Speeches As President (1923-1928)

Dedication of the Jewish Community Center

May 3, 1925

We have gathered this afternoon to lay with appropriate ceremony and solemnity the cornerstone of a temple.  The splendid structure which is to rise here will be the home of the Jewish Community Centre of Washington.  It will be at once a monument to the achievements of the past and a help in the expansion of these achievements into a wider field of usefulness in the future.

About this institution will be organized, and from it will be radiated, the influences of those civic works in which the genius of the Jewish people has always found such eloquent expression.  Such an establishment, so noble in its physical proportions, so generous in its social purposes, is truly a part of the civic endowment of the nation’s capital.  Beyond that, its existence here at the seat of the National Government makes it in a peculiar way a testimony and an example before the entire country.

This year 1925 is a year of national anniversaries.   States, cities and towns throughout all the older part of the country will be celebrating their varied parts in the historic events which a century and a half ago marked the beginning of the American Revolution.

It will be a year of dedications and rededications.  It will recall the heroic events from which emerged a great modern nation consecrated to liberty, equality, and human rights.  It will remind us, as a nation, of how a common spiritual inspiration was potent to bring and mold and weld together into a national unity the many and scattered colonial communities that had been planted along the Atlantic seaboard.


New York Times, May 4, 1925


At Laying of Jewish Centre’s Cornerstone, He calls for End of Factional Strife

Puts Faith in Bible First

President Recalls Saying That “Hebraic Mortar Cemented American Democracy.”

Sees Lesson in Adaptation

WASHINGTON, May 3.- Speaking here today at the laying of the cornerstone of the Jewish Community Center, President Coolidge, recalling the services of the Jews to the United States in war and peace, from the Revolution to the present, and the influence of their Scriptures in the law, culture and morality of the country since early Colonial days, declared, with Lecky, that “Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy.”

Naming the Jewish heroes of 1776 who sacrificed their fortunes or took up arms in the struggle for independence, the President said it was easy to understand “why a people with the background of the Jews should thus overwhelmingly and unhesitatingly have allied themselves with the cause of freedom. From the earliest Colonial times America has been a new land of promise to this long persecuted race.”

Of all the things this country has done for the Jew, he considered that the greatest had been to receive them and treat them precisely as it had all other who have come to it.

“If our experiment in free institutions has proved anything,” he said, “it is that the greatest privilege that can be conferred upon the people in the mass is to free them from the demoralizing influence of privilege enjoyed by the few.”
Spiritual Unity Not Yet Complete

Turning to the diverse elements of which the nation is built, the President asserted that it “must cling to those fundamentals that have been tried and proved as buttresses of national solidarity.”

It must be our untiring effort, he said, to maintain, to improve, and, so far as humanly possible, to perfect these institutions which have proved capable of guaranteeing our unity and strengthen us in advancing the estate of common man. 
Appealing for a forward movement on the same broadening lines that have marked national development, the President declared that the work of spiritual unification was not yet completed.

“Factional, sectional, social and political lines of conflict yet persist,” he said. “Despite all experience, society continues to engender the hatreds and jealousies whereof are born domestic strife and international conflicts. 

But education and enlightenment are breaking their force. Reason is emerging.”

The President declared that the Jews were the most cosmopolitan of all Americans of Old World origin and in capacity for adaptation in detail, without sacrifice of essentials, a lesson to the nation. Pointing to their inheritance in both secular history and religious experience drawing them to the side of charity, liberty and progress, he said:

“This edifice which you are erecting here is a fine example for other communities. * * * It is a guarantee that you will keep step with liberty.”

Referring to the building as a social and civil landmark for the future, he called upon the coming generations in contemplating it to remember that “the patriots who laid the foundation of this Republic drew their faith from the Bible.” and added:

“May they give due credit to the people among whom the Holy Scriptures came into being. And as they ponder the assertion that ‘Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy.’ they cannot escape the conclusion that if American democracy is to remain the greatest hope of humanity it must continue abundantly in the faith of the Bible.”