I have chosen to write this thread in response to my recent trip to the United States, but also because I am interested in discovering how the largest population of Jews in the world, acts, thinks and lives.
Firstly, from simple observation, it is quite clear that in America, the Jewish community has been the most succesful diaspora population. Many of the greatest scientists, comedians, writers, directors, law firms, economic companies, film studios, psychologists and media and music industry types are or were Jewish made, owned or people.
This is to be expected i suppose, as although Jews have usually been successful as immigrants in all their diaspora countries, because the largest number of Jews in the world ive in the US, then there are more likely to be more successful Jews there, than anywhere else.
The Jews that moved to America in their hundreds of thousands, moving from Russia and Eastern and Central Europe mainly, were just part of the millions of immigrants who descended upon the East Coast of the States, during the 19th Century and early 20th.
They went, like all other immigrants, to search for a better life, better economic prospects, and ultimately, for survival.
Now, what i observed while in California ( which as Communication has pointed out, is not representative of the US as a whole ), was that the overall presence of a Jewish population, was much more significant than in Britain. Of course, like i have said, this is to be expected, California probably has double the number of Jews than Britain has. However, as i travelled in a round trip from San Fran across to Las Vegas back to LA and up the coast again to Oakland, the number of Synagogues in even the smallest of towns, Porterville, Victorville and Barstow for example, actually surprised.
Other factors surprised me as well ;
The Kosher Cafe on the Las vegas Strip, Kosher and Pareve indicators on food and drinks, the 'Shul on the beach' at Venice Beach LA, the UCLA University Synagogue, the temples in Hollywood and Beverly Hills (posh), but also in Oakland and Fresno (not so posh at all).
All of this was something i have never experienced before, and as a young Jew, developing my spiritual awareness in a city where there are just four Synagogues, but is in fact the third largest Jewish community in Britain, it left me with a feeling that Jews in America must think and behave in a very different manner than any others on the planet.
I see a Magen David in a window above a shifty cafe in San Fran, and then Hebrew stickers sprawled across the back of a Ferrari convertible on Sunset Boulevard.
It got me thinking....
Jews in America haven't got it all easy. I know that virulent anti-semitism still exists. But you guys over there, the environment youve helped to create, is going to be the deciding factor in the survival of Jews full stop. Only in America did jews have enough political, religious, economic and cultural clout to keep us alive. I think that now, as for the last hundred years, this is no more different. The American Jewish poulation is going to be the one which, along with Israel, takes Judaism into the next era. It isnt just about helping Israel survive, its about helping Judaism survive.
I think that sometimes, just maybe, some Jews in the states don't know how privileged they are to have so much freedom, acceptence and vitality. Please, for the sake of your forefathers, don't let young Jews in the US forget where theyve come from, and how hard it was for you to get there.
European Jews have sadly, had their time, i think. Unfortunately, we've remained at the fringes of social and cultural impact and integration. Its not because we failed, Its because the way America has been created, the opportunities for cultural and scoial impact were far greater, and the big population propelled Jewish existence and success that much further than most.
A tinge of fatalism enters here, but i know i am being melodramatic maybe, because like i said, the American Jewish popluation is very much alive and kicking.
Many of Londons Synagogues are now either Gurdwaras, Mosques. or Hindu Temples. I'm sure that within the next twenty years, the British Jewish Population will have halved. Only France remains as one of the countires in Europe with a considerable Jewish population.
Where are you gonna take those wandering hearts of ours next?
You are the insiders, tell me how you think American Jewry will progress, grow, or simply stagnate?
Is this significant? Or am i just spouting a load of kayrayzee misinterpretations or misconceptions?
Thanks for Reading