Righteous Or Blameless

When Jews did not have power, our righteousness was synonymous with blamelessness. How do we define righteousness today, in an age in which Jews do possess power?

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Today, unlike in pre-Holocaust Poland, Jews do have guns! At the beginning of the 21st century, we have power as a nation and as a community in America. Largely through exercising this power while trying to act as a "light unto nations," we define our righteousness in this generation.

Does Israel act as a light unto the nations? Does American Jewry? Do our communal bodies and we as individuals?

The test of righteousness for those holding power is more demanding than for those who are powerless. Are we righteous, or are we merely "blameless," as Noah was in his generation and the Polish Jews near Crakow were in theirs? Have we stood idly by as others have suffered? Today, it’s no longer enough just to be blameless.

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Alan Bayer

Alan Bayer is a senior development executive at UJA-Federation of New York.