Claude G. Montefiore celebrates his 80th birthday
“Even dismal days had not caused the Jewish people to relinquish their faith that goodness is at home everywhere on earth. On difficult days, they would consider the words of Rabbi Tanchuma, ‘Do not say, since I have suffered abuse and humiliation, my neighbor too shall suffer them, but know whom you would be abusing: him who was created in the image of God.’ ”
In his “Remarks about the Feast of Weeks,” published in the June issue of the “Jewish Community Paper for the Rhenish Palatinate Region,” Rabbi Dr. Ernst Steckelmacher of Ludwigshafen poses a real challenge to his readers. He interprets the Book of Ruth, one of the readings during the Feast of Weeks, as an example of Judaism’s emphasis on the precedence of the universal over the particular. Through Ruth, who embodies universal humanity, the book shows that goodness can be found anywhere. This was not an intuitive message at a time when the ostracism of Jews from German society forced them to turn inward. June 6, 1938, was not only the second day of Shavuot, but also the 80th birthday of Claude G. Montefiore, the President of the World Union of Progressive Judaism. Dr. Steckelmacher acknowledges this occasion and reinforces his universalist message by drawing attention to the similar sentiments of Claude Montefiore.