David Altchek (second from right, back row) wi...

Image by Center for Jewish History, NYC via Flickr

So has “peoplehood” replaced “continuity” as the buzzword of the decade?

Problem is, as with “innovation” (which is also a buzzword of the current decade),  I really have no idea what “peoplehood” means…

Well, that’s not exactly true.  I have some idea.

…As does Misha Galperin who claims that:

Abundant research has let us know that the way to most significantly impact Jewish identity and the bonds of peoplehood is by providing people with immersive, meaningful experiences. For the past few years, the organized Jewish community worldwide has recognized that the next major task facing us is strengthening Jewish identity, which we’ve come to call “the price of peoplehood.”

He goes on to say that:

Jews younger than 45 do not necessarily privilege their Jewish brothers and sisters above others when it comes to friendship, marriage, volunteerism and charitable giving.

You can read the rest of his piece here.

Perhaps Jews should privilege Jew-on-Jew marriage, volunteerism and giving… but Jew-on-Jew friendships?   (Cue: sound of head scratching.)

So, “peoplehood” happens when Jews have “immersive, meaningful experiences”… got it.  (Or did I mis-represent?  Feel free to correct in the comment section.)  But what does that mean?  Does a Matisyahu Hannukah concert count?  How about collecting trash with other Jewish singles on an expressway median strip?

Daniel Septimus says NO:

Peoplehood should not be an end in itself, and if it is, its decline is not worth crying about.

If you must cry, cry about the fact that most American Jews have never experienced the intellectual rush of deep Torah study. Cry about the fact that they don’t regularly receive the physical, spiritual and social sustenance of a Shabbat meal with friends. Cry about the fact that they have never sung a great niggun or danced a spontaneous hora at a klezmer concert. Cry about the fact that they haven’t experienced the mystique of Jerusalem, that they haven’t felt the support of a community committed to hesed, that they haven’t read our writers’ magisterial works of literature.

You can read the rest of his piece here.

And then Misha Galperin replied here, adding that:

Jewish peoplehood is the bond that exists among Jews that transcends time and geography and involves mutual care and responsibility; it’s about meaningful belonging. It is not enough to be part of an extended family. We need to be part of an extended family with a vision, a unique mission in the world. Part of that mission involves seeking social justice for all people. More of that mission involves nurturing Jewish literacy, Jewish values and Jewish solidarity with Israel and Jews the world over. It includes mobilizing Israelis and young Jews elsewhere to take a greater role in nurturing the less fortunate. It is about focusing on what should bring us together as opposed to what pulls us apart.

I can get with that too… but I wonder: How?   How does our Jewish community pursue tzedek (as in, to whom do we extend our help? everyone in need or just Jews?), advance Jewish literacy (then what’s the syllabus?), embrace values (which other values besides tikkun olam?), stand with Israel (when more younger Jews are growing increasingly indifferent?) and united with other Jews (when the perception is, as Sarah Silverman said in the AJWS promo clip, “I mean like Jews are fine, you know?”)?

Any thoughts on this?  David Suissa weighs in at HuffPo too… although I only skimmed the piece with one eye and will not link to it because of the strike called for by unpaid Huffbo bloggers

I have a few, say SIX thoughts…  but I will save them for the next six posts…  feel free to chime in in the meantime.

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