Jewish life today is played out between the two extremes assimilation (like Lot in biblical times and many secular Jews today) and segregation (like Noah then and the haredim today). Rabbi Sacks argues that we need to find a middle way, a way to contribute to society while keeping our Judaism, that what makes us unique – Abraham’s way. In Rabbi Sacks’ words:
The two dominant strands in the Jewish world today are fighting the battles of the past, not those of the future.
Assimilation made sense in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in a Jewish world traumatised by antisemitism. […]
Segregation made immense sense after the Holocaust, when the heartlands of tradition in Eastern Europe had been almost entirely obliterated. […]
The challenge of our time is to go out to Jews with a Judaism that relates to the world – their world – with intellectual integrity, ethical passion and spiritual power, a Judaism neither intimidated by the world nor dismissive of it, a Judaism fully expressive of the broad horizons and high ideals of our heritage. There is no contradiction, not even a conflict, between contributing to humanity and affirming our distinctive identity. To the contrary: by being what only we are, we contribute to the world what only we can give.
Source: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, A Judaism Engaged with the World, pages 21 and 24 (free download from the webpage)