מְגִלַּת וָשִׁעְתּוֹן | Megillat Washington: A Scroll for Thanksgiving, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Notes on reading system codified here (but feel free to alter or shift it)

• Unmarked text is read with Esther melody.
• Text marked in violet is read with the Esther melody for the end of a chapter (in communities where said melody differs).
• Text marked in black is read with Eicha/Lamentations melody.
• Text marked in blue is read using a variation of the “introduction” or “greeting” melody, a niggun found in several locations in Esther. Some liberties may be taken for effect. Below, Binder’s transcription.
• Text marked in yellow is read using the “LaY’hudim Haytah” melody, since its words are key to the entire story. Below, Binder’s transcription.
• Text marked in green is read using melodic motifs from the Pilgrimage Festival services.
• Text marked in grey is read in a fast monotone, as one reads the list of the sons of Haman.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

וַיְהִ֗י בִּימֵי֙ וָשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֔יא עַ֛ל כׇּל־אַרְצ֥וֹת הַבְּרִ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָֽה׃ ה֚וּא וָשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַמּוֹשֵׁ֔ל מִמַּסָטְשׁ֖וּסֶץ וְעַד־גְי֑וֹרְדְזִיָה שְׁלוֹשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה מְדִינָֽה׃ וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם יִשׁ֣וּב יְהוּדִים֩ הָיָה֨ בְּעִ֤יר מָחוֹז֙ בְּשֵׁ֣ם נִי֔וּפּוֹרְט בִּמְדִינַ֖ת רוֹדַּֽילֶן׃ וְהִנֵּ֖ה הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶה הָי֨וּ מִתְקַהֲלִ֤ים בְּבֵית־הַכְּנֶ֨סֶת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָהֶ֔ם וּשְׁמ֖וֹ בֵּית־טֽוּרוֹ׃
And it was in the days of President Washington of all the United States of America. The very Washington who governed from Massachusetts to Georgia, thirteen states. And it was, in those days, there was a settlement of Jews in the port city named Newport in the state of Rhode Island. And behold, these Jews were congregating in the synagogue that was theirs and it was called the House of Touro.

וַתְּהִ֖י מִלְחָמָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה בֵּ֥ין בְּנֵי־אָמֶרִיקָ֖ה וּבֵ֥ין בְּנֵי־אַנְגְּלִיָּֽה׃ וַיּ֨וֹשַׁע הַקָּד֜וֹשׁ אֶת־וָּשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֗יא מִיַּד֙ אַנְגְּלִיָּ֔ה וּמִיַּ֥ד מַלְכָּ֖הּ הַנֹּגֵ֑שׁ אֲשֶׁ֧ר נָגַ֛שׁ אֶת־כׇּל־בְּנֵ֥י אָמֶרִיקָ֖ה וְאֶת־כׇּל־הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ וַיִּשְׂמְח֖וּ כׇּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֑ים בִּמְדִינ֛וֹת אַרְצ֥וֹת הַבְּרִ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָֽה׃
And there was a great war between the Americans and the English. And the Holy One saved President Washington from the hand of England and from the hand of her destructive king, along with all the Americans and all the Jews. And all the Jews in the United States of America rejoiced.

וַיְהִ֞י אַחֲרֵ֣י ׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵלֶּ֗ה וַיִרְבּ֕וּ בִּלבּ֥וּל וַעִרבּ֖וּב בָּאָ֑רֶץ אַ֛ךְ תְּחִקּוֹת־חֹ֖פֶשׁ לֹ֥א נֶחְקָֽקוּ׃ וַיִּדְאֲג֥וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים דְּאָגָ֣ה גְּדוֹלָ֑ה כִּי֩ לֹ֨א יָדְע֝וּ אִ֣ם יַעֲמֹ֗ד רֶ֤וַח וְהַצָּלָה֙ מִוָּשִׁעְתּ֣וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֔יא אוֹ־מִ֥ין־הַמֶּמְשָׁלָ֖ה הַמְּבוּלְבָּלָֽה׃
And it was, after these things, that much confusion and contention arose in the land, yet the laws of freedom had not yet been passed. And the Jews worried greatly, for they did not know if salvation and safety would arise from President Washington or from the confused government.

