Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where are all the Swedes? היכן השוודים

Every year our seminar center hosts a large (50) group of pupils from a (the?) Jewish day school in Stockholm. The pupils are of course bilingual, meaning they speak Swedish and English, and are always noted for their civilized behavior.

Ditto for a group from Melbourne, Australia, whose Scopus School I understand is the largest Jewish day school in the world (anyone wishing to corroborate or deny is welcome to do so). The Australians are actually noted for their irreverent behavior.

What do these two groups have in common? They both come visit, go back home, and are never heard from again. What do I mean by “heard from again”? I mean that you never meet an Australian or Swedish immigrant.

Why is this startling news? Well it wouldn’t be, except that most countries that produce zero immigrants to Israel also don’t have Jewish communities that support quality day schools that consistently send their kids here as part of the curriculum.

It seems to me, then, that the Jewish Agency and its ilk (Netiv) are missing an opportunity (what else is new?). A recently discharged soldier I know has been accepted for shlichut in Hong Kong. Another recently discharged soldier I know is being considered for shlichut. Where? Uganda, Jamaica, or China. WHAT? Yes, that’s right. It’s what I call Jew-hunting, just to keep themselves in business.

Instead of this buffoonery of finding long-lost Jewish communities in far-flung places, or “bolstering” newbie communities like Germany that don’t want bolstering, thank you (think American Indians -- “Go away. We don’t wanna be discovered”), why not go after quality, Western, educated identified-yet-in-danger-of-assimmilating Jews like, let’s see…Swedes and Australians?

But no, that would be too simple. Instead, let’s go to exotic places and pick up a few hard cases whose Judaism in any case will undoubtedly be contested the minute they land, and who will undoubtedly become social welfare cases. Anybody been to Chelm lately?

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