To Bigotry No Sanction – a historic musical performance featuring members of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Event details

  • Wednesday | June 2, 2021
  • 7:00 pm


Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel presents an exclusive screening of To Bigotry No Sanction, a new cantata composed by Jonathan Comisar.

“I love the way that the music starts out by evoking ancient Jewish sadness only to erupt into the excitement of fife and drums in the new American setting brought about by the Constitution. You save your most momentous music for Washington’s most profound words—to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance—and you invest them with all the weight and majesty they deserve.
How wonderful that the cantata then slows into a mood of tranquility and peace, suggestive of the bright future of the Jews in America, but with a residual undercurrent of solemnity that reminds us that this history won’t be free of trouble and that antisemitism hasn’t been stamped out. By employing many languages and performing the cantata with a diverse cast and orchestra, you have endowed George Washington’s words with universal meaning and honored his high-minded vision.”
— Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Washington: A Life”

In 1790, President George Washington wrote his historic Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, declaring, “…happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance…

In 2016, KI Cantor Amy Levy commissioned Jonathan Comisar to write a cantata.
KI Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, PhD, an eminent scholar of American Jewish history, collaborated with Comisar to create a new cantata based on the letter that is the foundation of the American Jewish experience. Comisar’s stunning new work embodies touchstones of Jewish and American music in an orchestral/choral setting.

On June 2, 2021, KI will present a free, virtual premiere of To Bigotry No Sanction featuring members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and a multicultural choir representing 17 languages.

Recognizing the dichotomy of Washington’s words and deeds towards colonial Jews and his own slaves, the performance will be followed by a conversation with Jonathan Comisar and Rabbi Lance Sussman, moderated by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Sam Katz of History Making Productions.

This event is free to all. No registration is required for this prerecorded event. CLICK TO WATCH.