Last November, Tablet Magazine published an article I wrote about President’s Lyndon Johnson’s dedication of the new synagogue building for Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin. Today, in honor of President’s Day, Tablet reposted the article, this time including the audio file of his speech. Whatever your thoughts about LBJ’s politics or personality, this was an incredible speech that offered a window into where he would lead us.
President Johnson’s participation in the life of my synagogue remains a source of pride in our history. I have had the privilege of interviewing many congregants who participated in the planning, cooking, speaking and arranging, and for them it was a defining moment as American Jews. We had a President who loved us, who listened to us and honored us with his presence. The move itself represented a move “Uptown” from downtown both physically and spiritually. After all, not even Cyrus the Great, who released the exiled Jews from Babylonia to return to the Land, loaned us his convertible to carry our sacred Torah scrolls.