Pushing Peoplehood: An Agenda that Matters

By Erica Brown, Misha Galperin

The Jewish Peoplehood Hub, April 2010

Steven Cohen's most recent paper on Jewish identity, "

The Power of Peoplehood

" commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, presents the challenges of peoplehood and its promise in a striking new light. Cohen points out that what has sparked all of the intellectual activity around the expression Jewish peoplehood is precisely its current decline. This, in itself, is not new but his articulation of the intuitive sense that most Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders struggle with in their work on behalf of Jewish institutions is appreciated. It is hard to say anything new about peoplehood although many, including the authors of this paper, have tried. What is new is the stark sense of the consequences of ignoring the challenge and the benefits of taking peoplehood on as an agenda that matters profoundly to the work of Jewish leadership today and the literal price this decline has cost to tzedaka, Jewish charitable giving. This paper will discuss the implications of Cohen's findings for communal agenda setting, particularly around issues of tzedaka and community-building. These two items are not synonymous although they have often been treated that way by Jewish institutions. Raising money is not the same as raising consciousness about collective Jewish values, although the former is often an expression of the latter. If we do nothing to enhance peoplehood, we will not stay the same as an American Jewish community. Our ties to each other and to foundational Jewish values will continue to diminish, perhaps at more precipitous rates, and our capacity to fund the institutions and initiatives that are essential to Jewish growth will have also capped.

Topic: Tzedakah (Charity), Continuity, Peoplehood, Philanthropy and Fundraising, Development, Charitable Giving, Jewish Identification, Fundraising and Philanthropy, Unity, Jewish Continuity, Values, Community Building

Name of Publication: The Peoplehood Papers

Editor: Ravid, Shlomi

Volume/Issue: Volume 5

Page Number(s): 12-15

Funder: Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) , Nadav Fund , UJA-Federation of New York

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Genre: Essay

Coverage: World

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Brown, Erica. Galperin, Misha. Pushing Peoplehood: An Agenda that Matters. The Peoplehood Papers. The Jewish Peoplehood Hub. April 2010: 12-15. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=11810


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