There are days when I find myself walking down the street singing that Lee Greenwood song that came out right after 9/11: “Well I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me…” And then I think, really? Do I really remember those who died so that I could have freedom of religion, of choice, of deciding which color stroller my kid needs?
But recently a colleague showed me a website that was created to bring a moment of thought into our American holidays and remind us what they’re all about. It’s called Freedom’s Feast. They have a few brief readings for holidays from the 4th of July to Labor Day to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And though they might sometimes be a bit cheesy, even just reading them reminded me that the 4th of July is about more than just fireworks and barbecues. So as I approach the Shabbat of the 4th of July, I am proud to be an American, and proud to be a Jew too.
(Did you know that Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America? He also wrote White Christmas, but that’s beside the point.)