The Rabbinical Alliance of America—Igud HaRabbonim, representing 950 American Orthodox Rabbis—calls on America to pause on July 4th, Independence Day, to reflect on the unparalleled freedom and prosperity of the United States.

Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, on July 4, 1776. On that historic day, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject and subordinate to the whims of the British Monarch, King George III, but were now united, free and independent states.

From its birth, the United States grew into the global leader of freedom, justice and democracy. 144 years later, this nation continues as a beacon to the world. America still is the voice of the oppressed and the advocate for all those facing tyranny and oppression. This is the only nation that dependably stands as the international guardian for the freedom that we as Americans so cherish and value and at times take for granted.

Independence Day is classically marked by patriotic displays and similarly celebrated with public gatherings, parades and speeches. Independence Day gives the American people a day to reflect on and appreciate what America means to each of us as individuals and collectively as a nation. This day’s observance is important, as it helps us appreciate what America stands for and why so many people throughout the world struggle to come here.

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, said, “As a child of Holocaust survivors, Independence Day has special meaning to me. This country allows me to openly practice my faith, a religion for which so many in living memory were murdered. I am grateful that I can practice my religion, that I received a religious education, that I can join our national mosaic, and that I have the opportunity to give back to this great country.”

Mirocznik further commented, “that although we as Americans may disagree on many things, we must make certain to never forget that America is the land of freedom and opportunity, a nation that gives all people the opportunity to obtain the American dream. It is important to understand that on the Fourth of July we must take time to appreciate and to thank our veterans who fought for America to keep it free. We also must take time to respect law enforcement and demonstrate our appreciation for their preservation of the liberties, freedom and democracy we as Americans enjoy 365 days a year. This is especially true as law enforcement officers currently feel under siege. I feel compelled in an environment that at times appears to be cold or lukewarm to law enforcement to clearly state that the Rabbinical Alliance of America appreciates and respects law enforcement, and that we stand with the good, hard-working members of law enforcement who enter harm’s way to protect us. We pray that they leave and return safely to their families every day. We want law enforcement officers to know that they are in our prayers and that we value, appreciate and take note of the important work that they do that keeps America safe.”

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, stated, “As a mark of appreciation, all Americans should proudly display an American flag on Independence Day, demonstrating their love and appreciation for the Stars and Stripes.”

Rabbi Klass further stated, “It is particularly distressing at this time of pandemic crisis, when we were forbidden to gather for religious services in our synagogues, many risked spreading the lethal virus by gathering in massive protests, with the blessing of our progressive political establishment. This resulted in looting, destruction of property and hitting the last nail in the coffin of many businesses, as well as a near total breakdown of society. Those of us who care must begin the major repair by demanding of our leaders, and through our own action, a return to the patriotism that is the foundation of this great republic.”

Rabbi Klass continued, “We must use the tools of honest dialogue and communication to reach a consensus on the challenging issues we face. We should not act violently out of emotion and the spur of the moment. American public discourse must be conducted in civility. I am confident, and have faith in my fellow citizens, that through proper respectful discussion and dialogue we can achieve just resolution and chart a bright future for our nation.”

It is our fervent prayer that G-d protect our nation and give our elected representatives on all levels of government the fortitude, strength, wisdom and courage to lead America as we grapple with civil unrest, upheavals and challenges. Let us not lose sight of the blessings of being an American, and the responsibilities this privilege entails. Together, with respect for each other, we will get through these trying times.