Saturday, June 09, 2007


I often post about sorrowful events concerning Jews in England. I often publish on sorrowful events concerning Jews in England. Lachrymose me.

Today I want to bring your attention to an organization dedicated to the vitality of Judaism in the contemporary UK: Jewdas (motto: "radical voices for the alternative diaspora").

Here's a little bit from a recent opinion column on just how English Jews in England should become, from a column entitled "Passing Jews":
What Judaism needs is for its members to be Jewish as boldly as possible. Jews need to go public, becoming a prescence in the high street that cannot be ignored, and that's not just Golder's Green High Street. Jewishness should be celebrated in a way which involves all members of society; bring the synagogues out onto the street. Light lag b'omer fires in your front gardens. Throw Purim parties for all. Take as many days off work as the Jewish calendar will allow - this is an obvious benefit (you still get the Christian ones you know). The benefits are huge. This public Judaism is what will scupper Blair's monoethnic dream and it has huge benefits for the moribund Jewish community. Allowing Judaism to take its place as a rightful, challenging, subversive part of British culture will make its celebration vibrant, fulfilling and important.

Celebration of national discourse can only ever be temporarily beneficial. There is always the risk that the passing Jew will be outed and will have to suffer the consequences of being outside the culture which passing reinforces.
Check out the rootless cosmopolitan yeshiva as well. I love this kind of inventive blending of history and the contemporary: a respect for tradition, an acknowledgment of modernity, a refusal to be straightjacketed by either.


Anonymous said...

From the same site - there is also a vigorous debate on the re-writing of History through a philosophy of non-violence:

Of course, one figure does not make a movement, the writings of Tamaret alone will not overcome the hegemony of mainstream Jewish narratives, nor convert Jews overnight to a philosophy of non-violence. They can however, start to sow seeds of doubt in the mind of all but the most conservative Jew that Judaism has more to say about war and peace than that said by Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. They can show that pacifism and torah can sit side by side in an organic, natural fashion, without one being artificially grafted on to the other. They can, along with the writings of other figures, from Rosenzweig to Hannah Arendt to Derrida to Boyarin (no doubt also emcopassing Aher and Korach) demonstate that an alternative Jewish historiography is possible, embracing the outcasts, dreamers and humanists of Jewish history. Can there be a better tikkun than this?

There is also a very moving piece about how the leader of the Gateshead (orthodox) community has just discovered his wife of nearly 50 years is not Jewish.

theswain said...

A few years back I went to the Leeds Congress. The day after I spent in York. As it happened, I dawdled too long walking the wall and visiting shops that I barely missed getting inside Clifford's Tower. But standing outside and touching that door was enough....very moving for me.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

It's a rich and smart site; thanks for posting more from it, srj.

swain, you wouldn't have seen anything inside the tower about what happened to the Jews on that spot. Their memorial is the stone at the hill's base. It is quite a moving spot to stand alongside.