As promised, some comments about my visit to Melbourne.
There are many advantages to living in a small community, and these are best highlighted by visiting a large community. The Jewish community of Perth is by no means perfect, but it does a lot of things well. I noticed this a lot by observing what I saw in Melbourne
Here are my top five reasons why I would rather live in Perth than Melbourne:
You can’t hide. In Melbourne if you don’t turn up to Shule you are not missed. So many observant people do not attend a daily minyan, and remain Shabbat shule people only. In Perth, you count and your presence is noticed. There is more incentive to contribute in a close knit environment.
People respect you for who you are. In Melbourne there are still cliques and groups of people that seem more interested in what everybody else is doing, and less interested in what they are doing. There is more peer pressure, more social status driven by wealth and ostentatious showmanship. In some cases the laws of Loshan Hara don’t seem to apply in Melbourne.
Unity. In Perth there is one school for everybody and we have to make it work. In Melbourne you choose your school and then adjust to fit the stereotype or value set that the school demands. For example, if you have a TV in your home, some Melbourne schools will not permit you to attend. In Perth, you can choose not to have a TV in your home, but your kids still have to learn to interact with kids who come from homes where there is a TV. This is very important towards engendering understanding, tolerance and acceptance within Jewish communities.
Friendliness is guaranteed in Perth. An introduction in Perth is greeted with a smile and there are no strings attached. In Melbourne an introduction can feel like an interview for social acceptance. In Perth the first question you get asked is social in nature. In Melbourne the first question is invariably â€œwhat line of business are you inâ€. The focus on wealth ahead of family values is quite noticeable.
Perth is not ethnically divided. Jews live with non-Jewish neighbours. In Melbourne there are suburbs for Greeks, Italians, Lebanese, etc etc. The multicultural fabric of Perth is far more integrated than it is in Melbourne, even in the workplace. With that said, Melbourne has a lot of things going that make it a great place to visit. The City is alive, and the culture is vibrant. From a Jewish point of view the community has grown and provided some amazing options for Jewish learning and identity. The youth are involved and active. For singles there are a lot of socially oriented activities that allow people to meet.
Overall, nothing beats Perth for lifestyle living, especially if you have a familyÂ Big is not always better. It’s nice to visit Melbourne, but its also nice to come back home to Perth.