50 Years Ago, Henry Kissinger Became Secretary of State

A half a century ago -- on September 22, 1973 – Henry Kissinger assumed the role of US Secretary of State, becoming the first Jew and the first naturalized citizen to hold this esteemed office.

"Until I emigrated to America,” Kissinger once recounted, “my family and I endured progressive ostracism and discrimination. My father lost the teaching job for which he had worked all his life; the friends of my parents' youth shunned them. I was forced to attend a segregated school. Even when I learned later that America, too, had massive problems, I could never forget what an inspiration America had been to the victims of persecution, to my family, and to me during cruel and degrading years.” 

For Kissinger and many other 20th-century immigrants, America was a land of salvation, an embodiment of mankind's hopes.  A prominent figure in international diplomacy, who turned 100 this past May, he has left an indelible mark on the global stage. As the world witnessed the dramatic shifts in power dynamics during the Cold War, the US found itself navigating complex global challenges. Henry Kissinger, with his unparalleled insights into international affairs, emerged as the ideal candidate for the role of Secretary of State. 

"Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem," Kissinger is quoted as saying, reminding us that the pursuit of success is a dynamic and ongoing process, encouraging individuals and leaders to remain adaptable, resilient, and forward-thinking, as new challenges and opportunities present themselves along the path of progress. Today, as the world faces new and constantly changing global problems, we can draw inspiration from Kissinger's approach to diplomacy, striving for peaceful resolutions and international cooperation. 

And so, let us remember September 22, 1973, as a pivotal moment in history when a naturalized citizen named Henry Kissinger became US Secretary of State, vividly illustrating the true potential of diplomacy and statecraft.

Refugees from the Former Soviet Union may now attend New American Acculturation programs -- including citizenship classes --at the Jewish Community Center, which help them to prepare for and pass the US Citizenship Exam. We also congratulate those who have passed the exam and are now full-fledged American citizens, giving them the freedom to celebrate Jewish holidays -- such as the High Holy Days -- in the United States!  

The New American Acculturation Program provides educational classes, programs and holiday celebrations. For more information, including sponsorships of specific programs, please contact Yelena Gerovich at 203 387-2424 x321, or email ygerovich@jewishnewhaven.org.

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