Israeli president meets with group seeking to strengthen global Jewry

“Our Common Destiny” will reflect the varied experience of Jews around the world, spanning all ages, gender, nationality and affiliation.

By World Israel News Staff

President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday 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 this week by more than 30 leading Jewish thinkers from six continents.

“Our Common Destiny” is a joint initiative of the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the State of Israel, seeking to unite the diverse Jewish community in Israel and the Diaspora.

According to its initiators, “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.”

The project will reflect the varied experience of Jews around the world, spanning all ages, gender, nationality and affiliation.

Rivlin: ‘We always were one people’

“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,” the president stated.

“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,” he continued. “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 [ultra-Orthodox], Reform, Conservative, Masorti [traditional] – for them we are all Jews.”

He then pointed to a “different kind of challenge” faced today by Jewish communities around the world who have “integrated successfully into their home countries.” According to Rivlin, “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.”

‘Roadmap for the future of the Jewish people’

“As a Jewish and Democratic State, Israel is essential for the survival of the Jewish people,” Rivlin said. “And a thriving Jewish people, our fifth tribe,” referring to Diaspora Jewry, “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.

“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,” stated Mikhail Fridman, co-founder and trustee of Genesis Philanthropy Group.

“Am Yisrael [the Nation of Israel] 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,” said Bat-Galim Shaer, Our Common Destiny scholar in Israel.

‘Growing rifts are not superficial’

According to 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, stated: “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 this week of some of the world’s leading Jewish thinkers in Jerusalem.