The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins at sunset this Wednesday. The holiday's primary purpose is to engage in an "accounting of the soul," and usher in the Ten Days of Repentance, which culminate in the holiest Jewish day, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Both the individual and the community are required to ask themselves big questions such as: What type of person have I been, and what type of community have we been, this past year? Where am I, and where are we, headed?
First, in the spirit of this time of year, some Jewish leaders owe our fellow Americans who are Christian an apology. These leaders predicted that serious anti-Semitic consequences would follow in the wake of American Christians seeing the film "The Passion of the Christ." Not only did no such thing occur, polls indicated an actual diminution in anti-Jewish feelings among some Christians who saw the film, and no change whatsoever among the vast majority.
Second, connected to the above, this Rosh Hashanah is a good time for American Jews to publicly acknowledge that American Christianity has been overwhelmingly a blessing for America's Jews. The fears of Christians and their religion that many American Jews have are a carryover from Europe and the Jews' awful experiences there.
No country has ever honored Judaism or blessed its Jews as has America. And this includes secular Europe today just as it did religious Europe of the past. The prevalent idea among American Jews that a secular, rather than a Judeo-Christian, America is better for America, let alone for its Jews, is so obviously wrong, only the irrational can hold it. For proof, ask the Jews of France.
Third, the majority of Jews have substituted liberalism for Judaism, and this has been a Jewish and American calamity. Given Jews' professional success and social activism, Jews tend to have an influence on society quite disproportionate to their numbers. Unfortunately, though, nearly all those Jews who attempt to influence society have little or no connection to Judaism. They are guided far more by The New York Times and its values than by the Torah and its values. And they ask, "What do I feel?" far more than "What do 3,000 years of our world-changing religion teach?"