A Word from The President
June - July 2014
Sivan - Tammuz - Av 5774
Samuel F. Smith wrote the song "America" which we often refer to as "My Country Tis of Thee." The lyrics that linger in my mind are "from every mountain side, let freedom ring." Guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights, we enjoy our freedoms – freedom of religion, speech, press, to assemble, to petition, to protect ourselves. Freedom does not come without a price, and that price becomes sacred memories. Spring is full of the opportunities to recall these sacred memories, and to celebrate freedom. In April there was Pesach, to recall the story and celebrate freedom from slavery, and Yom HaShoah, remembering Holocaust Memorial Day. Then in May there was Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Memorial Day and Day of Independence, and also there was our own U.S. Memorial Day to remember our veterans and the sacrifices they made. DAYBREAK is asking in particular to remember our homeless U.S. veterans and do what we can to help. In a few weeks we shall celebrate America’s Independence Day, the Fourth of July. The freedom our country won from England should be considered quite a miracle.
History is most amazing. Even when you think you have a grasp on understanding events of the past, when you are lucky enough to stand in the actual place of where things happened, or personally witness the site of where something once stood, it transforms anything you may have read. My family and I had this experience when we visited Toledo, Spain, and toured the Jewish quarter in the old city there. The words of our Jewish tour guide still haunt me as he described what happened to the Jews of Spain, and pointed out the physical spaces where such horrible things took place. What did we see there now? There were shops and restaurants, and people shopping and enjoying sitting on benches in a lovely square. How different things are today, with the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy.
So my challenge to you all is to consciously enjoy these freedoms we have – in particular, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We can walk into our synagogue with no fear, light our Shabbat candles and pray, open our Torah and read it, write letters to the editor if we disagree or agree, celebrate our holidays, educate our children, organize our programs, and hold our meetings. How fortunate we are to live in the times in which we live. Remember and celebrate the gifts of these freedoms, and thank those who have made it all possible.