This article examines the characteristic features of Jewish-identity perception amongst young Jewish Israelis within the broader paradigm known as “Jewish peoplehood”. It was written in the context of the public agenda concerning peoplehood that found voice in the Israeli Parliament’s Education Committee debate on 25 November, 2006 that determined this issue to constitute “one of the most important and weighty issues in sustaining the Jewish identity of the Jewish nation-state − and also the most neglected issue in the Israeli education system”.
Jewish peoplehood is a concept that refers to the self-cultivation of Jewish solidarity as a common base for Jewish unity – without controversial pre-conditions regarding faith, nationality, commitment or behavior (Mittelberg, 2011). It fosters inter-personal relations between Jewish individuals and institutions in Israel and the diaspora in the belief that Jewish common ground must be pursued in today’s postmodern era of multiple identities.
The article deals with practical lifestyle representations of this approach, as well as the question of how encounters between Israeli student-teachers and their peers in the diaspora influence the Jewish identity of young Israelis.
The findings point to the fact that the student-teacher population is characterized by a strong perception of Jewish and Israeli identity that bears a powerful dimension of Jewish idealism. In principle, Jewish solidarity with Jews worldwide does not form part of this group’s self- perception of their Jewish identity.
We conclude that there is a potential for stronger solidarity between Jewish communities worldwide, and this factor serves as a valuable educational tool. We thus propose that Israeli schools and colleges should initiate direct contacts with partner institutions abroad with the goal of strengthening Jewish solidarity as exemplified by the Jewish peoplehood paradigm.