Moreover, I particularly enjoy the challenging search for documents written by non-Jewish personalities on matters of Jewish interest. Such items in my collection include:
- a letter from President Kennedy to the Union of Orthodox Rabbis regarding a pending anti-shechitah bill;
- a signed copy of Picasso’s The Old Jew;
- a synagogue program for an address by Martin Luther King and signed by him;
- a letter in which Darwin threatens to give a plum translation assignment to (shudder!) a Jew;
- a letter by Enrico Fermi explaining that he departed Italy for the United States to save his Jewish wife and children from the Holocaust;
- a Santayana letter in which he calls Spinoza “my Jewish master” and claims that “my best pupils were Jews;”
- an incredibly ironic letter from Nazi Kurt Waldheim to Simon Wiesenthal lauding the famous Nazi-hunter;
- a correspondence by Montgomery of Alamein in which he recalls the key role played by his “great friend” Moshe Dayan during the 1956 Sinai crisis;
- a signed program by the African American contralto Marian Anderson, a dedicated Zionist who performed Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody with the Israeli Philharmonic – and sang the entire oratorio in perfect Hebrew;
● a signed copy of Longfellow’s “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport,” expressing his certainty that the centuries-long survival of the Jewish people had ended; and
● an original poem by Woody Guthrie, who wrote songs about Jewish history and the Holocaust, married a Jew and raised his children as Jews, and arranged for his son, Arlo, to receive bar mitzvah lessons from a young rabbi named Meir Kahane.
God willing, I will present some of these in upcoming Collecting Jewish History columns in The Jewish Press.