Texas Court Refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage: Married Gay Couples Have No Right to Government Spousal Benefits https://www.towleroad.com/2017/06/texas-supreme-court-gay-marriage/ …
Texas Court Refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage: Married Gay Couples Have No Right to Government Spousal Benefits https://www.towleroad.com/2017/06/texas-supreme-court-gay-marriage/ …
It is quite clear from watching the first democratic debate or listening to other commentators that Hillary Clinton clearly won the first debate. She was calm, collected and thoroughly knowledgeable and showed all of us that she is the most suited and qualified to be the next President of the United States. Continued good luck, Hillary! :-)
Finally, with the help of His Holiness, Pope Francis, President Obama and Raul Castro have decided to re-establish diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. What great news and it took MEN like President Obama and Pope Francis to bring about this much needed change to a useless, 50-year-old policy still hanging on from the old Cold War. Thank you Pope Francis for facilitating this much needed change and thank you President Obama for continuing to be the excellent president this country continues to need. You continue to make those many decisions that continue to make this country the great political entity it is. :-)
In sad news, Eric Holder, probably the most progressive of people in the Obama administration has decided to resign. Except for the lack of indictments and/or prosecutions of the criminal corporate class during and after the recent economic collapse, Holder can hold his head high as the man on the lead for Progressives. Sorry to see him go, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
FORBES MAGZINE, a clearly conservative magazine, reports that President #Obama is THE best economic president in modern times! READ HOW HE OUTPERFORMED PRESIDENT REAGAN: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2014/09/05/obama-outperforms-reagan-on-jobs-growth-and-investing/ …
I TOTALLY agree...
Everyone, or nearly everyone, seems to be coming down hard on President Obama. I don't understand this highly critical attitude of one of the best Presidents in U.S. history. My perspective is also taken by these two authors from www.state-journal.com :
Published: June 17, 2014 10:21AM
"Obama’s Top 50 Accomplishments
By Paul Glastris, Ryan Cooper, and Siyu Hu
(Also check out the main article, The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama, and the issue’s Editor’s Note.)
1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.
5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.
6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.
8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
11. Told Mubarak to Go: On February 1, 2011, publicly called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening the dictator’s position and putting America on the right side of the Arab Spring. Mubarak ended thirty-year rule when overthrown on February 11.
12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.
13. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of “soft power”) during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent.
14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.
15. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.
17. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis: To keep world economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010, helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currencies.
18. Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, signed series of measures (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011) to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
19. Began Asia “Pivot”: In 2011, reoriented American military and diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed multipronged strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.
20. Increased Support for Veterans: With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
21. Tightened Sanctions on Iran: In effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program, signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In late 2011 and early 2012, coordinated with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.
22. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants: New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011, likely to lead to the closing of between sixty-eight and 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Estimated cost to utilities: at least $11 billion by 2016. Estimated health benefits: $59 billion to $140 billion. Will also significantly reduce carbon emissions and, with other regulations, comprises what’s been called Obama’s “stealth climate policy.”
23. Passed Credit Card Reforms: Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (2009), which prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification, mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees.
24. Eliminated Catch-22 in Pay Equality Laws: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago. Under previous law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the statute of limitations on such suits ran out 180 days after the alleged discrimination occurred, even if the victims never knew about it.
25. Protected Two Liberal Seats on the U.S. Supreme Court: Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010. They replaced David Souter and John Paul Stevens, respectively.
26. Improved Food Safety System: In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which boosts the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion and expands its regulatory responsibilities to include increasing number of food inspections, issuing direct food recalls, and reviewing the current food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
27. Achieved New START Treaty: Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty that limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that had lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
28. Expanded National Service: Signed Serve America Act in 2009, which authorized a tripling of the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012, when new House GOP majority refused to appropriate more funds for further expansion.
29. Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection: Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), which designated more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
30. Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco: Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009). Nine years in the making and long resisted by the tobacco industry, the law mandates that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels, and bans the sale of misleadingly labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
31. Pushed Federal Agencies to Be Green Leaders: Issued executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to make plans to soften their environmental impacts by 2020. Goals include 30 percent reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26 percent boost in water efficiency, and sustainability requirements for 95 percent of all federal contracts. Because federal government is the country’s single biggest purchaser of goods and services, likely to have ripple effects throughout the economy for years to come.
32. Passed Fair Sentencing Act: Signed 2010 legislation that reduces sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possessionfrom100 to1 to 18 to1.
