As a young child, I always loved the Fourth of July — the fireworks, the meat on the grill, the picnics and everyone seeming so grateful to be American. As I got a little older and learned about the Founding Fathers, who cherished their principles and beliefs so much that they were willing to risk everything in the quest for freedom, the Fourth of July took on a much deeper meaning. And as a rabbi, I gained an appreciation of how the principles upon which this country was founded resonate with Jewish tradition. Indeed, I have come to see the Fourth of July as a profoundly Jewish holiday.
A statement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI issued on July 7 has rightfully received a tremendous amount of attention from Jewish and interfaith organizations. Through the “Apostolic Letter in the Form of Motu Proprio” and a subsequent letter to the bishops of the Church, the pope has shifted the liturgical options for Catholics worldwide, causing some to declare that a blow had been dealt to Jewish-Catholic relations.