‘Diaspora Jewry’ Doesn’t Exist

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by R. Gil Student

I was recently privileged to participate in the third Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem, which focused on what Israel can do for Diaspora Jewry. This impressive event, run by Israel’s Government Press Office with a line-up of big-name politicians and journalists, emphasized to me a fundamental misunderstanding about the Diaspora Jewish community – namely that a single such community exists.

The conference included editors and journalists from Jewish media around the world, as well as social media personalities with a significant Jewish following. Religiously, the former group seemed to reflect the broader Jewish community, perhaps leaning more traditional, while the latter group was predominantly Orthodox. This last point is crucial.

We were gathered to hear the GPO’s vision of Israel for Diaspora Jewry. Its talking points seemed to be that Diaspora Jews care about pluralism, innovation, economic success and – most of all – tikkun olam. I lost count of the number of times the phrase tikkun olam was tossed around unnecessarily. Complaining about jargon at a conference is like complaining about paper in a book. However, the usage of this particular term signals a needed correction to its outreach strategy.

Continued at The Jewish Press

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student recently served on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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