6 Great Jewish Reads for the Fourth of July
Some of my fondest childhood memories are from July 4th celebrations in years past. One in particular, from America’s bicentennial in 1976, is especially sweet – and Jewish.
On that date, July 4, 1976, amidst the parades, barbeques, and fireworks marking this country’s 200th anniversary, more than 200 Israel Defense Forces commandos successfully carried out Operation Thunderbolt. In this daring raid, the IDF rescued more than 100 passengers and crew members – mostly Israelis and Jews – being held hostage in Entebbe, Uganda, after their Air France plane had been hijacked on a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris. That night, when she tucked 13-year-old me into bed, my mom said, “Today was a wonderful day to be an American, and it was a wonderful day to be a Jew.”
With that sweet remembrance in mind, here’s some of our favorite Jewish content from Independence Days past, all from the archives of ReformJudaism.org and all still worth the read.
Cantor Evan Kent, an American Reform Jew who made aliyah to Israel (moved there to live permanently) reflects on his memories of Independence Day in the U.S. compared to Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Lauren Theodore writes of her family’s Fourth of July celebrations: “We schmooze around the grill, cool off in the pool or with a beer, and shuck corn on the cob…Fireworks light the night sky. It’s all typical Independence Day stuff” – but with a unique twist. Taking turns, those gathered read aloud the Declaration of Independence.
In a year in which Independence Day coincided with Shabbat, one writer shared his love for both the holiday and our nation. Nonetheless, he wrote, “[W]e cannot turn a blind eye to those whose American dreams remain unfulfilled, … or on those who need us.” It’s up to us, he says, to act and be agents of change wherever we are needed.
“Judaism certainly has things to say about independence,” Rabbi David Wirtschafter writes, even as he notes, that “Judaism also emphasizes the notion that being dependent is part of our human condition.” Rights and responsibilities, dependence and independence – all are intertwined, and all are blessings of living in a democracy.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat to round out your holiday, check out this decadent recipe for frozen hot chocolate from Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz, a Reform rabbi and noted chocolate expert. It’s sure to please any and all chocolate lovers.
These 18 recipes will add an Israeli twist to any Independence Day celebration – and you can enjoy them all summer long!
Do you have a favorite memory from the Fourth of July? Leave us a comment and let us know.