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Peoplehood Papers 14: Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood

This collection of 16 essays on the topic of sustainability and its connection to Jewish Peoplehood is a partnership between the CJPE and Siach. With shmita as the framework, authors from different disciplines consider what sustainability means for the Jewish People in the 21st Century. Some take an activist stance and call on us to…

Of Local and Global: “Jewish People Leadership”

Sarah Mali develops a conceptual framework for Jewish belonging that is built out of what she terms neighborhood and peoplehood attachments. She argues that Jewish personal and moral fulfillment requires actualizing and synthesizing both of these seemingly contradictory attachments. In Section 2 of the paper she applies the conceptual framework to the field of leadership development and presents a leadership training…

What is Particular and What is Universal in the Jewish People?

Fiss suggests that modern Jewish experience can be compared to other diaspora groups and takes a look at which characteristics and experiences are unique to the Jewish people and which are universal. She suggests that the idea of “homeland” is a universal concept, but is defined per group. She also suggests that the Jewish experience…

From Israel to Budapest: Reflections on Universalism vs. Particularism

Friedman reflects on the tension of universalism and particularism in Israel’s current ethical dilemma surrounding whether to absorb African refugees into its population. She expands the tension to her work as coordinator of Siach, a network of international Jewish social justice and environmental professionals. She uses an upcoming conference in Budapest of Jewish social justice…

The Magnetic Pull of Torah

Grant points to Daniel Elazar’s work to show how American Jewry has leaned towards universalism while Israel leans towards universalism, the difference and differentiation threatening to divide the entities. But she also points to Chaim Nachman Bialik’s writing to show how “Jewish life is challenged, but ultimately strengthened by the constant tension between the pull…

Jewish Peoplehood: A View from Mumbai

Sztokman and Sztokman suggest that one of the most powerful messages in the Torah “is the mission of the Jewish people to look after the vulnerable members of society.” They point out that, “the Torah tells us that we actually can change others’ lives and fates for the better. This radical idea, that we can…

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Rettig looks to the story of Cain and Able and the infamous “am I my brother’s keeper?” to explore the question “for whom are we responsible?” He suggests that from the Cain and Able story, “we learn the first lesson in human responsibility toward other humans and its relationship with deadly violence.” He suggests that…

Re-examining Jewish Peoplehood in the Age of Instagram

Messinger proposes two guiding principles “to advance the discourse about balancing universalism and particularism in the 21st century.” First, she suggests moving beyond the binary and embracing hybridity. Quoting Rabbi Hirsch, she writes, “We must forget the views and prejudices that we inherited about Judaism. Instead we must turn to the sources of Judaism… because…

The Never Ending Debate

Fein argues that the tensions between particularism and universalism can and should never be resolved. He believes that this is a tension that is “meant not only to challenge us but also to enliven us.” He believes Rabbi Hillel’s statements, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” and “If I am…

Peoplehood Flows from Asking Big Questions

Josh Feigelson suggests addressing the issue posed in this volume through “Big Questions,” Big which provide the possibility of creating new dynamics and new paradigms. “If we are to renew a sense of peoplehood, we have to renew a language and ethic of responsibility. And doing that starts with asking bigger questions … that animate…

Universalism and Particularism: Jewish Teachings on Obligation

Ellenson shows that within Judaism there have always been universalistic and particularistic dimensions, starting with the concept of covenant (brit) in the Bible. “This notion maintains that God stands in relationship with all people.” These dual dimensions are also displayed in the idea of Tikkun Olam, a concept that also binds Jews to God. “The…

In Defence of Particularism

Bitton argues for a “balanced particularism” that allows one to continue to contribute to all of humanity. “This vision of Jewish particularism does not assume that there is something ‘better’ about Jews than non-Jews,” but simply, that the Jewish people are one family, with a shared history, destiny and humanity. She believes that universalism only…

Is “For Whom Are We Responsible” the right question?

Aaron suggests that even two centuries after the Enlightenment, Jews still struggle within the group about “whether our Jewish world is one of universal innovation or particular corruption.” He proposes that instead of asking, “for whom are we responsible?”, we ask, “what is our responsibility to each other?” He suggests we focus on “what we…

Jewish Peoplehood Crisis – The Seattle “Call for Conversation”

Originally published in eJewishPhilanthropy, Levy & Chivo tell about a community call to discuss the Peoplehood crisis that brought out almost 800 participants within the Seattle area. A strategic roadmap was proposed at the meeting, including: (i) adult education aimed at self-transformation (starting with leaders of any Jewish institution); (ii) incorporation of peoplehood in school…

The Mitzvot of Peoplehood – Some Proposals

Looking back on an article she wrote almost a decade ago (“The Mitzvot of Peoplehood”) where she posed the question, “I’m a member of the Jewish People, so what should I do when I wake up in the morning?”, Wilf offers five potential avenues of action to nurture a sense of belonging to a Jewish…