Jewgle Perth has been revived, at a time when there is much to discuss for the Perth Jewish community. On the one hand the community is growing, and from within the midst of this growth it is often hard to recognise and acknowledge some very encouraging trends. On the other hand there appears to be polarisation of many types, inclusive of religious, socio-economic, and political identity. There is also a polarisation of peoples involvement; engagement versus apathy.
There has been little change of community leadership, and many voices of disenfranchisement of our youth. The generation gap is more apparent than ever.
This is a conversation that is bigger than one post, one forum, or one medium of discussion. There are many elements to the culture that feeds into this, and it is my hope that the Jewgle Perth perspective can test some of these out over the coming weeks.
Inspired by some of the people who posted to the Jewish Perth Facebook page about wanting to be heard, I can only say that their voices need to be heeded. Seriously and urgently. Our views will differ, our opinions will be forceful, and we may not agree. But we are part of the same broad community and the marketplace of ideas should be open.
At the fringe and margins of the communities there are limits and boundaries. Nobody owns these, but the body of the community has the right to be critical when its interests are compromised. More on that for other threads, and there are plenty of them.
However for this post, it is the generation gap that needs attention. Do we embrace the young adults of our community, or do we push them away? We are experiencing the latter, and this is a harsh reality that the older generation needs to be cognizant of.
The “elder” generation grew up with institutional Judaism. The culture has changed, and the social media feeds, informal structures of engagement, and even the notion of service is approached differently by the younger generation. This is not unique to Jewish communities.
There is also a harsh reality for the younger generation. That is that when a person considers their affiliation to the community, expectations need to be somewhat tempered. If you approach community involvement with the attitude that “my community owes me everything” then you will never be satisfied. The truth is that your community owes you nothing. And if you approach your service to the community with this credo then you will find your community actually ends up giving you everything. Because in order to take out of community affiliation, you have to first put in.
The criticism that there are no opportunities for involvement is not valid. Neither is the criticism that I cannot be heard. Join a charity or community organisation. Start a blog, write a Limmud paper, organise an event, join a conversation, or create something new. Don’t be discouraged if not everybody likes what you have to say (although you will need thick skin), and keep the discourse focussed on the issue, not the person. One more thing. Don’t misinterpret machloket (disagreement) with the notion of not being heard.
It is brave to speak out. The very action shows a desire to contribute and be part of the community. That you have to fight to be heard is frustrating, but that you want to be heard is a very positive and constructive step. Please speak your mind, here and elsewhere.
Never forget, you need your community and your community needs you. But this is not an equal equation, because as contemporary Jewish history suggests; you also need your community more than your community needs you.