Aug 8, 2005

Judaism without Jews

What's the point, Stewart Weiss asks, of rebuilding synagogues if no one's there to worship at them?
In St. Petersburg, millions of dollars are spent refurbishing the regal Choral Synagogue, where the vast majority of visitors are tourists - Jewish and non.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in Poland. Though the Nazis' dream of making this once-mighty Jewish metropolis Judenrein has all but been fulfilled - less than 5,000 Jews currently reside there - Jewish cafes, klezmer groups, theaters and bookstores are again appearing.

The only problem, as The New York Times recently reported - the establishments and musicians are all non-Jewish. Even the popular Jewish Festival organized each year in Krakow, bringing Jewish speakers and singers to town with great fanfare, is organized and funded by a Gentile Pole, who longs for the Jewish flavor of yesteryear, whether or not real Jews are actually part of the package.

The hundreds of synagogues that still stand in Poland are inhabited only by Jewish ghosts, stark reminders of a community that once flourished but now is gone forever.

One could almost laugh at the goings-on in Europe, if there were not a bitter message attached to all this. Try as they might, Europe - which struggled fiercely to rid itself once and for all of its Jewish "problem," cannot now try to turn the clock back. There is neither a point nor a purpose in rebuilding or recreating a Jewish life in Diasporas that have died.

The arrow of history points to only one soil where Jewish life is to be transplanted, and that, of course, is Israel.

I'm not sure I agree. What do you think?

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