The Shabbat melodies I hear drifting through the sanctuary are not the melodies of my youth. Those I first heard at a summer camp in the Poconos, where Shabbat services were held in an amphitheater behind a gentle lake that was circled by tall trees and majestic mountains. It was the first time I felt the beauty of Shabbat, and it has stayed with me for a lifetime.
Now I look around at my fellow congregants and see something just as beautiful. We are all together, Jews sharing and expressing our faith together, in total freedom, without fear. I wonder how many of us consider how fortunate we are.
Only recently we observed Memorial Day, when we remember the tens of thousands of American men and women who sacrificed themselves for the freedoms we enjoy. The Jewish community in America should be especially grateful. Here we have flourished like nowhere else, save Israel, in our history. We have contributed like never before to the overall good of our society. As Jewish Americans, we should never forget to express our gratitude to those who have sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedoms.
The vast majority of us alive today have lived only in a world with a free and thriving Jewish state. Millions perished never knowing that should there be the reappearance of the evil that has followed our existence for more than 2,000 years, a sanctuary is there for us. How blessed we are.
America is not perfect. Injustices and discrimination still exist. Anti-Semitism can still be as close as your next-door neighbor. But God did not make the world a perfect place. And America will get better. American Jews must never forget that as long as we remain embraced by the freedom of America we become a pivotal insurance policy in the protection of Israel. Our continued strength, afforded by the freedom of this society, helps ensure the continued strength of our beloved Israel.