Delving Deeper

After about a month working with the same amazing women at Baby Help, I have found a little bit more out about the Jewish community that I would like to share.

The community itself, reminds me a lot more of the US Jewish community than I expected, and of course more than any other I've encountered in the world.  I volunteered with the JDC on a short-term service trip to Ukraine my sophomore year of college and found the Jewish population to be what I expected. Slightly hidden, tryig to stay unified, and also trying to figure out it's role in the post -Soviet era.  All of these sentiments are understandable, and oddly go hand in hand with the sense I get from other Jews/Jewish communities throughout Europe that I have been in contact with.  There are reasons for this of course. The proximity in time and geography to WWII Germany no doubt still harps on the minds of European Jews.  They seem to have as yet not become as comfortable with their religious identity as US Jews, or as I recently discovered, as Argentine Jews have.

Maybe it is the distance, maybe it is the laid back culture, but the openness and informality of Judaisim in Argentina does certainly remind me of the US, or at least NYC where I grew up.  And, I might add, it is quite refreshing to finally see another country with this attitude.  

I spoke with some of my colleagues and they too had grandparents and greatgrandparents who fled from Poland and Russia towards the beginging to the 20th century, as I and many of my friends in the US have.  As it was when I was growing up, there are various degrees of observance, with the trend, as is my experience in the US, towards reform.  (Here I feel it is even more so because they are a minority, in a more Christian/Catholic country I guess).  Yet as it is near Brighton Beach and other parts of Brooklyn, in the Once barrio of Buenos Aires, you can find multitudes of Orthodox Jews, living, it seems, peacefully in their city.  Even on my plane ride down there were a few orthodox families.  

While it is refreshing to see this, and very interesting to see that despite the distance, NYC and BA Jewish communities have followed on a similar trajectory, there still is that question about the future many Jewish communities around the world ask themselves.  What role will religion play for these communities in the future? Why is reform Judaism and lack of observance on the rise? and is it a bad thing as long as the culture and memory is preserved? These are questions I often ask myself, but they are also questions that will be asked at the 12th summit for Jewish Organizations and Leaders held in 2 weeks in Quito, Ecuador.  I will be attending, and I hope to shed some light on these questions afterwards.  But before then, I will attempt to delve deaper to share what Judaism seems to mean for my colleagues and other Argentine Jews I have met thus far.

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