By Deb Silverthorn
Congregation Anshai Torah Rabbi Stefan Weinberg and author Tal Keinan will discuss Keinan’s “God is in The Crowd” at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at the Aaron Family JCC as part of the 2018/2019 Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest.
Israel Bonds is presenting the event.
“Tal has written a book filled with passion, and his personal history has introduced him to a wide variety of Jewish settings and Jewish values. Together, these experiences have compelled him to seek an answer to the many challenges facing Judaism,” Weinberg said. “Realizing that assimilation is destroying the Jewish community, he attempts to rescue the Jewish people, and Tal’s book reflects his bold thinking as well as his passion for Judaism’s continuity.
“Combining his private school experience in New England with his stint as a pilot in the IDF, Tal tells a compelling story that invites the reader to listen,” Weinberg continued. “This is a special opportunity to listen to a new voice advocating for action, someone who is unwilling to let our Jewish vitality slip away, someone who is willing to fight for the future of the Jewish people.”
“God Is in the Crowd” is a blueprint for Judaism in the 21st century, presented through the lens of the author’s personal story, analyzing the threat to Jewish continuity, according to publicity statements.
“Tal Keinan’s book is very well-written, innovative and a fresh look at solutions for some of the challenges the Jewish people face today,” said JCC BookFest Chair Liz Liener, working for the sixth year with Rachelle Weiss Crane, JCC’s director of Israel engagement and Jewish living.
As the Jewish people have become concentrated in America and Israel, Keinan writes of the loss of a subtle code of governance that endowed Judaism with dynamism and relevance in the age of Diaspora.
This code, Keinan explains, is derived from Francis Galton’s “wisdom of crowds,” in which a group’s collective intelligence, memory and spirituality can be dramatically different from, and often stronger than, that of any individual members. He argues that without this code, this ancient people — and the civilization that it spawned — will soon be extinct. Keinan puts forward a plan to rewrite the Jewish code, proposing a new model for Judaism and for community in general.
“Over the past 20 years, I have searched for a satisfying definition of the value of Judaism. I have discovered a complex moral map, which has preserved an ancient wisdom while incorporating the amendments and refinements of successive generations through an exquisitely subtle code,” said Keinan. “‘God Is in the Crowd’ is my diagnosis of the break in the Jewish code and a prescription for rewriting it. Although the book has been described in literary terms, it is not art. It is a battle plan. I hope to draw a critical mass of thinkers, a group I describe as ‘the Crowd,’ into a process that drafts a Jewish future with the goal not just of surviving, but of creating sustainable purpose and meaning in Judaism.”
Keinan, an entrepreneur and social activist, has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Israel’s Air Force Academy. He is co-founder of Clarity Capital, and chairman of Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, Israel’s largest nonprofit lender to small and micro businesses. He serves on the boards of directors of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and the HESEG Foundation, which provides academic scholarships for qualified applicants and former lone soldiers. He is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and chairman of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Intercontinental Chapter.
Keinan was born and raised in a secular family in Florida; his interest in Judaism was ignited by a Christian minister at his New England prep school, leading him down the unlikely path to enlistment in the Israel Air Force.
“We need to acknowledge that Israel is a means, not an end. It is not a regular country but a vital asset for the entire Jewish people. It is the physical refuge, the intellectual convening point and the spiritual center of Judaism,” Keinan said. “Israeli Jews often forget this. It is easier to conceive of themselves within the category of country, a geographic entity representing the people who live within its physical borders. That is part of what Israel is, but it is not the whole story. I argue that it is not even the interesting part of the story.”
Keinan continues that American Jews also forget. “We are lucky to live in times of security and prosperity, in a society that embraces us as full members. It is easy to forget that this is an exception to the rule of Jewish history, that, even today, there are Jews who are less lucky,” he said. “Both communities are losing sight of the legacy that has been left in our custody, a legacy with great value, not only to the Jews but to the world, but I think we can bridge the gap and reclaim that legacy.”
“Tal is charming, brilliant, and engaging and I’m excited to have helped coordinate his visit to our BookFest,” said Event Chair Lizzy Greif. “He’s incredibly accomplished and meaningful and I believe that everyone who attends will learn something, grow, and appreciate what he has to share.”
Tickets are $10 each until 3 p.m. Dec. 10 and $15 after. Books ($28) will be available for purchase at the event.