This is one of my favorite questions – thank you so much for asking it!
It is my assumption that when you say, “When Jews and non-Jews abide by the same ethical and moral behaviors” that you are not saying that Jews and non-Jews do abide by the same ethical and moral behaviors.
That would be a simplification of life and morality in the extreme. Saying something like that would be to paint the whole world of diversity with the same brush, saying that we all believe in the same God and believe the same things. That is utopianism and is only available, from a Jewish perspective, in the Olam Habah (the Next World).
Returning to the world as we know it, there are certainly areas of ethics and morality that are shared in common with our non-Jewish neighbors. These make for domestic tranquility and thankfully in much of our world we do share much in common with others.
What makes for a uniquely Jewish approach to morality is a fundamental belief which is the underpinning of all of Judaism. That is, that there is one God, the Creator of all humanity. The law that applies to all is the result of Divine revelation that begins at Mount Sinai with the giving of the Torah (Divine Writ) as expounded by the Sages of Israel.
It is less important as to the definition of “Jewishness” or what is uniquely “Jewish” about our morality. There is no need to dwell on the concept of Jewishness. Rather, we should be pleased when we see that we can share with our neighbors in what we all consider to be right and proper.
Thank you for your question. Certainly, because I believe that Judaism (and other faiths) carry a message that is redemptive as a guide for building a more perfect world, I would hope that there would be significant overlap in the ethical and moral behaviors and expectations of many of the world religions! (To use the most obvious and extreme example, I would hope that the infinite value that Judaism places on human life, that causes us to prioritize “Thou shalt not murder,” would translate into virtually every religious worldview. I would personally be suspicious of any religion that did not, in some way, with its own language and norms, affirm that standard.)
So then, what makes the adherence to such ethical/moral norms specifically Jewish? Certainly there are certain worldviews that are uniquely “Jewish” – either in their origin (“we gave the world the concept of such-and-such”) or even as a modern-day priority. But for those that clearly overlap with other non-Jewish ethics and morals, we must also consider the motivations and framework through which we arrive at those behaviors. Many of the world’s religions believe in some form of tikkun olam – further “fixing” or incrementally-perfecting the world – but for us, this is only half of the phrase: Jews believe in l’takein olam b’malchut Shaddai – perfecting the word because it is an extension of God’s will for us, because it is a realization of the vision that we share with God – a vision for the Jewish People and for all humankind, and because it is a fulfillment of what it means to be created in the Divine Image and to allow that Image to spill out of us and into the world at-large. If and when I act morally and ethically, I am not only doing that because it is generally considered as “right,” by those who are Jewish and those who are not Jewish. I am doing it also because it is an expression of the way my faith projects a vision for a more perfect world, and because I embrace my responsibility as a builder of that worldview. I am doing it because I am commanded, Jewishly (however one may understand such obligation – as communal, divine, individual, or otherwise), to participate and act in this way.
The action may be identical to another who is motivated by more universal understandings of ethics and morals, or another who is motivated by his or her own non-Jewish faith; but the meaning behind that action and the vision that activates and enables it are particular to my Judaism. These actions help to define ourJewish selves.
We live in a global community in which many ethical values are shared across societal lines. Many traditions – religious or secular – advocate common ethical behaviors, for example, feeding the poor, housing the homeless, etc. It is a fair to ask if there is any difference whether this care is offered by someone who is Jewish in contrast to any other tradition.