Jewish Peoplehood: What Does It Mean? Why Is It Important? How Do We Nurture It?
[This introduction 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
The Peoplehood Papers came into the world in 2007 as an ad-hoc collection of essays prepared for the 2007 Nashville General Assembly. In my opening article I asked the question: “What is Jewish Peoplehood? And is it the right question?“ I called to shifting our efforts from defining Peoplehood to nurturing it. Twelve issues and nearly 150 articles later, I decided to dedicate the Thirteenth (Bar Mitzvah) edition to revisiting the Big Questions of: “What does Peoplehood mean? Why is it important? How do we nurture it?“ Not just in order to emphasize the progress and maturity of the field, but also in celebration of its growth and diversity. The search for the one ultimate silver bullet definition has been replaced by a mature understanding that Peoplehood means different things to different Jews, and that this diversity is a sign of strength and growth.
The 20 articles written for this issue express a diverse and rich set of answers to the above questions. Contributors were asked to write short 500 word articles in the hope that they will capture the attention and imagination of the readers and inspire them to come up with their own answers. This is also why, unlike prior editions, this introduction will not try to summarize the content of the articles. They will speak for themselves. I do want, however, to point to one interesting trend this collection emphasizes: The younger the age of the contributor the stronger the shift from the content of Peoplehood to the nature of the relations it entails. While the key words for the more veteran contributors (my generation), as they themselves observe, are: values, responsibility, commitment, obligations and continuity, the millennials are more interested in relations, authenticity, openness, acceptance, creativity and inclusivity.
This trend not only fits very much into Moses’, Solomon’s and Grant’s recommendation to “pass the baton“ to the next generation on its own terms, but it also suggests that that generation is very much poised to deal with that task. Their starting point seems to be a very natural embracement of the notion of Peoplehood and their focus is turned to integrating it into their reality and view of the world. In between those two groups, this issue of the Papers also brings the voices of educators who are facilitating wisely and skillfully that process of transformation. As a long time student of the field of Jewish Peoplehood education my observation, based on this collection of essays, is that the field has made significant progress over the last decade.
The last article of this issue is for you to write. Please refer to the template we will post at the conclusion of this series. It is an invitation to you to share your own thoughts and ideas, in 500 words or less. Responses will be featured on our Blog at www.jpeoplehood.org/blog In addition we included some suggestions on how to use this collection of essays to inspire a conversation among students, peers and leaders.
Our timing with this issue provides us with an opportunity to wish all of our readers, the entire Jewish people and the whole world a Shana Tova U’metuka.
Shlomi Ravid is the editor of The Peoplehood Papers.
This introduction 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.