“Beyond McCarthy,” Sermon by Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, December 3, 1954
Sermon from Friday Evening Sabbath service, December 3, 1954. Temple Israel of Boston Archives.
“If the tide has indeed begun to surge, as I hope with my whole heart it has, against McCarthy and the evil things for which he stands, the credit goes to those whose personal courage impels them to fight back, even when it would have been so much safer and more comfortable to turn the other way.”
The final sermon in a series about current issues, Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn’s December 3, 1954 sermon discusses Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (1908-1957), a senator from Wisconsin who gained power and created hysteria by accusing public servants and others of being Communists during the Red Scare of the 1950s. He describes McCarthy, who had just been censured in the Senate, as a liar who spews hatred and creates divisiveness, but also as the “cause and product of a social system that transcends any one person.” Gittelsohn argues that McCarthy’s popularity can be explained only by a sick, irrational level of anxiety and the fear of taking on the burden of freedom in a frightening Cold War nuclear world where it might be tempting to look to a totalitarian leader who seems sure of all the answers. He is proud of the healthy, socially responsible figures who have stood up to reject McCarthy over the past 4 and a half years and concludes that freedom can only survive through “large scale militant decency and the courage to defeat.”
This recording, along with several hundred others that capture services, sermons, and other events from 1934-1979, have recently been digitized by the Temple Israel Archives. Free streaming access to these recordings is available via the Digital Commonwealth, The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), or by request from the Wyner Archives, Temple Israel of Boston.This project was supported by a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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