The challenge for American Jewry is to harness the heritage and impulse that all Jews have for social action and direct it within a Jewish context. Social responsibility must be a part of our identity as Jews, with our particularistic impulse and universalistic impulse balanced in an ever-shifting duality determined by the needs of the times. However, one side can never be to the exclusion of the other. While social action has served as an exit lane for Jews, there is no reason it can also not serve as an entry lane. Many Jews, certainly young adult Jews on campus and in the early post-college years, are seeking social action opportunities. American Jewry needs to provide a Jewish context for these opportunities. Our heritage makes this a natural opportunity for Jewish engagement. Jewish social action must be linked with Jewish learning. As such, opportunities for social action should be an entry point for a deeper commitment to Judaism.

Scott A. Shay, Getting our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry, 2nd ed. (Jerusalem & New York: Devora Publishing, 2008), 236-237.

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