Bari Weiss: What It Means to Choose Freedom

I was honored to deliver the State of World Jewry lecture at the 92Y. This is what I said.

This past Sunday, I gave a speech at the 92nd Street Y called “The State of World Jewry.” The address is a historic one. Over four decades, it has been delivered by the likes of Elie Wiesel, Abba Eban, Amos Oz, and more. 

But for a sense of the state of Jewish life in America these days, you need only to have walked by the building that night. You would’ve found that police had cordoned off the entire block—and for good reason. Anti-Israel protesters, many wearing masks, gathered to intimidate those who came to the lecture. On the way in, you would’ve been screamed at—told you were a “baby killer” and “genocide supporter” among other choice phrases. You might have even glimpsed Jerry Seinfeld being heckled and called “Nazi scum” on his way out of the talk. (Classy.)

This is of a piece with what’s happening across the country at Jewish events.

On Monday at the University of California, Berkeley, to choose one of so many examples, a violent mob gathered outside an event featuring an IDF reservist. The students who gathered to hear him—and never got a chance to—were forced to evacuate. One student reported being physically assaulted. Another says he was spat on. Various students say the mob yelled slurs including “Jew, Jew, Jew.” 

I am beyond grateful to the NYPD, and the entire staff of the 92nd Street Y, for making sure that everyone who attended the talk was able to do so safely. But everyone must ask themselves: Do we want to live in a country in which simply giving a speech about a Jewish subject requires serious police protection? What does that reality say about the state of our country and our freedoms?

I hope the words I delivered offer some measure of explanation about the moment we find ourselves in and how we might emerge from it. You can watch the video just below. The transcript follows.

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Thank you. I am honored to be on this stage and to be giving this historic lecture.

In this I stand on the shoulders of giants. Not literally, of course—Natan Sharansky, who once gave this talk, is five foot two. Elie Wiesel was five feet six inches tall. And Lucy Davidowicz, the great Holocaust historian, was “five foot nothing,” in her own words. 

Literally tiny, but figuratively enormous. Small but mighty—a lot like the Jewish people. 

Though it is fashionable today to turn Jews into Goliath, we remain the tribe of David, who, as a shepherd boy, said to the giant: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a shield, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (If David were around in 2024, he’d surely be accused of disproportionate force.)

In any event, I am humbled to be here where so many of my heroes have stood, and in the presence of so many beloved friends and teachers.

For much of my adult life but especially since the earthquake of October 7, and the aftershocks that have continued daily since then, I have been blessed beyond measure in having friends far wiser and more learned than me. Conversations with Alana Newhouse, Natan Sharansky, Michael Oren, Matti Friedman, Micah Goodman, Liel Liebovitz, Haviv Gur, Michael Eisenberg, Samuel Rascoff, Ruth Wisse, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Rabbi Noa Kushner, Rabbi David Wolpe, and Rabbi David Ingber all informed this talk. The brilliant Jonathan Rosen was, as always, especially instrumental. So was someone whose voice speaks to us across time: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. 

I mention all of these names for your sake more than theirs: if you want to make sense of the moment we are in, these voices and their work should be your guide.

I also want to thank the 92Y for making sure that this event happened despite cowardly, but unsurprising threats. That this talk, originally open to the public, had to be made invite-only on the advice of the NYPD, is painfully emblematic of our moment. One in which we American Jews, having lived as if immune from history, find ourselves in the belly of the beast once more. It is a moment in which the realities that seemed reserved for Jews of other times and other places are now, all of a sudden, very much our own. 

My friend Alana likes to joke that the only thing worse than a dumb Jew is a surprised Jew. 

And yet even many of us credited with seeing it coming have been in a state of shock. 


I can tell you why, because I’m one of them. 

I knew antisemitism had seduced educated people in other eras, but I did not expect a wave of antisemitism to originate with them in ours. 

I knew many of our sense-making institutions—higher education, journalism, even our biggest corporation—had become bloated and corrupt. Don’t forget I worked at The New York Times. But even I did not foresee how avidly so many of these institutions would actively embrace an ideology of illiberalism.

