It was only Shaya and me, up before the sun, snuggled into one another on the brown couch. The wool blanket from India covered part of my legs and all of him, and he snuggled in. I dozed a little.

On a regular day, I’d be up and moving by then. I think it was 6:40 when I climbed out of bed. On a school day, that’s far too late to move slowly.

MLKquoteBut today, when the kids are off from school and Dan is home from work because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dared to envision a world with more equality and freedom for all, there was freedom to sleep longer, to watch the end of a favorite movie as the dawn approached, to read a little as I ate my toast.

It is just one day, and we want to pack so much into it. There is the appointment to see the place where we will celebrate Asher’s bar mitzvah, and a lesson for Eliana’s bat mitzvah, to work on the prayers and the Torah chanting. Shaya wants a pair of roller blades. So do I.

And the kids want to use them to glide around a wooden floor while music plays loud. Dan says he’ll take pictures; he can’t master the balance, even though I promised to hold his hand.

We want to make soup, so the butternut squash is roasting now with garlic, to be done before we leave. I can smell the smokiness. Last night, I drove in quiet as my eldest son chattered after a fun bar mitzvah party, a celebration with a friend he’s known since first grade.

Those late-night drives are the times when I learn so much. The best parenting comes from listening well and not forcing the conversation.

So on this day of freedom, we won’t spend much time pondering the meaning behind it or why we are off school and work. Why the mail doesn’t come. Why we have it so easy when so many had to fight for what we take for granted.

This is what I'm reading now. I found the original hardcovers on my dad's bookshelf. Generation learns from generation.
This is what I’m reading now. I found the original hardcovers on my dad’s bookshelf. Generation learns from generation.

I’ve been reading Herman Wouk for the past few months, and his lovely winding narratives remind me of how easy it is for me today, as a Jew, as a woman, and how for most of the history of mankind, it just wasn’t.

It takes so long to fight for freedom and rights and entry, and then we simply walk through the door and never look back. It takes a heartbeat to forget all the turmoil that got us there.

We must do what is right because it is right – not because it is comfortable or fun. We must not even ponder how it feels for us. We can’t even matter in that moment because to do for others, to repair the world, to heap a salve of salvation on a society blighted by fear and hate is too important work to think of ourselves.

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