Jewish Political Ethics in America

Jill Jacobs

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199736065
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Jewish Political Ethics in America

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This chapter examines Jewish political ethics as it has emerged in the American setting. Unlike virtually all the places where Jews have lived throughout history, American Jews are full-fledged citizens, and some have taken leadership roles in both local and national politics, to say nothing of the professions, academia, and business. Four different approaches that Jews have taken to respond to this new reality are described: (1) Jews should participate in American politics in service of Jewish self-interest; (2) political participation replaces religion; (3) the United States is a step in the march toward messianic redemption; and (4) Jews should involve themselves in American politics, as Jews, for the betterment of all. The chapter describes each of these positions, quotes some representative spokespersons for each, and shows how each has influenced Jewish political ethics in America, and then illustrates how varying Jewish prayers for the nation articulate each of these approaches.

Keywords: Jewish political ethics; American Jews; Jewish self-interest; political participation; messianic redemption; Jewish prayers

Article.  7082 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; Religious Issues and Debates

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