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iEngage: Together & Apart Unit Overviews

Overview of the 14 units of this video lecture curriculum

The pressing issue of Peoplehood is the central topic of our fifth iEngage video course dealing with the significance of Israel for Jewish life.

Unit Overviews

Unit 1: From No Home to Two Homes
The Jewish people have moved in less than a century from a people with a consciousness of having no home, to a people that have two homes – in Israel and in North America. This introductory unit examines the stories we have told about ourselves throughout history, and ask whether we need a new grand narrative, a new meta-story, of Jewish Peoplehood today?

Unit 2: The Judaism of Being
This unit explores one feature of the Jewish story, the Covenant of Being, in which Jews are defined by who we are, and not by what we do. This unit explores the advantages, obligations, and risks associated with this dimension of Jewish identity which is permanent and unconditional.

Unit 3: The Judaism of Becoming
In this session, we explore the other central feature of the Jewish story, the Covenant of Becoming, in which Jews are defined by what they do. In this mission-based, aspirational Jewishness, identity is shaped around shared beliefs and practices.

Unit 4: On Universalism and Particularism
This unit explores the relationship between the commitments of Jewish particularism and Jewish universalism, and how the dance between these ideas has characterized the development of modern Zionism and debates around Jewish peoplehood today.

Unit 5: Between Nationalism, Ultra-Nationalism, and Fascism
The debate around nationalism today will impact the viability of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish unity. This session will explore various definitions of nationalism and whether we can construct a positive Jewish articulation of nationalism constructed around the value of “encumberedness.”

Unit 6: The Moral Implications of Jewish Nationalism
This unit continues the exploration of nationalism with a focus on the moral consequences of nationalism. What can constitute moral foundations for nationalism in general and Jewish nationalism in particular?

Unit 7: The Israeli Nation-State Law
Much of the recent debate around Israeli nationalism has focused on the Nation-State Law. This session explores two differing perspectives on the law: one denouncing its moral failings and one embracing its significance for the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

Unit 8: Antisemitism as a Divisive Force
This unit explores the challenges to Jewish peoplehood posed by the current internal Jewish debate around antisemitism. The goal of this session is to understand the causes and underpinnings of a new reality in which antisemitism, for the first time in millennia, has become a dividing force rather than a unifying force for the Jewish people.

Unit 9: Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism
This unit delves more deeply into the meaning and definition of anti-Semitism and the relationship between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. We will analyze the differences between the manifestations of anti-semitism from the far-Left to the far-Right and examine how a commitment to Jewish peoplehood impacts our discourse on this issue.

Unit 10: The Accusation and Dilemma of Dual Loyalties
This unit explores the notion of dual loyalty and its impact on Jewish peoplehood.  Does a commitment to Jewish peoplehood demand dual loyalty, and does dual loyalty connote conflicting loyalty? Can Israel and World Jewry maintain a sense of togetherness while fully aware of the loyalty demands of a people, each in their own distinct home?

Unit 11: “What’s Good for the Jews?” Identity Politics in North America
This unit explores the ways in which the current discourse around identity politics poses new challenges to Jewish peoplehood and a relationship with Israel. We will study the divergent historical strategies within the American Jewish community to advocate for Jewish interests to understand how these different strategies relate to debates today within the American Jewish community and between Israel and American Jewry.

Unit 12: From Family to Consumer
This unit introduces five categories which shape the narrative of Jewish peoplehood: 1) family; 2) shared believers; 3) partners; 4) investors; 5) consumers. The unit then focuses on the categories of family and consumer and how a synergy between the two can strengthen the relationship between Israel and North American Jewry.

Unit 13: Shared Believers, Partners, and Investors
This session focuses on the other three models within our matrix which shape and define the nature of Jewish Peoplehood and the relationship between Israel and World Jewry: Shared Believers, Partners, and Investors. We will explore each of these conceptual categories to see if they can be helpful foundations for Jewish collective life today.

Unit 14: At-Homeness
The Jewish people throughout history have always struggled with the tension of being “Together and Apart.” However, the dual reality of at-homeness in North American and Israel poses new challenges to our sense of togetherness today. This concluding session reflects on both the Israeli and North American perspectives on how the Jewish people can envision and take responsibility for a future together.

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