We just celebrated one of my favorite holidays of the entire year this past Sunday. July 4th… the day we celebrate our nation’s independence and the establishment of the United States of America. I love the pageantry, the red, white and blue regalia, the unified celebration of our freedom, and of course the fireworks. Being able to once again gather with friends and family to celebrate, made this year’s 4th of July festivities extra special.
And yet, while the flags waved and the fireworks blasted and flashed, COVID is still lurking in the shadows… and I did not like that one bit. It subdued the celebration for me as the news stories have increased about the new Delta variant and how it is even more contagious than the earlier ones. Add this with the fact that it feels as though we are at the point that those who wanted to get vaccinated have done so, and those that haven’t, most likely won’t. So, it seems as though COVID will continue to impact our lives for quite a bit longer than any of us had ever imagined.
But that is what freedom is… being able to make choices for ourselves. After all, our colonial ancestors did demand “No taxation without representation.” In essence, our country was founded on the ideals of both personal freedoms and self-determination. The same challenge that was faced early in our nation’s history, and we are still grappling with today, is what happens when someone’s personal choices directly impact and affect another person’s rights. Sadly… as much as I would like to, I just don’t know the answer.
Maybe this is something we need to discuss further and reflect upon this coming Shabbat.
Speaking of Shabbat, I wanted to share the following which was my Shabbat greeting that ran in Southern California Jewish News:
While not exactly considered a Jewish movie, the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, postulated at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This quote definitely illustrates the power Shabbat brings each week. Shabbat provides us a chance to take a moment and breathe, and we are encouraged to think about the week that was. What did we enjoy? What do we wish had been different? And what are we looking forward to in the week ahead?
This idea of reflection and appreciation is built into the fabric of our tradition.
While every Shabbat is unique, to me, this one has an added bonus with July 4th being on Sunday. As a result, this Shabbat gives us the opportunity to meld our Jewishness with our American-ness. We often take for granted the freedom we have in America. And even though we are currently faced with unprecedented antisemitism and acts of hate towards the “other,” we still have so much to be thankful for.
I would encourage all of us to spend some time this Shabbat to reflect on each of the ideas above and know that although we may not have the answers, the mere fact that we are thinking about and contemplating them helps.