Introduction to Peoplehood – An Interactive Course

Primary Contact – Dr. Shlomi Ravid

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The Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education

The Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education (CJPE) was built on Mordecai Kaplan’s approach to Judaism as a civilization and humbly sees itself as an expression and adaptation of his teachings to the reality of the 21st Century. We defined Peoplehood as “the collective consciousness of the Jewish People. The consciousness that constitutes our collective social enterprise, our ever-evolving civilization, our aspiration to improve the world and our sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility.” In general terms, Kaplan’s framing of Judaism as a civilization and the focus on Jewish collective consciousness, provided us with the conceptual foundations.

Introduction To Peoplehood – An Interactive Course Background Over the last few decades, the word Peoplehood has become part of the Jewish institutional jargon. Jewish organizations use it frequently in their vision statements, publications and grant writing. It has even filtered through to the Jewish media and the Jewish public at large. However, the popular understanding of Peoplehood remains as the global connectivity of Jews and their sense of responsibility for each other. It is perceived to be mostly about the connection of American Jews to Jews in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. Kaplan’s broader framing of Peoplehood as the collective consciousness that constitutes Judaism as a civilization and the current Jewish enterprise, is missing from today’s Jewish consciousness. Furthermore, the Jewish collective ethical conversation is not addressed through the Peoplehood prism. What seems to add to the above confusion is the complex and amorphous nature of the concept. Until today there is no pedagogic approach or curriculum for integrating the development of Jewish collective consciousness into the Jewish educational system. This introductory program aspires to engage Jews with the core themes of Jewish Peoplehood and open conversations that will lead to a much richer and fuller understanding of the topic. 

This project seeks to provide a framework for connecting particular Jewish acts to the meaning of Jewish life in its totality.