Monday, August 08, 2005

Judaism Without Jews?

It's a sad story. A story that has been told many times before. A story known to every Jewish boy and girl. It is a story whose ending is almost always the same, regardless of how good the beginning or middle may seem to be. It is the story of Jewish life outside the Land of Israel.

In an unusually moving article entitled Judaism without Jews?, Stewart Weiss recounts his experiences in his search for Jewish life in Europe.

Weiss tells us of a Jew from Norway. A Survivor of Auschwitz. This Jew returned to his hometown after "the War" and has dedicated himself to ensuring that the small Synagogue remains open.
"When questioned why he bothers, considering the lack of interest among the city's few Jews, he replies, "We are here as much to educate the non-Jews as the Jews themselves."

Similar stories are told of the state of Jewish life (or of Jews) in Copenhagen, Estonia and St. Petersburg.
"Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in Poland. Though the Nazis' dream of making this once-mighty Jewish metropolis Judenrein has all but been fulfilled - less than 5,000 Jews currently reside there - Jewish cafes, klezmer groups, theaters and bookstores are again appearing.

The only problem, as The New York Times recently reported - the establishments and musicians are all non-Jewish Even the popular Jewish Festival organized each year in Krakow, bringing Jewish speakers and singers to town with great fanfare, is organized and funded by a Gentile Pole, who longs for the Jewish flavor of yesteryear, whether or not real Jews are actually part of the package.

The hundreds of synagogues that still stand in Poland are inhabited only by Jewish ghosts, stark reminders of a community that once flourished but now is gone forever".

Now, one could easily say, "of course, what do you expect?", but there is something ultimately tragic about these stories. Less than 100 years ago, Europe was the center of the Jewish world, in all regards - Religiously, culturally, and socially - and in the blink of a historical eye, a decade, it all disappeared. Gone. Vanished. Forever.

Weiss correctly points out:
"The arrow of history points to only one soil where Jewish life is to be transplanted, and that, of course, is Israel...Now we have regained the rightful repository of Jewish nationhood, reclaimed the spiritual center of Jewish life. As the Talmud tells us: "The synagogues of the Exile will all be transplanted to Jerusalem and its suburbs." We ought to do nothing to deflect that glorious promise".

If only the transition of Jewish life from the Diaspora to the Land of Israel would be done willingly, with hearts full of gladness and rejoicing over the thought of the Jewish People returning to their ancient and eternal Homeland… If only it didn't have to end this way for the Jewish communities of the Diaspora... Sadly, history has shown that it almost always does.


I hope you are well!

By Anonymous Van Heiman, at Tue Jan 10, 07:52:00 PM GMT+2  

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