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Although I’m not a fan, it’s not hard to see the truth behind Teddy Roosevelt’s warning about hyphenated Americanism.
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English- Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian- Americans, or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.
I would venture to say that many of us, if not most, could look over his list of hyphenated Americans and see our own family linage. However, as generations successfully assimilate, few continue to identify themselves as anything other than American.

No one is arguing that legitimate immigrants who come to America for its ideals and opportunities are unwelcome. However, the exhausting list of differences between the legal migration of the Roosevelt era and the illegal infiltration we are experiencing today makes his sentiments all the more relevant.

However, there are hyphens that bring division and there are hyphens that bind us together.

In spite of popular belief, America was founded on principles. All men are “created” equal. The God that created us in His image, the Judeo-Christian God, gave us what we call our American values. Is it any wonder those very values are under attack from evil on all sides?

In the closing chapter of Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesusthe author suggests that a Jewish Jesus is the hyphen that binds the two faiths together. Two separate and distinct religions united by Jesus of Nazareth. These two faiths ever locked together are the genesis of American values.

Here’s how following Jesus can unite rather than divide us.

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Boteach suggests that Christianity lost its cultural influence with our preoccupation with gay marriage and abortion. While the point can be argued that those battles are right and needed, we have to acknowledge that somewhere along the line we lost a lot of territory.

What’s worse, we flat out failed to show up on other major fronts.

At a time when the world flails in search of values, strangled by materialism, divisiveness, instability, doubt, and unrest, we must return to the basic ideals we share in common. All of these are to be found in the life and lessons of Jesus of Nazareth, lover of Israel, rebel against Rome, Jewish hero, and the inspiration for innumerable acts of Christian charity.

The author has gone to great lengths to point out that Jesus was in fact an observant Jew, one whose life of walking in righteousness (whether you believe him to be the son of God or not) is worth emulating. Jesus of Nazareth will forever bind us together.

We can spend a lot of time arguing about differences, using that hyphen to divide us. Or we can choose to embrace it, to forgive the hurts of the past and face the future united. As Americans we face real enemies, both cultural and physical.

Isn’t it time we stopped trying so hard to simply make a point, and give our lives as Jesus did, to make a difference?

kosherjesus

 

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Photo credits Shutterstock,  Carlo Toffolo