FEBRUARY 2, 1960
NEW YORK—I must apologize for not mentioning a ceremony that took place at City Hall, here, over a week ago. This was Mayor Robert F. Wagner's proclaiming the entire year of 1960 as Solomon Ibn Gabirol Year in New York City. Many members of the Hispanic Jewish community watched the Mayor give this proclamation to Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein in the presence of Mr. Simon S. Nessim of the World's Sephardi Federation.
The Hispanic and Jewish community will sponsor during this coming year a program of cultural and general education to draw worldwide attention to the universal character of the Hispanic heritage—to stress the essential oneness of mankind in a more convincing and natural manner than heretofore.
The proclamation states that Solomon Ibn Gabirol, early poet and philosopher of the Hispanic world, is a fitting center around which to build an understanding, particularly among the Hispanic people of our city, of the contribution that they can make.
This year marks the 900th anniversary of the death of this profound scholar of Jewish origin, the greatest of the great poets who left an imperishable impression on Christian thinking.
In his day men hardly dared to dream of a world of tolerance and brotherhood, but he dared to express his faith in future unity in the following lines:
Though men serve those which are not thee
For all do purpose to reach unto thee..."
It is fitting perhaps that on the very day when the Mayor was giving out this proclamation to a poet of the very distant past, an effort was begun to get 15,000 sponsors in order to keep the New York Shakespeare Festival alive.
The Bard of Avon, of course, was a more recent poet, and perhaps more understandable to many of our citizens. And certainly he should become through his plays and through his poetry more and more familiar to every citizen of every background in our great city.
The city has appropriated a quarter of a million dollars for an amphitheatre, but the Festival Committee must prove that it has the financial ability to operate these facilities before the city will hand this sum over for use. The campaign for sponsors must be successful, and I hope that all who read these lines will help to raise the $110,000 needed to finance the free production of Shakespeare's plays. This amount of money also will cover the $10,000 needed to maintain the festival office between the 1960 and 1961 seasons.
Most of us know that we have Mr. Joseph Papp to thank for the interest that makes these productions possible, and you may also want to know that the address of the New York Shakespeare Festival is 1230 Fifth Avenue, New York City.