Jewish Values: What are the most important ones? the World and Helping the Needy. These values undergirded the organized American Jewish community over the past century. This photo from the U.S. Library of Congress was taken during a 1908 distribution of free matzoh by Jewish donors to poor families in New York during Passover that year. Photo in public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.Passover, the ritual remembrance of the exodus of Israelites from ancient Egypt, began on Friday. The Passover story incorporate values central to Jewish religion, culture, and ethics—such as welcoming the stranger and healing the world. These values remain strong today among Jews in America, according to a just-released survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Tikkun olam—Hebrew words for healing the world—literally refer to repairing the world and sometimes are broadly interpreted to mean bringing about social justice. Thirty-five percent of American Jews say this is a very important value in shaping their political beliefs and actions, with an additional 37% saying it is somewhat important. About one in four (26%) say welcoming the stranger is very important, with almost half (46%) saying it is somewhat important.

What other values are central in shaping Jewish Americans’ political beliefs and actions? In addition to healing the world and welcoming the stranger, the survey asked about pursuing justice, caring for the widow and the orphan, and seeing every person as made in the image of God.
Which of these five is the strongest? The weakest?

The strongest value is pursuing justice. Over half (52%) say it is very important; a third more (32%) say it is somewhat important. Only 15% say it is not too important or not important at all. The weakest value is seeing every person as made in the image of God. Calling it the weakest is a relative term—it is still strongly held, but not as strongly as the other four values. Over half (55%) say that seeing every person as made in the image of God is very or somewhat important in shaping their political beliefs and actions. Forty-four percent say is it not too important or not important at all.

These are broad values and, as is always the case when it comes to values, there are many ways they can translate into actions and attitudes. This week, we’ll consider how values influence identity, politics, election priorities, and even foreign policy. For today, consider the five core values discussed above:

Do these values resonant with you, whatever your religious views may be?

Are these universal values?

If you are not Jewish, what are the core values of your faith?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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