Is there a future for European Jewry?

The Detroit Free Press reports,

On Thursday, world leaders — a king and queen, presidents and prime ministers — gathered in Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, where 1 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered.

But as the world focused on the past, an increasing number of European Jews are concerned — to quote Sammy Ghozlan, a retired Calais police chief who now investigates anti-Semitic crimes — that “after decades of peace, the old taboos against anti-Semitism are broken. There is no future here for a Jew.”

Full story.

21 thoughts on “Is there a future for European Jewry?

  1. No. That’s why G_d invented Miami Beach and Boca Raton.
    In all seriousness, these were the same questions we’ve asked ourselves for the past thousand-plus years. Is there a place in Christendom for the Wicked Jew Who Celebrates the Sabbath By Drinking Baby’s Blood?
    These aren’t new things. It’s what the Holocaust was a culmination of: a deep, aggressive hatred of us that cannot be sated. Fuckin’ fuck! It took the French over 60 years to even raise a memorial for us! And they’re the MOST tolerant in Europe!?! And they HATE us. HATE. So why stay?
    I don’t think we should have to, anymore. We did the Europe thing. It was a largely unhappy experience. America is the new Ottoman Empire: we can do well here, so why not? Nomadism is in our blood. What else can you say about a peole whose history technically STARTS with a 40 year shlep through the desert?

  2. Hey! Have you guys ever BEEN to Europe? With your eyes open? Why stay? Miami beach it isn’t, but the kosher cakes in Hungary are way better than any you will have tasted. Catch Limmud – 2000 Jews learning under one roof – in the UK; catch kids from all over Europe Israeli dancing; catch Jewish life springing up all over the ex-Communist world; catch the funky Ashkenazim quartet singing wild Yiddish songs in Russia; catch klezmer festivals all over; try French and Dutch kosher cheese, Belgian kosher chocolate, Czech kosher slivovitz and ask yourself, is Europe really such a bad place to be?
    Sheesh. I’m beginning to feel like a hasbara agent for the UK and Europe. I give up. If you decide we don’t have a future, shut up and leave us to get on with it. Oh, and you’re welcome to come and visit some time 🙂

  3. rashi’s daughter,
    think about if these proud Jews exported this pride and joy to Israel itself where it is sometimes lacking.
    Have no doubt, the galut is coming to an end. Demographics and statistics show the trend quite clearly. Increasing assimilation, mixed marriages, secularization, and decreasing birthrates should not be denied by a couple of Matisyahu concerts and some great outreach efforts. The ‘resurgence’ of Jewish life overseas is an illusion and anyone claiming that you can be a better Jew overseas than in Israel is ignoring the Torah. The anti-semitism is just icing on the cake.
    Been to ‘America’, Canada, and Europe too and prayed at too many synagogues where I was one of the few people with black hair. Don’t tell me that I don’t know where to find young minyans, I know that they exist and some really rock, but they are the minority.

  4. The above comment on black hair I don’t get. Does he mean black hair versus gray hair, that there were hardly any young Jews at the minyan? Or was the distinction between black hair and blond hair, ie, converts (yes, we have some blonds).
    As for Europe, I don’t plan on doing any more tourism there . Sorry. Been there, won’t go back. I’ll spend my Jewish dollars elsewhere.

  5. American Jews like to think of Europe as a vast graveyard. It gives us a sense of superiority. Just as many Israelis take succor from the idea of America as a dying and decadent Diaspora community, many American Jews take succor from the idea of Europe as a place of unending tragedy, then and now. “How can a Jew possibly live in Europe?” is a refrain heard often among the camera-toting American Holocaust tourists. Local Jews rightfully find this attitude to be ignorant, arrogant and occasionally even obscene.

  6. After living in Germany, I can honestly say that Jewish life in Europe will never cease to exist, in fact I think a culturally rich Jewish world depends on it. Trod the Reichstag ye mighty youth. bwah.

  7. I don’t think it CAN’T exist. I’m saying… okay, look. Our ancestors have lived all over teh civilized world. Always we plant roots, and always we are uprooted. We are a people of tradition, so naturally we yearn for tha last place we were planted; but let’s face it: Europe was not the beginning and should not be the end for us. The Holocaust permanently crippled our communities over there. This is a fact. Vilna’s not making a comeback any time soon and I’m taking a wild guess that Warsaw’s not going to be having any wild Sukkoth parties in the next few years. The fact is, anti-semitism is on the rise, we ARE intermarrying more (shit, I did), and in America; we’re not hungry anymore. Our grandparents succeeded very well: we’re ‘American’, meaning we can assimilate to our hearts’ content. I’m getting off track. What I’m saying about Europe is that you can stay. Make merry. Carry on the old ways, re-invent them and carry on the rich culture of Ashkenazim. But the fact is, our overall experience over thelast thousand years in Europe is nothing to miss. Inquisitions, exiles, pogroms, ghettoization… thanks. I’ll pass.

  8. Josh: We do export our pride and joy. Look at how many Euro Jews you see on the streets of Yerushalayim in the summer – in August I recall the main language there was French… Plus I’d hazard that many of us visit Israel more often than most Americans, simply because it’s closer for us. But then most of us come back home, same as the Americans. Don’t get me wrong: I’m actually very enthusiastic about aliyah, tho’ I don’t have a particular opinion about where you can be a ‘better Jew’. But I think Europe is a perfectly decent place to call home right now, and to suggest that Jewish life in Europe is only here because of outreach efforts is (a) offensive and (b) total crap. EV and Eli, I’m with you.
    Monk: you don’t get it. We’re not living in some weird kind of period drama over here. If you think we’re carrying on the old ways, then, well, think what you like, but try thinking it to a soundtrack of Oi Va Voi and see if you change your mind.

  9. The present is disturbing. Anti-Semitic incidents have risen 50% in the UK. Anti-Semitism on the left is rising everywhere in Europe. It is not safe to walk the streets of London if you wear a kippah or a Jewish star. Jews are increasingly squeezed between anti-Semitism on the left and right.

    Because there was a 60 year moratorium?
    For over a THOUSAND years there has been an institutional, ingrained hatred of us. The shock of the Holocaust was supposed to… what, erase millenia of history? Are you NUTS?!
    That’s what I’m saying: why put up with it? Why stay? What’s to hold onto? And I’m not saying everyone needs to make aliyah (sp?) next week. Fuck it, let’s all go to New Zealand or fucking Quito – it’s a mistake to be wedded to one place like that as a Jew. I’m still waiting for it to hit the fan stateside: once our elders pass, our numbers drop by half and with that our powerbase in America… let’s see how tolerant this place is then, especially with the huge influx of Middle Eastern and S. American immigrants coming into this country.
    Auckland will be looking LOVELY by then.

  11. Susan, Monk: yes, I know anti-Semitic incidents have risen in the UK, and I don’t want to belittle the fact that a few of my friends have suffered abuse, and in one or two cases, violence. But these cases are still the vast minority. Let’s keep this in proportion. I wear a magen david all the time – in London or indeed in Germany, Hungary and wherever – and it has never occurred to me to feel unsafe (and quite frankly, I feel rather safer being a Jew in a cafe in London than in Yerushalayim).
    I don’t believe we should be complacent, but neither do I feel the need to panic right now. I also find it funny that I only tend to hear these sorts of comments coming from Israel and America…

  12. Uhm, okay. So the bombing of Turkish synagogues (coming to an EU near you) and violence against French and Russian Jews is… what, then? Fuck, lass – Zhironovsky just produced a bill in Russia to have us outlawed as an abstract entity, let alone practicing Jews!
    I feel safe in New York because one in eight New Yorkers in Jewish and it’s a cosmopolitan city, where tolerance isn’t so much a rule as a traditional lifestyle. I’m sure to some extent, this is true in London. But, I live in a country where something like over 40 percent say we have too much power and too much money (even though 63% of Jews in NY live BELOW the poverty line according to UJA studies, and more Jews in SoCal live in poverty than even middle class). We both have a larger context to take into account. I don’t think it’s paranoia to use history – even POPULAR history! – as a gage of societal trends. England has EXILED all its jews at various points in its history, remember? Sixty years is not going to one-eighty an entire culture. I admire your optimism, but I have strong doubts as to how realistic you’re being.

  13. Monk, yes, there’s a larger context. England may have exiled its Jews, but not since 1270, which is rather longer ago than the USA has even EXISTED in its present form. And as of May, our Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer may be Jewish (G-d forbid, but that’s because of their policies, not their Jewishness). And you’re right about France, Russia and Turkey (though there are also good things going on in all those places), but please remember that the EU is not one big homogenous mash – and Russia and Turkey aren’t in it, anyway.
    And what’s this advert for the USA? You make it sound like an unrivalled opportunity to live in poverty, only just about OK because there are enough Jews to make it safe. Sure, parts of NY may be nice, but I felt more golused out in Arizona than I ever have in Europe. (Oh, and Twinkies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – no thanks!)
    Anyway, each to his/her own. Keep your paranoia if you like; I have a busy & exciting Euro-Jewish life to be getting on with.

  14. “But the fact is, our overall experience over thelast thousand years in Europe is nothing to miss. Inquisitions, exiles, pogroms, ghettoization… thanks. I’ll pass.”
    Monk, have you ever even been to Europe? And I don’t mean on a March-Of-The-Living Burial Grounds tour. Your descriptions fail to mention the cultural triumphs of Diaspora Jewry in Europe — triumphs that, in my opinion, equalled or exceeded anything produced by American Jews in our 350 years here. From the Jewish context, early 20th-century Warsaw made today’s NYC look like Salt Lake City. They had 230 separate Jewish newspapers, magazines or periodicals. How many do we have here?
    Yes, reading European history through the lens of the Holocaust makes it difficult to appreciate and even acknowledge the amazing culture that preceded the devastation and that often went hand in hand with periods of trial. Much of the unparalleled Jewish literary culture of early 20th century Europe, for example, was a way of coming to terms with the insider/outsider feelings of children and grandchildren emancipated Jews. This is not, as Rashi’s Daughter said, a way of eliding the awful aspects of the past or the present. But looking at another continent strictly through the lens of the awful is ridiculous.
    With your eyes, I would assess the women’s movement in America strictly through the perspective of the Salem Witch Trials.

  15. I dug my own grave by being glib and somewhat argumentative. If I may…
    My point is that people act shocked that anti-semtism is on the rise (again) in Europe. All I’m saying is that within the greater context of history; it has not been long stints of tolerance followed by INtolerance, but vice versa. And that doesn’t negate our accomplishments there, but HAS been an anchor weighing us down. And were we FREED of that anchor, well… I don’t think that’s the end of the world.
    To be honest, I envy the Jews of Europe because they are closer to our (immediate) roots. As a former victim of bigotry, I don’t envy that continual prospect hanging over my head.

  16. I don’t believe we should be complacent, but neither do I feel the need to panic right now. I also find it funny that I only tend to hear these sorts of comments coming from Israel and America…

    Okay, so when will you start to panic, when there are 1000 incidents a year, not just 500?
    Anyway, the only reason you only hear these comments coming from Israel and the states is that in the States, they are a generation or two behind you guys and presently safe as their powerbase still exists, and Israel, well, Israel is home which would rather have children here than just go from one galut to another.
    You won’t hear English or French Jews making too much noise (even though French aliyah is rising somewhat) because they are mostly in denial of the situation. I’ve talked with both and been to both countries in the last year, and the common excuse is that it’s the Arab immigrants that are making trouble, not the ‘natives’. One fellow (relative from marriage) really stood up for the French and claimed that they really are tolerant people and not anti-semitic. But both countries’ Jews wasted no oppurtnuity to isolate the anti-semitism from the rest of the country as if it would go away for some reason.

  17. that a Twinkie is an edible item!
    Who said anything about edible? They pop right down in a blinding flash of yummy goodness. I think it’s like that there osmosis process they were telling me about.
    I was about to lament that, up here in Montreal, we call Twinkies “Mae Wests”, but Google claims that Twinkies are now available in Canada. Clearly I have not been looking hard enough. I was a fool! But now…

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