(By Chaskel Bennett)
On this national Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for the extraordinary country, America, which we are privileged to live and raise our families in. As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, my ancestors were forced to flee from their hometowns or face annihilation at the hands of the Nazi killing machine. Six Million of my co-religionists made the ultimate sacrifice and perished as proud unapologetic Jews. Those few that were fortunate enough to escape, like my grandparents, ran from country to country seeking refuge. Their journey mirrors millions of others from nations across the globe. And like them, they too yearned for a home, free from hatred, free from oppression. Free.
Like so many, they came to the shores of America and found freedom. The kind of freedom others could only dream about. The very idea still sounds like a dream. Yet here in America, it is a reality. Here they could rebuild and rebuild they did. As Jews and as American Jews we were raised with love of and respect for this incredible country. Patriotism borne out of gratitude. Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for. As a religious Jew I am first and foremost thankful to G-d for saving my grandparents and guiding them to these incredible shores. And I am thankful and indebted to America the democracy for this democracy allows and encourages freedom of religion, constitutionally protected no less. No small matter for the millions still oppressed or suffering prejudice or worse for holding firm to their religous convictions. That religious freedom is the very underpinning of my rights as an orthodox Jew to worship and practice my faith without government interference. That freedom is something our ancestors from the former Soviet Union and communist occupied Europe could never have dreamed of.
On this Thanksgiving day, we must remind ourselves that freedom is a privilege. Something to cherish and something to defend. I know I do.
As millions gather today to give thanks for their blessings, let’s remember just how blessed we are to be Americans.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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