On March 1st, 2023, we celebrated the two hundred and twentieth birthday of the state of Ohio. Ohio is well-known as the seventeenth state admitted into the United States in 1803. The land now known as Ohio was part of the Northwest Territory. Ohio was the first state carved out of the old Northwest Ordinance laid out in 1787.
While that is the official date that is celebrated, many are unaware that the legal date that Ohio was entered into statehood was one hundred and fifty years later — in 1953! Why? In November 1802, the Ohio State Convention, located in Chillicothe, petitioned for admittance in the United States by approving the Ohio Constitution. Thomas Worthington, a delegate of the convention, personally delivered the document to Washington, D.C. and presented it to Congress in December. Congress proceeded to approve the action in accordance with President Jefferson’s newly signed 1802 Enabling Act, but forgot one critical thing. They neglected to ratify the Ohio Constitution.
So how did we finally become a “legal” state? An Ohio Congressman named George H. Bender was an Ohio Representative of the Eighty Third Congress in 1953 when the Ohio statehood issue resurfaced. It resurfaced as a result of some Ohio school teachers who headed to Washington, D.C. to obtain copies of documents pertaining to Ohio becoming a state in 1803. But a problem occurred because the Library of Congress did not have some of the documents; namely, the legislation that granted statehood to Ohio. On January 13, he introduced legislation to grant statehood to Ohio. On May 19, the House voted to grant statehood to Ohio, retroactive to March 1,1803.
All states have at least one state motto. A motto is much more than just a slogan; it is supposed to reflect the essence and attitude of the state.
The state of California’s motto is “Eureka!” (Greek word meaning “I found it!”) — reflecting the famous gold rush that brought thousands to their state. The state of Indiana’s motto is “The Crossroads of America.” The reason: Some historians say this is due to Indianapolis being the hub of several major interstate highways that criss-cross Indiana and connect Hoosiers to the rest of the U.S. Others say Highways Forty and Forty One opened the West for settlement and were designated as part of the original federal highway system in 1926. The intersection of these two highways in Terre Haute became the Crossroads of America.
The motto for the great state of Ohio, our state, is “With God, all things are possible.” How did Ohio get such a religious and inspiring motto? During the early 1950s, the Ohio Legislature sponsored a contest to select a state motto. James Mastronardo, a 12-year-old boy, recommended this quotation and it became the official state motto on October 1, 1959.
During the month in which we celebrate our states’ founding, it is appropriate to take a few moments and reflect on the motto of our state. While it may sound cliche, it is the absolute truth. G-d Almighty is infinite and when we connect to Him, we are able to tap into the infinite powers of the divine. We come to realize that things which we thought were naturally impossible, become possible.
The history of our people, the eternal Jewish people, reflect this point. The Jewish people have faced persecution and annihilation like no other nation. Many wonder about the secret of our endurance and eternal existence, as there seems to be no rational answer as far larger, and mightier, nations and kingdoms have fallen to the trash-can of history, while “Am Yisroel Chai” — the Jewish nation endures. They fail to realize that our “secret” is the essential — and non-breakable — bond that we have with Almighty G-d. Every Jew possesses a soul, which is truly a part of the one above.
There is a classic Chassidic saying: “The Jew does not want, and simply cannot, separate himself from the Almighty.” How do we tap into this infinite and G-dly power that we possess in our soul? Through adding in our learning of His holy Torah and fulfilling his Mitzvos. When we internalize this fundamental truth, it will change our entire perspective on religion and religious observance. Instead of viewing the relationship as restrictive and prohibiting, we should view it as liberating and expansive. It opens up infinite horizons and brings new channels of blessings into our personal lives and to our community.
Yes indeed, “With G-d (Almighty), all things are possible!”
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