| New Jewish Thought is a group of British Jews from across the communal spectrum, who have come together to form an independent centre to promote new thinking and dialogue within the British Jewish community
We have been motivated to come together as a response to our ongoing frustration with the quality and nature of debate in our community. All too often, we believe, the internal dialogue of British Jewry consists of the reiteration of fixed positions by various interest groups. As a consequence of this, it has become common to avoid debate between streams of Judaism, either retreating into antagonism or into an exaggerated (and often false) respect.
We believe that a fundamental part of the strength and vitality of Judaism has always come from its diversity. But whilst we seek to cultivate this diversity, we reject unthinking, relativistic models that would restrict different schools of thought to mutually uncommunicative ghettoes.
By contrast, we believe passionately in the value of dialogue and non-hostile confrontation between Jewish points of view. We also believe that such discussion and debate requires vulnerability, openness – and the willingness to revise one’s opinions – from those who engage in it. We seek to cultivate such open-ended discussion with the aim of provoking the British Jewish community to engage with the full complexities of Judaism today. We are committed to engaging with the full range of Jewish possibilities – ethnic, religious and cultural.
We aim to provide ‘conceptual leadership’ that will influence new policies and new directions in British Jewry. Whilst the core of our concern is British Jewry, we engage with it on many levels: as citizens of the UK, as part of the Jewish world, as part of the diaspora, as people interested in Israel and the Middle East, as an ethno-religious group interested in positive contact with other such groups and as individuals with specific interests and skills – consulting, academic, innovation, technological, religious texts, philosophy, arts and culture.
We will seek to create new metaphors and symbols for the renewal of Jewish life. We will search for new paradigms and new models of being Jewish from communities, industries, religions and countries.
We seek to reach out to everyone who finds Judaism most valuable and rewarding when it is difficult and challenging. We seek to provoke people in different sections of the community to leave their comfort zones and question their fundamental assumptions.
We seek to include people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse skills in our discussions – academics, professionals, artists and interested lay individuals. We are also commited to including non-Jews in debates on the nature and future of the Jewish people.