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Our Common Destiny: A new call to action for the Jewish people

A visionary document that forges a collective vision of peoplehood is our roadmap for initiatives that will help shape a shared future
Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch signs the 'Our Common Destiny Declaration' (Courtesy Ministry of Diaspora Affairs)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch signs the 'Our Common Destiny Declaration' (Courtesy Ministry of Diaspora Affairs)

The Jewish people share a rich legacy, scripture and tradition that inspire our shared ties as a nation.

For thousands of years, these components were enough to keep us together as a people. 

In previous generations, one’s Jewish identity could easily be acquired passively — through shared struggle, communal norms and a socially enforced understanding of one’s Otherness.

But not today. In our modern world, tapping into one’s Jewish identity and participating in the Jewish experience is an active choice. This is the beauty of being able to live as a proud and free Jew — either in Israel or throughout the Jewish world.

Yet the ease of being Jewish also leaves many unengaged and uninspired.

That is why it is our task to create a new call to action which brings the Jewish people together, not around a shared struggle or event, but rather grounded in the Jewish people’s shared future and mission.

It is for this reason, that I am proud to bring into action Our Common Destiny, a living mandate for a twenty-first-century Jewish people. 

Our Common Destiny is a movement brought about by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the office of President Reuven Rivlin. 

As with many great Jewish ideas, it started with the written word. This past year, Jewish thought leaders and activists from across the Jewish world came together to draft Our Common Destiny as an historic document. After a twelve-month process of collaborative thinking and writing, Jewish communities around the world were invited to sign on to the declaration and join us in bringing it to fruition.

Our Common Destiny relates the history of our people – from Abraham and Sarah to the establishment of the State of Israel. In each phase of our collective story, as Our Common Destiny explains, it has been our Jewish connection to the written word, our sense of mutual responsibility, and our refusal to give up hope that propelled us forward.

The document ends with principles that ought to drive the Jewish people’s shared vision and mission of today: security and well-being, mutual responsibility and connection, strengthening Jewish identity, being a light unto the nations, and Tikkun Olam. What these five principles look like in practice is for us to determine. 

My office is now using Our Common Destiny to drive our mission and vision and the initiatives they inspire.

For example, strengthening Jewish identity translates into the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s broad investment in formal and informal education. It inspires the creation of our Global Jewish Education Hub, which will serve teachers and students around the Jewish world. By creating dynamic new educational opportunities, we will motivate the next generation of Jewish leaders. 

Tikkun Olam inspires Shalom Corps – the Jewish Peace Corps – which calls upon young Jews from around the world to volunteer together in the spirit of both Jewish peoplehood and making the world a better place.

These are examples of Our Common Destiny in action. It is now for Jewish individuals, leaders, and institutions around the world to take on Our Common Destiny and its principles, and build innovative partnerships and projects around them.

Only by tapping into our shared bonds as a people, will we be able to fulfill our shared mission to create a better, brighter world for our children.

Adapted from Minister Yankelevitch’s address at Our Common Destiny’s “Illuminate” event, Thursday December17 at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. More information, including the full text of the Declaration, can be found at Our Common Destiny.org.

About the Author
Omer Yankelevitch is Minister of Diaspora Affairs and a Member of the Knesset for the Blue and White party.
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