The world we live in at the start of the 21st century is interconnected globally, and yet we grow apart. In a paradox of our age, we have immediate access to each other, but are less of a community. The smaller the world gets, the less our particular identities seem to matter, and the sense the Jewish people always had of being an extended, but well-defined, family seems to diminish.
The Jewish people, like the rest of the world, are in a state of flux and this presents new challenges regarding the mutual responsibilities which bind us as a world people committed to each other. Israel finds itself compelled to respond by the plight of Jewish communities in Europe, many of whom are under increasing demographic and security pressures. But in our dialogue with many sectors of North American Jewry, we experience a distancing that is both troubling and calls for a response.
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored this edition of Eretz Acheret based on our belief that maintaining the solidarity of the Jewish people requires active nurturing. Deep reflection and a better understanding of each other by Israel and Jewish communities everywhere are the key to sustaining the caring discussion that joins us as a family among nations.
This digital magazine contains 17 brief essays which will be presented over the coming weeks in the Times of Israel, and represents our best effort to initiate a deeper dialogue between Israel and the Jewish communities around the world. The essays reflect the varied aspects of the current discussion on relations between Israel and the Diaspora – from the perspectives of left, right and center, North America and Europe, the varied religious streams of Judaism, and the challenges to Jewish identity in an age of globalization. Several writers suggest new means of engagement through pluralistic study of Jewish texts. Others point to a new focus on joint Israel–Diaspora volunteerism in the developing world, and the establishment of a Peace Corps of the Jewish People which could connect idealistic young Israelis and Diaspora Jews to each other in a joint visionary enterprise.
We are a people of many voices and diverse perspectives. Each writer in this issue speaks for themselves, but each in turn has a message that needs to be heard. Needless to say, this is only the beginning of a conversation, but it is also an invitation that we begin.