אִ֣ישׁ יְהוּדִ֔י הָיָ֥ה בְּנִי֖וּפּוֹרְט הָעִ֣יר הַמָּח֑וֹז וּשְׁמ֣וֹ ׀ מֹשֶֽׁה־סֵ֣יישַׁאס בֶּן־יִצְחָ֗ק אִ֧ישׁ מִלִּזְבּ֛וֹהַּ בַּמַעֲרָ֖ב אֶ֥רֶץ סְפָרַֽד׃ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הׇגְלָה֙ מִסְּפָרַ֔ד עִם־הַגֹּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הׇגְלְתָ֔ה עִם־כׇּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֻגְל֑וּ עַ֣ל־יְדֵ֔י הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ הָרָ֖שַׁע שׁוּאָ֥אוּ־הַשְּׁלִישִֽׁי׃ וְה֕וּא הָיָ֥ה הַשַּׁמָ֖שׁ לְבֵ֣ית ט֑וּרוֹ בֵּ֥ית־הַכְּנֶ֛סֶת בְּעִ֥יר נִי֖וּפּוֹרְט בִּמְדִינַ֥ת רוֹדַּֽילֶן׃ וַתִּהְי֥וּ בְּשׂוֹר֖וֹת מִין־הַמֶּמְשָׁלָ֑ה כִּי־יְבַקֵּ֛ר וָּשִׁעְתּ֥וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֖יא בְּעִ֖יר נִיֽוּפּוֹרְט׃ וַיֶּחֶרְד֤וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֙ וְכׇל־בְּנֵ֣י־נִי֔וּפּוֹרְט חֲרָדָ֥ה גְּדֹלָ֖ה עַד־מְאֹ֑ד וַיֹּאמְרוּ֙ מַ֣ה נַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה בָּעֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַגִּֽיעַ׃ כִּ֕י ה֛וּא אִ֥ישׁ חָזָ֖ק מֵא֑וֹד וְה֨וּא יוּכַ֤ל לְהִשְׁתַּלֵּט֙ וְלִשְׁלֹ֔ט בְּשִׁלְט֥וֹן שָׁ֖וְא אִם־רְצֹונֽוֹ׃ וַיֹּא֤מֶר מֹשֶׁה־סֵ֨יישַׁאס֙ אֶ֣ל־כׇּל־הָעַ֔ם בְּדִבְרֵ֥י נֶחָמָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הִנֵּ֣ה ׀ אָנֹכִ֣י אֶכְתֹּ֗ב מִכְתָּ֤ב אִגֶּ֨רֶת֙ אֵלָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר קְרָא־נָ֣א דְּר֔וֹר בָּאָ֖רֶץ לְכָל־יֹשְׁבֶֽיהָ׃
A Jewish man was in Newport the port city and his name was Moses Seixas son of Isaac, from Lisbon in the west of Sepharad. He had been exiled from Sepharad with the exile that had been exiled with all the Jews who had been exiled by the hand of the evil king Joaõ III. And he was the sexton for the House of Touro, the synagogue in the city of Newport in the state of Rhode Island. And there was news from the government that President Washington was going to visit the city of Newport! And all the Jews and all the people of Newport trembled greatly to an extreme, and they said, “What will we do at the time when he comes? For he is a very powerful man, and he could take over and govern with a government of vanity if he wills!” And Moses Seixas spoke to all the people words of comfort, and said: “Behold, I will write a written letter to him, to say, ‘Proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants.'”

וַיִּכְתֹּ֧ב מֹשֶׁה־סֵ֛יישַׁאס אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָאִגֶּ֖רֶת הַזֹּא֑ת לְמַ֥עַן כׇּל־הָעַ֖ם וַיֹאמְר֥וּ לֵאמֹֽר׃
And Moses Seixas wrote the words of this letter for the sake of all the people, and they said, saying:

