The Peoplehood Papers: Educational Activities

[This exercise is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shlomi Ravid and Clare Goldwater We invite you to use the articles in this edition of the Peoplehood Papers to stimulate discussion with your students, colleagues and friends. Here are some guiding questions and suggestions for discussion. Discussions Choose excerpts from 3-5 articles and ask your group to read them carefully. In pairs or small groups consider the following questions: What does Peoplehood mean for the different writers? What do they seem to have in common and where do they differ? What might be the source of the difference in their opinion: Generational? Religious … [Read more...]

Jewish Peoplehood: From the Literal to the Ineffable and Back

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Adam Weisberg I’ve come to believe that the concept of Jewish Peoplehood describes the historic and ongoing development of the Jewish collective and its cultural constructs. Using this definition, a personal investment in Jewish Peoplehood is characterized by a commitment to sustaining this enterprise for the sake of human flourishing. But I’ve also come to believe that the emotional experience of Jewish Peoplehood is greater than any rational concept. For many Jews it is both thrilling and comforting to connect so easily with other Jews, even those we’ve just met. (The truth is that it is … [Read more...]

Jewish Peoplehood: The Greatest Story Ever Told

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shauna Waltman Helen Keller famously said: “the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." Within that statement lies the essence of Jewish Peoplehood. It is that overwhelming sense of belonging to something bigger, something greater than yourself. Human beings crave that feeling. We search for it desperately. I have found it while staring into the vast starry sky of the Negev desert while contemplating the existence of thousands of years of Jewish history. I have found it amidst Shabbat dinner with complete strangers from four … [Read more...]

The Torah of Jewish Peoplehood

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Zachary Truboff In the 10th century, the great Babylonian scholar Saadia Gaon wrote that “the Jewish people is a people only by virtue of the Torah“ (Emunot V’Deot 3:132). This statement has often been interpreted to mean that Jewish Peoplehood is defined by the extent to which individuals study and internalize the Torah’s values and ritual practices. According to this approach, a Jew could become excluded from the Jewish people simply by failing to live a life guided by the Torah’s laws. Too often this understanding is used to dismiss broad segments of the Jewish people. There is, however, … [Read more...]

What Peoplehood Means

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shuki Taylor There are three points that jointly encompass the ideal of Jewish Peoplehood: 1. Belonging Before entering Israel, the Jewish People entered a covenant with G-D. In describing the staging of this covenant, the Torah says “Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem" - “You are all standing here today - all of you." The covenant is made only when there is full presence, when people - from all backgrounds - bring themselves fully. In order to enter the covenant of Judaism - of our relationship with G-D, with our land, our values, our heritage and our people - there is a prerequisite that every … [Read more...]

The Content of Jewish Peoplehood

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Alex Sinclair Just as in the Talmudic vignette keitzad m’rakdim lifnei hakalah (“how does one dance in front of the bride?"), in which Hillel and Shammai argue over whether truth or peace is more important, so too, Jewish Peoplehood navigates between two competing “goods" that sometimes clash. Firstly, the value of inclusivity: the desire for as many Jews as possible to feel part of the Jewish people, and to derive meaning from those connections. Secondly, the value of content: the desire that Jewishness be about more than “just feeling Jewish," and to include intensive study of and engagement with … [Read more...]

WHAT is Peoplehood?

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Jeffrey R. Solomon During my eleven year tenure at UJA-Federation of New York in the 80’s and 90’s, I’ve had many compelling moments regarding the topic at hand, What is Peoplehood? One of them was when I was visiting and soliciting a major donor who was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs. We knew each other reasonably well and he was forcefully blunt, in saying to me, “You’ve got 25 seconds, make your case." I responded: “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh b’zeh. All Jews are responsible one for another, and you owe me 15 seconds." He reached into his drawer and wrote out a check for $175,000. Peoplehood … [Read more...]

Between Defining Peoplehood and Exploring Its Meaning

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 13 - Jewish Peoplehood: What does it mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it? - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shlomi Ravid I have been following the Peoplehood conversation closely for the best part of the last fifteen years. It may be worthwhile, before we get to the answers, to briefly reflect on what questions we are really asking. When we try to define we seek an objective, general and short articulation that will capture the essence of the concept. We seek to describe, clarify and understand. When we explore the meaning of something we explore its significance to ourselves and others. We are by no means objective. We interpret rather than describe. We unpack rather than pack. We expand and explore … [Read more...]