In the 1660's the Jewish community of Barbados became established and of considerable importance. The Jewish community, however, had a decided disadvantage in that their testimony was not admissible in court cases due to their refusal to take an oath on a Christian Bible. In October 1669 the Jewish community presented the king a petition requesting permission to take be able to take oaths on the Five Books of Moses, the Jewish Bible.
Several years later, on Wednesday, February 14, 1674, Barbados passed a law granting the Jewish community the permission they requested.
In 1715, the Crown Colony of Maryland enacted a law requiring any citizen who wished to hold public office to take an oath of abjuration, which contained the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian." In 1776, the new constitution of the State of Maryland reaffirmed this law, requiring any oath of office to contain a declaration of belief in the Christian religion.
In the decades that followed, the struggle to repeal this law attracted national attention.
On February 26, 1825 an act "for the relief of the Jews in Maryland," was passed by Maryland's House of Delegates. The bill allowed every Jewish citizen to take an oath which professes his belief in a "future State of Rewards and Punishments, in the stead of the declaration now required by the Constitution and form of Government of this State."
There is a place—the “fiftieth gate,” they call it—so high that all things are equally nothing from there. There is no good, no evil, nothing can be added or taken away, the righteous are dust, the wicked are dust, nothing is of consequence, all is but dust.
Drunk with the joy of Purim, a Jew travels higher and higher until he reaches that place. And there he proclaims that the oppressed have been saved; the wicked overthrown; and light, joy, happiness and peace rule throughout the universe.
“As for this high place,” he declares, “I am not impressed. It
too was created for the purpose of our joy below!”
Its secret exposed, the fiftieth gate itself is redeemed.