בִּרְשׁוּתְךָ֣ אֲדוֹנִ֗י נִקְרְבָ֤ה בְּךָ֙ בְּנֵי־גֶ֣זַע אַבְרָהָ֔ם בֶּהַעֲרָכָ֧ה לְבָבִיָ֛ה וּבָחִבָּ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה לְךָ֣ וּלְמִדּוֹתֶ֑יךָ נִדְבְּקָה֙ בְּרֵעֵ֣ינוּ הָאֶזְרָחִ֔ים בְּקַבָּלָתְךָ֖ בְּנִיֽוּפּוֹרְט׃ בְּשִׂמְחָ֗ה נִזְכָּרִים֙ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔ם יְמֵ֥י קוֹשִׁיָ֖ה וְסַכָּנָ֑ה יָמִים֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵגֵ֤ן אֶת־רֹאשְׁךָ֙ בְּי֣וֹם מִלְחֶ֔מֶת אֶלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁר־הִצִּ֥יל אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד מְפִי־חָֽרֶב׃ וְעַתָ֣ה ׀ נִשְׂמַ֣ח לְהִתְחַשֵּׁ֗ב בְּר֕וּחַ אֲשֶׁ֧ר נִתְמַ֛ךְ עַל־חֵ֥יק דָנִיֵּ֖אל אִ֣ישׁ חֲמֻד֑וֹת וְיּוּכַ֛ל לִשְׁל֥וֹט עַל־כׇּל־מְדִינ֖וֹת מָלְכ֥וּת בָּבֶֽל׃ כֵּן֩ הָר֨וּחַ הָה֧וּא נִתְמַ֛ךְ וְיִתָּמֵ֥ךְ עָלֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָ֑ם וְתּוּכַ֣ל לְבַצֵּ֗עַ אֶ֤ת־כׇּל־הַתַּפְקִידִים֙ הַ֣מְּפָרֵכִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר עַל־שׁוֹפֶ֧ט הַשָּׁל֛וֹם הַגָּד֖וֹל בִּמְדִינ֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶה׃ קֻפַּ֖חְנוּ מִתְּמ֣וֹל כְּמ֑וֹנוּ זִכְיוֹנ֣וֹת ׀ לֱאֶזְרָחִ֣ים חֹפְשִׁ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹ֖א יְסוּלֵ֥א בְּפָּֽז׃ וְ֠עַתָה בְּהַכָּרַ֨ת תּוֹדָ֧ה רָבָּ֛ה לְאֵ֥ל עֶלְי֖וֹן עוֹשֶׂ֣ה כׇּל־מַעֲשֶׂ֑ה אֲנַ֤חְנוּ רוֹאִים֙ מֶמְשָׁלָ֔ה נִבְנֵ֖ית עַל־ה֥וֹד הָעָֽם׃ מֶמְשָׁלָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר לְשִׂנְאָה֙ בַּל־נוֹתֵ֣ן חֹ֔ק וּלְמֻרְדָּ֖ף בַּל־נוֹתֵ֣ן עֶזְרָ֑ה אַ֚ךְ בִּנְדִיב֣וּת מַעֲנִיקָ֔ה לְכׇל־דְר֥וֹר מַצְפּ֖וּן וּזְכוּי֥וֹת אֶזְרָחֽוּת׃ וְקוֹרְאִ֗ים אֵת֩ כׇּל־אִ֨ישׁ וְאִ֝ישׁ בְּכׇל־עַ֤ם וּבְכׇל־לָשׁוֹן֙ וּבְכׇל־שָׂפָ֔ה חֲלָקִ֖ים שָׁוִ֑ים לְמַעֲרֶכֶ֥ת הַמְּשָׁלְתִ֖ית הַגְּדוֹלָֽה׃ הַהִתְאַחֲד֕וּת הַבְּרִיתִ֥י הַזֶּ֖ה הַגְּדוֹלָ֣ה וְהָעֲרוּכָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר בִּיסוֹדוֹ֙ גְמִיל֣וּת חֲסָדִ֔ים אֱמוּנָ֣ה הֲדָדִ֔ית וְי֖וֹשֶׁר עֲדָתִֽי׃ וּבְכֵ֕ן הֲל֥וֹא עַלֵ֖ינוּ לִקְרָאְת֑וֹ מַעֲשֶׂה֩ הָאֵ֨ל הַגָּד֜וֹל אֲשֶׁ֣ר מָלָ֗ךְ עַ֚ל כׇּל־צִבְא֣וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְעַל֙ כׇּל־יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ הָעוֹשֶׂ֖ה אֶת־כׇּל־אֲשֶׁר־ט֥וֹב בְּעֵינָֽיו׃ לְפִי֩ כׇּל־הַבְּרָכ֨וֹת הָאֵ֜לֶה בְּרָכ֞וֹת דְר֣וֹר דָתִ֣י וְחִלוֹנִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר