JPPI's Jewish World Dialogue

Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity


Foreword

This year’s Dialogue Process marks the third year that JPPI has been building a structure for a systematic discourse on issues that are at the core of the collective interests of the Jewish people globally. Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity, discussing together how the different streams approach Judaism, is a main component of our project on Pluralism and Democracy in Israel and the Diaspora. We are grateful to the William Davidson Foundation for supporting this endeavor and encouraging a deeper understanding among Jews globally.

The 2016 Jewish World Dialogue was co-headed for the first time by an Israeli JPPI Senior Fellow in tandem with an American one. Shmuel Rosner and John Ruskay, representing the two largest Jewish communities in the world, started a personal conversation before widening it to 49 different seminars worldwide. They didn’t neglect the smaller communities, which many times present the most difficult challenges.

JPPI’s effort to enhance pluralism in the Jewish world has, from its inception, enjoyed the encouragement of Israel’s leaders, such as former President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and JAFI’s Chairman Natan Sharansky as well as the participating communities and Jewish organizations abroad. President Reuven Rivlin, who is dedicated to bridging gaps in Israel and world Jewry, launched a tradition with JPPI to bring together representatives of all the streams to study together Jewish texts. The Dialogue is approaching the point when it should culminate in a deeper results-oriented conversation at the highest echelons of leadership on how we should fulfill our common destiny.

The Jewish people is undergoing a period of radical change in its internal dynamics: generational transitions; the promise of some normalization of Israel’s situation in the Middle East; a shift in Jewish Identification and sense of community. The external environment of the Jewish people is changing radically as well: globalization; geostrategic shifts; value transformations; scientific and technological innovations; new manifestations of anti-Semitism. All these create new realities and challenges that provide the Jewish people unprecedented opportunities for thriving but also pose serious risks of decline.
Enriching the dialogue in the Jewish world between different communities, streams, and political orientations may help us take advantage of opportunities and avert dangers and threats.

We are continuing in making an effort to internalize and implement the lessons learned from each year of JPPI’s Structured Dialogue Process.

I want to thank the Institute’s leadership, and especially Stuart Eizenstat, Dennis Ross, and Leonid Nevzlin, who head our Professional Guiding Council, for their continuing commitment to, and support of, our work. Special thanks, once again, to the William Davidson Foundation for its confidence and trust.

Avinoam Bar-Yosef

Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity

JPPI Dialogue Seminars Questionnaire:

Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity

Please take 5-7 minutes to answer the following questions. For each question, please try to circle the one answer that is closest to your own view.

1. To what extent is each of the following aspects of Judaism a primary component of Jewishness? (Please mark each category on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “very much so” – and try to have a hierarchy between the components that will help us understand which of the four are the more/less important)

Culture

1

2

3

4

5

Genealogy

1

2

3

4

5

Religion

1

2

3

4

5

Peoplehood/Nationality

1

2

3

4

5

2. Whom do you consider to be a Jew?
A. A person that decides that s/he is Jewish.
B. A person born to a Jewish parent, or one that was converted to Judaism.
C. A person born to a Jewish mother, or one that was converted to Judaism.
D. A person that lives an active, engaged Jewish life.

3. If there is a need for a body to determine who is Jewish, should it be…
A. No, only the person himself/herself.
B. The Jewish community in which s/he lives.
C. It is a matter for rabbis to decide.
D. The State of Israel.

4. To what extent are the following components essential to being Jewish? (Please mark each category on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “very much so”)

Keeping the laws of the Torah

1

2

3

4

5

Working to better the world

1

2

3

4

5

Studying Jewish texts, history, and culture

1

2

3

4

5

Taking care of other Jews and Israel

1

2

3

4

5

Being a part of a Jewishly inspired group

1

2

3

4

5

5. Is it necessary to have a broadly accepted understanding of who is a Jew?
A. No need – it is good to have a variety of options.
B. Yes – there is such need, because otherwise the Jews would not be “a people.”
C. Only the State of Israel needs a definition.
D. One definition for Israel and another for the Jewish Diaspora.

6. According to Israeli law, every Jew has the right to settle in Israel. How would you propose Israel define a Jew for this purpose?
A. A person that decides that s/he is Jewish.
B. A person that the local community recognizes as Jewish.
C. A person born to a Jewish parent, or one that was converted to Judaism.
D. A person with a Jewish family background (grandparent).
E. Only a person born to a Jewish mother, or one that was converted to Judaism by an Orthodox rabbi.
F. A person that lives an active Jewish life.

7. To what degree you agree/disagree with the following statements:

 

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Intermarriage could be a blessing for the future of Judaism

 

 

 

 

A conversion by a Reform/Conservative rabbi is legitimate

 

 

 

 

The Jewish community should encourage Jews to marry other Jews

 

 

 

 

A state, including Israel, has no place in deciding ones Jewishness

 

 

 

 

Israels definition ofJewis an insult to Diaspora Jewry

 

 

 

 

8. Thinking about Israel-Diaspora relations, do you generally believe that?
A. Israel should decide who is considered Jewish in Israel without regard to the views of Jews living outside of Israel.
B. Israel should consider the views of non-Israeli Jews mostly because its definition could have an impact on their lives.
C. Israel should consider the views of non-Israeli Jews, mostly because all Jews define the framework of Jewishness.
D. Israel should consider the views of non-Israeli Jews, mostly because it wants to keep other Jews associated with it and supporting it.

9. Off the top of your head, tell us in no more than a sentence what, in your view, is the most important Jewish value:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. On another topic: Do you think the current Israeli government is making a sincere effort to bring about a peace settlement with the Palestinians?
A. Yes, Israel is making a sincere effort.
B. No, Israel is not making a sincere effort.
Please answer the following background questions:

Country:_______________ City:__________________
Age:________________ Male/Female

Religious Affiliation (Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Secular, Other):
________________________________________________________________________________________

Are you a member of a Jewish organization (If yes, please specify the main organization(s))?__________________________________________________

How many times have you visited Israel?

0

1

2

3-5

6-9

10 +

Israeli

This part is for Israeli participants only (those currently living in Israel, or those residing temporarily abroad):

Have you lived in a country other than Israel for an extended period of time? (Where?)__________________________________________________

Do you visit Jewish institutions (synagogues, community centers) or events organized by Jewish institutions) when you are away from Israel? ________________________________

Please mark the answer closest to your view: How would you define the Jewish Diaspora?
A. A strong and thriving community.
B. An assimilated and weak community.

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