“From 1854 to 1929 an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were placed throughout the United States and Canada during the Orphan Train Movement.  When the orphan train movement began, it was estimated that 30,000 abandoned children were living on the streets of New York City.”
The article from The National Orphan Train Museum website  continues:

Need for the Orphan Trains

Mass Immigration – Part of the Problem

In 1853, the United States began surveying railroad lines to the Pacific, mapping four different routes. Posters, flyers and advertisements were sent to Europe and the rest of the world extolling the virtues of coming to America and getting “free land.” Many were led to believe America was the “land of milk and honey” they so desperately wanted for themselves and their children.  As a result the United States received a larger number of immigrants than any other country in history.  Between 1841 and 1860, America welcomed 4,311,465 newcomers. Many left their homelands because of poor harvests, famines, political unrest and revolutions.  Agents of steamship lines along with the railroad companies attracted thousands to the United States with words such as “the land of opportunity” and “land of a second chance.” This brought laborers for the factories, tenants for western lands, and often chaos to young families when housing became a problem.

It wasn’t until 1882 that congress passed the first general immigration statute.

As early as 1830, some states passed immigration laws of their own but in 1872 the Supreme Court decided these state laws violated the constitution.

Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor, opened in 1892 as property of the United States Bureau of Immigration (later the Immigration and Naturalization Service) but the main structure was gutted by fire in 1897, reopening in 1900 processing 2,251 immigrants the first day.

In 1907, a record number (1,285,349) of immigrants were admitted to the United States. Ten years later, Congress passed a law that required an immigrant to prove that he could read and write at least one language. Physically handicapped and children under 16 did not have to meet this requirement.

The 1921 quota law allowed up to 357,000 aliens from countries outside the Western Hemisphere to enter the United States and by 1924, the total was down to 150,000.

Ellis Island closed in 1954 but became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965.


Insufficient Living Conditions Added Problems

Port cities were overcrowded for even temporary housing. Tenements often housed ten or more persons to the room. Jobs became scarce and labor was cheap.

Without the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles) to rely upon in times of need, young families fell apart. Children as young as six years old were working to help support the family.  Food became scarce. Job safety was not a priority causing many men to be killed in accidents at sea and in other work places. This left women and children to make their own way living as best they could.

Diseases from living in unsanitary quarters led to early deaths of overworked mothers.  Orphanages were built to care for as many children as could possibly be taken in. Adults could pay for the care on a weekly or monthly basis but if the payments stopped, the child became a ward of the court and was “disposed” of as the social workers saw fit.


Indoor Relief and Prejudice in Aid 

America’s first aid relief stemmed from the English Poor Laws of 1601. The laws allowed taxation to aid those in need by the government. While outdoor relief was offered in the form of money, clothes, food and other goods, relief in growing cities quickly shifted to indoor relief. The first New York State poorhouse open in 1734 turning the tide of aid offered in America toward indoor relief. Indoor relief came in many forms, poorhouses, orphanages, and work farms. While indoor relief was meant to “teach” struggling individuals to provided for themselves it led to segregation of the poor and an out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach to all in need.

Aid to the poor was left to the work of public and private aid organizations. This meant more relief but each organization created their own set of criteria. Race, nationality, religion, gender, martial status, and birth legitimacy would limit where individuals and families could seek help.

Lack of aid, epidemics, unsafe work environments, overcrowded tenements and wars would all contribute to children being placed in orphanages and asylums. Large city facilities could house upwards of 200 to 2000 children.


From Ruth Chapter 1 in Sunday’s liturgy:  “But Ruth said, “Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

         The short story of Ruth is celebrated by Jews and Christians alike as one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible.  It is an important story of respect, loyalty and faithfulness between people–in spite of their differences in race and religion.
          In fact, it is the acceptance of these differences–the trust and reciprocal loyalty and kindness between Jew and non-Jew–that creates the primary role of the story in both the Jewish and Christian Bibles.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the union of Ruth the non-Jew and Boaz the Jew continues a synthesis of genealogy from Abraham the Jewish patriarch, to King David, to Jesus.
          In this story, an outsider, a Moabitess (a non-Jew), is a widow and marries the Jew Boaz from the tribe of Judah.  Their son Obed is the grandfather of David, the Jews’ greatest king, who, in turn, is the ancestor of Christianity’s Anointed One.  Ruth’s loyalty, her acceptance of and responsibility for family and faith has put Ruth as a central figure in the Judeo-Christian legacy.

Matthew 1:2-16

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.  Judah begot Perez . . . begot . . . (5) Salmon begot Boaz by Rehab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king  . . . begot . . . begot . . .  begot . . . Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
Trivia question:  How many begots are there between Matthew 1:1 and Matthew 1:17?