מֵהֶ֜ן נֵהָנֶ֧ה תַחַ֛ת שִׁלְט֥וֹן שַׁפִּ֖יר וּמִשְׁתַּוֶּ֑ה אֲנַ֨חְנוּ רוֹצִ֜ים לְהַעֲל֤וֹת אֶת־הוֹדָאוֹתֵ֨ינוּ֙ לְעַתִּ֣יק הַיָּמִ֔ים הַשּׁוֹמֵ֥ר הָאָדִ֖יר כׇּל־אָדָֽם׃ וּלְבָ֣קֵּשׁ מִמֶּ֗נוּ כִּ֣י הַמַּלְאָךְ֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹלִ֤יךְ אֹתָנוּ֙ בְּמֶ֣שֶׁךְ הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֖ר נִשְׁבַּ֥ע לָ֑נוּ ה֣וּא ׀ בְּרַחֲמָ֣יו יוֹלִיכְךָ֗ בְּמֶ֩שֶׁךְ֩ כׇּ֨ל־הַקּוֹשִׁי֧וֹת וְכׇל־הַסַכָּ֛נוֹת אֲשֶׁ֥ר חֶלְקֵ֖נוּ בָּעוֹלָ֥ם הַזֶּֽה׃ וּבַאֲשֶׁ֣ר כְּמ֣וֹ יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ שְׂבַ֤ע יָמִים֙ וּשְׂבַ֣ע כָב֔וֹד תֵּאָסֵ֖ף אֶל־עַמֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר תְּקֻבַּ֤ל בְּגָן־עֵדֶן֙ לִשְׁתּוֹת֙ מִמָּ֣יִם הָחַיִּ֔ים וְלֶאֱכ֖וֹל מֵעֵ֥ץ הָחַיִּֽים׃
Sir: Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits — and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort. With pleasure we reflect on those days — those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword, — shielded Your head in the day of battle: — and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States. Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: — deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: — This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good. For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal and benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men — beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: — And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב וַיַּחְתֹּ֣ם וַיִּשְׁלָח֩ מֹשֶׁה־סֵיישַׁ֨אס הַשַּׁמָ֜שׁ אֶת־הָאִגֶּ֣רֶת הַזֹּ֗את בָּחֹ֤דֶשׁ הַשִּׁשִׁי֙ הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אֱל֔וּל‬ בְּי֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י בּ֑וֹ לְמַ֕עַן קְהִלַּ֥ת הָעִבְרִ֖ים בְּנִיֽוּפּוֹרְט׃ וְהָעִיר֙ נִי֔וּפּוֹרט קִוּוּ֖ בֵּאלֹהֵ֥י אָבוֹתֵ֑ינוּ לִרְאוֹת֩ מַ֨ה יִכָּתֵ֧ב ל֛וֹ מִיַּ֥ד הַנָשִׂ֖יא וָשִׁעְתּֽוֹן׃
And Moses Seixas wrote and signed and sent this letter in the sixth month – that is, the month of Elul, on the seventh day therein, for the sake of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport. And the city of Newport hoped in the God of their Ancestors, to see what would be written from the hand of President Washington.

