About the conference

The Jerusalem Massortiyut Conference is an annual platform for discussion and expansion of the idea of​​ Massortiyut as a complete and dynamic worldview that offers an essential remedy for Israeli society. This is a high point in ongoing processes throughout the year for those who wish to put thought into action and influence what is happening in Israeli society and among the Jewish People.

The conference was born out of a collaboration between the Tikun movement and Yad Ben-Zv,i and was held for the first time at Yad Ben-Zvi in ​​Jerusalem in October 2021. The second conference will deal with diverse issues on Israel’s current agenda, including education and society, statehood, the Jewish people, culture and art, and the idea of shared society. Special emphasis will be given to the city of Jerusalem as a space that maintains a unique language created by the ongoing everyday relationships between various communities and identities living together in Jerusalem over the years.

The conference consists of talks, discussions, lectures, performances, workshops and exhibitions, in a unique combination that reflects the concept of dynamic traditional inclusive culture within the structure of the conference.

The conference will be held with the collaboration and support of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation, and the Ministry for Social Equality, with the participation of organizations leading many initiatives in this field of Massortiyut in recent decades.

We see the conference as a permanent annual platform that enables deep learning, clarification, and long-term follow-up of the insights and conclusions that emerge from the discussions, in order to generate valuable processes in Israeli society and among the Jewish People.

Guidelines for defining Massortiyut

We see the discussion surrounding the definition of Massortiyut and its values as a dynamic, ongoing conversation. Following the work of the research group that functioned as part of the 2021 Conference, there has been further discussion on the principles of Massortiyut together with the committee addressing the issue of Massortiyut among the Jewish People, and in particular in the communities in the USA. The principles presented here reflect the dynamic discussion conducted this year on the basis of the foundations laid at the 2021 conference.

  1. Tradition – Past, Present, Future

Jewish Massortiyut is a multifaceted phenomenon with individual, social, and pan-human aspects that connect the past, the present and the future. It developed into a reality across generations of Jews in the various Diaspora communities but, in particular, it developed especially in the Sephardi Jewish communities where it acquired unique characteristics.

  1. Non-denomination

Massortiyut does not belong to a particular denomination, nor does it pretend to be creating a new denomination. It does not negate the prevailing denominations of Judaism such as Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. On the contrary, it seeks to lay down a common platform and create ties among them that are not just ones of rivalry, variance and controversy, but rather of a common language, mutual guarantee and partnership. It seeks to be inclusive, and focuses on what unites rather than that which divides Jews. Consequently, a person may be orthodox, conservative, or not belong to any denomination, and, at the same time, recognize the value of Massortiyut. This is because of the recognition of the deep ties we have with our partners in destiny and the Jewish purpose, and out of the solidarity and brotherhood that emerge from this. 

  1. Commitment to family –  Parents and the Tradition of the Generations

Massortiyut sees value in the tradition handed down to us by our ancestors and believes that meaningful Jewish life cannot be detached from the tradition of past generations, even if the modes and directions of influence from the past on the present and the future may be debated and open to a wide range of interpretations. Massortiyut offers Jews an opportunity to connect to their roots in an inclusive, friendly, and positive environment.

  1. Togetherness

In the social context, Massortiyut believes in listening, integrating and including. It tries to avoid the elimination or exclusion of individuals or groups. Massortiyut seeks the path through which the circles of belonging can be expanded, avoiding judgmentalism and criticism towards different identities and attitudes of those seeking shelter beneath its wings. The value of the individual is a seminal principle that does not derive from compromise but from the initial stance.

  1. Cultural Diversity

Massortiyut supports multifaceted cultural and spiritual wealth emanating from a range of Jewish communities that broadens the spiritual world, prayer, ritual, poetry and music at home and in the community. 

  1. Tradition and Modernity 

Tradition is not just a value in and of itself; it also constitutes a necessary platform for innovation and creation ansd is connected to modern life. Without a normative set of values of some kind, there cannot be any real innovation. Jewish tradition, which has a rich concept of controversy and debate, is an essential resource in the ability of Massortiyut to conduct dialogue with close and more distant neighbors within the world of Jewish identities, and hence, also, with the world outside it. The overarching trend is to retain the connection of the community to tradition as far as possible, and to this end we must develop creativity, as did the Sephardi Sages, when they sought to preserve the values of the Torah while creating openness towards outside influences and modernism. 

  1. Key Values

 In terms of content, there are values, beliefs, deeds, and social institutions that have particular importance in the worldview and lifestyle of the Massorti public that include Shabbat and the various Jewish holidays, family, kashruth, Torah study, social solidarity and the pursuit of justice, the synagogue and prayer. This list itself, with what it contains and what it has omitted is dynamic and may also be controversial.

  1. The Torah of Life

As a rule, Massortiyut tends to shy away from rigid hierarchical rankings, i.e., from the position that all Judaism rests on one or more pillars, however important these might be. On the contrary, many Jewish sources propose different basic principles (in terms of ‘these and these are the words of the living God’) that cannot be prioritized unambiguously and without sensitivity to circumstances. Moreover, Massortiyut sees importance in making the Torah accessible to the entire community and not just to a group of learners.

  1. Halakha

Massortiyut seeks not to base Judaism on the halakha alone; it believes in balance and harmony between the demands of the Torah and the rigors of daily of life. Massortiyut emphasizes faithfulness to the halakha alongside moderation, correlating the halachic ideal and the importance of safeguarding a cohesive community. The halakha is one of the pillars of the Jewish religion and itself can be realized in different ways, but Judaism and its legacy are based on other pillars that draw on ‘legend’ and the basic principle that “proper behavior takes precedence over Torah”, and in which common sense and the humanist, spiritual and cultural perspectives are rich and broad. Sages and community leaders, and particularly the Sephardi sages, related in their rulings to the situation of the individual and to the implications of the ruling for the whole community. They recognized individuals and their pain and were involved in their community; they made room for the community and its leaders when giving their rulings and they functioned from a perspective of warmth and love towards society.

  1. Massortiyut and universalism

Massortiyut is open to human traditions wherever they may be, while recognizing not just similarities but also differences between them. These differences often pose challenges for meaningful discourse, to which Massortiyut seeks to respond with discourse characterized by a ‘backbone’ of identity alongside openness, attentiveness and readiness for an ongoing process of growth and development. The Massorti mindset believes in connecting to general culture and education, and values secular studies alongside Jewish studies, out of a desire to learn and develop and does not see any value in over-strictness and isolationism.

  1. Eretz Israel, Zionism and the State of Israel

Jewish tradition is closely connected to Eretz Israel, to Hebrew and to the Jewish people as a whole. It encompasses within it the Zionist view that sees Eretz Israel as the indigenous and ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, together with a deep connection among all the Jews of the world, and as encouraging the development of creation and culture everywhere where there are Jews. Just as the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud drew their inspiration from each other, both constituting an essential part of the Jewish bookshelf, so too, today, Massortiyut sees importance in mutual growth among the different communities.

  1. Social justice and Tikun olam

Massortiyut encourages community solidarity, mutual guarantee, concern for the vulnerable, community belonging and commitment to doing justice against various evils. Jewish tradition has marked important foundations of ethics that were innovative and constituted “a light unto the nations”. This approach is our compass till today in demanding social justice. The presence of the Lord is expressed in the individual’s commitment to the Jewish people and to those close to them. After all, we must uphold “what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord”.

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