Segments in this Video

America's Passover: Introduction (03:21)


Rabbi Meir Soloveichik explains his lecture will be dedicated to the seal and the idea of freedom it evoked in America; Franklin and Jefferson both presented Biblical symbols which were profoundly linked to the Jewish freedom story. Rabbi Soloveichik wishes to help Jewish viewers have a different understanding of the Seder.

An American Passover Story (06:31)

Beginning his lecture with an American Passover story, Rabbi Soloveichik describes the celebration of Seder in 1862 by union army private Joseph Joel and his Jewish comrades at arms. Rutherford B. Hayes granted the soldiers the permission to celebrate their religious holiday.

The National Seal (07:37)

The Continental Congress in 1776 assigned Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to propose their versions for the first seal of the United States of America. Both Jefferson and Franklin chose Biblical images coming from Hebrew texts, but neither was chosen by the members of congress.

A Political Theology of Freedom: The Impact of Exodus on America's Founders (08:43)

The two Exodus images purposed by the Founding Fathers, according to Rabbi Soloveichik, present a complimentary message about a theology of political freedom. The Rabbi describes what Hebrew really means and how it is not an ethnic term as people often define it.

Exodus and the Moral Convictions of Freedom (09:27)

Rabbi Soloveichik explains the premise of a lecture delivered by Isaiah Berlin about the distinction between positive and negative liberty and freedom; the Rabbi discusses the Biblical story of Moses. The British and American revolutions succeeded in creating free societies, not without war, but without terror and tyranny.

Freedom as a Journey (16:17)

Rabbi Soloveichik explains he believes Jefferson’s chosen Hebrew story for the American seal to be more interesting due to the perseverance the Jew’s are about to endure. Hear a Seder story about Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark commander of the Fifth US Army during World War II.

The American Legacy of the Passover Story (14:09)

Rabbi Soloveichik describes the rich history of politics being discussed from the pulpit of Jewish Rabbi’s, as well as the political contexts of Hebrew texts verses the Christian Bible. The film “The Ten Commandments” was a representation of America's relationship with religion at the time, but that relationship is profoundly different in the modern age.

In Conclusion (06:37)

There are two different understandings of freedom represented by Jefferson and Franklin’s proposals for the seal of the United States. Rabbi Soloveichik argues the reason why humans have unalienable rights is due to the fact that a universal god created and gave these rights to all people, not the state.

Credits: America's Passover (00:08)

Credits: America's Passover

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America’s Passover: Franklin, Jefferson, and the Seal of the United States – How the Story of the Exodus Influenced America’s Founders

Part of the Series : The Founding Fathers and Insights Into Religious Freedom
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This video lecture by Meir Soleveichik examines how the story of the exodus from Egypt influenced the thinking of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. It considers their moral convictions of freedom and the idea of freedom as a journey and how these beliefs influenced the design for the Seal of the United States.

Length: 74 minutes

Item#: BVL145744

ISBN: 978-1-64347-015-3

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.