וַיְהִ֕י אַחָ֥ר שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־הָאִגֶּ֣רֶת הָהִ֑יא וַתָּבוֹא֙ אֳנִיָּ֔ה אֶל־מָח֖וֹז עִ֥יר נִיֽוּפּוֹרְט׃ וּבָ֗הּ דְּזִיֶפֶרְסֹ֤ן כְּלִינְתֹּן֙ בְּלֵ֣יר לַאוּתֶּנְסְמִ֔ית דְּזִיַ֥כְּסוֹן ה֖וּמְפְּרִיס וְנֶ֣לְסוֹן־הַקָּטָ֑ן שִׁבְעַ֞ת שָׂרֵ֣י ׀ אַרְצוֹת־הַבְּרִ֣ית אֶרֶץ־אָמֶרִיקָ֗ה וּבְתוֹכָ֕ם עָמָ֖ד הַנָּשִׂ֥יא וָשִׁעְתּֽוֹן׃ וַיִּתְהַלֵּ֛ךְ וָשִׁעְתּ֥וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֖יא בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֑יר בָּחֹ֤דֶשׁ הַשִּׁשִׁי֙ הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אֱל֔וּל‬ בְּי֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י בּֽוֹ׃ וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּעֲל֣וֹת הַמִּנְחָ֗ה וַיִּגַּשׁ֩ וָשִׁעְתּ֨וֹן הַנָּשִׂ֜יא לְבֵ֤ית הַשִּׁלְטוֹן֙ בְּעִ֣יר נִי֔וּפּוֹרְט לִפְנֵ֖י כׇּל־בְּנֵי־נִי֑וּפּוֹרְט וַיַּ֥עֲשׂוּ־לוֹ֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה גָּד֔וֹל וַיֹּאכְל֖וּ וַיִּשְׁתּֽוּ׃ וְהִנֵּ֗ה וָשִׁעְתּ֤וֹן הַנָּשִׂיא֙ בָּ֔א אֶל־בֵּית־הַכְּנֶ֖סֶת בֵּ֥ית ט֑וּרוֹ וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁ֣הוּ מֹשֶׁה־סֵ֗יישַׁאס וַיִּקְרָ֨א ל֧וֹ בְּדִבְרֵ֛י הָאִגֶּ֥רֶת הָהִ֖יא אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתַֽב׃ וַיְהִ֖י בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֑יא וְהַנָּשִׂיא֙ וָשִׁעְתּ֔וֹן שָׂמֵ֖חַ וְט֥וֹב לֵֽב׃ וַיְבָ֨רֶךְ֙ הַנָּשִׂ֣יא וָשִׁעְתּ֔וֹן אֶת־כׇּל־עִ֥יר נִי֖וּפּוֹרְט לֵאמֹ֑ר יְהִ֧י גָּד֛וֹל כְּב֥וֹד הָאַחֲר֖וֹן מִן־הָרִאשֽׁוֹן׃ וַיִּשְׂמְח֥וּ וַיָּשִׂ֖ישׂוּ כׇּל־בְּנֵי־נִי֑וּפּוֹרְט וְעֲדַ֨ת הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ בְּעִ֣יר נִי֗וּפּוֹרְט שָׂשׂ֤וּ יוֹתֵר֙ מֵהֶ֔ם כִּ֥י נָתַ֨ן לָהֶ֜ם הַקָּד֗וֹשׁ לְרֹאש֙ וְלֹ֣א לְזָנָ֔ב וַּיִהְי֥וּ לְמַ֖עְלָה וְלֹ֥א לְמָֽטָּה׃
And it was, once they had sent that letter, that a boat came to the port of Newport. And on it – Jefferson, Clinton, Blair, Loughton-Smith, Jackson, Humphreys, and Nelson Jr. – seven officials of the United States of America, and in their midst stood President Washington! And Washington walked through the city in the sixth month, that is, the month of Elul, on the seventh day therein. And it was, when the time for afternoon-prayers came, President Washington approached the government house of the city of Newport before all the people of Newport, and they made him a feast, and they ate and they drank. And behold, President Washington was coming to the synagogue, the House of Touro, and Moses Seixas met him and read to him the words of that letter he had written. And it was at that time that President Washington was happy and of a jolly heart. And President Washington blessed the whole city of Newport and said, “May the honor of the last be greater than the first!” And all the people of Newport rejoiced and were happy, and the congregation of the Jews that was in the city of Newport rejoiced even more, for the Holy One had made them the head and not the tail, and they were the top and not the bottom.

