Well, just today I was reading another of his books, the Emergence of Judaism, and noted that he provided a similar definition of Israel to the one he offered in Recovering Judaism. So, for anyone interested in how a well-respected Jewish scholar defines Israel, here ya go:
THE EMERGENCE OF JUDAISM:
"The Definition of Israel
Israel in Judaism, and What about the Gentiles?
Today when people speak of 'Israel,' they refer only to the state of Israel. But that usage is very recent. It began in 1948, when the State of Israel was proclaimed. From that time the meaning of 'Israel' has varied, sometimes referring to a place, sometimes to the community of Judaism as it did until 1948.
The point is that in Judaism from Scripture forward the word Israel has had a different meaning. In the Torah and in prayers 'Israel' refers to the holy people of God: the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who stood at Sinai. 'Israel' refers to those who receive the Torah--God's revealed will-and enter the covenant with God. 'Israel' then encompasses those born into the people and those that join the people by choice.
What difference does it make to be part of Israel? When people call themselves 'Israel,' they adopt for themselves and take personally the narrative of the Torah. They regard themselves as part of that group of which the Torah speaks. That is an act of religious faith and theological affirmation. It is not a mere genealogical description, let alone a political platform," Jacob Neusner, The Emergence of Judaism."