I will insist the Hebrews have contributed more to civilized man than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.” These words were written in 1808 by President John Adams, and might cause us to take a look at ourselves some two-hundred years later.
Many of you know that my abilities on the computer and especially with the technological media are highly limited. But I tried something earlier in the week. I sent out a Facebook post asking people to convey a word or thought that conveys their “Jewish priority.”I would like to share some of those responses:
- Values and ethics
- Connection to Jews everywhere in the world through tradition and prayer
- Ability to question
- Sense of community rooted in shared traditions
- Lovely memoriesIt affords me a community I never have had before.
- An oasis in a world in chaos that segregates young from old, successful from struggling.
- A sense of belonging
- Shabbat! And also having a tradition that gives me a guiding framework to my week.
We may think of different aspect of Jewish identity, yet I believe that being Jewish is a precious gift to most of us. I believe, as John Adams expressed, that we continue to be an “essential instrument for civilizing” our world, even as our goal has never been to make the world Jewish – only more humane. For me, Jewish identity is rooted in all of the above comments, and in being part of an ongoing quest to cause our godly visions and ideals to prevail in our lives and in our world.
Rabbi David Greenberg