וַיְהִ֛י אַחֲרֵ֖י הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶה וַיָּ֤שׇׁב אִגֶּ֨רֶת֙ חֲדָשָׁ֔ה מִיַּ֥ד וָשִׁעְתּ֖וֹן הַנָּשִֽׂיא׃ וַיִּקָּ֣הֲל֔וּ כׇּל־עֲדַ֥ת הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּעִיר־נִי֑וּפּוֹרְט לְדֵעָ֖ה מַה־נִכְתַּ֥ב בָּֽהּ׃ וַיִּקַּ֥ח מֹשֶׁה־סֵ֖יישַׁאס אֶת־הַאִגֶּ֣רֶת הַזֹ֑את וַיִּקְרָ֣א אוֹתָ֔הּ בְּאׇזְנֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם לֵאמֹֽר׃
And it was after all these things that a new letter returned from the hand of President Washington. And the entire community of Jews in the city of Newport congregated to know what was written in it. And Moses Seixas took this letter and read it into the ears of the people, and said:

לִקְהִלַּת֙ הָעִבְרִ֔ים בְּנִי֖וּפּוֹרְט בִּמְדִינַ֣ת רוֹדַּ֑ילֶן בִּרְשׁוּתְכֶ֖ם רָבּוֹתַֽי׃ קִבַּ֣לְתִּי ׀ בְּרֹ֣ב שָׂ֗בָע אֶת־אִגְּרֶתְכֶ֧ם הַמָּלֵ֛א דִּבְרֵ֥י אַהֲבָ֖ה וּנְשִׂיא֣וּת פָנִ֑ים אַ֣ךְ ׀ שָׂמַ֗חְתִּי כִּ֣י בָ֣א לְיָדִי֮ לְהַבְטִיחֲכֶם֒ כִּ֥י זָכֹ֨ר אֶזְכֹּ֤ר בְּתוֹדָה֙ אֶת־הָהַכְנָסָ֣ה הַנְּעִימָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֧ר נִתְּנָה־לִ֛י מִכָּל־מִינֵ֥י אֶזְרָחִ֖ים בְּבִקּוּרִ֥י נִיוּפּֽוֹרְטָה׃ זְכִירַת֩ יְמֵ֨י קוֹשִׁיָ֤ה וְסַכָּנָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָבְר֔וּ נֶהֱפֶ֛כֶת לִהְי֖וֹת נְעִימָ֣ה יוֹתֵ֑ר מִדַּ֗עַת כִּי֩ יָק֨וּמוּ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֧ם יְמֵ֛י שָׂ֥בָע גָּד֖וֹל לִקְמָצִֽים׃ כִּ֣י ׀ נֶחְכַּ֗ם לַעֲשׂוֹת֙ לַמְּלָאכָ֣ה יְשָׁרָ֔ה אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הַבְּרָכ֔וֹת אֲשֶׁ֖ר מְבֹרָכִ֣ים אֲנָ֑חְנוּ בְּשִׁלְט֤וֹן צֶ֨דֶק֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת חֶ֔סֶד לֹ֨א נִרְפֶּ֧ה לִהְי֛וֹת עָ֥ם גָּד֖וֹל וּמְרוֹמָֽם׃ יֵ֣שׁ מִ֠שְׁפָּ֠ט לְאֶזְרְחֵ֨י אַרְצ֧וֹת הַבְּרִ֛ית אֶ֥רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָ֖ה לְהִתְרַוֵּ֑עַ כִּי־נָתְנ֣וּ ׀ לִבְנֵ֣י אָדָ֗ם מִקְרֵ֤י שִׁלְטוֹן֙ גָד֣וֹל וְחׇפְשִׁ֔י הֲלֹ֥א שִׁלְט֛וֹן אֲשֶׁר־צֶ֖דֶק לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת כָּמֽוֹהוּ׃ לְכׇל־אִ֖ישׁ וָאִ֑ישׁ יֵ֛שׁ דְּר֥וֹר הַיֵּ֖צֶר וְצִלְלֵ֥י אֶזְרָחֽוּת׃ וְעַתָּ֗ה אֵ֥ין עוֹד֙ מְדֻבָּר֣וֹת רְצוֹנ֔וֹת‎ כְּמַתָּנָ֕ה מִמִּ֥ין אֱנ֖וֹשׁ אֶחָ֑ד כַּאַחֵר֙ מִתְעַנֵּ֔ג בַּעֲשׂ֛וֹת מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י נַחֲלָתָ֖ם הַמִּבָּֽטֶן׃ כִּ֣י הִנֵּ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָה֮ מֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת אַרְצ֣וֹת הַבְּרִית֒ אֲשֶׁ֤ר לְשִׂנְאָה֙ בַּל־נוֹתֵ֣ן חֹ֔ק וּלְמֻרְדָּ֖ף בַּל־נוֹתֵ֥ן עֶזְרָ֑ה רַק֩ הִשָּׁ֨מְרוּ לָכֶ֜ם כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ תַּ֣חַת כְּנָפָ֗יו וַעֲשִׂ֨יתֶם֙ כָּאֶזְרָחִ֣ים טוֹבִ֔ים כִּי֩ נָת֨וֹן תִּתֵּ֤ן לוֹ֙ בְּכׇל־עֵת֙ וּבְכׇל־שָׁעָ֔ה אֶת־חַסְדְּךָ֖ וְאֶת־אֲמִתֶּֽךָ׃ הִנְנִ֣י לְמַ֩עַן֩ פִּ֨י וְלִבִּ֜י שָׁוִ֗ים אֹמַ֤ר לָכֶם֙ כִּ֣י שָׂמַ֔חְתִּי בְּאוֹמְרִ֥ים לִ֖י אַתֶּ֑ם כִּי֩ ט֨וֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶ֤ם שִׁלְטוֹנִי֙ וּבֵרַכְתֶּ֣ם אוֹתִ֔י וַהָיִ֖יתִי אַ֥ךְ שָׂמֵֽחַ׃ אַ֨ךְ יִצְדְּק֜וּ בְּנֵ֣י ׀ גֶּ֣זַע אַבְרָהָ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֤ר גָּרִים֙ בָּאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּא֔ת וְנֶהֱנִ֥ים אֶת־שְׁל֖וֹם הַיּוֹשְׁבִ֣ים הָאַחֵרִ֑ים וְיָשְׁב֗וּ אִ֣ישׁ תַּ֧חַת גַּפְנ֛וֹ וְתַ֥חַת תְּאֵנָת֖וֹ וְאֵ֥ין מַחֲרִֽיד׃ אַ֨ב כׇּל־רַחֲמִ֜ים ה֥וּא יָפִ֛יץ א֥וֹר וְלֹא־חֹ֖שֶׁךְ בִּדְרָכֵ֑ינוּ וּלְכֻלָ֤נוּ בְּכׇל־עֲבוֹדוֹתֵינוּ֙ יַ֚עַשׂ לִמְלָאכָ֔ה וּבְזְמַנּ֤וֹ הַבָּא֙ וּבְדַּרְכּ֣וֹ הַה֔וּא לְשִׂמְחָ֣ה וּלְשָׂשׂ֔וֹן לְעוֹלָ֖ם וּלְעוֹלמֵ֥י עוֹלָמִֽים׃
To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island. Gentlemen, While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens. The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people. The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. 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. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

