In an op-ed in the Forward, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, '99, Ph.D., analyzes the term “Jewish peoplehood” from a historical and sociological perspective. While some thinkers have argued that the peoplehood idea has outlived its usefulness, Rabbi Waxman argues that the peoplehood idea still has tremendous value as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.
Rabbi Waxman writes that, “The original Reconstructionist intent was that the concept of peoplehood should serve as a means to inspire ethical action and the up-building of the Jewish civilization — that is, to help Jews be both good Jews and good Americans. Increasingly — and this is the source of much of the angst in the interpretations of the Pew Study — it is clear that many Jews embrace peoplehood as an end in itself. As the Ashkenazi majority morphs into a Jewish community with ever-increasing diversity — including Jews by choice, increasing awareness of Jews of color, and non-Jews helping to make Jewish homes — any strategies based on ethnicity and shared memories are problematic and unsustainable.”
Check out the whole piece here.