The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society
Joan and Irwin Jacobs Distinguished Fellow: Former President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin
The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society is a new IDI initiative focused on strengthening social solidarity and fostering commitment to democratic values in Israel. The establishment of the Center was made possible by a landmark gift from Irwin and Joan Jacobs, who have endowed it in perpetuity.
The Center, established in 2021, is dedicated to carrying on the important work Rivlin launched as President under the banner of the “Israeli Hope Initiative.”
As President Rivlin remarked in his historic speech from 2015: “I have identified a very real threat in our collective suppression of the transformations that Israeli society has been undergoing in recent decades… it is the distribution into four principal tribes that make up Israeli society, that reveals its basic structure; a structure that we shall never have the ability or the power to blur or erase…the ‘new Israeli order’ now requires us to abandon the accepted view of a majority and minorities and move to a new concept of partnership between the various population sectors in our society.”
The creation of the new Center will enable placement of the Institute’s key social integration initiatives and its focus on meeting the unique challenges arising from Israel's dual identity as a Jewish nation-state and a liberal democracy, under a single organizational framework, creating cross-disciplinary synergies and fostering respectful dialogue between representatives of the various “tribes” that make up contemporary Israeli society. The Center’s initial focus will be on efforts to integrate Israel’s Arab citizens and its ultra-Orthodox population into society and the economy as it seeks to attenuate the inherent tensions between religion and state. It will also promote religious pluralism, efforts to reduce tensions between secular and religious Israelis and build bridges between Israel and the Diaspora. The programmatic initiatives undertaken by the Center will combine applied research with public outreach, and showcase the Institute’s growing commitment to the inculcation of a common ethos of democratic citizenship across all sectors of Israel’s diverse society.