כָּ֛לּוּ אִגֶּ֖רֶת וָשִׁעְתּ֥וֹן הַנָּשִֽׂיא׃
Thus ended the letter of President Washington.

וַיִּכְלוּ֙ כׇּל־עֲדַ֣ת הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעִ֣יר נִי֑וּפּוֹרְט לִקְרוֹא֙ בָּאִגֶּ֣רֶת הָהִ֔יא וַיִּשְׂמְח֖וּ וַיָּגִֽילוּ׃ כִּ֠י הִנֶּ֤ה יָדְעוּ֙ כִּי־עֲדַ֣ת הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר גָּ֛רוּ בְּאַרְצ֥וֹת הַבְּרִ֖ית אֶ֣רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָ֑ה הָי֨וּ שְׁמוּרִ֜ים תַּ֨חַת כַּנְפֵ֤י מֶמְשָׁלָה֙ אֲשֶׁר־יִשְׁמַ֣ע וְיַעֲשֶׂ֔ה לְק֥וֹל הָעָ֖ם לְע֥וֹלְמֵי־עַֽד׃
And all the community of the Jews in the city of Newport finished reading that letter, and were happy and rejoiced. For behold – they knew that the community of the Jews who dwelt in the United States of America would be protected under the wings of a government that would listen and obey the voice of the people for eternity.

