
CALVIN COOLIDGE 1923 - 1929
was the first President to participate in the dedication of a Jewish community
institution that was not a house of worship. On May 3, 1925, he helped dedicate the
cornerstone of the Washington,D.C. Jewish Community center.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT 1933 - 1945
was the first President to be given a Torah as a gift. He received a miniature Torah
from Young Israel and another that had been rescued from a burning synagogue in
Czechoslovakia. Both are now in the Roosevelt Memorial Library in Hyde Park . The
Roosevelt administration'' failure to expand the existing refuge quota system, ensured
that large numbers of Jews would ultimately become some of the Holocaust's six million
victims. Fifty-six years after Roosevelt's death, the arguments continue over
Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust.
HARRY S. TRUMAN, 1945 - 1953
on May 14,1948, just eleven minutes after Israel's proclamation of independence, was the
first head of a government to announce to the press that the United States recognizes
the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new state of Israel. Truman
was also the first U.S President to receive a president of Israel at the White House,
Chaim Weizman, in 1948 and an Ambassador from Israel, Eliahu Elat in 1948. With Israel
staggering under the burdens of mass immigration in 1951-1952, President Truman obtained
from Congress close to $140 million in loans and grants.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER 1953 - 1961
was the first President to participate in a coast-to-coast TV program sponsored by a
Jewish organization. It was a network show in 1954 celebrating the 300th anniversary of
the American Jewish community. On this occasion he said that it was one of the enduring
satisfactions of his life that he was privileged to lead the forces of the free world
which finally crushed the brutal regime in Germany, freeing the remnant of Jews for a
new life and hope in Israel.
JOHN F. KENNEDY 1961 - 1963
named two Jews to his cabinet - Abraham Ribicoff as Secretary of Health, Education and
Welfare, and Arthur Goldberg as Secretary of Labor. Kennedy was the only President for
whom a national Jewish Award was named: The annual peace award of the Synagogue Council
of America was re-named the John F. Kennedy Peace Award after his assassination in
JIMMY CARTER 1976 - 1981
in a number of impassioned speeches,stated his concern for human rights and stressed
the right of Russian Jews to emigrate. He is credited with being the person responsible
for the Camp David Accords.
GEORGE H.W.BUSH 1988 - 1992
in 1985 as Vice President had played a personal role in 'Operation Joshua,' the
airlift which brought 10,000 Jews out of Ethiopia directly to resettlement in Israel .
Then, again in 1991, when Bush was President, America helped play a critical role in
'Operation Solomon', the escape of 14,000 more Ethiopian Jews. Most dramatically, Bush
got the U.N.to revoke its 1975 'Zionism is Racism' resolution.
BILL CLINTON 1993 - 2001
appointed more Jews to his cabinet than all of the previous presidents combined and put
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both 1st appointed to the federal bench by
Jimmy Carter, on the Supreme Court.
GEORGE W. BUSH 2001 - 2009
is the first president since Herbert
Hoover who has no Jews in his cabinet at all and has appointed no Jews to the Federal