I was about to sit down at a Passover Seder last evening (we changed the date to make it more convenient–not too religious) and I had a thought that I shared with the large group who was there.
It is based on the observation that Jews have been active in the early days of the Civil Rights movement as well as other social conscious movements. They have also been active in the formative periods of communism and socialism.
But I am not discussing liberal or left-leaning politics specifically. I also differentiate between the idealistic, utopian theory of leftist philosophy and the practical and historical results, seemingly antithetical to the idealism from which they arose.
But my point was simply that Jews are constantly reminded of the pain of slavery during heir annual Passover Seder. The story of slavery and the exodus is indelibly embedded in the consciousness of most Jewish children.
It would seem only natural that this awareness would translate into civil rights and social action movements. The influence on Jewish thought comes from a place of remembrance. The participants at the Seder are instructed to feel as if they were personally liberated from slavery.
That is a powerful notion and one which can lead to standing up against injustice wherever it exists.