We’ve gotten a lot of response to Daniel Septimus’ op-ed, taking on Misha Galperin and his “peoplehood agenda.” Because there seems to be interest in this debate — one that has high stakes for, at the very least, the future of the Jewish Agency if not the Jewish community as a whole — I’ve just posted a response by Galperin to Septimus.
He further clarifies what he means by “peoplehood” and why he thinks it’s more than just a branding mechanism:
Peoplehood is such a new word that it comes up every time you spell check it. The newness of it has collapsed into vague discussions and definitions. I offer mine again: 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.
Gal Beckerman was a staff writer and then the Forward’s opinion editor until 2014. He was previously an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review where he wrote essays and media criticism. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Bookforum. His first book, “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry,” won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, as well as being named a best book of the year by The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Follow Gal on Twitter at @galbeckerman