Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Orthodox larps for secular Jews

Last summer I was visiting a synagogue in Italy, in a city with a very small Jewish community. The synagogue was lovely, and so was the lady who was guiding the tour. The synagogue was also very obviously Orthodox - you can tell that from having separate sections for men and for women. The lady appeared to be considerably less Orthodox, although with the modern Orthodox you can't always tell.

The description of the local Jewish life was something I've heard before: a small community, the people are very secular, the synagogue is "of course" Orthodox, the young generation doesn't give a fuck, the leaders of the community are concerned.

"For fuck's sake," I thought. "Doesn't she see how those things are related, and why can't the so-called community leaders buy a fucking clue?" I did not say that out loud: first of all, she was a very nice lady whom I didn't want to upset, and second, the community leaders wouldn't recognize a fucking clue if it bit them right on the ass.

I've been on vacation in Italy 5 times. I haven't seen a single obviously Orthodox Jew over there. I've lived in Helsinki for 18 years now. I've seen an obviously Orthodox Jew once. I think he was the guy who runs the local Chabad house. This probably means that there is another one (Chabad houses are usually run by couples). The rabbi of the local synagogue makes three, if he is really Orthodox. I wonder if those guys even have enough for a minyan (you need 10; if you are Orthodox, you need 10 men).

Seriously: why? In the USA, they have different synagogues for the beard and wig brigade, for the ham and cheese brigade, and everyone in between. Nobody in their right mind would think of establishing an Orthodox synagogue and expecting the local young secular Jews to show up there and larp the Orthodox. I think everyone involved would be rather surprised if anyone did. So why is Europe so full of Orthodox synagogues run for (and, I suspect, often by) the secular folk, up to the point of asking said secular folk to show their dicks, if any? And, more importantly, why is anyone surprised when the young (OK, let's face it, "young" in the sense of secularization of Jews in Europe starts with my grandparents' generation and possibly even earlier) people fail to come to this badly written larp and go to some crayfish party instead?

The only explanation that I can think of is that somebody out there is really not in his or her right mind.


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