In the following brief exchange, Or Rose and Homayra Ziad explore their personal reactions to the notion of chosenness in Judaism and Islam. As scholars and practitioners, they also reflect on their approach to prayer and their openness to other religions. Dear Homayra, In thinking about the issue of chosenness, the one constructive statement
Chosenness is about carrying, internalizing, and claiming difference; being willing to stand up for what matters… Embracing chosenness means accepting a moral mandate to speak for and with those whose dignity has been denied.
“A truly rational and universal God, it is maintained, could not do anything so arbitrary as to ‘choose’ one particular group out of mankind as a whole…. God is the God of all alike, and, therefore, cannot make distinctions between nations and peoples.”1 Contrary to the widespread popular assumption that Jews can only be
Is it really true that God chose Abraham? The Torah narrative tells a story wherein God plucked Abraham from the midst of an idolatrous environment and said, “Lech lecha,” “Go forth to a new place, a new way of life, a new way of thinking about the world.” But our midrashic tradition tells a different
It’s almost half over! When the shmita year, a once in seven-year opportunity to transform our world, began this past Rosh Hashanah, rabbis, educators, and communities across the Jewish world were buzzing with ideas about new ways to implement the heavenly values of spiritual renewal, release from debt, letting the land lay fallow, and more.
An irony of the American Jewish experience: Just as America’s Christian leaders donned the Jews’ mantle of “chosenness” to explain and justify the new nation, America’s Jewish leaders shrugged off that cloak to ease Jewish entry into America. Ministers of the dissident Protestants who settled New England cast their flock as a new “children of
A Letter Exchange between Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi: “It is essential that all Jews understand their role as a chosen people, chosen to create and sustain Israel in all its struggles and in all its strivings” and Aryeh Bernstein: “The association of chosenness with superiority reflects the faulty assumption that what I know is all there is to be known, that I can testify to our chosenness because I remember Sinai…”
“To me, O Israelites, you are just like the Ethiopians,” declares the Lord. “True, I brought Israel up from the land of Egypt, but also the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Arameans from Kir.” — Amos 9:7 The Jewish people’s unique relationship with God — and our inherent holiness — pervades our tradition and history.
Biblical theology is at once profoundly universalistic and unabashedly particularistic… To jettison the language of chosenness, or election, is to jettison the Bible itself.