Journal

Jewish American Heritage Month

by | May 15, 2014 | Editorial

When I think of Jewish American Heritage month, the first thing that comes to mind is how wonderful it is to live in a country where we as Jews, and people of all faiths, can practice – or not practice – religion in any way we see fit.
One of my dearest friends – a rabbi’s wife – once asked me why I thought it was the case that whenever they had a dedication for a new Torah scroll, so many more Iranian and Russian Jews came than American Jews. I answered with the first thing that came into my head: The Iranians and the Russians do not take for granted what we as Americans unfortunately do – that you can have a procession carrying a Torah scroll in public, that the police will block traffic from the street and stand as security. They will not gun you down or herd you into the synagogue and lock the doors and set it on fire.

My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, passed away in 2011 at the age of 99. She was a Holocaust survivor. Those kinds of things were not foreign or ancient history to her. They were the reality she barely escaped.

My father, a World War II veteran, celebrates his 93rd birthday this month. He and my mother were Depression babies, the children of Ellis Island immigrants. He used to look at his four children and smile at my mother and say, “It’s their America.”

Yes it is. This great country belongs to all of us, as Americans, whatever our creed or background. When I think of my Jewish American heritage, I am filled with gratitude. What a blessing to live in this place, in this time!

One of my dearest friends – a rabbi’s wife – once asked me why I thought it was the case that whenever they had a dedication for a new Torah scroll, so many more Iranian and Russian Jews came than American Jews. I answered with the first thing that came into my head: The Iranians and the Russians do not take for granted what we as Americans unfortunately do – that you can have a procession carrying a Torah scroll in public, that the police will block traffic from the street and stand as security. They will not gun you down or herd you into the synagogue and lock the doors and set it on fire.

My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, passed away in 2011 at the age of 99. She was a Holocaust survivor. Those kinds of things were not foreign or ancient history to her. They were the reality she barely escaped.

My father, a World War II veteran, celebrates his 93rd birthday this month. He and my mother were Depression babies, the children of Ellis Island immigrants. He used to look at his four children and smile at my mother and say, “It’s their America.”

Yes it is. This great country belongs to all of us, as Americans, whatever our creed or background. When I think of my Jewish American heritage, I am filled with gratitude. What a blessing to live in this place, in this time!

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