I knew people still hated Jews and that that hate was deadly. I knew that intimately. I stood inside Tree of Life as the chevra kadisha worked alongside the FBI to pick up the pieces of the 11 Jews who were murdered there that morning. So I knew that this evil existed but I could not imagine how mainstream and shameless—even proud—that hate would become.

I thought America was almost a different kind of diaspora. One where Jew-hatred surely existed, just as other forms of bigotry unfortunately do wherever humans live. But where it could never fully take root, as it did throughout history everywhere else.

And of course I thought that. 

This is a country whose first president, in 1790, wrote a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, saying that the Jews of this country would “possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.” He went on: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.” 

George Washington’s radical proposition was that Jews would not be, as they always had been in history, second-class citizens in the new America. Rather, freedom would be as natural to the Jews as it was to any other citizen—at least as any other American then recognized as fully human. The Civil War, fought to make America’s promise more real, was still 71 years away. 

So fully did the Founders identify with the Israelites that Benjamin Franklin wanted the image on the country’s great seal to be Moses parting the Red Sea. Lincoln, as ever, put it perfectly: Americans, he said, were the “almost chosen people.” 

All this is why, as the German writer Josef Joffe has noted, “America is dotted with biblical place names like Jerusalem, Shiloh, Zion, Canaan, and Goshen,” but “there is no Shiloh anywhere in Europe.”

For all these reasons and more I thought we were immune.

What made us immune wasn’t something permanent. It wasn’t the soil or the pedigree of our pioneers or our proximity to power. What made America immune were our ideas. The rule of law and equality under it. A God who made us all equal. Rights not granted to us by a king or a government but rights that were self-evident and endowed by our creator.

What made and makes this country exceptional are our ideas and our fealty to those ideas

If we lose sight of those principles—or worse, if we allow war to be made against them from within—then we can become like everywhere else. 

The Founders themselves anticipated that possibility.

Here’s how Alexander Hamilton put it in the first Federalist Paper: “It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question: whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” 

That urgent, existential question is now before us once more: Are we capable? What will we choose? 

This talk is called the State of World Jewry Address. But if there is a lesson of these past few years—and especially these past 142 days—it is that the state of world Jewry depends on the state of the free world. And right now its condition is in jeopardy. 

This is a truth known viscerally to Jews today who hail from the unfree world—those from the former Soviet Union; those who were expelled from Iran and other autocratic regimes in the Middle East. And it is a truth faced daily by Jews in places that remain unfree. Just ask the Jews of Tunisia, who in October watched as a historic synagogue was reduced to rubble by a mob driven by false reports that Israel had bombed a hospital in Gaza. 

But this is a truth that we American Jews have lost sight of on account of our abundant blessings. As our holiday from history ends, as we learn to live inside history once more, it is a truth we urgently need to revive and renew and make real for ourselves.

So that is what I want to talk about tonight. How we must become—inside and outside—free people. For the sake of America. For the sake of the free world. And for the sake of the Jews—those who came before us, and those yet to come. 

The Jewish people are in the wilderness. 

That is where we find our ancestors—the Israelites—in the part of the Torah we are in the midst of reading. This coming Shabbat we will hear one of the most iconic and troubling stories in all of the Hebrew Bible. 

You know the one.

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered against Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who shall go before us, for that fellow Moses—the man who brought us from the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.’ ” 

They immediately get to work. 

Aaron tells the Israelites to take off their gold—the rings on the ears of their wives and daughters. They melt down their jewelry and they make for themselves a golden calf. They make offerings to it. They dance before it. And they cry out before the idol they have made: “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” 

Linger on that: they looked at a statue, which they knew they had just made with their own hands, and gave it credit for an otherworldly miracle. And not one that happened to others, but one they experienced firsthand. At the very least, they had to know the cow wasn’t there.   

So, the question is why.

Why did they do it? Why did a people who had just experienced the miracle of their liberation from slavery turn away from the God who had given them their freedom. . . and toward an idol?

The rabbis provide many answers. So does the Israeli singer Ehud Banai. These are the lyrics he sings:

We are here, in the heart of the desert,

Thirsty for living water

You’re on top of the mountain

Above the clouds

There is no sign

No signal

So many days

In a closed circuit we circle

Around the Golden Calf.

There’s no one to hit the rock

Who will give direction?

So why did they do it?

