Reposted with thanks to the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” The all-too-familiar opening of Charles Dickens’ nineteenth-century classic A Tale of Two Cities could not have better encapsulated the current state of the Jewish world. As the international community is rocked by political and economic turbulence, the Jewish People—an international people if ever there was one—has not been immune to the impact of global events, often finding itself at their epicenter.

Just as Dickens sets his novel in two cities, London and Paris, so does the story of contemporary Jewry unfold in two distinct environments: the State of Israel and what is called the Jewish Diaspora, comprising all Jews living outside Israel; 70 percent of Diaspora Jewry is concentrated in the United States. With the combined Jewish populations of Israel and the US accounting for well over 80 percent of the approximately 14.5 million Jews in the world, the dynamic between these two communities will inevitably shape the future of the Jewish People.

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Shalom Lipner is an Advisor to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office. Since joining the PMO in 1990, he has served seven consecutive premiers in a variety of positions including Special Coordinator for Public Diplomacy, Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, Advisor to the Minister of Israeli Society and the World Jewish Community, and Director of Communications for the Government Press Office. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Toronto, an M.A. in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an M.S. in Management Science from Boston University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev — and an M.P.A. in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, which he attended as a Wexner Israel Fellow.  Shalom can be reached at