I am a Jew because, being a child of my people, I have heard the call to add my chapter to the unfinished story. I am a stage on the journey, a connecting link between the generations. The dreams and hopes of my ancestors live on in me, and I am a guardian of their trust, now and for the future.
I am a Jew because our ancestors were the first to see that the world is driven by a moral purpose, that reality is not a ceaseless war of the elements, to be worshipped as gods, nor history a battle in which might is right and power is to be appeased. The Judaic tradition shaped the moral civilization of the West, teaching, for the first time, that human life is sacred, that the individual may never be sacrificed for the mass, and that rich and poor, great and small, are all equal before G-d.
I am a Jew because I am the moral heir of those who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and pledged themselves to live by these truths, becoming a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. I am the descendant of countless generations of ancestors who, though sorely tested and bitterly tried, remained faithful to that covenant when they might so easily have defected.
I am a Jew because of Shabbat, the world’s greatest religious institution, a time in which there is no manipulation of nature or our fellow human beings, in which we come together in freedom and equality to create, every week, an anticipation of the messianic age.
I am a Jew because our nation-though at times it suffered the deepest poverty-never gave up on its commitment to helping the poor or rescuing Jews from other lands or fighting for justice for the oppressed, and did so without self-congratulation because it was a mitzvah, because a Jew could do no less.
I am a Jew because I cherish the Torah, knowing that G-d is to be found not in natural forces but in moral meanings, in words, texts, teachings, and commands, and because Jews, though they lacked all else, never ceased to value education as a sacred task, endowing the individual with dignity and depth.
I am a Jew because of our people’s passionate faith in freedom, holding that each of us is a moral agent and that in this lies our unique dignity as human beings, and because Judaism never left its ideals at the level of lofty aspirations but instead translated them into deeds that we call mitzvoth, and a way we call Halakhah, and thus brought heaven down to earth.
I am proud, simply, to be a Jew.