Let's Be Frank! (copy)

Posted by RabbiCohen on Jul. 3, 2020  /   0

Let's Be Frank!


As we all know, many families today are “mixed” – Democrat and Republican, blue and red, peacenik and hardline.  My extended family certainly is.   This polarization, it is nothing new.  Perhaps the dialogue is harsher now and we are listening less, but, family political debate and dissension are older than the United States itself.   

Let’s travel back to 1776 and visit with the Franks family. 

David Franks, age 56, was a wealthy businessman in Philadelphia – a leader in the community.  He belonged to the congregation Mikve Israel and was elected to the provincial assembly in 1748.  And for all those naysayers who call intermarriage a “new” phenomenon, let it be known: Frank’s wife was not Jewish.  She came from a prominent Christian family.  During the war, a British loyalist to the core, David Franks served the “King’s Agent” in Philadelphia.  And afterward?  He was imprisoned twice by the order of Congress.

And, then, there is David Salisbury Franks, age 36, and David Frank’s nephew.  David Salisbury Franks, joined the Continental army and became Benedict Arnold’s “aide-de-camp.”  No, he was not involved in Arnold’s treason although rumors followed him throughout life.  He felt so strongly that he wanted to clear his name that he asked to be court-martialed, in order to present his case in court. He was completely exonerated.  He went onto be a trusted advisor for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

With poetic justice, David Salisbury Franks and his Uncle David Franks died within one year of each other in 1793 and 1794, both of yellow fever.     

As long as there were Jews in the continental United States (probably 1584 but possibly earlier), our community was active in political affairs.  And while the Jewish community has been known to be prominent in progressive causes, in reality, we have positioned ourselves on either side of the aisle, if you will. 

So, this July 4th weekend, I hope that you find a socially-distant, Covid-19 safe way to celebrate the freedoms that the United States promises. And, that in the spirit of the Franks cousins, you stand up for your beliefs and make your voices heard. 

Shabbat Shalom!

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