Monday, July 06, 2009

Getting into the Game

I just wanted to flag this piece by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, urging Jews to insert their Judaism more aggressively politically. It's a line I've been pushing for awhile now. Obviously, it would be facile to say Jews are not involved in politics -- we have excellent representation at nearly all levels of government. But while there are plenty of Jews, there is very little Judaism -- very little attempt to bring out our own experiences and ideas as Jews and use them to solve political problems.

This, to my mind, is a mistake. Obviously, Jewish silence reinforces the dominance of the "Judeo-Christian" paradigm, which falsely claims to speak for Jews and in doing so renders us mute. This is bad for its own sake, and it is also bad because it causes other people to assume they know what Jews think, associating us with policies that bear little resemblance to the majority Jewish view. But more fundamentally, I think the political sphere benefits from a plurality of perspectives, so we're worse off when the Jewish vantage point is absent. We have something to contribute, and I think we should give it our level best. The world was a better place when it took to heart the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, after all. How will we know if there is another Heschel among us, unless we speak out?

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