21st Century Tikkun Olam: Improving the Lives of a Quarter of a Billion People in a Decade

A Global Engagement Strategy for the State of Israel and the Jewish People

A Core Value: Bringing a Blessing to Families of the Earth


 


 

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    The vision that inspires the Reut Institute and the Alliance for Global Good in the area of Tikkun Olam is embodied in the biblical story of God's promise to Abraham that his seed will bring a blessing to all families of the earth ('nivrichu b'cha kol mishpachot ha'adama'). It is echoed in the common Jewish belief that living as a Jewish people has transformative powers that can influence other nations.

     

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    The modern concept of Tikkun Olam embodies values and actions aimed at improving the general human condition within the Jewish community and beyond. Its traditional meaning referred to restoring God's ultimate sovereignty on earth. As of the 18th century, this concept was broadened, and it became popularized primarily in the United States during the Civil Rights Era and the South African anti-apartheid movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it is increasingly mainstream although carrying different meanings for various communities, including fighting poverty and insecurity, performing community service, volunteering internationally on development projects, raising money for Israel, and teaching Torah. The logic of Tikkun Olam continues to evolve, with Jewish philanthropic funds focused largely on universal causes skyrocketing, and participation of Jews in volunteer service projects also markedly increasing.

     

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    This logic of Tikkun Olam was a core tenet of Zionism and a central practice until 1973. Its founding leadership, including Theodore Herzl and David Ben-Gurion, envisioned the State of Israel to serve this ideal. Indeed, in its early years (1957-1973), Israel became a global leader in international development due to its foreign assistance program led by MASHAV of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with leading nations and international agencies. The program received domestic political and public support and international acknowledgment.

     

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This period ended when African countries severed relations with Israel following the 1973 War. Israel cut its budgets for foreign assistance, and political and public support for it dropped. Since 2000, Israel’s foreign assistance budget has ranged between 0.03% to 0.07% of the Gross National Income (GNI), a small fraction compared to the 1960s and modest relative to other nations. Domestic support for robust Israeli foreign assistance is meager: Knesset members have three times failed to pass an international aid bill. Nevertheless, MASHAV still produces innovative and inspiring projects and activities, Israeli science and technology continue to provide a significant contribution to humanity, and a new generation of civil society leaders that are committed to this ideal is stepping to the fore.


 


 

A Unique Value Proposition: Commitment and Capabilities


 


 

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    Israel and the Jewish people have unique value to offer the world in international development that stems from the combination of expertise and core commitment.

     

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    World Jewry strongly identifies with the ideal of Tikkun Olam – In Jewish communities around the world, social and business entrepreneurs, visionaries and philanthropists, and public servants and innovators are disproportionately present at the frontiers of many local, national, and global challenges;

     

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    Israel has established itself as a ‘start-up nation’ and a world leader in creatively dealing with some of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the fields of medicine, communications, energy, food and water security, large-scale immigration, homeland security, and society building;

     

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    There is a unique opportunity to join the power of a state with the strength and diversity of a globally dispersed people for the purpose of making a positive impact. A Jewish state brings to bear capacities, resources, and global reach through its national government as well as through its society. A global network of vibrant Jewish communities boasts strong communal institutions, a focus on knowledge and education, and innovation abilities in pioneering industries and in fields that require cutting-edge knowledge development.

     

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Tags

Israeli-Diaspora Relations, Jewish Peoplehood, Nation-State, Zionism

2010-04-01

Jewish Peoplehood

21st Century Tikkun Olam

This logic of Tikkun Olam was a core tenet of Zionism and a central practice until 1973. Its founding leadership, including Theodore Herzl and David Ben-Gurion, envisioned the State of Israel to serve this ideal.

"Nivrichu b'cha kol mispachot ha'adama." ("Through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.") Genesis 12:3

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