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Commems Collection Medals: 1976 B'nai B'rith - American Freedom Series

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 Posted 11/17/2022  12:05 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've enjoyed collecting US bicentennial medals over the years, and have a mix of US Mint and privately-struck commemorative medals in my collection. A large number of companies and organizations issued commemorative pieces for the US' 200th anniversary. and a person hoping to collect an example of each would have an immense task ahead of them. Fortunately, I am not such a collector but I do have over 100 medals with a US bicentennial theme, here's one that is a bit off the beaten path.

The medal was issued in 1976 by the B'bai B'rith, an international Jewish organization. Per its web site, the B'nai B'rith is "a staunch defender of the State of Israel, advocates for global Jewry and champions the cause of human rights. B'nai B'rith is recognized as a vital voice in combating anti-Semitism, promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a leader in disaster relief and assisting communities in crisis, a provider of safe and affordable housing for low-income older adults and a tireless advocate on behalf of seniors."

I was attracted to the medal's US bicentennial theme, its portrait of George Washington and its message of religious freedom. Religious freedom was a cornerstone of the founding of the early American colonies and, ultimately, the US itself.

The medal's obverse presents a right-facing portrait of George Washington with a phrase from a letter he sent to the congregation at the Touro Synogogue in 1790 - "...TO BIGOTRY NO SANCTION, TO PERSECUTION NO ASSISTANCE."

For some context, here is the complete letter written by Washington (I've highlighted the paragraph containing the phraase shown on the medal):


While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on 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 were 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, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

The reverse design on the medal presents a menorah in the foreground with a depiction of the Touro Synagogue behind it to the right (viewer's perspective). At the rim between (roughly) the Noon and six o'clock positions is found the inscription "IN THE TRADITION OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY" which ties into the Touro Synagogue's long-standing connection to the early history of Rhode Island. (See the What If? link below for more.) Also seen is the inscription, "AMERICAN FREEDOM SERIES" - the medal was to be the first of a series, but was the only one produced.

The piece was struck by Art Medals, Inc. (AMI) of Brookfield, CT - a short-lived private mint that is no longer in business. It was designed by Arthur Glickman (1923-2011) an artist/sculptor based in New Jersey who was known for his sculptures vs. medallic work; the medal is signed on reverse. It is bronze, 63 millimeters (~2-7/16") in diameter with a weight of 148 grams (5.2 ounces). My understanding is that 500 examples were struck.

1976 George Washington - Letter to the Touro Synagogue Medal

For more on the history of the Touro Synagogue, see:

- What If? 1963 Touro Synagogue

For more of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, see: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
11/17/2022 12:07 pm
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 Posted 11/17/2022  12:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice!

while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
I immediately recognized this from a line in Hamilton, but it is a reference Washington had used many times...
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 Posted 11/30/2022  8:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add BGLI to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting. Thanks for posting
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 Posted 12/01/2022  03:01 am  Show Profile   Check Chopped Triumphs's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Chopped Triumphs to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Always different and educational!
Thanks, Commems!
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 Posted 12/01/2022  05:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Outstanding information commems. Your collection and knowledge has no bounds.

Thank you for sharing.
Take a look at my other hobby ...
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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