Attached photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Tuesday 10 September / 10 Elul, called on Jews of all ages, affiliations and nationalities to discuss, debate and shape the Declaration of Our Common Destiny, which was presented to him today by more than 30 leading Jewish thought leaders from six continents.
The president began his remarks by thanking those responsible for producing the declaration, and then said, “The miracle of the Jewish people is not only that we survived for thousands of years. The miracle is that, despite the fact that we were spread all over the world, speak different languages and developed different traditions, we always were one people. Despite our differences, we remained bound by our shared history, our core values and beliefs, our Book of Books, and our commitment to improving the world. It helped that our enemies always saw us as one people. Our enemies don't see any difference between one stream of Judaism and another: Secular, Haredi, Reform, Conservative, Masorti - for them we are all Jews. “
The president continued, saying, “Today, we face a different kind of challenge. Jewish communities around the world have integrated successfully into their home countries. This has created new challenges to Jewish identity and to the Jewish people. The future of the Jewish people depends on three things: preserving our core values, traditions and identity; mutual respect for our differences; and mutual responsibility to each other. We must embrace our unity, and our diversity. We must see our diversity not as a source of weakness, but a source of strength. When I say that the future of the Jewish people depends on preserving our identity, mutual respect, and mutual recognition, I mean also the future of the State of Israel.”
He added, “As a Jewish and Democratic State, Israel is essential for the survival of the Jewish people. And a thriving Jewish people, our fifth tribe, is essential for the survival of the State of Israel. Today is just the start of the journey. From here the Declaration will go on a Jewish "world tour". It will initiate conversations between communities, streams and generations.”
“If we sincerely embrace our diversity while cherishing our shared history, then this Declaration can serve as a roadmap for the future of the Jewish people,” the president concluded his remarks.
The introduction of this draft of the Declaration, and the invitation to Jews of the world engage in a year-long discussion to complete it, are the first steps in a ground-breaking initiative to craft a new Jewish foundational text. The Declaration of Our Common Destiny will be a catalyst for Jews from around the world to come together and deliberate on the values and principles that shape how future generations within Israel and worldwide, relate, empower, and engage with one another across spiritual and cultural identities.
Mikhail Fridman, co-founder and trustee of Genesis Philanthropy Group: “The primary purpose of Our Common Destiny is to engage the Jewish people worldwide in an open discussion of the ideas and principles that are put forward in the initial draft of the Declaration. We are up to President Rivlin’s challenge to engage with and support one another in exploring the unity within our diversity. Only with the experiences and perspectives of as many Jews as possible can we hope to carry the torch of Jewish peoplehood into the future in harmony, unity and cooperation.”
The Declaration of Our Common Destiny is intended to serve as a touchpoint for Jews around the world and as a roadmap for a unified Jewish future.
Bat-Galim Shaer, Our Common Destiny Scholar from Israel: “I learnt the power of the Jewish People and the great importance of unity amongst us all. Am Yisrael is not only the people living in the Land of Israel, rather it is something far broader, which is also happening in Jewish communities around the world. The meeting between Jews of all streams and from across the world helps strengthen the bonds between us and proves that every Jewish person has a place in the heart of our nation.”
The Our Common Destiny Scholars and Advisory Board represent the full range of diversity of Israeli and Diaspora communities. Input and completion of the Declaration by Jews worldwide will further expand its reach and work to ensure that the final document reflects the varied experience of Jews around the world, across all ages, gender, nationalities and affiliations.
Prof. Daniel Feinstein, Our Common Destiny Scholar from Mexico: “The beauty of this project is the recognition that the strength of world Jewry is in the diversity we bring throughout the world, and that no matter the size of the community, all Jews are encouraged to be a part of this vision. While 80% of the world’s Jewish population may live in Israel or the United States, there are a lot of very interesting and important things happening among that remaining 20%”.
Rabbi Sharon Brous, Our Common Destiny Scholar from the United States: “The growing rifts among the Jewish people are not superficial; they are foundational, and they must be honestly and openly addressed. We need more than ever to hear one another despite our differences, and to work together to determine what our shared Jewish inheritance demands of us in this critical time. Though we face great challenges, as a people and as a State, it is my hope that we leave here affirming our commitment to work, unceasingly, in the pursuit of justice, human dignity and peace.”
The presentation of the Declaration of Our Common Destiny to President Reuven Rivlin was part of the Our Common Destiny Forum, a gathering of some of the world’s leading Jewish thinkers in Jerusalem September 9 through September 11. Among the thought leaders affiliated with the project are Lord Jacob Rothschild, Bat Galim Shaer, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Judith Tanenbaum, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, Rabbi Silvina Chemen, Rabbi Yaacov Meidan, Éliette Abécassis, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Professor Jonathan Sarna, and Rabbi Sharon Brous. For more information about Our Common Destiny, go to www.ourcommondestiny.org.