33. Trimmed and Reoriented Missile Defense: Cut the Reagan-era “Star Wars” missile defense budget, saving $1.4 billion in 2010, and canceled plans to station antiballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of sea-based defense plan focused on Iran and North Korea.
34. Began Post-Post-9/11 Military Builddown: After winning agreement from congressional Republicans and Democrats in summer 2011 budget deal to reduce projected defense spending by $450 billion, proposed new DoD budget this year with cuts of that size and a new national defense strategy that would shrink ground forces from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next ten years while increasing programs in intelligence gathering and cyberwarfare.
35. Let Space Shuttle Die and Killed Planned Moon Mission: Allowed the expensive ($1 billion per launch), badly designed, dangerous shuttle program to make its final launch on July 8, 2011. Cut off funding for even more bloated and problem-plagued Bush-era Constellation program to build moon base in favor of support for private-sector low-earth orbit ventures, research on new rocket technologies for long-distance manned flight missions, and unmanned space exploration, including the largest interplanetary rover ever launched, which will investigate Mars’s potential to support life.
36. Invested Heavily in Renewable Technology: As part of the 2009 stimulus, invested $90 billion, more than any previous administration, in research on smart grids, energy efficiency, electric cars, renewable electricity generation, cleaner coal, and biofuels.
37. Crafting Next-Generation School Tests: Devoted $330 million in stimulus money to pay two consortia of states and universities to create competing versions of new K-12 student performance tests based on latest psychometric research. New tests could transform the learning environment in vast majority of public school classrooms beginning in 2014.
38. Cracked Down on Bad For-Profit Colleges: In effort to fight predatory practices of some for-profit colleges, Department of Education issued “gainful employment” regulations in 2011 cutting off commercially focused schools from federal student aid funding if more than 35 percent of former students aren’t paying off their loans and/or if the average former student spends more than 12 percent of his or her total earnings servicing student loans.
39. Improved School Nutrition: In coordination with Michelle Obama, signed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 mandating $4.5 billion spending boost and higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. New rules based on the law, released in January, double the amount of fruits and vegetables and require only whole grains in food served to students.
40. Expanded Hate Crimes Protections: Signed Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009), which expands existing hate crime protections to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
41. Avoided Scandal: As of November 2011, served longer than any president in decades without a scandal, as measured by the appearance of the word “scandal” (or lack thereof) on the front page of the Washington Post.
42. Brokered Agreement for Speedy Compensation to Victims of Gulf Oil Spill: Though lacking statutory power to compel British Petroleum to act, used moral authority of his office to convince oil company to agree in 2010 to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; $6.5 billion already paid out without lawsuits. By comparison, it took nearly two decades for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill case to receive $1.3 billion.
43. Created Recovery.gov: Web site run by independent board of inspectors general looking for fraud and abuse in stimulus spending, provides public with detailed information on every contract funded by $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Thanks partly to this transparency, board has uncovered very little fraud, and Web site has become national model: “The stimulus has done more to promote transparency at almost all levels of government than any piece of legislation in recent memory,” reports Governingmagazine.
44. Pushed Broadband Coverage: Proposed and obtained in 2011 Federal Communications Commission approval for a shift of $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.
45. Expanded Health Coverage for Children: Signed 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act, which allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.
46. Recognized the Dangers of Carbon Dioxide: In 2009, EPA declared carbon dioxide a pollutant, allowing the agency to regulate its production.
47. Expanded Stem Cell Research: In 2009, eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.
48. Provided Payment to Wronged Minority Farmers: In 2009, signed Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past.
49. Helped South Sudan Declare Independence: Helped South Sudan Declare Independence: Appointed two envoys to Sudan and personally attended a special UN meeting on the area. Through U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, helped negotiate a peaceful split in 2011.
50. Killed the F-22: In 2009, ended further purchases of Lockheed Martin single-seat, twin-engine, fighter aircraft, which cost $358 million apiece. Though the military had 187 built, the plane has never flown a single combat mission. Eliminating it saved $4 billion."
Our book, BEFRIENDING DEATH, is now listed on Amazon, but the book won't be deliverable for a couple of weeks yet. Available in hard copy, soft cover and e-book.
Burger King has come up with this great promotional campaign for Pride Week in San Francisco: "THE PROUD WHOPPER." They say they may bring it nationwide. Because it uses the rainbow colors and "promotes" gay themes, the right wing (the American Family Association) is furious and has started a campaign against Burger King. Watch this video to understand what's going on: LOVE BURGER KING!
I sincerely hope Burger King brings the campaign to my state. I love the uplifting message!
“America’s vast inequality didn’t just happen, it’s been politically engineered.”
