First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

By C. Welton Gaddy; Barry W. Lynn | Go to book overview

Preface: A Personal Perspective:
The Freedom That Makes America America

ANDREW S. GROVE

It was as if there was an invisible border in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We crossed it at the moment some of my fellow refugees came back from a Sunday service.

It was January of 1957 and I was on a ship, a World War II troop carrier rescued from mothball storage and given a reprieve, that was carrying 1,600 Hungarian refugees from a port in Germany to the United States. I was one of them. I was twenty years old, cold, shabby, scared, and excited. I had left my family and my old life behind, committing the rest of my life to a new country I knew nothing about. A group of young refugees approached me looking indignant, even angry. “It’s ridiculous,” they sputtered. I quickly learned that what was ridiculous was the sermon they just heard from a Hungarian American minister who had come along to give spiritual guidance to the new immigrants. He had focused his sermon on the emphatic suggestion that every member of his transient congregation must leave antisemitism behind.

As a Jew, I found it very upsetting to listen to my fellow refugees bemoan the prospect of living without antisemitism. And it was not surprising that they made these comments to me—knowing full well that I was a Jew. Life in Hungary had always been characterized by antisemitism. I learned this at age five, when a little girl I played with in the park told me that Jews like me would be pushed

-vii-

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