THE NAME IS MENTIONED JUST TWICE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. The Canaanite king of the city of Salem (identified as Jerusalem) and priest of God Most High (El Elyon), Melchizedek met Abram when the latter was returning victorious from battle (Genesis 14:18-20).  In Genesis 14 verse 22, Abram says essentially: “‘Melchizedek calls his God ‘El Elyon’, I call my God Yahweh, but we worship the same God.’ No where in the Bible is there such a statement about a Canaanite God.”  (Broadman).

Later in Ps. 110.4, the Psalmist merges royal and priestly power by appropriating the order of Melchizedek, the king-priest.  Material from the Dead Sea Scrolls portrays Melchizedek as a heavenly being who will bring salvation (in fulfillment of Isa. 52.7-10 and 61.1-3) and judgment (in fulfillment of Ps. 7.7-8; 82.1-2) at the conclusion of the final jubilee (Lev. 25). (

THE NAME AS USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOK OF HEBREWS (Broadman):  The author of the letter to the Hebrews, citing Psalm 110.4, argues that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5.6, 10; 6.20; 7.17). This argument places the emphasis of the role of Christ as that of High Priest.

Paul’s theology emphasizes Christ as Saviour.  In his letters, Paul stresses the role of Jesus as Saviour:  that through His sacrificial death, Christ as Saviour redeemed mankind from the curse of the law and the power of the flesh, preventing eternal separation from a righteous God.

The theology in Hebrews does not differ regarding the role of Christ as Savior, but places emphasis on the role of Christ as High Priest.  As our High Priest, after we have accepted His miraculous salvation, Christ will take us into a remarkable knowledge of an unseen world where we can be in the very presence of God.





Gods of the Copybook Headings

I use as my fact-checker.  Below is the beginning of a recent editorial from the website: 

Rudyard Kipling wrote his poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” in 1919, when the world lay shattered after the devastation of World War I.

In the 19th-century, British students had special books, called copybooks. At the top of each page a piece of age-old wisdom was printed. These extolled traditional virtues such as honesty and fair dealing. It was the job of the students to repeatedly write the copybook lines down the page in the hopes that this would impress the virtues into their minds.

The point Kipling makes in his poem is that no matter how hard people try to avoid certain truths, they are still true, and they will ultimately prevail. You can try shortcuts all you want (and haven’t we all, at times?) but shortcuts don’t get you where you really want to be.

—end quote

Gods of the Copybook Page


Hillel the Great

Pictured below is a statue of the Jewish rabbi Hillel the Great teaching a boy standing on one foot.  (Don’t know why the one foot.)  He died 10-15 years after the birth of Jesus.

Hillel was liberal and lenient in his interpretation of the oral law; and his followers, who were prominent after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, were distinguished from the more rigorous school of Shammai, a contemporary. Commentators on the Mark scripture for October 7, 2018 point to this contrast.  Read here:  The Question About Divorce

Hillel is famous for the dictum: ‘What you hate, do not do to your fellow; that is the whole Torah, while all the rest is commentary.’


Hillel teaching a child standing on one foot

Mark reading for 9/23

The scriptures listed below are closely related in content and represent a series of discussions that occurred at different times and in different places between Jesus and His disciples.

Gospel reading for Sunday, 9/17– Mark 8:31-9:1

Gospel reading for Sunday, 9/23 — Mark 9:30-50

Gospel reading for Sunday,10/21 — Mark 10:32-45

Each discussion begins with a few verses about Jesus’ expected Passion.  In Mark 8, which was in last week’s liturgy, the group was on the road to Caesarea Philippi when Jesus told about His coming suffering and death.  This concept of a defeated Christ gave rise to a rebuke from Peter, and the scene ends with Christ’s famous command, “Get behind me, Satan!”  The second discussion was about Jesus’ suffering and death and is from Mark 9.  It appears in this Sunday’s liturgy  and occurs during the group’s travel through Galilee.  (See the full scripture on this blog’s menu item “Liturgical Readings and Slideshow”.) The third discussion, from Mark 10, which we’ll read in church on October 21, was held on the road into Jerusalem.

Interestingly, on each occurrence of these Passion conversations, Mark dedicates only a few verses to the event that changed the course of human history, while spending the  many verses that follow recording His lessons on discipleship, how we should spend our time in human history.

Joe’s Sermon, July 29, 2018


Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever.

The Epistle today is at the end of a prayer in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul is speaking of the indwelling of God’s Spirit in all of us and how that Spirit can lead us to greater things than we can ask or imagine.

So often when we think of God we think of God as transcendent–out there or up there.  Paul is calling us to remember that God is also within us.  And that His Spirit is there to guide us and lead us in life.

Too often we feel God is distant from us.  Maybe we have pushed God out there because we fear His closeness and intimacy.

The truth that Paul is telling us is that God is ever present with us and that God loves us and wants to guide us and help us have fulfilling lives.

We often dwell on God as being a parent figure and we are God’s rebellious adolescents.  We relate to God as a judge rather than a lover of us.  That image of God is also why we relate to God as “out there.”

