Lecture reviews how 70 years of Israeli statehood shape Jewish peoplehood

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University will present a keynote lecture by Professor Sergio Della Pergola (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on Oct. 7.

 Sergio Della Pergola
Sergio Della Pergola

In his lecture titled “Israel at 70 and World Jewry: One People or Two?” Pergola will discuss how 70 years of Israeli statehood offers an opportunity to review the ways in which several major processes of change have shaped Jewish peoplehood in its three major contexts:

  • in a sovereign state where Jews constitute the majority of a society still entangled in unsolved and perhaps unsolvable conflicts involving military, political and ethno-religious dimensions;
  • in a proliferation of Jewish communities in different parts of the world where Jews constitute tiny minorities of the respective societies; and
  • in a bi-lateral relation between Diaspora and Israel where deep demographic, social-structural and cultural transformations have occurred on both sides.

In his lecture, Pergola will discuss how Jewish people in 2018 enjoy unprecedented liberty and material wellbeing, but their search for meaning and their sense of alert are no less relevant and acute than in the past.

Past consolidated convictions and rigid constraints are increasingly substituted by more fluid and ambivalent identities, by diminishing consensus about the central and shared tenets of Jewish peoplehood, and by competition concerning hegemony over the whole global Jewish collective.

Nor has the external world fully come to terms with accepting the extant Jewish right and modes of being, though possibly in more subtle and nuanced ways than in previous epochs.

Ongoing processes of change in the Jewish world should be understood both at the individual and at the institutional level. The question of whether world Jewry tends to become shaped as a center-periphery, or a multi-centered, or a center-less entity requires careful assessment in a global context characterized by growing transnationalism – not necessarily at the expense of particularistic identities.

Finally, who pays for, hence determines the functioning of the global Jewish existential system in Israel and in the diaspora remains one of the least explored and most intriguing issues, yet one of crucial importance for the future. Research is expected to provide some clues to clarify these issues, and its outcome may usefully contribute to meaningful policy interventions – if the pertinent actors will be willing to watch, listen and learn.

The event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 7 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Kaneff Tower, Room 519. Light kosher dairy refreshments will be served. Visit the event page to RSVP.