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A Nation under God: Jews, Christians, and the American Public Square

July 1, 2016 | By: Meir Soloveichik

Many Jewish Americans oppose religion in the American public square. Because of their minority status, and memories of persecution, many Jews believe the safer course is to encourage a radically secular public. But such a belief is misguided, argues Rabbi Meir Soloveichik in this 2007 article. Citing both his great uncle Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the American Founding Fathers, Rabbi Soloveichik urges the American Jewish community to rejoice in America’s religious character. Jews ought to see Christian neighbors as allies in the public arena, with shared moral language and goals. The public-spirited alliance between Jewish and Christian patriots need not require either of them to ignore or diminish their profound theological differences. Religious Americans should see each other as natural partners, standing shoulder to shoulder, ready to strengthen each other against an encroaching secularism that threatens to undermine not only religious communities, but core aspects of American society.

The Jewish people, as God’s representatives here on earth, are uniquely obligated to ensure that society continues to define itself as one under God; but the truth is that the Rav’s writings indicate that this is also a universal obligation, incumbent upon all “men of God.” How diverse religions can remain true to their faiths while at the same time working together to engage and impact the world with our shared religious values is precisely the subject about which the Rav wanted us to engage the Christian community. Orthodox Jews have long adhered to the Rav’s restrictions in engaging in interfaith dialogue of a theological nature, but little dialogue has taken place between religious Jews and Christians on the distinctly biblical morality that we share. Perhaps the publication of “On Interfaith Relationships” will encourage Orthodoxy to respond to this charge.

Read the whole essay in The Torah u-Madda Journal.

More about: Jewish Political Thought  • Religious Liberty and the Jews  • The American Jewish Experience  

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