The discrepancies between our American and Jewish values create a dilemma around which we have tiptoed. One of Judaism’s greatest strengths has been its ability to adapt to its surroundings. In this spirit, we have created an “American Midrash” learning to live with certain contradictions.
An example of American Midrash is our interpretation of Hanukkah and Passover as freedom holidays–reflecting American ideals. The Hanukkah story is actually about the internal Jewish struggle between assimilationists (Hellenists) and zealots (the Maccabees) who wanted to preserve Judaism from the influences of Greek society. But it fits better into our American context to see it as a battle for freedom of religion.
Similarly, the point of the Passover story is not the physical freedom from slavery celebrated at the Red Sea and seder tables in America, but rather the events at Mount Sinai where the Israelites, freed from their Egyptian masters, were able to obey a new and more demanding master–God.
Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox, “American vs. Jewish Values,” MyJewishLearning [http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ritual/Jewish_Practices/Mitzvot/Contemporary_Understandings/Rights_and_Responsibilities/American_vs_Jewish_Values.shtml?p=0]