A Jewish Memorial for the Emperor
One of the most basic facts about Joshua Abraham Norton is that he was Jewish.
Later in life — as the Emperor whose views on religion were quite radical for his day — Norton came to "partake" in a variety of religious traditions. One Sunday, he might attend a Protestant church; the next Sunday, a Catholic one; the next, a Unitarian. (According to the Emperor's biographer, William Drury, the minister of the First Unitarian Church — a Dr. Horatio Stebbins — was a particular favorite.) The Emperor was against religious sectarianism. And he issued a number of Proclamations calling for the establishment of something like a universal religion.
But, on Saturdays, the Emperor always could be found in the balcony of Temple Emanu-El.
By rights, the Emperor should have had a Jewish funeral and burial. But he was never given one. Not in 1880, when he died and was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in San Francisco. And not in 1934, when his remains were exhumed and reinterred at their present resting place, Woodlawn Memorial Park in nearby Colma, Calif.
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For the past several months, our good friend Judi Leff — who, among many other things, is Director of Operations at Congregation Emanu-El — has been leading a project intended to help mend this historical tear in the fabric of Emperor Norton's story.
The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is delighted to support the long-overdue result of Judi's efforts: an upcoming afternoon of activities at Home of Peace, Emanu-El's cemetery in Colma, to honor the life and advance the legacy of the Emperor.
The ceremonial highlight of the afternoon will be the laying of a special plaque for the Emperor at the cemetery.
Emperor Norton Day at the Cemetery
Sunday 3 May 2015 at 2 p.m.
Home of Peace Cemetery
1299 El Camino Real
Hats are encouraged — there will be a contest, and winners will be declared!
Plus: Following the ceremony will be...
- A "living documentary" presentation by local historian Peter Moylan, featuring a portrayal of the Emperor by Joseph Amster (of Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine)
- Remarks by John Rothmann recounting his experience as a participant in the 1979 mock trial by the Court of Historical Review, which determined that Emperor Norton should have had a Jewish burial
RSVP to Judi Leff by Tuesday 21 April.
Hope to see you on the 3rd!
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