Putting the Jewish in the Fourth of July
In the coming days, red white and blue will pop up everywhere, and soon the pops will turn into the blasts of fireworks. I've loved the spectacle of the 4th of July since I was little. As American Jews, how can we use American Independence Day to bring together these dual parts of our identities? Particularly in the current political climate, there are a lot of conversations happening about both American and Jewish values, including how they mesh with each other, what happens when they stand in contradiction, and how they each manifest for us individually, and collectively in society. Unfortunately, I'm not coming with any answers. I constantly struggle when it comes to reconciling the various parts of my identity in a way that feels authentic and makes sense, and I know I'm not alone in this.
So while I don't have sweeping, definitive answers, I do have some thoughts. They come from my love of American history, my Jewish text nerdiness, and my inclination to bring major questions to otherwise casual moments. Ultimately, wherever you're spending the 4th, and whatever you're doing, I hope you'll join me in taking a step back from the food and fireworks to reflect on what it means to be an American today, what it's meant for our families, and how we can use our American Jewish values to better ourselves and our communities moving forward.