(December 18, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin endorsed the Declaration of Our Common Destiny, a document that he has called a “roadmap for the Jewish future.”
It came as part of “Illuminate: A Global Jewish Unity Event,” a virtual celebration on Thursday of the completion of the declaration, featuring Israeli musical icon Idan Raichel and British-Jewish Grammy winner Jess Glynne, Shira Haas, star of “Shtisel,” “Unorthodox” and other television hits, emceed the show.
“I call upon all of our brothers and sisters in Israel and around the world to respond to this call for unity, for dialogue, for mutual responsibility,” said Rivlin. “I call upon you to join us in this dialogue that’s based upon mutual respect, goodwill and the search for common ground and common destiny, to do good for the Jewish people and the whole world.”
Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevitch and Knesset member Naftali Bennett, along with Genesis Philanthropy Group co-founder and trustee Mikhail Fridman, signed and endorsed the declaration during a “Sound and Light Spectacular” at David’s Tower in the Old City of Jerusalem. It featured Hanukkah messages of Jewish unity by thousands of Jews from around the world, projected on the Jerusalem Old City walls as a demonstration of the bond of Jewish peoplehood.
Yankelevich reinforced the president’s call. “Our Common Destiny represents a framework and language for the Jewish people based on our shared future. Now it’s our responsibility to turn it into action,” she said. “Tonight’s ceremony marks the end of one journey and the beginning of the next one. I invite everyone, everyone who feels this beating, Jewish heart, to join us in turning this declaration into a plan of action.”
The declaration focuses on five deeply held values shared by all Jews—bedrock principles that bind the Jewish people together despite differing religious practices, nationalities, cultural identities and political affiliations. Thirty prominent Jewish thought leaders and scholars, representing diverse ideologies, genders, ages and languages of Jews worldwide, initially drafted and presented the declaration to Rivlin in September 2019 at the Our Common Destiny Forum in Jerusalem.
The project aims to help global Jewry celebrate its diversity and act upon its shared values by working together to build a brighter future for the Jewish people and all humanity. It crowdsourced the declaration and invited Jews everywhere to help shape it by prioritizing a set of values with more than 130,000 Jews from every continent taking part. The initiative generated support from more than 100 international, national and regional Jewish organizations in the world, representing a wide range of Jewish communities.
“While Jewish communities around the globe battle COVID-19, we are also plagued by another disease, which began long before the pandemic and shows no signs of recovery,” said Fridman. “This ailment of discord, of conflict, of ever-shrinking common ground threatens the very survival of Jewish peoplehood. I fear that for the first time we are facing the real risk of losing the meaning of the basic tenet of our existence: mutual responsibility.”
Also participating in “Illuminate” was Our Common Destiny CEO Sanford Cardin. “We are confident that the declaration will shape how the Jewish people relate, empower and engage with one another now and for generations to come. We also believe it will enable us to accomplish great things together. Jewish unity has always found its expression in Jewish efforts for a common good,” he said.
“As we prepare to embark on the next phase of our initiative—one in which we will continue to promote awareness of our declaration and the fulfillment of its lofty goals—we see more and more encouraging signs that the realization of the necessity and urgency to strengthen and unify global Jewry is growing,” continued Cardin. “More and more courageous leaders, teachers and activists are ready to challenge the status quo and open new ways of thinking and acting together as Jews.”
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