The Critical Issues

I have not been blogging much lately.  It’s not that the issues have not been out there, I have been off working on other projects.   I hope during 2011 to be blogging on a semi-regular basis.  I will be aiming to make a weekly post to this blog.

The intention of Jewgleperth  is to focus on issues that impact the local Jewish community.  That includes profiling local issues, and profiling local reactions to national and international issues. 

So what are the biggest issues that impact the Perth Jewish community at this particular time?  My top five are:

1)  Community unity and cohesion

2)  Community membership and participation

3)  Affordability and ease of access to Jewish facilities and services

4)  Youth, young marrieds, and attracting retention and residence of young Jewish people

5)   Education, Jewish literacy, confidence and positive expressions of identity.

You may have some more ideas of your own as to what the most compelling and important matters are for the future of Perth Jewry.  Please feel free to share them in the comments.  I will explore the above, im yirtzeh hashem, in greater depth in the coming weeks. 

 Missing from my list are words such as “anti-Semitism”, “assimilation”, “observance”, “media bias”, “tolerance”, “interfaith”, and “migration”.  There are many issues that surround all of these terms, however I strongly feel that a more contemporary discussion is needed without the loaded language of depreciative terms.  A positive focus is critical, yet at the same time we need to stir ourselves from complacency.  The victim mentality must be avoided, but without discarding reality. 

Adina Bankier-Karp is an educator at Mt Scopus College in Melbourne.  She articulates my thoughts beautifully when she writes:

“While ours is a community forged predominantly by Holocaust survivors, we, the succeeding generations, have the challenge of balancing our need to glance both behind us and into the future. The imperative to remember and honour, as important as it is, should not blind us to the fact that generations Y and Z are going to choose to live as – and marry – Jews because they regard Jews as a fabulous, enriching and empowering lifestyle, which they are keen to pass on to the next generation. The guilt-saturated demand to be Jewish “because Bobba survived” is quite simply not going to be sufficiently compelling.”

I often wonder where the strategic intent is within our community to encouage greater affiliation, participation and involvement.  Sometimes we know the reasons why people steer away from Jewish community life.  They may not feel valued, they may feel that there are too many judgemental attitudes out there.  They may feel insecure about their own Jewish identity.  In some cases their reasons may be fair and valid.   On other occasions they may be a cop-out, or an erroneous perception.   In any case, it does not matter why, it just matters that another potential member of our community is not positive about their relationship to the community.  So lets take an honest and candid look at what it is that we can do to promote a better vibe, and engenders participation for all the right reasons.