We cannot escape God’s presence if we recall that God is within each of us — in every one God has created.  Remember we are created in God’s image and God’s image is a God of love.

Jesus came into this world to help us understand how near to us God’s Spirit is.  Jesus is God incarnate — in the flesh.

Once we realize God is in us there is no limit to what we can do and be.  As Paul says:  Watch “Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine.”

This is why we need to get to know the power of God within us.  It means taking the time to become intimate with God ourselves.  God is our friend, not our parent.  God wants what is best for us.

Dag Hammershjold former leader of the UN once said — “Choose your limitations and surely enough they will be your limitations.”

We seem to live this way rather than realize the power of God to lead us to greater things than we can ask or imagine.

Let us heed what Paul’s is trying to tell us today.

The Sam Scheib Family Remembers



Dr. Rochelle Gail Scheib, MD

 Medical Oncologist specializing in breast cancer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University 1987 -present 

Medical specialist in HIV for the Department of Public Health of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1987-2017 advocating for underserved populations with  HIV and Aids

Sam Scheib was born in 1923 in Przemslany, Poland located in southeastern Poland. This is now the Ukraine formerly part of the Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics. Prior to World War II, Przemslany’s population was composed of 60 percent Jews which included my father, Sam Scheib, and his family. His family included his father Joseph, his mother Hinda, his older sister Ann and younger brother Meyer.  My father’s family were primarily farmers. 

 In September,1939 Hitler’s Germany Continue reading “The Sam Scheib Family Remembers”

Hellenist Jewish Christians & Palestinian Jewish Christians

In biblical times from 1200 BCE, the Holy Land was often called Palestine.  This geography, comprised of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, was controlled at various times by the Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Roman empires.  The Ottomans controlled it after Rome, but it was finally taken by the Arabs in CE 634.     — from

Beginning with Acts 6:1, Luke makes reference to Palestinian Jewish Christians.  These religious people lived in Palestine, that is, the regions occupied by Israel and Judah during Old Testament times.  Obviously, they were Jews who had converted to Christianity during the time of the writer Luke, i.e. the first century AD.

Luke draws our attention away from the Palestinian Jewish Christians to give us a glimpse of another group of Jewish Christians–the Hellenistic Jewish Christians, who were responsible for breaking across the borders of Judaism and proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.  Luke’s book of the Acts of the Apostles is all about proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.

Prominent among this liberal wing in the church was Stephen who, because of his views, became the first Christian martyr.


Hellenistic | ˌheləˈnistik |adjective       relating to Greek history, language, and culture from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony by Octavian in 31 bc. During this period Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centering on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey.                            –from New Oxford American Dictionary


In Acts chapter 6, the Hellenistic Jewish members of the Christian community were murmuring because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

To understand why these widows were discriminated against, it is essential for us to know the situation that pertained between the Palestinian and Hellenistic Jews.  The Jews who lived in the land of Palestine viewed with suspicion their kinsmen who lived outside the land.  There was a difference in language.  A large number of the Jews who lived outside Palestine adopted Greek as their language, while those in Palestine spoke Aramaic.  Many of the customs which were observed by Palestinian Jews were considered not important by the Hellenists.  Since the Jews outside the land would associate freely with the Gentiles, their brothers in Palestine had deep feelings of resentment against them because they suspected that the Hellenists had compromised their religious principles for financial gain.


Aramaic | ˌerəˈmāik |  noun     a Semitic language, a Syrian dialect of which was used as a lingua franca in the Near East from the 6th century BC. It gradually replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews in those areas and was itself supplanted by Arabic in the 7th century AD.


When these two groups of Jews were thrown together in the church, it is evident from what occurred in chapter 6 that the Palestinian Jewish Christians had not suppressed their prejudices.  They resorted to discrimination against the widows of the Hellenists, and a crisis ensued.

The Jews had a great reputation for their welfare work with the poor and the widows.  When the Jews became followers of Christ, they continued the practice to which they were accustomed so that by the time of the Pastoral epistles, the widows were a recognized group in the church.

No one could be quite so destitute as a widow, and to be discriminated against by a prejudiced group made her plight worse.  In order to remedy the situation, the twelve apostles summoned the body of the disciples.

Chapter 6 reports that the apostles did not consider it appropriate to give up their preaching mission to serve tables.  Tables may have two meanings.  they could be dining tables which were used for the common meal of the Christians or tables which were set up to dole out money.  The latter was probably meant here.  The apostles felt strongly that they should not take up their time with the administration of funds for social service.  Consequently, they advised the congregation to select seven men to take care of this emergency situation.

The seven selected by the congregation all had Greek names, so we assume that they represented the Hellenistic Jewish Christian community.  One way to assure the Hellenistic widows of daily support was to choose representatives who would be on their side.

—Commentary on the text of Acts 6 and the explanation of the discrimination against the Hellenist widows is from Broadman Bible Commentary