Gary Rosenblatt writing in The Jewish Week:
Bonded by religion, strong family ties based on marrying within the faith, a special calendar, love for a homeland (even when removed from it) and a narrative that too often included being the object of discrimination and persecution, Jews shared a common belief system, history and sense of destiny.
Rarely defined, peoplehood was simply an expression of Jews being responsible for one another, all part of klal Yisrael (the people of Israel).
In recent times, though, with increasing assimilation and decreasing commitment to ritual practice throughout the diaspora, there has been a growing concern that the organic connectivity of Jewish peoplehood is in peril and must be preserved before it is too late.
Surveys in the last year or two suggest, for instance, that for the first time a majority of American Jews under the age of 35 do not share a sense of collective responsibility for other Jews, a concept that was a given until now.
Among the rationales for this disturbing shift in attitude is the notion that ours is a society that cares more and more about the individual rather than the collective, and that as a result of assimilation, the very composition of, and commitment to, klal Yisrael has become watered down.