It doesn’t seem like the right time of year to have a slow news week. But the Australian Jewish News have obviously attempted to stir emotions and create debate by running a so-called provocative article by Jonno Seidler, a freelance Sydney journalist who obviously has no gratitude or appreciation for his tradition. So too, the editorial of the AJN attempts to strike those nerves by stressing the plight of the twenty-something members of the Australian Jewish community, as an unaffiliated and uncaring demographic that has no interest in tuning into the community.
Jonno Seidler in his demoralising perspective posits that “the real question is whether you can blame us?” That is hardly a rhetorical question, and also no means by which to call young Jewish adults to arms.
Community involvement is about both give and take, but really it is about more of the former. Disenfranchised young Jews that sit on the sidelines, lose themselves in their material pursuits, and blame communal structures for their own identity failure will be less of a help to themselves than they are to their community.
Whilst there are many young Jewish adults, it is the incentive and opportunity to involve all of them in community activities, as contributors, leaders, and owners of decision making that will see this overstated problem solved. From shteeble shules to singles groups, social and charitable groups, there are plenty of ways in which a constructive contribution can be made. Many want to do this, and it is only those old controllers who refuse to step aside that prevent this from happening. The consequence is for the establishment to be ignored and the people involved to do what they want anyway within their own social circles.
There is no crisis with young Jewish Australian adults. There is however a crisis with the way in which these adults meet, marry and prioritise education for their children. Somebody who wants to eat prawns on Yom Kippur has no Jewish future for their family. As much as the AJN dismiss the religious solution, the reality is that is the only way to foster greater identity. Whilst there is much to be exceedingly proud of, there will always be those who choose to remove themselves from the opportunity to be Jewish.
Writing a trashy column that concludes that alcoholic inebriation is the last resort option available to us does not help anybody, least of all a Jewish newspaper that wants to take a mature approach to the development of a vital demographic group within our small community.