-- from Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their book, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Anyone in the middle class or working class who votes Republican votes against her/his own interests and against the best interests of the country! NEVER, EVER vote Republican.
The Supreme Court just decided in favor of tightly held companies (family held) and their right to avoid women's health needs like contraception because THE COMPANY'S religious standards are violated. If that is the case, then in order for me to shop at these companies I have to agree with their religious standards even tho they violate mine. Women should have coverage for contraception if they want it. SO, I WILL NOT SHOP OR PATRONIZE A COMPANY THAT SAYS THEY WILL NOT GIVE WOMEN EMPLOYEES ACCESS TO BIRTH CONTROL INSURANCE COVERAGE AS REQUIRED BY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE.) FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. A woman's healthcare should be decided by a woman and her doctor NOT by the woman and her doctor AND the religious views of a company they work for....FREEDOM FOR WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR OWN HELATHCARE DECISIONS!
From Cicilline Post: Cicilline Introduces Bill to Protect Basic Human Rights of
International LGBT Community
Jun 19, 2014 Issues: LGBT Issues
WASHINGTON, DC – As the nation celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline
(D-RI), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-chair of
the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and one of eight openly LGBT
members of Congress, today introduced legislation to protect the basic
human rights of the international LGBT community.
Specifically, the Global Respect Act would require the State
Department to ban foreigners who have committed or incited gross
violations of basic human rights against LGBT individuals from
entering the United States. It also directs the State Department to
report on these violations and related issues in its annual Human
“The United States and the international community have a
responsibility to condemn horrific acts of discrimination and targeted
violence against all individuals, including egregious offenses based
on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Cicilline. “The
Global Respect Act will protect the rights of the LGBT community
across the globe and uphold America’s commitment to defending basic
human rights in all corners of the world.”
"Hate is not an American value, and those who are involved in passing
vicious anti-LGBT laws or inflicting harm on LGBT people should not be
welcome in our country," said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign’s
Government Affairs Director. "This bill sends a clear message to
those who have championed these serious human rights violations that
the United States government and the American people fundamentally
“It’s important to codify our government’s commitment to human rights
for LGBT individuals globally, as both a reflection of our commitment
to the rights of targeted minority communities everywhere, and as a
pragmatic realization that foreign governments that respect the rights
of LGBT citizens make better diplomatic, economic and security
partners for the United States. By applying targeted visa sanctions
to those who choose to persecute LGBT citizens, and silence the human
rights organizations that would defend their rights, the bill sends a
strong message to the world, particularly during Pride month. It also
makes clear that those who seek to advance their political careers, or
enrich their pockets, with anti-LGBT hate speech are not welcome on
our shores to benefit from the riches of our country and our economy,”
said Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality.
“Our nation has a proud history of protecting the rights and freedoms
of the oppressed. In a time when many nations around the world are
committing egregious human rights violations against LGBT people, we
welcome Representative Cicilline’s leadership to ensure that the
United States continues to promote safety, freedom, and equality of
all people,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa
More than 80 countries have laws that explicitly outlaw same-sex
relations with penalties threatening imprisonment, fines, or, in
several instances, even death. Recently, disturbing efforts to target
LGBT individuals and their families have passed and been signed into
law – most notably in Uganda and Nigeria. In Russia, President
Vladimir Putin’s supporters are considering legislation which would
forcibly remove children from their families if their parents are
suspected of being lesbian or gay. And, in Iran and elsewhere in the
Middle East, LGBT people can even be put to death.
Original cosponsors of Cicilline’s legislation include Representatives
Eliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Barbara
Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick
Maloney (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Patrick
Murphy (D-FL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Lucille
Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and
Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
The bill is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the Council for
Global Equality, Human Rights First, PFLAG National, American Jewish
World Service, and Global Rights.
My friends have a Kentucky Derby party every year to note the fact that although they live in Rhode Island, one of them is very proud of their Kentucky heritage. Great party, but unfortunately, none of the guests tempt me as much as these two who celebrated along with other celebs before the actual race, raising money for the BarnstableBrown Diabetes and Obesity Research Center at the University of Kentucky. California Chrome ran away from the pack on the stretch to win the 140th Kentucky Derby. My horse, Danza, named after actor Tony Danza, came in third. :-)
Activists may be congratulating the pontiff again as it was reported Wednesday that he’s called for a Vatican meeting to debate the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage, contraception and divorce.
