Looking forward to this 4th of July weekend, let us reflect on the state of multiculturalism in America. As American Jews, we would tend to embrace a definition of Americanness that is vivacious and various; dynamic and diverse. There is no one culture that defines America; rather, our great country is a composite of cultures. We are not a melting pot, but more like a stew. Every ingredient in that stew has integrity; one can experience the “potatoes” uniquely from the “carrots.” And yet, the stew would be lessened with any one of its essential ingredients removed or lessened.
The vision of a cosmopolitan America whose greatness is predicated on its diversity, “e pluribus unum” has been under attack of late. It is our responsibility, as we celebrate this holiday weekend, to reflect and discuss how we, as a nation of immigrants, will continue to derive strength through our diversity rather than give in to a narrow idea of a dominant culture that would subsume various cultural differences into itself. As Jews, we have a unique role in reminding our fellow Americans about the soul of this country: out of the many, one. In other words, the universal ideals of our Judaism require of us, the particulars of Jewish culture. Universalism requires multi-culturalism, and that, for the Jew, to be fully American is to be fully Jewish, and vice versa. Multi-culturalism, far from its impediment, is the key to American greatness.
Happy 4th, and see you for Shabbat under the Stars this Friday!