GIVE ME LIBERTY: A JUBILEE CELEBRATION

My earliest memory of fireworks is a long-ago 4th of July, when I snuck upstairs to the third-floor bathroom and perched myself on the windowsill, standing in the lion-claw tub to peer out. Must’ve been a collector’s item at that point, but for me the porcelain was just a good place to hoist myself up for a better view of downtown Cleveland, the Terminal Tower lit up red-white-and-blue, and the famed fireworks that felt like they were starting at midnight, but it was probably a mild late evening.

Oh, that view was precious, through the wooden panes of the small bathroom window. Alone, I cherished the celebrations and felt what can later be identified as American pride. Stars and Stripes. Oh say can you see. Fireworks. Hot dogs. The quotes and traditions are familiar to so many of us ex-pats, and they go back in our memories at least as far as my early bathtub-peering days.

What significance does Independence Day hold for an adult, now far away from that birthright and mostly celebrating a different independence in a new, more honest homeland? The Liberty Bell comes to mind as a symbol of what I still share with that little girl in Cleveland. Liberty — the privilege of being born free — the assumed rights of our generation, yet we must remind the next one that this is not to be taken for granted. It is unique and special, and must be both recognized and maintained.

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The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original Constitution. It speaks of the rights and freedoms valued by people the world over.

As the Bell was created to commemorate the golden anniversary of Penn’s Charter, the quotation “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” from Leviticus 25:10, was particularly apt. For the line in the Bible immediately preceding “proclaim liberty” is, “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year.” What better way to pay homage to Penn and hallow the 50th year than with a bell proclaiming liberty?

Here’s where the two heritages converge for me — This year marks the jubilee of Israel’s defiant stand against armies on all its borders, just 50 years ago, facing Arab armies attack. With God’s help and an independent Jewish army, we emerged tougher, bigger, stronger, and reunited with parts of homeland yet to have been returned to the Jewish people after 2,000 years of exile.

We’ll be celebrating this jubilee all year, so stay tuned. But for now, it’s nice to begin the year marking the very tangible connection between the US and Israel, sharing our Judeo-Christian values and hoping to use them as a guide for the rest of the world. The Liberty Bell’s jubilee is based on Leviticus, as is our right to our Jewish homeland, and we celebrate this together.

There’s no bathroom window to watch the fireworks, but I’ll make do on my tip-toes.

biblical landscape
Wishing our friends and allies in the US a very happy Independence Day, celebrating Liberty for all, and sharing this Jubilee year for Israel, celebrating our freedom and independence in a reunified land, after being threatened with annihilation by our neighbors on all borders, just 50 short years ago.