Food for Thought: Where does World Jewry come in?
The question of social solidarity, as we saw in the introduction, is an key value to the Jewish people, both inIsraeland around the world, over the course of time. There exist many precedents in Israeli history when Jews around the world collaborated to play a role in shaping the face of Israeli society.
In June 1977, Project Renewal, an urban revitalization program was launched by then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The program was proposed as a joint endeavor, a partnership between the Jews of the State of Israel and world Jewry. The program called for the elimination of poverty through an intensive effort to provide adequate housing for approximately 45,000 Israeli families. Throughout the duration of the project, neighborhoods aroundIsrael received “face-lifts” furnished largely by donors from overseas.
Since the seventies, the relationship between Jews around the world andIsraelhas grown and flourished, resulting in more intensive and interactive collaborations. There are growing numbers of teens and young adults that come from abroad to spend time in Israel, Jews from around the world have purchased property in Israel, and federations collaborate with Israeli municipalities to help establish and set up local business. In addition, globalization has allowed for Jews around the world to connect in a variety of new and exciting ways. World Jewry has contributed profoundly in supporting and shapingIsrael’s robust Third Sector and massive growth in civil society. Recent decades have seen a genuine desire of people for face-to-face communities that mediate between the individual family, the state, and the internet.
Up until now, the issues that have captured the attention of world Jewry have been the pressing, existential issues in Israel concerning security threats and other crises. The current protests, however, beckon for a new kind of world Jewish attention: attention to social issues and the striving for an improved Israeli society. This comes from a motivation to shape Israel into an exemplary Jewish society, one that both Israelis and Jews around the world can be proud to call home, and one that can perhaps become a light unto the nations. Israel’s current social protests demand not only the attention of other Israelis, but also of world Jewry.
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