“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine …
“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
These words from George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island seem not to have lost their sense of compassion, urgency and hope since they were dispatched on August 21, 1790. In light of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee’s decision to begin the 2022-2023 school year on Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish High Holy Days that culminates with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, they seem particularly relevant and timely.
St. Michael’s has historically had a close relationship with Bristol’s Jewish community, and will continue to do so in the future, because we know that our well-being is intimately tied to the well-being of all other faith communities in Bristol and beyond.
The ability for the Jewish children of our community to observe and celebrate Rosh Hashanah without the worry of missing school, or otherwise negatively highlighting their absence from class, is not only a mark of our respect toward our Jewish friends and neighbors, but is also an important signal to anyone looking to make Bristol or Warren their home that we are indeed communities that actively seek the common welfare and prosperity of all our constituent members, whether they be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or of no faith.
I am grateful that the superintendent chose an alternative start date for the 2021-2022 school season. One that is embedded with a sense of equity and inclusion for everyone in our community, as well as one that proclaims that we all “enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants” of the towns of Bristol and Warren.
The Reverend Canon Michael J. Horvath
Rector, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Bristol