Ain’t she grand?

“I am all you hope to be, and have the courage to try for…I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”


These words were spoken on June 14th, 1914 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane during a Flag Day address. Two years later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first nation-wide holiday of Flag Day, and in 1949 President Truman approved a congressional resolution to make June 14th Flag Day throughout the Land. Secretary Lane understood that the ultimate power of the flag was in its ability to reflect back the highest values and aspirations of a community to each person who claimed that flag as their own.

Years earlier, at the first Zionist Congress of 1897, a similar sentiment inspired David Wolffsohn to create the Zionist flag which would eventually become the Israeli flag: “An idea struck me. We have a flag — and it is blue and white. The tallit (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this tallit from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations.”

In 1978, Harvey Milk, the Jewish Mayor of San Francisco who was our country’s first openly-gay elected official, urged Gilbert Baker to create a flag that would be a symbol of pride for the gay community. “Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth, as I say, to get out of the lie. A flag really fit that mission, because that’s a way of proclaiming your visibility or saying, ‘This is who I am!’”

At the beginning of June, many of our members marched alongside the Israeli flag in the Israel Day parade in New York City. And on the day after Flag Day, many of us will also march alongside a plethora of Pride flags at Port Washington’s Pride event (at 1pm on June 15th!).  All three of these flags fly in defiance of those who would curtail our freedom to live as our fullest selves, in communities we choose and cherish. These flags speak of our history, our unity amidst diversity, and our desire to uphold the ideals of our founders while our communities continue to evolve and grow.

I hope that whatever flags inspire you, motivate you, are a source of pride or determination, you feel free to let them fly this June and beyond!

Cantor Eric