They did it because they felt anxious and vulnerable and alone.

They did it because they were desperate.

They did it because they wanted temporary pleasure.

They did it because they lost—or thought they lost—their connection to God. 

They did it because they did not have the imagination to conceive of a different future. 

They did it because they had come from a place that worshipped idols. They imitated what they had grown up with. They reverted to what they knew. They imitated the dominant culture even though that culture had enslaved them.

And was that so crazy?

Not a moment ago these freed people had been slaves.

They may have dreamed, during the long night of slavery, of being “a free people in our own land,” as the words of Hatikvah would put it 4,000 or so years later. But that wasn’t the same as waking up inside a totally new paradigm. That wasn’t the same as being asked to leave behind everything about the world they knew to become a free people with all of the immense privileges, but also the terrifying responsibilities, that freedom comes with.

So: Why did they build the calf? Because freedom is so very, very hard.

And what about Aaron?

Aaron was Moses’ right hand. Aaron knew better. 

But Aaron capitulates. He has the people hand over their gold so he can fashion the mold. He facilitates their idolatry. 

Why? Why does Aaron do this? 

Again, the rabbis offer many explanations. 

He did it because he was playing for time—trying to keep the Israelites satisfied until Moses reemerged from the mountain. 

He did it because he was afraid.

He was afraid of the mob.

He was afraid of what would happen if he didn’t accommodate their desires.

He did it because he refused to accept—or perhaps could not cope with the fact—that the world was, in fact, changing. That he and this tiny group of people could in fact be living inside of history, on the cusp of cataclysmic change—indeed, even the generators of that change. 

So when his flock yearned for the past, he allowed them to slip back into it. He allowed them to turn back down a dead end—to turn back toward a dead world—rather than push forward and insist on forging a new one.

There it all is in a few spare lines written down thousands of years ago. But it is now. And it is us. 

We modern Israelites have also been worshipping false gods.

Our American idols are prestige, power, social acceptance, popularity, elite opinion, and the Ivy League—but I repeat myself. Our idols are the coveted board seat. The best tables. Relationships with the pretty people.

We put truth on the altar, as if it were a tithable commodity, to remain insiders, to have bragging rights. 

We have been willing to sacrifice what is most precious to us—including our own children—for the sake of it. 

Why are we doing this? 

We are doing it because we are a tiny minority, and because we feel vulnerable and scared and alone. And because fitting in feels safer than standing apart.

We are doing it because we are human beings and so seek temporary pleasure and ease.

We are doing it because we feel anxious and unsure.

We are doing it because we tell ourselves that accommodation is the best route to safety. 

We are doing it because we also live in a culture of idolatry, only this time the materials are pixels and diplomas, adherence to a particular ideology and an emergent social credit system based on likes and retweets. 

We are doing it because maybe deep down we don’t believe we are capable of more.

We are doing it because freedom—real, true freedom—is so very hard.

And what of our Aarons? Why do so many charged with leading our community not offer leadership but coping mechanisms?

Perhaps they are afraid.

Perhaps in times of disruption, it can be hard to know where the worst of the danger resides. 

Perhaps, too, they are afraid of the mob.

Because they are afraid of what happens if they don’t accommodate our basest instincts. 

Perhaps because they have sincerely come to believe that erasing or playing down what makes us different is the way to prove we are inclusive.

Or perhaps they cannot come to terms with the fact that the world they were born into is very much not the world of today. They entertain dead ideas or dead paradigms or indulge in nostalgia for dead alliances because they cannot conceive of the fact that we are inside a cataclysmic change every bit as disorienting as the one our ancestors lived through when they went, uncertain, through the Red Sea and into the desert to become a liberated people. 

So let me not leave this stage tonight before saying this again, and underscoring it: we are at a hinge moment in history.

Our world is changing. 

The world many of us were born into—the world we thought we would spend our lives inside—that world is over. There is no going back. And the things we took for granted—that America would remain exceptional (not just for us but in the world); that Americans would understand this as a place and an idea worth fighting for—those are no longer certainties. 

Nor is the certainty of the free world itself, which is burning at its outer edges. 

All of it—the ideals and the architecture that have made the past 75 years of Jewish life the greatest in the history of the world—are up for grabs. 

