Torah Thoughts/Tell Me Why
The Torah is filled with examples of when,
and why, we should express gratitude.
ong before November
became the month famous
for Thanksgiving, or Miss
Manners had even heard
of a thank-you note, the Torah was
teaching the value of being apprecia-
tive in both word and deed.
In Hebrew, todah means "thank
you," and you will see it in various
forms throughout the Torah and in
prayer ( Toy lehodot lAdoshem — "It
is good to give thanks to God").
It is gratitude to God that is most
emphasized in the Torah, especially
in the Psalms. "For each and every
breath that a man draws," the rabbis
taught, "let him praise God."
We show that we are thankful with
words. In daily life, we express grati-
tude to God with davening the
Shemoneh Esrey, the Eighteen
Benedictions, and in prayers said
before and after eating and drinking.
We also utter special invocations,
such as the Hallel prayer, which is
said on Rosh Chodesh, the begin-
ning of the new month; on
Chanukah; and on Sukkot, Pesach
Similarly, there are many special
blessings said for God's gifts of
nature, love, friendship, the sun and
The Archies have many Jewish connections.
Special to the Jewish News
Q: I'm a baby boomer and I confess,
I loved The Archies. I've always won-
dered whether the TV show, and the
group, had a Jewish connection?
A: Perhaps there is no prouder moment
in our vast and long Jewish history than
when Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich,
both of whom are Jewish, took pen to
hand and wrote the song, "Sugar, Sugar."
The Archies, the cartoon singing
group, had an inexplicably huge hit with
this number, the lyrics of which include,
"Honey; ah sugar, sugar; You are my
candy girl; And you got me wanting
Mercifully, Tell Me Why can report
that Barry (who was married to
Greenwich when they collaborated on
the song) later said he was mortified that
"Sugar, Sugar," which sold 6 million-plus
copies, was such a hit. He called it "a lit-
tle childish song." (Barry's other hits
included such sophisticated numbers as
"Teenage Sonata," "Doo-Wah Diddy,"
"Leader of the Pack" and "Da Do Run
But this is only the start of the Jewish
connections. A Jew named John
Goldwater created the 'Archie" comic
strip and another Jew named Don
Kirshner produced the cartoon show,
popular in the 1960s.
The "rock group," consisting of mem-
bers of the Archie gang, included several
Jewish singers — Barry himself,
We also show that we are thankful
to God through actions. The
Talmud teaches that simply saying,
"Thanks, God, for everything! And
now, I'm outta here ..." doesn't cut
it. Our gratitude also must be shown
in the kind treatment we extend
toward the poor and needy, wid-
ows and orphans.
But just as on Yom
Kippur, when we must
approach friends and
neighbors to ask for-
giveness for the
wrongs we have com-
mitted against them
(rather than just tell
God that we're sorry
for everything and be
done with it), so, too,
does the Torah teach
that we need to let
other human beings
know that we appre-
In II Samuel 19:32-
40, for example, King
David expresses his gratitude when
another provides him and his men
with food in the wilderness.
In II Samuel9, David shows his
appreciation to Jonathan for all that
his longtime friend had done for
him. David does not
limit himself to words:
instead, David gives a
great honor — a seat
at his table — to
most famous pas-
sages regarding how
men and women
show appreciation to
each other occurs in
Exodus 22:20, when
God tells the Israelites
that they should never
since they once had
been strangers them-
selves in the land of
Greenwich and Toni Wine. It also fea-
.tured the talents of Ron Dante, who is
not Jewish but later went on (perhaps
as a punishment for his association with
the Archies) to work extensively with the
dreadful Barry Manilow.
On the TV show The Archies, actor
Howard Morris, providing yet another
Jewish connection to Archie, served as
the voice for "Jughead."
As an eloquent, outspoken public
advocate of slavery, Benjamin was in
immediate demand upon the formation
of the Confederacy. President Jefferson
Davis named Benjamin the Confederate
attorney general. Later, he was appointed
secretary of war and still later, secretary
Benjamin was Davis' most influential
adviser and came to be known as the
"brains of the Confederacy."
As the Civil War came to an end,
Benjamin escaped to England, where he
began a second career as a lawyer. He
was wildly successful, highly respected
and earned an enormous income.
In 1854, as a senator, Benjamin
protested the anti-Semitism of
Although he never denied he was
Jewish and never renounced Judaism,
Benjamin did not practice his religion.
In New Orleans, in 1833, he married a
French Catholic, Natalie St. Martin.
They had one child, Ninette, brought up
Benjamin became estranged from his
wife and daughter, perhaps because they
lived in Paris while he resided in
London. In 1883, Benjamin reconciled
with his wife and settled in Paris, where,
in May 1884, he died.
In 1874, Benjamin's daughter Ninette
was married in a Catholic ceremony to
Capt. Henri de Bousignac. She died in
1898. As far as is known, she did not
have children. ❑
(); As a Civil War buff, I've always been
fascinated by Judah P. Benjamin, the
Confederate secretary of state. Was he a
practicing Jew, and did he have any
A: Judah Philip Benjamin was born in
1811 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands (at that
time, a Danish colony occupied by the
British; since 1917, it has been a territory
of the United States).
When Benjamin was a child, the fami-
ly moved to North Carolina and later to
New Orleans. Benjamin, who came
from a Sephardic family, likely was raised
in an observant home.
Although Benjamin attended but did
not graduate from Yale in New Haven,
Conn., he became a successful Louisiana
lawyer. In fact, he was so respected in the
law that President Franklin Pierce offered
him a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1852, Benjamin was elected to the
U.S. Senate, serving two terms and gain-
ing a reputation as the ablest debater and
orator in the country.