Renewing the Jewish Social Contract: Bridging the Religious-Secular Divide

Renewing the Jewish Social Contract: Bridging the Religious-Secular Divide

Koppleman Institute

Contributors: Arnold Eisen, David Ellenson, Daniel Gordis, Yossi Klein Halevi, Paula E. Hyman, Eran Lerman, Charles S. Liebman, Anne Roiphe, Jacob B. Ukeles, Ruth R. Wisse, Eric H. Yoffie

The 2002 Kinneret Agreement is a social contract among leading Israeli Jews in response to the internal conflicts that divide the Jewish people including: differing definitions of Zionism, peoplehood, and who is a Jew; the relationship of Judaism to democracy; and the Jewishness of Israel. This publication offers essays by eleven Jewish thinkers who were asked to respond to the following questions: how does the contemporary reality of Israel change the meaning of Jewish peoplehood and the nature of Israel-Diaspora relations? The Kinneret Agreement presupposes no conflict between a Jewish state and a democratic one. Both characteristics are considered to be nonnegotiable. Can this duality coexist harmoniously with respect to the laws of personal status, Shabbat and dietary requirements, and the ever-increasing Arab population within Israel? What changes, if any, do you see as necessary to reach a social compact among Jews? In what ways do the religious community and its leaders need to modify behavior and in what ways does secular Israeli society need to change in order to realize a sense of commonality of peoplehood among Jews and shape a Jewish state that preserves both its Jewish character and its liberal values?

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