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A Holistic Approach

Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah is committed to helping Jews and fellow travelers live enriched and meaningful lives and shape a better world. Based on our own life experiences, what we’ve observed and learned from the work of our grantees, our understanding of Jewish history, and insights from behavioral science, we believe that applying Jewish wisdom to important individual, interpersonal, communal, and societal questions can help achieve these goals.

But we also know that today, many people are not finding meaning in Jewish life or at all. Many Jewish Americans also do not believe that Judaism is relevant in shaping a better world. According to Pew, only 20% of Jewish Americans experience significant meaning from Judaism, and more would rather their grandchildren share their political convictions than be Jewish. Other studies have shown that Americans’ lives in general are so bereft of meaning that it’s adversely impacting their physical health. The statistics on belonging are even more stark.

We are concerned by these trends, so we set out to understand how Jewish wisdom has been applied historically to successfully help people live enriched and meaningful lives and shape a better world. We identified a simple framework, which we’re calling “The 3P Framework for Applying Jewish Wisdom” that we believe has been part of the implicit structure that has sustained Jewish life for thousands of years. The 3Ps stand for three mutually reinforcing elements—PURPOSEPRACTICE, and PEOPLE.

In the words of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, an emergent Jewish movement “renews the old and sanctifies the new.” We see this happening on a piece-by-piece basis with different elements of the 3Ps. Some center the Jewish PURPOSE of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and kavod ha’briyot (human dignity); others reimagine millennia-old Jewish PRACTICES, like Shabbat and the Passover seder; and still others offer new ways to deepen relationships between PEOPLE, like group trips to Israel and communal living for young Jews. While many programs’ and organizations’ efforts have shown promising results, we believe that application of the Framework can substantially enhance their impact by using a holistic approach.

Below, you’ll find more about how the Framework works, and where we see it already implicit in Jewish wisdom. We are beginning our journey by researching ways for practitioners and organizations to apply the Framework, and we hope you’ll participate. As a first step, you can join our mailing list for regular updates.

How It Works

A framework organizes complex, often interconnected ideas into a useful approach that helps solve real-world challenges. 

We hypothesize that when Jewish wisdom is applied holistically through the Framework, individuals find greater meaning and belonging in their lives, and they are more likely to shape a better world.

  • PURPOSE: Core aims and aspirations (for oneself and in service of something larger than oneself) that inspire PEOPLE and guide PRACTICE.
  • PRACTICE: Routinized norms, behaviors, and rituals that achieve PURPOSE and connect PEOPLE.
  • PEOPLE: Substantive relationships that animate PURPOSE and amplify PRACTICE.

While our hypothesis is based on a wide variety of findings from Jewish wisdom and the social sciences, some important ones are:

  • Meaning is generated by having PURPOSE in life.
  • Belonging is generated by having strong relationships with other PEOPLE. Meaning and belonging are mutually reinforcing.
  • Routinized PRACTICES sustain PURPOSE and strengthen relationships between PEOPLE over the long term.

The Framework and Jewish Wisdom

For thousands of years, integrated PURPOSE, PRACTICE and PEOPLE has been a central, implicit lens through which Jewish communities have applied Jewish wisdom.

A few examples below highlight Jewish wisdom’s focus on each of the three Ps and how they work together.


Throughout the centuries, when Jewish thinkers debated how to summarize Jewish wisdom, they pointed to different understandings of higher PURPOSE.


From the 613 mitzvot (commandments) to thousands of halakhot (rabbinically prescribed norms and rituals) to countless minhagim (customs), Jewish wisdom contains a large menu of actions and behaviors for achieving PURPOSE and connecting PEOPLE.


Strong relationships have always been a central component of Jewish wisdom.

Applying the Framework

We are currently researching and developing ways to support organizations and practitioners to use The 3P Framework for Applying Jewish Wisdom.

As we explore the avenues through which the Framework will be most helpful to those already applying Jewish wisdom in their work and those who wish to better apply Jewish wisdom in their work, we invite you to think with us about some of the following questions.

How does Jewish wisdom inform PURPOSE? How might PURPOSE become more palpable in creating meaning for individuals?

What Jewish PRACTICES might achieve PURPOSE and connect PEOPLE?

What are potential configurations of PEOPLE with whom PURPOSE and PRACTICES can be shared and reinforced?

Where might we find real world examples, both Jewish and not, of the 3P Framework and its component pieces effectively contributing to increased meaning and belonging? What applicable insights might we gain from these examples?

Join Us

In Jewish tradition, the beit knesset, where people gather to pray and learn, must have windows and doors so that it is constantly in conversation with the outside world. While this virtual space has no physical entryways, we invite you to enter and join our learning community.

Subscribe below to our email list, and you’ll receive a list of discussion questions that begin to explore the ways in which The 3P Framework for Applying Jewish Wisdom might be helpful in your work. We hope these questions will spark ideas, conversations, and, perhaps above all, greater and deeper questions. 

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