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During a recent conversation with a close Jewish friend I asked him what he thought separated Jews from most other ethnic groups. I was expecting him to talk about how a shared history of oppression had strengthened Jews and brought them closer together. But his answer was both surprising and controversial. “Unlike gentiles, especially Christians,” he said, “Jews do not believe in an after life as such. There is no God up there dictating your lot in life. We don’t believe the meek shall inherit the earth. We truly believe in the power of an individual’s free will, guided of course by right principles.” [emphasis mine]