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Should Jewish Peoplehood Mean Anything in Our Post-Ethnic Moment?

April 4, 2016

In an op-ed in the Forward, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, '99, Ph.D., analyzes the term “Jewish peoplehood” from a historical and sociological perspective. While some thinkers have argued that the peoplehood idea has outlived its usefulness, Rabbi Waxman argues that the peoplehood idea still has tremendous value as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.

Rabbi Waxman writes that, “The original Reconstructionist intent was that the concept of peoplehood should serve as a means to inspire ethical action and the up-building of the Jewish civilization — that is, to help Jews be both good Jews and good Americans. Increasingly — and this is the source of much of the angst in the interpretations of the Pew Study — it is clear that many Jews embrace peoplehood as an end in itself. As the Ashkenazi majority morphs into a Jewish community with ever-increasing diversity — including Jews by choice, increasing awareness of Jews of color, and non-Jews helping to make Jewish homes — any strategies based on ethnicity and shared memories are problematic and unsustainable.”

Check out the whole piece here.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent previewed the conference. Read all about it here.

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