Ask the people of southern Israel who saw, on the morning of October 7, how brittle the fence is that separates civilization from barbarism. 

Ask the people of Taiwan, who hear Beijing’s threats and wonder how soon the dark shadow that has fallen over Hong Kong might consume them, too.

Ask the people of Ukraine. 

Ask the Navalny family. 

In one of the beautiful letters Alexei Navalny sent from a prison cell in the Arctic Circle to Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem, he wrote of how strange it was to be reading Sharansky’s memoir, Fear No Evil, about his time in the gulag 40 years before. 

“I was amused by the fact that neither the essence of the system nor the pattern of its acts has changed,” Navalny writes. “In the current situation, it is not them who are to blame,” writing of the KGB, “but us, who naively thought that there was no going back to the old ways.”

Let me repeat that: us. . . who naively thought that there was no going back to the old ways.

Can the same not be said of us?

Because freedom isn’t only under siege in Russia and Iran and Hong Kong. It is also under siege here at home. 

By leftists who glorify terrorists. . . and by rightists who glorify tyrants. By technology companies that revise history and tell us it’s justice. By demagogues who point to the grocery stores and the subway system in Putin’s Russia and insist that they are symbols of human flourishing. And by an elite culture that has so lost all sense of right and wrong, good and bad, or has so cunningly transformed those categories, that it can call a massacre “resistance.” A genocidal chant, a call for “freedom.” And a just war of self-defense “genocide.”

“Human nature is full of riddles,” wrote the famous Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “One of those riddles is: how is it that the people who have been crushed by the sheer weight of slavery and cast to the bottom of the pit can nevertheless find strength in themselves to rise up and free themselves first in spirit and then in body, while those who soar unhampered over the peaks of freedom suddenly lose the taste for it, lose the will to defend it, and, hopelessly confused and lost, almost begin to crave slavery?”

He wrote those words in another place and time but their warning rings like an alarm across our own. Ours has been the freest country in the history of the world, and yet so many today seem to long for slavery—or at the very least have lost their ability to tell freedom from servitude. 

To say that this turn against liberty—the foundational value of this country, our new Jerusalem—is bad for Jews is as self-evident as it once was to declare that Lincoln was a hero or that Frederick Douglass was a second Founding Father or that America is the last best hope on Earth. 

Where liberty thrives, Jews thrive. Where difference is celebrated, Jews are celebrated. Where freedom of thought and faith and speech are protected, Jews are safest. And when such virtues are regarded as threats, Jews will be regarded as the same. 

In other words: when people turn against freedom, they turn against us.

So it should not surprise us that our safety—as well as our freedom—are contracting right now in real time. And not just for Jews, of course, but anyone who refuses to surrender truth.

I mean that really concretely.

There are now whole realms of American life where you cannot be free as a Jew.

Ask the terrified Jewish schoolteacher in Queens who hid in a locked room in her school as a mob of hundreds of “radicalized” kids rampaged through the halls—for almost two hours—after they discovered she had attended a pro-Israel rally.

Ask Matisyahu, who announced that two of his concerts were canceled by venues after anti-Israel activists planned protests. Or the actor Brett Gelman, whose book signings faced the same fate.

Ask Princeton University student journalist Alexandra Orbuch. When pro-Palestinian students didn’t like the questions Orbuch asked, they got the school to issue a no-contact order against her, which effectively prevented her from reporting on them. 

Go apply for a job as a curator at MOMA and mention that you’re a Zionist or have the word Israel on your résumé. See what happens. 

There’s been willful ignorance on the part of our Jewish elders to what’s happened here, in part because they have supported and funded so many of these institutions. But I promise you: if your child wants to go into the arts or music or publishing or higher education and is a proud supporter of Israel, they will face an uphill battle. At this point I’m not even sure they’ll get through the door at the Jewish Museum, whose own curator now likes “From the river to the Sea” posts on Instagram. 

I mention that last one because it’s important to notice that it’s not only that other institutions have turned against us. It’s that we have turned against ourselves. 

So what do we do?

The charge is as simple as it is spiritually difficult. We fulfill our duty and our responsibility to be free.

