On this day in 355 BCE, Haman's edict for destroying the Jewish people was overturned. The date is mentioned three times in the Book of Esther, read every year on Purim. On this day in 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the New York State Regent's Prayer in public schools, on the grounds that it violated the separation of Church and State. The New York State board of education had approved the following 22-word "nondenominational prayer" for recitation each morning in public schools: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country." The board of education believed that the prayer would help students develop good character and good citizenship. Although reciting the prayer was optional for each student, a group of parents objected, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Organizations such as the American Jewish Congress supported the ban -- due to centuries of religious persecution, Jews tend to oppose government involvement in religion. One of the most ominous reactions came from the Jesuit publication, America, which warned Jews that their involvement in these cases could incite anti-Semitism in American society. The majority Supreme Court opinion held that "classroom invocation of God's blessings... is a religious activity." The dissenting opinion pointed out that each day's session of the Supreme Court starts with the invocation, "God save the United States and this Honorable Court," that the Pledge of Allegiance contains the words "one Nation under God," and that every dollar bill bears the words, "In God we Trust."
Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.