By: Commentator Staff  | 

Yeshiva Mourns Pres. Roosevelt; Speakers Pay Final Tribute to F.D.R. (Vol. 10, Issue 9)

Yeshiva and Yeshiva College joined a grief-stricken world in paying tribute to the memory of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a memorial meeting held in the Nathan Lamport Auditorium, 11 AM, Sunday, April 15,

Rabbi Jacob M. Lesin, spiritual advisor at the Yeshiva opened the memorial services with the chanting of Psalms sixteen and twenty-three before an audience of approximately a thousand mourners. Dr. Samuel Belkin then eulogized the memory of the late President, and spoke of him as being the first citizen of the world, master of his own destiny and one who used his own physical misfortune for better and greater leadership.

Dead Before His Time

“This generation is most fortunate in that it produced a new star, a great humanitarian, a great leader who challenged the doctrines of Fascism.

“As Jews, we more than any other people appreciate the greatness of the President who died before his dreams could be fulfilled. Morally and spiritually he knew how to live his own life. Having suffered so much he appreciated all the more what it means to suffer.

F.D.R's Foresight Praised 

After commending the social legislation initiated by F.D.R. and the principles of international justice proclaimed by him in the Atlantic Charter, President Belkin spoke of his foresight in ‘‘warning the nation of the outcome of the paganism and barbarism that was spreading over the world. He asked not only for rights, but demanded justice for all men regardless of creed or race.”

Rabbi David Lifschitz, Rosh Yeshiva, addessed the audience in Yiddish, giving a poignant and graphic picture of the place Roosevelt held in the hearts of European Jewry. At the same time that the president took his first oath of office, the barbarism that later swept over Europe had begun to appear. European Jewry realized that Roosevelt was fighting their battle.

The Almighty's Shield

“He said openly that the United ‘States could not remain a passive onlooker while a whole people was being liquidated only because it was the people of the Book. He was the shield that the Almighty had provided for us.

“In the name of the four million victims of our martyred people let our voice be heard. Let his grave be an eternal monument not only of his mortal body but also of his immortal soul, and a warn- ing to those who would try to undo what he has done.”

Speaking in the name of the student bodies of Yeshiva and Yeshiva College, Milton Furst '43, president of the S.O.Y., pointed out that “the world had lost a master planner of a workable and permanent peace. But now is not the time for despair and despondency. This is a time for faith and unswerving trust'in the Almighty."

“Oh Captain, My Captain”

The concluding message was delivered by Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein, assistant professor of Jewish sociology and homiletics. Beginning with a moving reading of Walt Whitman’s ‘Oh, Captain, My Captain”, Rabbi Lookstein traced the tragic anomaly of life implicit in the biography of the late Commander-in-Chief. 

“The one who can emancipate from slavery cannot lead into the Promised Land. The one who cannot stand without support can yet have the world lean on his shoulders.

Conquered Grave Difficulties

“It is not enough, however, to merely mourn President Roosevelt, but from the tapestry of his life to learn certain lessons. If it is true that the times produce the personality it is also true that the man molds his time. That man is great who does not live only in his times but who changes and molds his times to his ideas. That is real greatness, and the fullest measure of it was possessed by President Roosevelt. He taught us that one can rise from a wheelchair to a throne.”

Rabbi Lookstein characterized F.D.R. as “that prophetic soul who in spite of every infirmity possessed the great characteristic that his eye remained unclouded. The world will remember the man of universal vision, the man of solid integrity that our President was.”

Friend of Youth

Pointing to the N.Y.A. and C.C.C. programs, Rabbi Lookstein emphasized that Roosevelt was the friend of youth....he indicated his “at-one-ment” with them. Young people will remember him most and pass on his memory to countless generations of the young.

Returning in conclusion to Whitman’s poem, Rabbi Lookstein indicated the Immortal place that our beloved President had gained in the hearts of the American people. “Whitman's lament was that of a grief-stricken poet, not that of a prophet. For Franklin Delano Roosevelt is not dead. It can be said of him as it was said of Moses, ‘and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day’.”

The memorial services ended with a Kel Moleh Rahamim read by Rubbl Sidney B. Hoenig of the Teachers’ Institute.