I am a Jew because the faith of Israel demands no
abdication of my mind.
I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every
possible sacrifice of my soul.
I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears
and suffering the Jew weeps.
I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair
is heard the Jew hopes.
I am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most
ancient and the most modern.
I am a Jew because Israel's promise is a universal
I am a Jew because for Israel the world is not finished;
men will complete it.
I am a Jew because for Israel man is not yet fully
created; men are creating him.
I am a Jew because Israel places man and his unity
above nations and above Israel itself.
I am a Jew because above man, image of the divine
unity, Israel places the unity which is divine.
-- Edmond Fleg, "Why I Am a Jew"
What a wonderful path Judaism is!
Judaism worships a God who is the Father of all humanity, whose attributes of kindness, mercy, compassion, and justice are to serve as examples for all our actions.
Judaism teaches that every person is created in God's image and therefore is of supreme value.
Judaism asserts that people are to be co-workers with God in preserving and improving the earth. We are to be stewards of the world's resources and to see that God's bounties are used for the benefit of all. Nothing that has value can be wasted or destroyed unnecessarily.
Judaism stresses that we are to love other people as ourselves, to be kind to strangers, "for we were strangers in the land of Egypt," and show compassion to the homeless, the poor, the orphan, the widow, even for enemies, and for all of God's creatures.
Judaism places great emphasis on reducing hunger. A Jew who helps to feed a hungry person is considered, in effect, to have fed God.
Judaism mandates that we seek and pursue peace. Great is peace, for it is one of God's names, all God's blessings are contained in it, it must be sought in times of war, and it will be the first blessing brought by the Messiah.
Judaism exhorts us to pursue justice, to work for a society where each person has the ability to obtain, through creative labor, the means to lead a dignified life for himself and his family.
Judaism stresses involvement, nonconformity, resistance to oppression and injustice, and a constant struggle against idolatry.
Why should Jews be more involved in society's issues today?
1. The world faces many tremendous problems today: extensive poverty, pollution, global warming, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other ecosystems, widespread hunger, shortages of resources such as water and energy, and rapid population growth.
2. Judaism has much to say about these issues. The application of Jewish values such as those related to pursuing justice, sharing resources, exhibiting kindness and compassion, loving our fellow human beings, working as partners with God in protecting the earth, seeking and pursuing peace, and, in general, imitating God, are necessary to finding solutions to these problems.
3. Unfortunately, there has been a shift away from these basic Jewish values at a time when the world needs them more than ever before. There has been a political shift to the right in the Jewish community--a shift from prophetic values to chauvinistic values. There has been little effort to apply the Jewish tradition to the many critical problems that face the world today.
4. In the face of today's urgent problems, Jews must return to progressive Jewish values. We must remember our mission to be a light unto the nations, a holy people, a kingdom of priests, descendants of prophets, champions of social justice, eternal protesters against a corrupt, unredeemed world, dissenters against unethical systems. We must work for radical changes that will lead to a society where there is an end to oppression, hunger, poverty, and alienation. Jews must become actively involved in the missions of Jewish renewal and global survival.
The afternoon service for Yom Kippur includes the story of Jonah, who was sent by God to Nineveh to urge the people to repent and change their unjust ways in order to avoid their destruction. Today the whole world is Nineveh in danger of annihilation and in need of repentance and redemption, and each one of us must be like Jonah, with a mission to warn the world that it must turn from greed, injustice, and idolatry to avoid global oblivion.
Return to The Schwartz Collection on Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights - Main Page