The first episode of our Makom Salon podcast took place on the eve of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2020. While our world is still under lockdown due to COVID-19,…
How are we to prevent further genocides without making comparisons from history? Does “Never Again” mean nothing? And here, it seems, lies the rub. “Never Again” means different things to different people. Meir Kahane, widely credited with popularizing the phrase, meant Never Again to Jews – not Never Again to All.
Shmuel Goldberg is a 40-something Israeli, the son of Holocaust survivors, who was raised with an aversion to all things German — German products, German culture. And of course, he was taught never to visit Germany.
But when a man enters his used car lot wanting to sell a collector’s-item 1985 metallic blue Lincoln Continental, which would bring in a cool profit if Shmuel would only transport the car to Germany for resale, Shmuel smells a “big score”… and can’t resist. (more…)
One of the most difficult series of questions in the Jewish world today concerns demography. How many Jews actually exist in the world today? What is happening to the Jewish population in different centers of the world? What are the relative shares of Israel and Diaspora in the overall Jewish population of the world? And as important as the numbers themselves are, the really crucial questions lie underneath the surface.
What is the meaning of the numbers? What is the nature of the changing balance of demographic power between the State of Israel and the Diaspora as a whole? What trends do they suggest? What are the implications of today’s numbers for tomorrow’s future? And perhaps the most difficult question of Jews for those who spend their lives counting Jews: Who, exactly do you count? In other words, for the purpose of demographic calculations, who is a Jew?
Towards the finishing line
We live in a modern Jewish world. The world that existed before modernity was a very different kind of a world, organized in a totally different way, based on different premises. In this chapter we are going to try and survey the changes in the Jewish world and the reasons for those changes.
Changes in the Jewish community after modernity
In the previous chapters, we have dealt with all four of these themes – Jewish identity and the relationship of the individual to the community, the structure of the community, the relationships between different communities and different centres and the relationship with Eretz Israel – in relation to the pre-modern world. Now we bring the story forward and turn to them, systematically, one at a time, to create an understanding of the Jewish community in the world surrounding us today.
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.
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.
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.
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!