Let My People Know

"There has hardly been a revolutionary movement in which Jews did not take an active part"


"There are countless examples in which Jews, in any place whatsoever, have initiated, participated in, and been the leaders not only of campaigns, but of entire movements of freedom, of liberation from suffering—in other words, movements that attempt to reach some degree of redemption.


The huge percentage of Jews participating in revolutionary movements is a phenomenon that does not need much proof.


In fact, over the past few centuries, there has hardly been a revolutionary movement in which Jews did not take an active part.


Even in places where the proportion of Jews in the population was small, the part they played in revolutionary movements was immeasurably great.


If we examine it, we shall see that the focal point of all these movements is the desire to better the existing situation and to improve reality, whether it applies to national liberation or social liberation, whether these are movements that work in an extreme and revolutionary manner or whether they try to gain their objectives through teaching, influence, help, or support.


They may be peace movements or movements for the liberation of the spirit; movements to improve the condition of starving, sick, and suffering people; or, beyond these, movements to improve the environment, to reform the world, to redeem reality in general.


As we have pointed out, one may indeed find an impressive percentage of Jews—including initiators and leaders—in movements of all kinds that apparently have nothing in common.


Jews have participated with enthusiasm and great devotion in leftist movements, but also in revolutionary movements that were explicitly rightist. Jews have participated in and been active in movements that were essentially cosmopolitan, but, no less so, in liberation movements that were national and partisan.


Jews have been active in many movements that were materialistic and atheistic by definition, but no less so in movements that had a deeply religious trend, not specifically Jewish.


What these movements have in common is not their particular ideology, but their being a general dream of redemption, that same dream that springs from seeing distress and understanding the need, from the denial of servitude and the wish to bring some part of the world—a state or a nation or a certain race—to a higher level.


In other words, the dream contains the intention and the desire to bring redemption to the world."


–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From We Jews, p. 103