The Jewish people brought the idea of one God to the world. Although there have been vastly different ideas about the nature of that God — including the recognition that we cannot, with our limited capacities, truly know God’s nature — one thing has remained consistent. Whatever God is, the existence of God demands certain things from human beings.
A belief in God in the Jewish tradition means that human beings are obligated to goodness. They are committed to the idea that life is sacred and a gift. Whatever God is, each human being carries within herself or himself a spark of divinity, an echo of eternity.
Jewish discussion is often centered on worldly considerations. Peoplehood, land, social issues and ideologies dominate the communal agenda. But as Jews we ought never to forget that our greatest contribution to humanity is the idea that all human beings are kin because we are all the children of one God. For thousands of years we have borne the blessing and burden of this message. Our world needs it now as urgently as ever.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe