Freedom of religion. We take it for granted.
This past Friday evening, Karen lit candles, ushering in Shabbat.. Openly wearing my kippah,, I walked to shul and prayed with scores of friends and neighbors. After prayers, Karen and I sat down to a joyous dinner where we sang Shabbat songs and expressed gratitude to G-d for all he has given us.
Karen and I did all this without fear.
My grandfather, Rabbi Shmuel Avrech, lived in fear as a pious Jew in the Pale of Settlement. Would the flickering Shabbat candles invite a rock or a Molotov cocktail thrown through his window? Perhaps the sight of my grandfather and other Torah-observant Jews would enrage neighbors who would shriek “Christ-killer,” and the state-incited/sanctioned pogrom would follow.