Cantor’s Column – July 2020

In-Dependence Day

Cantor Ilan Davidson

Every year on July 4, we, the United States of America, celebrate Independence Day. It wasn’t until my wedding day, 19 years ago, on the 4th of July, that I ever even started thinking of the meaning of Independence. And now, in 2020, I’m realizing this meaning even more.

When Rabbi Lieb, z”l, was speaking with Jodi and me, under our huppah, he described this momentous day as in-dependence day. Indeed, this was the day that we announced our dependence on each other, as a couple, that inter-dependence which is part of marriage. On July 4, 19 years ago, we pledged our dependence on each other, while still being two independent thinking and acting people. It was such a romantic idea, in our minds, as these words showered down upon us as a blessing from our dear friend and rabbi.

As with many things in our lives, it took a pandemic to help me realize the broader scope of these marital words from David’s mouth to our ears. As we watch the news, where some argue that wearing masks to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy is an affront to their independence and denies them their inalienable rights, I am struck by the dual meaning of independence, again. For us to truly be independent, we must be in-dependence of each other. To truly have our inalienable rights, we must recognize and protect other’s inalienable rights. We are inter-dependent, relying on each other for our safety and health. We have every right to our own opinions and even our own actions, but at what cost and to what end. Only if we can depend on everybody to be thinking about ALL of us, not just themselves, can we be truly independent.

This year, on the 4th of July, may we all consider the sacrifices that have afforded us our independence, and may WE each commit to our own sacrifices to afford others theirs. Then, we will truly be able to wish everybody in our great nation a Happy In-Dependence Day.