Jewish by choice
Amsterdam based Israeli journalist, Cnaan Liphschiz gave an interesting talk at last night's Kia Torah session at the Holocaust Centre in the Wellington Jewish Community Centre. He talked about antisemitism in Europe, but in particular, in France and Holland. He attributed this to Muslim immigration. He acknowledged that antisemitism is rife in Eastern Europe too, in Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, perhaps also in Latvia and Estonia, where there are no, or very few Muslims, but in these countries antisemitism manifests itself in nationalist rhetoric, but not in violence unlike in Western Europe. He also acknowledged that though Jews are under threat throughout Europe, there are also many hopeful positive developments, a resurgence of Jewish life in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Hungary has the largest Jewish festival in Europe, and politically, there is a close relationship between Israel and Russia, Netanyahu and Putin, a significant turnaround in light of the past history of Russia and the Soviet Union.
The outlook is tough for Jews in Europe, but despite this, only a small proportion of them choose to leave. These, however, are the most committed, observant members of their communities, who keep the light of Judaism burning.
Cnaan Liphshiz made an interesting observation about the New Zealand Jewish community. New Zealand is one of the very few places in the world if not the only place, where Jews are Jewish by choice. They are not singled out, they can completely assimilate and disappear as Jews, they don't face antisemitism, not compared with the rest of the world at any rate, so if they are still involved with Jewish life they do so by choice. Liphshiz made no mention of those who chose to be Jewish by conversion, and the important roles they play in their communities. Jews are completely integrated in the society they are part of, they do not live in ghettos isolated from their neighbours, a Jewish bubble, yet they maintain a semblance of Jewish life and hand on their tradition to their children.