Have you ever seen Temple Emanu-El congregants wearing TE tie-dye t-shirts atop a bedazzled blue and white float in the Dunwoody 4th of July parade?
Tomorrow you will!
Like everything at Temple Emanu-El, nothing just appears out of thin air, and we appreciate the Summerfield, Levy, and Bieber families (and the rest of the crew!) for building this symbol of our active Jewish presence in our local community with their time, effort, and joy.
As a statement, this is important. I’m proud of Temple Emanu-El for who we are, what we stand for, and the good that we do.
We are Jewish-Americans, and there is no better place for us to celebrate our hyphenated identity than on America’s Independence Day.
Jews have been in Georgia since before America was a country, and we continue to participate, and to lead, in every corner of civic life.
One of our continuous self-proclaimed responsibilities is to work towards, and to protect, the freedom of all Americans, regardless of their beliefs, color, origin, or any other characteristics that might be cause for marginalization and compromise.
Like our 4th of July float, this ideal did not come out of thin air…
Leaving the tyranny of Egypt in search of a new land, so that we (and all who were with us) could truly live our Torah values of dignity and self-determination, have been with us since Moses split the Sea of Reeds.
This is what we have been striving for across the desert wilderness of time through the sojourns through Arab and Christian lands.
Like a pillar of fire, Lady Liberty’s raised torch in the New York harbor beckoned us with a promise of potential…even as Moses’ caution still rang through our ears. Moses’ message, as he delivered his swan song at the outskirts of the Jordan River, was both celebratory, and served as a warning. To paraphrase our teacher, he cautioned us that freedom is not something that is achieved and then is finished. To the contrary, in every generation we need to guard it, work for it, and treasure it anew…otherwise, the new land would become nothing more than another Egypt of tears and woe.
Our job as Jewish-Americans (aside from looking fabulous, throwing candy, and waving from our Dunwoody parade float) is to make sure that we keep our country’s moral compass pointed in the right direction. This is not done from the sidelines of apathy, it is done the way we have always done it, by putting one foot in front of the next, locking arms, and moving forward towards the Land of Promise.
Baruch El Hadayot, Blessed is God of thanks.
Happy 4th of July!