Monday, July 04, 2011

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Expectations of an American Jew

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

I am an American Jew.  No, not a Jewish-American.  I am a Jew who was born and raised in America, a 4th generation Jewish family in America who, like most Americans of the past and Jews of the past, absorbed American culture.

The German Jew, the Yekke, is known for being extremely punctual (exactly on time), very orderly, extremely neat.  These are not particularly Jewish values, they are German cultural values absorbed into the families of those Jews who lived there (and were fortunate enough to leave there).

The American Jew is known for his sense of justice and sense of freedom.  He expects to be able to express himself and is incensed if someone tells him to shut up or that words are illegal.  He expects the government to work and to work as a servant of the citizens.  He doesn’t expect to have to bribe or use connections to get things done.  He expects to succeed on his merits and for equal opportunity to exist by ability and merit.  He does not particularly respect kings, princes, aristocracy, family lineage, or ‘the right connections’.  He expects the government to provide necessary common services and to get out of his way in every other area.

These are not particularly Jewish values, though many of them align at some level to Torah concepts (and the founders of the United States of America used some Jewish wisdom in the United States Constitution.)

As an American Jew, this is my cultural advantage and my cultural baggage.  On the 4th of July, Independence Day for the USA, I share my appreciation for a country that (generally) provided a good home for the Jews that arrived on her shores, and in keeping with her culture allowed them to succeed on their merits.

And I am saddened that those cultural aspects that allowed people to succeed and grow a great nation are no longer valued by today’s American political leadership.  Nay, they are actively undermined by those who would supplant that culture by one of mediocrity, government control and management, and a nanny state culture that will care for all but allow none to succeed.

Strange for me as an ex-patriot American Jew now in Israel to find my new home moving towards those American values that grew a great nation, and beginning to receive the advantages thereof, while I watch my former home engaging in the state-ist policies formerly in place in Israel…and suffering the cost thereof.

From an American Jew writing in Jerusalem, Israel, happy July 4th.

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