As my friend, the brilliant Dara Horn, has written: “Since ancient times, in every place they have ever lived, Jews have represented the frightening prospect of freedom. As long as Jews existed in any society, there was evidence that it in fact wasn’t necessary to believe what everyone else believed, that those who disagreed with their neighbors could survive and even flourish against all odds. The Jews’ continued distinctiveness, despite overwhelming pressure to become like everyone else, demonstrated their enormous effort to cultivate that freedom: devotion to law and story, deep literacy, and an absolute obsessiveness about transmitting those values between generations. The existence of Jews in any society is a reminder that freedom is possible, but only with responsibility—and that freedom without responsibility is no freedom at all.”

But that freedom, that responsibility, is a choice for us—as it has always been, including for those Israelites addicted to the fleshpots of Egypt who choose not to leave slavery.

What does this choice look like? What does it look like to be free? To practice freedom?

To be free is to tell the truth even in a world awash with lies. 

The sky is blue. Robin DiAngelo might say it’s pink. Candace Owens might say it’s green. But it’s not. It is blue. That is as true as asserting that there are good governments and evil ones. There are societies organized to generate progress and well-being and those organized around terror and debasement. There are better cultures for women and minorities and there are worse ones. There are historical truths, even if they’re inconvenient for people to know about, even if the activists running places like Google are frantically working to disappear the old facts. 

Here’s Solzhenitsyn again: “Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” To be a free person is to refuse to tell lies, to refuse to stand by as they are told. To be a free person is to live in truth. 

To be free is to stand up for other people’s freedom, but—and this is crucial—not when it means ending your own. 

When Martin Luther King Jr. said that “peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality,” he wasn’t paying back Jewish supporters, or returning a favor to Abraham Joshua Heschel for standing with him at Selma. 

Heschel stood with King because it was the right thing to do: for African Americans, for Jews, for Americans. Just as King understood that depriving Israel, a small country surrounded by enemies, of the ability to defend itself like any other country would pave the way to its destruction. 

Many Jews of my generation, and old Jews too, have since October 7 felt a terrible sense of abandonment by so-called allies. But it is worth asking ourselves if the shock is the sense of betrayal. . . or the realization that we were not in fact united, like King and Heschel, by a shared set of values to begin with. 

The civil rights movement was about expanding freedom for those who have been deprived of it. It had an expansive view of equality. It argued that because our rights were God-given and because we were all created equal, that equality under the law must follow.

Many who claim the mantle as the inheritors of that movement defile it. They say progress is suspect or impossible. Instead of working to perfect the union, they argue for the abolition of it. They argue that every institution in society must treat groups of people very, very differently. The movement says: there are too many Jewish and Asian doctors—their MCAT scores should be judged against a different ledger. 

If your “allies” are subdividing people by racial category, fixing inherited qualities to one group or another, counting the representation of each group to see if it exceeded the distribution in the population. . . then they, however well-intentioned, are anything but.

To be free is to be willing to stand apart. 

Douglas Murray is free.

Ritchie Torres is free. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is free.

My wife, Nellie, is free. Well, sometimes I have to rein her in, but you get the point.

Tiffany Haddish, who this week went to Israel to—in her words—“go see for myself, with my own eyes,” is free. “Why go?” she asked in a video she made on the plane. “Why not go?” 

The Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko, who recently won the silver at the World Championships in Qatar, was drowned out by booing when she said: “I’m here with the Israeli flag, and I’m proud of that.”

Leah Goldstein, who was disinvited from speaking at a Women’s Day event in Ottawa because she’d served in the IDF 30 years ago, said the organizers originally wanted a statement from her, no doubt hoping for a disavowal of her past. Instead, what did Leah tell the Jewish Telegraph? “If I were to make a statement, I would say that I’m very proud of my training with the IDF, being the first woman to train the commando soldiers.” 

The other day I interviewed the economist Roland Fryer—among the freest people I have ever encountered, having withstood a modern witch-burning at Harvard for his refusal to lie about facts incompatible with the prevailing narrative.

I asked him how he did it. He said something that stopped me in my tracks: “I do not covet what they covet.”

Or as Hebrew National put it: I answer to a higher authority. That is the beginning of freedom.

