“What are the values that we cherish as American Jews?” That is the question that I put to my Confirmation class and that I put to you. For we are about more than “tradition,” or “feeling” that we are Jewish. Rather, I believe that “Jewish” carries with it a value system by which we strive to live our lives, and thereby find personal fulfillment even as we strive to make this a better and kinder world.
I share with you the responses of our teenagers, and you will note that we went through the entire alphabet, ascribing a Jewish value to each letter:
“Acceptance, Belief, Charity, Devotion, Equality, Faith/Family, Gratitude, Hope, Intelligence, Justice, Kindness, Love, Modesty, Monotheism, Nurturing, Optimistic, Pride, Questioning, Righteousness, Strength, Tikun Olam, Unity, Uniqueness, Valor, Wise, Xenia (Greek for generosity), Yearning, Zeal.”
This is quite an incredible and insightful list of Jewish values. I feel proud of our teenagers, and the depth with which they understand that Jewish identity is rooted in compelling values by which we strive to live our lives. May we all embrace and live these values, and may they lead us to personal worthiness and fulfilment in this journey which is life.