For the past few weeks I’ve been reading a lot on social media about what’s not right in our community. And there is a lot that is not right. And we should talk and discuss that (respectfully). But there is also a lot that is right. A lot that makes the Perth Jewish community the envy of so many other communities. So this post is focussed on what is right.
What is right is that so many of the youth in the Perth Jewish community are committed, and active and positive in their Jewish identity. They create communal activity for themselves and others, some of which is formal, but a lot of which is not institutionalised. Which is fine, because the younger generation don’t need committees and meetings in order to create social bonds.
What is right is that there are so many doors of entry for members of the community. People who want to be religious can be religious, with all the necessary infrastructure to support this. People who want to be Zionist, or sportspeople, or volunteers, or cultural, can find plenty of opportunity.
The Perth Jewish community has one day school. It is an exceptional day school that delivers top class educators and facilities, and whose graduates are mostly well rounded. It is an institution that caters to a broad clientele and meets a diverse range of needs in a challenging environment.
The Perth Jewish community has an old age home that is also exceptional, delivering care and dignity to the elderly.
The Perth Jewish community is self-sufficient in many areas. It is small in size and big in capability. It is respected by the broader base of ethnic communities and civil community within which it presides. It is relatively safe and secure. Perth Jewry and its members contribute substantially to the social and economic wellbeing of Perth.
People care. They care enough to help, to contribute, and to support one another. They care about their heritage, their way of life, their Jewish identity, and they contribute their time and money towards sustaining community life.
We love Israel. Some of us have different ways of expressing and showing that, and our opinions will differ on what is best for Israel. Guess what? The broad spectrum of political diversity in Israel itself is no less diverse and no less antagonistic. By the same token, we are only emotionally connected and do not have a citizen’s stake or accountability as a taxpayer or voter to Israeli society. Therefore we should harness our cultural connections and advocate for Israel’s welfare, and recognise the limitations. When we celebrate Israel, we do it well.
What is wrong with our community? Plenty. But nothing that is insurmountable or critical to the extent that the overall sustainability of broad community presence is under existential threat. What is particularly wrong is that we don’t take enough opportunity to appreciate what is right. We are too quick to criticise but not quick enough to look at the bigger picture and be grateful for what we do have.
Instead of expecting more, can we please pause and take a broader view. Many Jews around the Diaspora would love to have a sliver platter in front of them loaded with all the opportunities and amenities that collectively and organically comprise of the Perth Jewish community. They would love to have the problems that we have and they would dearly sacrifice much to access even a fraction of what we have available to access.
So let’s get on with the job. Let’s leverage what we do have, appreciate what we do have, and take the time to say “there is a lot that is right about the Perth Jewish community.”