That brings me to another group who is free. Students like Bella Ingber, Talia Kahn, Eyal Yakoby, and others are free. They are our twenty-first-century Davids, staring down Goliaths without trembling at the knee. If you want to learn how to be free, look to their powerful example.

To be free is to stand up—and fight—for the freest country in the history of the world. 

The United States was 87 years old when Abraham Lincoln declared a “new birth of freedom.” The country was still in the midst of fighting a great war, and Lincoln was standing on a battlefield that doubled as a graveyard. Yet he was there to argue for a new beginning. That he used a biblical formulation—four score and seven years—borrowing from the book that has long made the story of the Jewish people so intimately bound up with the American republic, was no more surprising than that his name was Abraham, the first Jew, the Jew who stood alone to proclaim one God in a world of idols.

A century and a half later, no one is asking us to go to war. No one is asking us to give up our firstborn. No one is asking us to believe that a sea in front of us will split in half before it drowns us. 

What is being asked of us is to give up what feels central to our lives—but isn’t. To stop caring so much where your kid goes to college; to give up that museum board seat; to stop funding schools that treat Israel as a pariah and thus Jews who support it as the same; to detach from the friend or institution that has made clear that, to them, you are a second-class citizen. 

Do you not see how lucky we are that these are the only sacrifices we have to make?! When the bar for bravery is leaving a job at a newspaper, privilege is truly the only word to describe it. 

And it’s time to go to war for our values. 

When Apple’s diversity chief—a black woman—was forced to step down for saying that being a minority or a woman are not the only criteria for diversity, did you take her side? 

When Asian Americans were discriminated against, did you see their cause as being essential to our own? 

When American doctors were censored for questioning the efficacy of lockdowns, were you as outraged about this as you were about people who refused to wear masks in March 2020? 

When, just across town, a statue of Teddy Roosevelt was removed from outside the American Museum of Natural History, did you protest? 

We glance at these things, feel a twinge of discomfort, and then decide to move on—giving ourselves one excuse after another. But these are the moments for action, because they are wrong. They are bad for America, and because they are bad for America, they are bad for Jews. 

To be free is to be courageous even when we are scared.

On the morning of October 7, ordinary Israelis left their offices, closed their laptops, and abandoned their fields to pick up weapons, in many cases without waiting for instructions from the state or its army.

These men and women have displayed the kind of heroism that many of them belonged to the mythic past, or the generation of 1948, when the armies of five invading Arab nations turned every kibbutz and moshav, and every town and village, into a battlefield. Surely such individual and collective courage had become something to be studied in the past—not enacted in the present. Not inside the land of Israel. Not in the twenty-first century. And certainly not by them.

And yet here they were, ordinary heroes who understood that history had come knocking and knew that meant they had a critical role to play in shaping it.

The most serious thing imaginable was upon them. And the most serious men and women I have ever encountered emerged to confront it. 

Their instincts in defense of freedom were immediate, and unqualified. For this, they are and will continue to be my inspiration—and they should be yours. 

I do not know what will come next for America or for the Jewish people any more than the Israelites who left Egypt and stood beneath the fire at Sinai. 

Things are uncertain. 

What I know is that our tradition teaches us that the seal of God is truth. 

What I know is that the story of the Jewish people is the story of freedom. 

And what I know is that story rings out across space and time in a common struggle against tyranny.

Navalny knew that when he quoted the last line of the Passover Seder: “Here, I copied you it for myself from the book: L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim.” A shared promise of freedom passed between a Christian prisoner of conscience, soon to be murdered by Putin in his Arctic cell, and a former Soviet prisoner, free as a Jew in Jerusalem.

One time a few years ago, before the pandemic and the wars and so much else that would reshape our world, these themes were already on my mind. And so when, on a trip to Israel, I met my hero and now my friend, Natan Sharansky, I really only had one question for him. I asked him if it was possible to teach courage. He paused and said this: “No. You can’t teach it. You can only show people how good it feels to be free.”

And that’s what I want to end on. Fighting the lies against us, fighting the lies against history, living in truth—it feels good. It’s relaxing to tell the truth. You’ll laugh more. Not that I’m here selling a new cure for depression, but I promise this is a start. 

What a blessing to be free to choose. I know what my choice will be. I am determined to be free.

Thank you for having me.