I Come From a Land Down Under

Last Updated on Saturday, 2 January 2009 03:51 Written by bryfy Thursday, 17 December 2009 08:07

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to meet with a group of talented Jewish-Australian (or is it Australian-Jewish?) students leaders in New York on the AUJS Leadership Development Program (LDP). Full disclosure before I continue – I was a madrich on AUJS LDP a few years ago (ok, quite a few years ago). The group had spent some time in Washington D.C., was just starting a few days in the Big Apple, before heading off to Amsterdam and then Israel.

The discussion began by looking at some of the characteristics that define the Australian Jewish community. Orthodox (and some Conservative and Reform), Anti-Semitism, Israel, Holocaust, Jewish Dayschools, South Africans, Russians, youth movements – were some of the terms they generated.

The list about American Jewry was a bit less interesting, a bit less informed (as expected) and a bit more stereotypical – but that is hardly the point.

I asked the group if they had written the list about Australian Jews, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, even 30 years ago, if anything would have been different on the list? They all agreed that it would probably have looked pretty similar. That in itself isn’t necessarily a problem but then I pressed them:

Are you happy with this as your community?
How many of you belong to organizations that represent these characteristics? (none)
How many of your peers belong/identify/affiliate with organizations that represent these characteristics? (none)

So here’s the crux of this post – if you don’t like the status quo, and you claim to be a Jewish leader – what are you going to be doing about it? Or less aggressively, what is your vision for a new Jewish reality.

The truth is that there is much change and innovation going on – and I am drawn (albeit via the internet) to these pockets of change. What I am inspired more by is the social networking movement that is growing Down Under and that seems to be the beginning of a real movement of change. I read Galus Australis and The Sensible Jew with a smile and with pride. THis could be the beginning of change – it is grassroots and it is real.

The ideas expressed on these blogs are not necessarily new or even radical – but now the internet has provided a platform for dynamic changes to take place. Watch out, Here Comes Everybody!

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