Daniel Septimus, editor of MyJewishLearning.com, interviews Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sacks, about his new book. Daniel Septimus: In regards to the responsibility you write about in your book, To Heal A Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility, are there distinctions between the Jewish community’s responsibility toward its
Moses L. Pava Ten years later, it still stings. A New Jersey Jewish Day School rejected our daughter’s kindergarten application because there was not enough space for her. But friends from her preschool class, in seemingly identical circumstances, were accepted. When I asked for an explanation from the school, I was told that they could
Affluent Jewish communities around the world could be doing much more as well. Many charities that have tended to focus on local or parochial concerns rather than on the poorest of the poor worldwide. It is urgent and timely to cast such activities in a wider, indeed global, reach. The American Jewish World Service, on whose Board I am honored to serve, is an example of a dynamic and effective organization that brings succor and valuable support to the poorest of the poor throughout the world, enabling communities to lift themselves out of chronic hunger, poverty, and ill health.
As Jews who recognize that Judaism contains a vision for humanity, globalization clearly presents us with a grave challenge and an unprecedented opportunity. Although the globalization of the economy is a process that began 500 years ago with European colonialism, the end of World War II with the concomitant expansion of American economic power, and more recently the fall of communism mark astounding new phases in the totality of its scope. The ferocity of the new antisemitism not withstanding, it is fair to say that the process of globalization has gained exponentially in velocity at the very moment in which the majority of Jews are for the first time fully empowered citizens of the democratic countries — first and foremost the U.S. and Israel — that are key participants in the global economy. We thus have both the opportunity, the freedom — and the urgent responsibility — to try to influence the future face of humankind.
In the past decade, a slew of new concepts have cropped up, refocusing attention on the question of Jewish identity in the 21st century: globalization, the clash of civilizations, the struggle between Western civilization and Islam. And amid all these, we find the Jewish people, with, on the one hand, the State of Israel, a sovereign Jewish state caught up in the power struggle of international and Middle Eastern politics, and on the other hand, the Jewish Diaspora, under the sway of global processes for better or for worse.
1. Why is globalization a Jewish issue?
2. How is Jewish identity preserved in an era of cultural sameness?
3. How will Zionism emerge from an age when nationalism is quickly going out of fashion? And how will that impact Israel’s Jewish identity?
4. How are the benefits of a consumer society measured against the economic and social changes brought about by globalization?