Rabbi Sacks on the Universal Jewish Story
JInsider (March 2010)
So many people have internalised the Jewish narrative it’s become the universal story.
So, for instance, when the first people set out for America, the guys on the Mayflower in 1620, John Winthrop in 1630, they used the Jewish story. They were quoting from the Bible. When Thomas Jefferson in his second inaugural in 1803 wanted to describe the American story, he described it in terms of God leading the Israelites across the wilderness. When John F. Kennedy said, “The rights of man come not from the hand of man, but from the hand of God,” when in 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson said, “They came here, the exile and the stranger, and they made a covenant with this land,” all the way from George Washington in 1789 to Barack Obama on 20th of January, 2009, when American Presidents have gone up to deliver their inaugural addresses, more often than not, they have told the Jewish story.
Why? Because Americans came here to realise hope, and the story of hope is the story that begins in the Hebrew Bible and finds echoes everywhere.
It’s what Nelson Mandela called ‘the long walk to freedom’.