The Relationship between the Jewish Political Tradition and the Jewish Civil Religion in the United States
April 2, 1990
The concept of civil religion is rooted in the American situation, al though congenial to Judaism. American civil religious rituals such as a presidential inauguration, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day serve as vehicles of national religious self-understanding. Since the earliest days of the nation, American Jews have maintained their own interpretations of American civil religion which usually accompanied ideologies of Jewish civil religion. Some writers focused on the shedding of ethnic otherness for rebirth as a new American man, while others affirmed the central values of liberty, justice, and freedom as stemming from God's laws. American Jews build their civil religion on the two traditional contradictory tendencies of kinship and consent, at times giving priority to one over the other. Where the saliency of the Jewish political tradition does not en counter a vigorous opposite trend within American society stemming from vernacular folk values, the process of secularization, or the natural rights tradition protecting the individual, American Jews have continued to structure their civil religious consensus and organizational life according to Jewish tenets.