The Jewish Community Story

The materials in this curriculum seek to help students understand the history and dynamics of the Jewish community, to help them appreciate the community that surrounds them, and to encourage them to see it as a positive entity that in their deepened understanding and heightened awareness, they might wish to join and in which they might want to play an active part.

The curriculum is made up of four units, which include a total of seventeen distinct lessons/chapters.

Click here to download the Introduction and Rationale for this curriculum.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

UNIT ONE: Today’s Jewish world
UNIT TWO: The Historical Framework for understanding the Story.
UNIT THREE: The Dynamics of Jewish Community
UNIT FOUR: The Community Section

    Introduction to Community Section

 

 


Chapter 8: the Jews of the United States

 

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The United States is the largest Diaspora community in the world and has been since the mid twentieth century. It is an extraordinarily successful community, on the whole, and there are many who argue that it represents a totally new chapter in Jewish history in that there has never been a community where life has been so good for the Jews and where Jews have been able to create such a strong community and at the same time contribute so greatly to the wider society. As with all the contemporary Diaspora communities we will examine the community by asking twelve questions about it. So, welcome to America!

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Chapter 9: the Jews of Canada

 

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The American Jewish community is fifteen times larger than the community of Canada. But this disguises the fact that the Canadian community is one of the largest in the world, third among Diaspora communities behind the U.S.A. and France. In addition, the Canadian community, as we shall see, is in many ways far more cohesive and conscious of its Jewish identity than the American community as a whole. Far larger percentages of the Canadian community are educated in Jewish schools, far larger percentages visit Israel and all in all, the community is a remarkably successful and vibrant Jewish community. 

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Chapter 10: the Jews of Argentina

 

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With a little under 190,000 Jews, the community in Argentina is the sixth largest Diaspora community in the world. It is also the most troubled. Despite many times of challenge and difficulty, up to the early 1990’s, it was a vibrant and very successful community. But a whole series of events shook up the community and sent it spiraling downhill in a dive from which it has not recovered. Major international Jewish rescue operations are now taking place in Argentina.

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Chapter 11: the Jews of France

 

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The Jewish community of France, the second largest Diaspora community in the world, is in many ways unique among the Jewish communities of the world. It is, on the one hand, the earliest community in the world to be fully emancipated, freed from restrictive laws after many centuries of limitations and discrimination. On the other hand, it is a community that still conspicuously suffers from anti-Semitism, and which lives in constant apprehension, conscious of its vulnerability. Thus it is a community of surprises and many contradictions. 

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Chapter 12: the Jews of Hungary

 

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Hungary is one of the most interesting and dynamic centres in the Jewish Diaspora. It is a centre in the process of returning to life after more than a generation of cultural and religious silence. Only after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s did democracy return to Hungary. The Jews were now free to resume their life as Jews openly. But things were not so simple. A generation of Jews had forgotten what it meant to be Jewish.  Jewish life slowly and warily resumed. It had to be learned and many Jewish organizations from the west and Israel came in to try and help the community fight its way back to life and health. Hungarian Jewry is still in the process of finding itself, defining itself and fighting its way back to life. 

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Chapter 13: the Jews of Germany

 

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Germany boasts the fastest growing Jewish community in the world. If someone had suggested that as a possibility even twenty years ago, it would have been dismissed as too ridiculous for words. But times have changed, and in the one European country where it seemed certain that no Jew would willingly live a generation after the Holocaust, there are now anything between 100,000 and 180,000 Jews (depending on the criteria for counting the numbers). It is a phenomenon that raises many questions. Let us address them now.

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Chapter 14: the Jews of South Africa

 

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The specific fascination of the South African Jewish community is that it is a community that up to a couple of decades ago appeared to be healthy, strong and vibrant. However, the last years of the twentieth century has seen a great outflow of Jews from South Africa owing to fears – real and imagined – that accompanied the fall of the apartheid regime and brought grave uncertainty and insecurity to the community as a whole. As a result, over a quarter of the community has left South Africa, striking out for other pastures, especially Australia, where a large emigrant community of South African Jews is in the process of putting down roots. Welcome to South Africa!

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Chapter 15: the Jews of Australia

 

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The Australian Jewish community is both sizeable and prosperous. It is rightly considered a strong community and there are those who suggest that it can serve as a model for a modern western diaspora community, balancing successful integration with a vibrant identity. Is this the Garden of Eden? Let’s examine it. Welcome to Australia!

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Chapter 16: the Jews of Great Britain

 

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The Jewish community of Great Britain is one of the world’s largest and in the nineteenth century was perhaps the most influential Jewish community in the world, interfering successfully on behalf of many other communities around the world. That was in the halcyon age of Queen Victoria when Britain felt that it ruled the world. Since then many changes have occurred and the community struggles with many of the same problems that we see in other communities around the world. 

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CHAPTER 17: THE JEWS OF GREAT BRITAIN – long version

 

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This chapter serves as an organic, historic “retelling” of the story of British Jewry. In doing so, we hope to enable a longer and deeper perspective on the subject of modern Jewish community. Here, we chronicle the full build-up and the historical development of the community.  This will provide an additional perspective by which students can assess and appreciate the development of their own communities through a dynamic of continuity and change. 

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