One of the most admired religious thinkers of our time issues a call for world Jewry to reject the self-fulfilling image of “a people alone in the world, surrounded by enemies” and to reclaim Judaism’s original sense of purpose: as a partner with God and with those of other faiths in the never-ending struggle for freedom and social justice for all.
We are in danger, says Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of forgetting what Judaism’s place is within the global project of humankind. During the last two thousand years, Jews have lived through persecutions that would have spelled the end of most nations, but they did not see anti-Semitism written into the fabric of the universe. They knew they existed for a purpose, and it was not for themselves alone. Rabbi Sacks believes that the Jewish people have lost their way, that they need to recommit themselves to the task of creating a just world in which the divine presence can dwell among us.
Without compromising one iota of Jewish faith, Rabbi Sacks declares, Jews must stand alongside their friends—Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and secular humanist—in defense of freedom against the enemies of freedom, in affirmation of life against those who desecrate life. And they should do this not to win friends or the admiration of others but because it is what a people of God is supposed to do.
Rabbi Sacks’s powerful message of tikkun olam—using Judaism as a blueprint for repairing an imperfect world—will resonate with people of all faiths.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Future Tense|
|Release Date: 04-20-2010|
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‘Yesterday,’ said the fabled politician, ‘we stood at the edge of the abyss, but today we have taken a giant step forward.’Jewish history can sometimes feel like that: danger, followed by disaster. It does today.
Sixty years after its birth, the state of Israel is deeply isolated. It faces missiles from Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, two terrorist groups pledged to Israel’s destruction. It has fought two campaigns, Lebanon in 2006, Gaza in 2008–09, whose outcome has been inconclusive. In the wings is Iran and the threat of nuclear weapons. Rarely has its future seemed so fraught with risk.
At the same time it has faced a chorus of international disapproval for its attempt to fight the new, ruthless terror that takes refuge among civilian populations. If it does nothing, it fails in the first duty of a state, to protect its citizens. If it does something, the innocent suffer. It is a conundrum to perplex the most inventive mind and trouble the most thoughtful conscience.
The existence of the state of Israel would, thought Theodor Herzl, put an end to antisemitism. Instead, Israel has become the focus of a new antisemitism.The emergence within living memory of the Holocaust of a new strain of the world’s oldest hate is one of the most shocking developments in my lifetime.
Were these the only problems facing the Jewish people, they would be formidable. But there are others that weaken from within. There is the crisis of Jewish continuity. Throughout the Diaspora on average one in two young Jews is, through outmarriage, assimilation or dis affiliation, choosing n...