Almost every time I’m in Europe (UK excluded) I’m reminded yet again how much easier it is to be an Orthodox Jew in the US. In the US, very very few synagogues and almost no kosher restaurants have security, while in Europe it’s fairly common. Often finding the synagouge/school is a game of spot the security cameras; it’s sometimes incredibly unnerving to pass through metal detectors to get dinner.

And it extends to the little things. In the US, there’s no weirdness about food being labeled kosher, so I can scan a label, look for the certification symbol, quickly yea/nea it, and move on with my life. In most of Europe, not so much. For all sorts of reasons, it’s not cool in many countries for food to advertise itself as kosher; instead I have not always translated pdfs of product lists (and specific product numbers) and apps that kinda sorta maybe work. Even in US cities with like 2 Jews, there are enough national brands that I can make do. It often feels like such a weird thing to feel privileged about, but it is a legit privilege to be able to go to a regular supermarket and be able to grab stuff off a shelf without having to cross reference.

But it all speaks to thoughts I’ve been having a lot this election cycle (and have mentioned in more than a few comments), which is that one of the things the US has always done well, very much because of how it originated, is not just religious freedom but a baseline level of religious tolerance. Like anti-discrimination laws and most professionally run anything will ask you about religious dietary preferences and generally speaking people will try to accommodate religious observations. And really, that’s all far rarer than it should be.

And ya know, I sort of find it extra weird I take it for granted as technically my parents got into the US on refugee visas for religious prosecution...though they were really economic migrants exploiting cold war immigration policies...but those two things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive-which is a discussion for another day in some ways.