The Future Agenda of the Jewish People

Jewish Peoplehood. A term we’ve often heard over the past ten years.

But what is Peoplehood; how is it defined; what is the significance; and what is the added value. Or, is Peoplehood nothing more than a “buzzword” – created by high-priced marketing consultants.

To begin looking at some of these questions The Peoplehood Papers, first published in 2007, has become a regular publication aimed at providing a space for sharing ideas about Peoplehood, the Jewish future and related matters.

The current issue, Peoplehood – Between “Charity Begins at Home” and “Repair the World”, explores the tension between the Talmudic imperative of “Aniyei Ircha Kodmim” (your town’s poor come first) and the call to do “Tikkun Olam Bemalchut Shadai” (repair the world under God’s sovereignty).

Shlomi Ravid writes in the editor’s introduction:

Our purpose is to grapple from a Peoplehood perspective with the tensions between local and global needs as well as between looking after our own (i.e. the Jewish People) juxtaposed with caring for any human being in need. Another way of framing the challenge is: how does one resolve the tension between what many see as a particularistic (some may even say parochial) approach and a universalistic perspective. These tensions seem to surface frequently in recent years, accompanied sometimes with confusion of terms and at others with a sincere search for new interpretations of our values. In either case we think that they merit our consideration.

Our contributors who represent a wide range of perspectives, institutions, age groups and backgrounds have provided us with a rich opening to an important conversation. Behind the specific ethical discussion a battle is waged on the future agenda and ethos of the Jewish People. Some are more concerned with being at the cutting edge of human philanthropy and fueling the Jewish passion for justice and humanism. Others are cautious and worried about sustaining the Jewish enterprise and seek to ensure that we keep “our house in order” first. And yet the keen eye cannot miss the sincere soul searching effort to offer meaningful interpretations of Jewish values as they confront today’s challenges.

This essay collection is indeed but an opening of the conversation.

As we have for the past three years, eJewish Philanthropy will be sharing selected essays with our readers.

Table of Contents

Peoplehood, Universalism and Particularism: The tension that keeps it all together
by Ari Hart

Your Town’s Poor Take Precedence over Those from Other Towns

by Bambi Sheleg

Israel: Where Aniyei Ircha Kodmim Meets Tikkun Olam
by Dyonna Ginsburg

Giving Priority to the Jewish People
by Jack Wertheimer

The Boundaries of our City in the Age of Globalization
by Micha Odenheimer

Peoplehood is With People
by Rachel Farbiarz and Ruth W. Messinger

“Charity begins at home” but should not end there
by Shlomi Ravid


The current issue of the Peoplehood papers was published by The Peoplehood Hub, a partnership of UJA-Federation of New York, the NADAV Foundation and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

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  1. On the Berman Jewish Policy Archive blog, I make the case that this is entire line of argument is fruitless: http://bit.ly/e93db1

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