It's An Essay Contest
You Could Win.... $250 $500 $750
You could even be on TV
What's it all about?
To submit your entry in this essay contest, we ask you to write about the concepts of
equality and respect for all people... ideals for which our country's founders fought
and died. Focus on civic harmony over violence, equality over prejudice, and respect
for the diversity in race, religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation among
your friends, neighbors, and classmates.
Enlighten America began as B'nai B'rith International's (BBI) response to shootings
sparked by racial and religious hatred in Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York,
and elsewhere. Sadly, there appears to be no end in sight to this senseless hatred
and killing. A BBI task force developed this response as a way to get involved, to
improve ourselves, our communities, and our world.
In August 1790 Moses Seixas, of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island,
sent a letter to George Washington welcoming him to their city when he came to visit.
Seixas' letter to Washington is among the most famous of many congratulatory notes
addressed to the new president. In his letter, Seixas expressed a principle that
Washington repeated in his response.... that ours is a government which "gives to
bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." This was the first statement of
such a principle made by a leader of the new American government. It became the
cornerstone of American religious and ethnic acceptance as it has developed over
more than two centuries.
This essay contest highlights Washington's letter in response to Moses Seixas and
the congregation of Touro Synagogue. The letter encourages everyone to
understand that all citizens of the United States possess a liberty of conscience and
immunities of citizenship. He explicitly said that toleration is no longer acceptable
"as if it were to be conferred by one class of people on another" but rather that all are
equal under the law. He noted the only requirement is that those who live under the
protection of the new government must act and behave as good citizens.
The essay contest uses Washington's letter as a cornerstone of wisdom as we look
today at widespread seemingly unfounded hatred. To be eligible for a prize, be sure
to follow ALL the Contest Rules.
brought to you by
B'nai B'rith, metro-Atlanta style