". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Jews Should Advocate for Public Displays of the Ten Commandments in All 50 States

June 27, 2024

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry (R) signed a law last week requiring that the Ten Commandments be hung in every public classroom in the state. At a time of spiraling anti-Semitism, this welcome embrace of the primary symbol representing Judeo-Christian values should be deeply appreciated by the Jewish community.

Yet unsurprisingly, many Jewish groups were “deeply concerned” by the move, as was the New Orleans Jewish Federation. The Jewish Federation is the name of the umbrella organization representing the local Jewish community. It is fairly common for the largely liberal Jewish establishment to see public displays of religion as a sign of some nefarious Christian agenda.

Sadly, progressive Jewish groups have long been at the forefront of the fight against the Ten Commandments. These groups took great pride back in 2005 in arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that public displays of the Ten Commandments undermine religious freedom and the pluralistic nature of American society. The Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Jewish Committee all supplied amicus briefs opposing Ten Commandment displays in McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union in 2005.

Reform Rabbi David Saperstein testified before the House Judiciary Committee, “The principle of separation of church and state is not merely a legal doctrine; it is a practical necessity in a religiously diverse society like ours. Governmental endorsement of religion undermines religious freedom and breeds divisiveness. Displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings is not about honoring their historical significance; it is about endorsing a particular religious view.”

Liberal Jewish opposition to the public display of the Ten Commandments is predictable but unwise. If American Jews want to remain safe in the United States, we must reverse our community’s official opposition to public displays of the Bible, applaud Governor Landry, and do everything we can to display the Ten Commandments in the rest of the 49 states.

State Representative Michael Bayham (R), who co-authored the bill, defended the measure in an interview with The Washington Post, saying “The Ten Commandments is about civilization and right and wrong; it does not say you have to be this particular faith or that particular faith.”

Tragically, in the two decades since the McCreary case, the religiously diverse and tolerant society that liberal Jews have long championed no longer exists in the United States. Rather than an open minded liberal environment, America has adopted deviant and hateful ideologies at the expense of the Judeo-Christian values that are represented by the Ten Commandments. The result? Skyrocketing anti-Semitism and an uncertain future for American Jews.

American cities are riddled with crime, families are in shambles, and businesses are crumbling, unable to simply prevent shoplifting. States that decline to teach the divine decree against murder invite crime. Nations that do not condemn adultery invite promiscuity. Societies that fail to warn against stealing invite theft. At the ceremonial signing of the bill, Governor Landry explained his motivation, “If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses.”

History teaches us that whenever a society deteriorates, Jews become the first scapegoats. It is not difficult to trace the degradation of American morality in recent decades to the violent attacks on Jews that are occurring today in American cities on a daily basis. A return to basic principles is in order, and the Jewish community should lead the way in promoting biblical teachings. As Jews who were chosen by God to teach the world the principles encapsulated succinctly by the Ten Commandments, we should be encouraging more states to follow Louisiana’s lead.

The Ten Commandments are not merely “a particular religious view” but are the universal moral principles that America and Western Civilization were built upon. The public display of the Ten Commandments is a reaffirmation of these sacred values and their importance in maintaining a just and moral society.

American Jews are at a turning point. The liberal establishment that we took great pride in shaping has abandoned us. Thankfully, Christian lawmakers like Governor Landry have not abandoned the Bible. Hopefully, American Jews will learn from our Christian friends and allies that we share the same biblical values and its time our two communities start working closely together.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the founder of Israel365.com and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” which are both dedicated to strengthening relationships between Jews and Christians in support of Israel.