Toward a united Jewish people

“We Are One” has been one of the essential mantras of the worldwide Jewish community since Oct. 7, 2023. It is both fundamental and true.  

At the same time, it is important to note that global Jewry is not a monolithic entity with a singular objective. Jewish communities around the world are diverse, with varying beliefs, practices and perspectives. At the same time, the division of Judaism into observant and less observant, right-leaning and left-leaning, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, affiliated and unaffiliated, etc., is an over-simplified and often destructive perspective on Jewish life.  

Similarly, there are silos between and among the extraordinary Jewish organizations providing valuable services and support to, and on behalf of, the Jewish community. These silos can create unnecessary barriers that separate us rather than unite us.  

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We are one? Not always. We devote a lot of time to debating the differences among us, yet there are themes imperative to Jewish individuals, organizations and communities globally.  

Here are just a few brief examples of the ties that can bind us as a global Jewish community:

  1. Respect for the differences among us: As noted earlier, we are not monolithic. A starting point is to acknowledge and respect the differences among us without sacrificing the ties that connect us as one. We are Jews of color. We are LGBTQ+. We have different degrees of observance and Jewish identity. And yet, at the same time, we indeed are still one. We are not uniform but we can still aspire to be united.
  1. Preservation of Jewish identity: Worldwide Jewish communities place significance on maintaining their local cultural, religious and historical heritage in the face of assimilation and external pressures, while still being part of a global collective.
  1. Promotion of Jewish values: Values such as justice, respect, education and social responsibility are central to Jewish teaching. Many Jewish individuals and organizations work to promote these values through tikkun olam, making the world a better place for all people regardless of religion or background. This includes initiatives such as poverty alleviation, environmental conservation, healthcare access and human rights advocacy. Perhaps we can say our predominant value is compassion.
  1. Support for Israel: Israel holds integral cultural, historical and religious significance for Jews worldwide. Supporting Israel’s security, well-being and right to exist as a Jewish state is a priority for nearly every Jewish individual and organization, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum. A core tenet of Judaism is humanitarian concern, and it is not at all at odds to stand for Israel and care about humanitarian aid to others.
  1. Combating antisemitism: Jews have faced persecution and discrimination throughout history, and combating antisemitism remains a crucial objective for every Jewish community worldwide. This includes raising awareness about antisemitic attitudes and actions; advocating for policies to address antisemitism; teaching about Jewish history and hatred, not just on college campuses but in Grades K-12 as well; and promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.
  1. Education and community building: Jewish communities often prioritize education, both religious and secular, as well as fostering strong communal bonds and supporting each other in times of need.
  1. Cultural arts: Each local community worldwide has its own creative Jewish dimension of music, art, dance, theater and film. Imagine sharing that creativity from community to community.

While these objectives may be shared among many Jewish individuals and organizations, there is no single overarching agenda for all Jews worldwide. Different communities and individuals prioritize these objectives differently, and there is a wide range of perspectives within global Jewry.

But this is a unifying moment for Jewish peoplehood. Klal Yisrael means “all of Israel,” the Jewish people as a whole, as one. Within that “one” resides individual, local, global and group diversity. We share a communal identity and destiny, and we are a united global Jewish family.

Richard J. Levin is the executive committee chair of Global Jewry, a collective of more than 700 Jewish leaders and organizations committed to worldwide Jewish unity.