Just listen to this nonsense from Charles Krauthammer and you be the judge about whether or not he's a political loser: <https://youtu.be/pYPqXwwJecs>
The Jews of San Nicandro tells the remarkable story of a group of Fascist-era Italian peasants who became Jews and ultimately made aliyah
The story that John A. Davis has to tell in The Jews of San Nicandro (Yale University Press) falls under the category of “truth is stranger than fiction.” Who would believe, outside of a fable or maybe a joke, that in Fascist Italy, a group of several dozen Catholic peasants would spontaneously decide to convert to Judaism; that they would persist in calling themselves Jews even as Italy introduced Nazi-style anti-Semitic laws; that they would make contact with Jewish soldiers from Palestine, serving in the British Army that invaded southern Italy during World War II; and that finally, after two decades of dedication and hardship, they would undergo ritual circumcision and emigrate en masse to the newly created state of Israel? Yet it all really happened, in the town of San Nicandro in the impoverished, isolated Gargano region of southern Italy.
According to Davis, a professor of Italian history at the University of Connecticut, the Jews of San Nicandro represent “the only case of collective conversion to Judaism in Europe in modern times.” Why did it happen just then, at the darkest hour for European Jewry, and in a region where no actual Jews lived? The answer lies in the religious genius or madness of Donato Manduzio, the founder of the San Nicandro group. Born in 1885, Manduzio grew up in the extreme poverty typical of southern Italy at the time, and he never went to school. Of his childhood, little is known except that his father gave him the nickname “Shitface” (“although to judge from an early photograph,” Davis objects, “he seems to have been quite good looking”). His first exposure to the wider world came during World War I, when he was conscripted into an infantry regiment and contracted a disease that left his legs paralyzed.
After he returned to San Nicandro, Manduzio developed a reputation as a faith healer and seer. It is one of several elements in his story that makes him seem more a figure of the Middle Ages than the 20th century—and in fact, Davis writes, the life of poor southern Italians was in many respects still premodern. (It was not until the 1930s that San Nicandro got a railroad line.) Certainly, the way he discovered Judaism has a pre-Reformation flavor. In the late 1920s, Manduzio read the Bible for the first time. Even at this late date, the Catholic Church in Italy discouraged lay people from reading the Bible; it wasn’t until evangelical Protestants started to distribute an Italian-language edition that scripture became accessible. (These Protestants, Davis writes, were often Italians who had spent time in the United States, where they were exposed to Christian sects like the Pentecostals and the Seventh Day Adventists.)
What Manduzio read in the Old Testament amazed him. He became convinced “that Jesus had been a prophet but not the Messiah” and that the fallen state of the world—so full of poverty and suffering—was proof that the Messiah had not yet arrived. When he read that God had established the Sabbath on Saturday, he could not understand why Christians celebrated it on Sunday. Salvation, he now decided, “lay in following the Law of the God of Israel as it had been given to Moses on Sinai. … Those seeking salvation and comfort must therefore learn to observe the Law of the God of Moses, forsaking other gods and idols, and following the path of the righteous.”
This is exactly the kind of conversion experience that led so many Protestants, in the 16th century, to reject established churches and identify their own sects with ancient Israel. Where Manduzio went beyond them was in deciding that he must actually revive the religion of Israel. For the most remarkable thing about his story is that, when he had these revelations in the late 1920s, he actually didn’t know that any Jews existed in the world. As Davis writes, “Manduzio at first believed that the Jews had all perished in the biblical Flood and that he had been called by the Almighty to revive a faith that had long since disappeared from the face of the earth.”
Accordingly, Manduzio, who now used the name Levi, set about converting a small number of his neighbors—initially, 19 adults and 30 children—to his self-invented Judaism. He told them not to eat pork and not to work on Saturday—rules that, in this time and place, he had much difficulty enforcing—and ordered them to give their children Biblical names: Sara, Ester, Myriam, and Gherson, among others. The question of naming, in fact, led to one of the group’s most serious schisms. When Concetta di Leo, Manduzio’s favorite disciple, gave birth to a son, her husband wanted to name the boy Vincenzo, after his own father; but Concetta insisted that he be given the name of a Biblical prophet. (They compromised on Giuseppe, or Joseph.) This episode gives a sense of how totally Manduzio dominated his little sect. Paralyzed and bedridden—in all the time he led the Jews of San Nicandro, he never left his house—Manduzio relied on visions and dreams to communicate with God and laid down the law in a way that his followers increasingly resented.
