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Balfour Day

By Paul Greenberg, Tribune Content Agency on

It was a big deal when I was growing up in the bosom of what was in spirit an orthodox Jewish congregation in Shreveport, La.: Balfour Day.

The date was observed every Nov. 2, for that's when a British Foreign Secretary named Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Baron Rothschild that was only a couple of hundred words long but that stirred the entire Jewish world:

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Foreign Office

Nov. 2, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

...continued

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