Dear Friends,

A while ago, Philip Weiss wrote an essay entitled “Letting Go.”  Here he made some very interesting observations about the state of American Jewry, and reflected on the priorities of contemporary Jewish identity.

He wrote:  “Jews spent their first 100 years becoming Americans, and now must learn to become Jews again.”  What he was saying, and what so many others have observed, is that so much of the American Jewish experience has been about struggling for acceptance and inclusion, even as confronted what he calls “the three grim totems and taboos that kept Jewishness as our identity: anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and an embattled Israel.

But times have changed.  We Jews have “made it” in America, and while we are still concerned with anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Israel’s struggles, he maintains that we became “affluent and successful but Jewishly illiterate.”  That there are so many Jews who have lost the ability to sing, to pray to celebrate, to know what we are FOR as Jews, and not only what we are AGAINST.” 

Near the end of the essay, Weiss writes that “we have to stop saying ‘Let my people go’ and start saying “Let my people know.’  We have to remember that God’s first statement was not ‘Fight anti-Semitism’ but ‘Let there be light.’”  To which I would add:  the light of community, the light of morality, the light of social justice, the light of hope for our world.

For me, those are among the primary purposes of Judaism and Jewish identity. I wonder:  How would you respond to the question:  “What is the primary aspect of my Jewish identity?”  I would love to receive your response.  


                  Shabbat Shalom    

              Rabbi David Greenberg