וּמִיָּמִ֣ים יָמִ֔ימָה הָיְתָ֖ה דָּ֣ת חֲדָשָׁ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר כָּת֜וּב עַל־סֵ֣פֶר ׀ דִּבְרֵ֣י הַיָּמִ֗ים לִנְשִׂיאֵ֕י אַרְצ֥וֹת הַבְּרִ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָֽה׃ לִהְי֨וֹת עוֹשִׂ֜ים אֵ֣ת ׀ י֣וֹם אֶחָ֗ד מִיְּמֵ֤י הַחֲמִישִׁי֙ בִּשְׁבוּע֔וֹת אַחַ֥ר הָאָסִ֖יף וְלִפְנֵ֣י הָחֹ֑רֶף לְהוֹד֛וֹת עַל־כׇּל־הַטּ֖וֹב אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתֽוּן׃ קִיְּמ֣וּ ׀ וְקִבְּל֣וּ ׀ יְהוּדֵ֣י אַרְצ֣וֹת הַבְּרִ֡ית ׀ אֶרֶ֣ץ אָמֶרִיקָה֩ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ם וְעַל־זַרְעָ֜ם וְעַ֗ל כׇּל־הַ֤נִּלְוִים֙ עֲלֵיהֶ֔ם וְלֹ֖א יַעֲב֑וֹר לִהְי֣וֹת עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֨ת הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ כִּכְתָ֣בוֹ וְכִזְמַ֔נּוֹ בְּכׇל־שָׁנָ֖ה וְשָׁנָֽה׃ וְהַיּ֣וֹם הַ֠זֶּ֠ה נִזְכָּ֨ר וְנַעֲשֶׂ֜ה בְּכׇל־דּ֣וֹר וָד֗וֹר מִשְׁפָּחָ֤ה וּמִשְׁפָּחָה֙ מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֔ה וְעִ֥יר וָעִ֖יר בְּאֶ֣רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָ֑ה וְי֞וֹם הָהוֹדָאָ֣ה הַזֶּ֗ה לֹ֨א יַעֲב֜וֹר מִתּוֹךְ֩ יְהוּדֵ֨י אַרְצ֤וֹת הַבְּרִית֙ אֶ֣רֶץ אָמֶרִיקָ֔ה וְזִכְר֖וֹ לֹא־יָס֥וּף מִזַּרְעָֽם׃
And much time passed, and there was a new law that was written in the book of the chronicles of the presidents of the United States of America. So be it, they would make one day out of the Thursdays of the weeks after the harvest and before the winter to give thanks for all the good that had been given. So the Jews of the United States of America established and received it upon them and upon their descendants and upon all who would join them, not to be passed, that so be it, they would make this one day as it is written and at its time, year after year. And this day is remembered and done in every generation and generation, family and family, state and state, and city and city in the land of America, and this very Day of Thanksgiving will not be passed from the midst of the Jews of the United States of America, and its memory will not end from their descendants.

נִשְׁלְמָ֞ה הַתַּרְגּ֣וּם ׀ וְהַמִּסְגֶּ֣רֶת הַאֵ֗לֶּה עַל־יְדֵ֨י יִצְחָ֤ק הַרְאֵל֙ בֶּן־אַבְרָהָ֣ם מֵאִ֔יר הַכֹּהֵ֕ן אִ֖ישׁ מִסַּ֣ן דִּיאֵֽגוֹ׃ בִּשְׁנָ֨ת תֵּ֤שַׁע וְשִׁבְעִים֙ וּשְׁבַ֣ע מֵא֔וֹת וַחֲמֵשֶׁ֥ת אֲלָפִ֖ים שָׁנָ֑ה לְמִנְיָ֖ן בְרִיאָ֥ת הָעוֹלָֽם׃
These, this translation and this framework, were completed by Yitsḥaq Har’el ben Avraham Me’ir haKohen, a man of San Diego. In the year 5779 according to the count of the creation of the world.

בָּר֥וּךְ הַקָּד֖וֹשׁ מְלָמֵּ֣ד יָדִ֑י לְקָרֵ֨ב מְרוֹמֵ֝ם עַל־כׇּ֤ל בְּרָכָה֙ וּתְהִלָּ֔ה ׀ אָמֵ֥ן ׀ אָמֵ֖ן ׀ סֶּֽלָה׃
Blessed be the Holy One who taught my hand to bring close from on high all blessing and praise, amen, amen, selah.

In many Jewish communities around the world, there have been traditional scrolls read for “local Purims,” celebrating redemptions for a specific community. Here in America, we don’t really have an equivalent to that. But we do have Thanksgiving, a day heavily inspired by Biblical traditions of celebration, and one long associated with all that is good about America. Some Jewish communities have a tradition on Thanksgiving of reading Washington’s letter to the Jews of Newport, where he vows to support freedom of religion, famously writing that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” – thus rephrasing words originally written in a prior letter by Moses Seixas (say-shas), the sexton of the Touro Synagogue in Newport. This text includes the original English of both Moses Seixas’ letter to Washington and Washington’s return, as well as a somewhat simplified version of the story of Washington’s visit to Newport. Inspired largely by the style of the Book of Esther, it could be read on Thanksgiving morning during the service, using Esther melodies (or going on detours as per personal choice).

One important note: the name “Washington” has been consistently written here as וָשִׁעְתּוֹן, which in Modern Hebrew would be pronounced “Vashi’ton.” This was purposeful. In the traditional Spanish-Portuguese pronunciation of Hebrew that was used at the Touro Synagogue at the time, the letter ע would have been pronounced as a velar nasal – as in “singing.” Thus, the community’s own record of the name “Washington” would have used ע rather than a נג combination.

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