Date published: April 5, 2012
Journal code: JWEX
A new survey of American Jews prompted much buzz this week, much of it focused on the level of support for President Barack Obama's re-election (62 percent). But more important in the long run are the findings in the Public Religion Research Institute survey about what drives Jewish identity and behavior.
The most popular quality cited was "a commitment to social equality," chosen by 46 percent of American Jews. Support for Israel and religious observance came in second and third, with 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Those who will inevitably seize on these finding to further their own agendas set up a false dichotomy. It shouldn't be an either/or situation. Being Jewish is not just about loving Israel or being passionate about social justice. It is about both - and more.
The holiday of Passover, which we are about to celebrate, provides the quintessential blending of the different aspects of who we are as a people. Our Exodus from Egypt sets us off on our journey as a free people, on our way to the Promised Land. And by invoking that journey as we do each year during the seder - remembering the bitterness along with the joy - we have before us a road map for our social consciousness.
As we gather with our families and friends, let's focus on the myriad pieces that make us, and grapple once again with our history in order to enact the essence of who we are as Jews and as human beings.