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iEngage: The Tribes of Israel


Click here to order ‘The Tribes of Israel’ Video Series

The Tribes of Israel: A Shared Homeland for a Divided People, the second iEngage Video Lecture Series, confronts the challenge of creating a Jewish and democratic public space in the modern State of Israel—a shared common space for a people divided along “tribal” affiliations: religious, ideological, national, and geographic.

What is the significance of the State of Israel as a Jewish public sphere? How does a people divided along religious, geographic, and ideological lines build a shared society?

The Tribes of Israel begins a conversation to restructure the relationship between the collective and the individual tribes that comprise Israel.

What will I receive when I order the ‘Tribes of Israel’?

Ten curricular units: Units vary in length and format and include one 30 minute introductory lecture, eight 25-40 minute lectures, some of which are followed by 25-30 minute interviews with experts exploring the complexities of the issues raised in the lecture, and one 40-minute concluding unit comprising expert interviews.

Central Themes of ‘Tribes of Israel’

  • The Jewish People as a Tribal Family: Lecture by SHI President Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman
  • The “Orthodox” Jewish Tribes: Lecture and Interviews with Yechezkel Fogel, Yael Chechik, Dov Elbaum, and Yedidia Stern
  • The “Liberal” Jewish Tribes: Lecture and Interviews with Ruth Calderon, Rani Jaeger, Melila Hellner-Eshed, and Dani Elazar
  • The Arab Palestinian Israeli Tribes: Lecture and Interviews with Amal Jabareen and Mohammad Darawshe
  • The North American Jewish Tribes: Lecture 1 and Interview with Rick Jacobs; Lecture 2 and Interviews with Yehuda Kurtzer and Sharon Brous
  • Unity and Diversity in the Jewish Tradition: Lecture by SHI President Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman
  • The Porous “Wall of Separation” between Church and State: Lessons from the U.S. and Canada: Lecture by SHI President Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman
  • Synagogue and State: The Israeli Experience: Lecture and Interviews with Ruth Gavison and Danny Statman
  • Sharing the Public Sphere: New Foundations for a Jewish Democracy: Lecture by SHI President Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman
  • Tribes and Peoplehood: Reflections on Living in a Tribal Family: Interviews with Yossi Klein Halevi, Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Yehuda Kurtzer, Melila Hellner-Eshed, Gil Troy, and Tal Becker

Click here for more information on each lecture

The Zionist aspiration to create a homeland for the Jewish people imagined Israel as a great unifying force. The ingathering of the exiles was not meant to be merely a physical reality but an idea that the Jewish people could come together around the shared enterprise of Jewish sovereignty.

This idea does not envision the abolishment of difference, but a commitment to mutual respect in the creation of a shared public sphere, which balances the need to create a common space that at times transcends difference and at times reflects it.

The paradox of and disappointment with the current discourse around Israel is that the dilemmas of Jewish statehood are increasingly becoming sources of fragmentation and alienation. Whether within Israeli society or between Israel and world Jewry, tribal affiliations and convictions often overwhelm collective consciousness and responsibility. Too often the public sphere becomes an arena of conflict pulled in different directions by each “tribe” in an attempt to shape it exclusively in its own image.

The project of Israel requires a re-conceptualization of the very meaning of a Jewish public sphere. It requires redefining the relationship between the Jewish people as a collective and the individual “tribes” which comprise it. Such an approach, we hope, can enable the different Jewish tribes to re-engage and reconnect with Israel and through it with one another.

Aims of ‘Tribes of Israel’

    • Deepen our understanding of the particular “tribal” identities that constitute the Jewish people.
    • Develop a methodology of conversation around the dilemmas of Jewish statehood currently dividing the Jewish world based in Jewish values that can transcend many of the political divides.
    • Create a model of Jewish public space that balances the needs of the collective with the individual aspirations of the “tribes.”
    • Build new bridges of understanding, cooperation and a sense of shared space between the “tribes” and foundations for reengagement for Jewish people with the enterprise of Jewish sovereignty.

The Lecture Series and accompanying curricular study materials are designed to be used by a rabbi or educator with a group of lay leaders in a weekly or monthly study program. The rabbi/educator serves as the lead teacher, utilizing the materials and lectures as best suited for his/her community, preparing the participants for the lecture by studying the texts and reading the supplementary materials in advance, either in a separate session, or in a shorter 45-minute preparatory session.

Price: $500 including shipping

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For Synagogues and Groups Using the Video Lecture Series

  • Detailed flyer (PDF opens on screen, can be downloaded)
  • Customizable flyers for synagogues (Word document, automatic download only, does not show up on most computer screens)
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