The San Nicandro group could easily have remained just a cult of personality and ended up dispersing as such cults usually do. But eventually Manduzio learned from a traveling peddler that there were other Jews in Italy, and he began to write to Jewish organizations in major cities, asking for guidance. Those organizations were reluctant to write back, which Davis calls “not difficult to understand. Anyone reading the correspondence would immediately have been aware of the very humble background of the writers and would probably have suspected some sort of prank.”
Even once Angelo Sacerdoti, the chief rabbi of Rome, entered into correspondence with Manduzio, he remained wary. “You and your companions have often expressed your desire to convert to Judaism,” the rabbi wrote, “and I have always made it clear how much this amazes me. I have asked you many times how you came to this conviction, since you have had no previous contact with Jews and know very little about what Judaism is.” Sacerdoti also referred to “spiritual tendencies that had nothing to do with Judaism,” and it is unmistakable how deeply Manduzio’s language and thinking were infused with Christian concepts. His Sabbath service, for instance, involved reading a passage from the Pentateuch and singing the Paternoster, a Catholic prayer in Latin. How could it have been otherwise, since Catholicism was the only religion he ever knew?
But the sannicandresi were persistent, and in time their sincerity began to win over members of the Jewish establishment. At this point, Davis’ story begins to broaden into a larger portrait of the Italian Jewish community—a small and highly assimilated group, whose relations with the Fascist regime were mostly good until the late 1930s. Prominent Jews took an interest in San Nicandro—especially the small but influential community of Italian Zionists, who found the devotion of these self-made Jews an excellent example for Jews at large. One of their major patrons was Raffaele Cantoni, a brave anti-Fascist whose work on behalf of Jewish refugees before and after the war put him in a good position to help the Jews of San Nicandro. Much of the later part of Davis’ story unfolds through Cantoni’s correspondence with his proteges, as he tries to balance cautious support with impatience at their infighting and demands for help.
The war, which might easily have meant the end of the Jews of San Nicandro, actually turned out to be the making of them. Donato Manduzio’s house happened to be located on a highway used by a transport unit of the British Army, which occupied the region after September 1943. That unit, Company 178, was composed of Jews from Palestine, who had enlisted in the British Army in order to fight Germany. (Their commander, Major Wellesley Aron, is one of several fascinating Jewish figures in Davis’ story.) When their trucks, painted with the Star of David, drove through San Nicandro, the local Jews greeted them with their own Star of David flag.
In this way, Davis shows, the sannicandresi came to the attention of the network of Jewish activists—Italian, Palestinian, and British—who organized throughout Italy to shelter Jewish refugees and smuggle them to Palestine. The Jews of San Nicandro were especially inspired by their meeting with Enzo Sereni, an Italian Jew who was a leading Haganah activist. The photo of Sereni in San Nicandro, surrounded by solemn-looking men holding the Zionist flag, was the last taken of him before he parachuted behind German lines on a mission that led to his death.
What these experiences meant for the Jews of San Nicandro was that their home-made Judaism grew into a passionate Zionism. From 1944 on, the community’s goal was to emigrate and build the Jewish state. This was by no means easy, as the patient Cantoni kept reminding them: The British were intent on keeping Jewish immigrants out of Palestine, and the few available permits were meant for Holocaust survivors, not the comparatively well-off Jews of San Nicandro. Yet in November 1949, after a series of clashes that Davis documents—and after the death of Donato Manduzio, who grew increasingly alienated from his flock—the Jews of San Nicandro did make aliyah. Davis writes only sparingly about their experience in Israel, which was apparently as difficult as that of most immigrants to the new country. But perhaps this very hardship was the best proof that they had achieved their extraordinary goal of becoming ordinary Jews.
Adam Kirsch is a contributing editor for Tablet Magazine and the author of Benjamin Disraeli, a biography in the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series.
Call the Senate Leadership of Rhode Island and ask them to Vote YES on Senate Bill No. 38 that will grant marriage rights for all Rhode Island Citizens.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed : 401-222-6655
Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin: 401-272-3102
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Ruggerio: 401-222-3310
Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere: 401-222-2708
In the January 31 issue of the RI Catholic, in a full page ad, the above names were listed with phone numbers urging people to call these senators. They hoped all who read the ad would urge them to vote against same sex marriage. We can join the majority of Catholics according to polls who support same-sex marriage and the majority of other Christians represented by their religious leaders, the RI Council of Churches, and do just the opposite and urge them to vote in favor of same sex marriage.
Let’s join the President of the United States, the, majority of RI Catholics and the majority of other Christians represented by the RI Council of Churches, all the other New England States, and people of good will worldwide in their support of marriage rights for all by calling these RI senators and urging them to VOTE YES on RI Senate Bill 38.
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