Jewish identity in the 21st Century

“If Jewish survival is problematic, it is because Jewish identity itself is problematic.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

In June I boarded an El Al flight for my second-ever trip to Israel where I was to join a group of 37 diverse international Jews at the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship. 

The focus of the fellowship was to engage over the topic of Jewish Identity in the Twenty First Century. I recall sitting down on the first morning full of confidence that I knew who I was and that my lens on the world would not be shifted by a week of conversations around this topic. 

The truth about life is there are moments that come so unexpectedly that when they arrive we often miss them. NGF 31 was not going to be that moment and so I surrendered into the uncomfortable, into the unknown and opened myself to new ideas and new acceptance, new learnings. 

I learnt that our identities are fluid and have the ability to be reshaped or at least slightly moulded. The challenge we face is this belief that we are part of some normative, homogenous grouping that we all need to conform to. I believe the role as Jews in the 21st Century is to explore our identity and to open ourselves up to listening and respecting other Jewish identities. 

Today more than ever our children need to understand that just like a mosaic the beauty and strength of the Jewish world comes from all those unique Jewish identities. It is when we find each other with love and light, that we can say “Am Yisrael Chai”.

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