While on an overnight rail line traveling from Belgium to Germany, we accompanied the rest of our traveling party to the refreshments car. There were a dozen middle class Germans, not skinheads but well-dressed businessmen, who were getting drunk and rowdy and who chose to celebrate their good time by shouting “sieg heil” at two members of our group. It sent a chill through the two, and the fact that the group had the sleeping berth next to ours was not comforting.

Sieg, but no signs. Jewish communal institutions, synagogues and schools throughout Europe are unmarked. The Jews know where they’re supposed to go, and the terrorists and anti-Semites…well, they shouldn’t. The only sign you see is the sign of the times for Jews in Europe: concrete barricades, steel gates, heavy security presence, etc.

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This Independence Day, we should take a moment and offer a prayer for the United States of America – a country that has been a refuge and a sanctuary for Jews, a country where we can speak our minds and wear our yarmulkes. It’s not perfect – we’ve got our own American anti-Semites. But anti-Semites in the U.S. are for the most part excoriated and marginalized.

We should cherish our liberties and our rights, especially as we contemplate the growing predicament of our brethren in democratic Europe. And we should most definitely celebrate the founding of this extraordinary medina shel chesed because there is none like it anywhere in the world.

God bless this great country of ours, and God save the Jews of Europe.

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