Thursday, August 23, 2007

Are the Jews of France Disappearing?

Well, not exactly. However, according to Dr. Joel Mergui, head of the Jewish organizations in Paris, the fact that some 3,000 of them move to Israel each year is draining his community of its committed Jews, leaving the uncommitted with no-one to learn from, no-one to pull them back into the community. I'm sceptical on two counts. First, how did half of the 600,000 Jews in France get disconnected even before this decade's movement to Israel? Or put differently, if half of the Jews disconnected while the other half was still there and committed, doesn't that tell us that the disconnecting was not for lack of more committed cousins? Second, I admit that my version of Zionism, though not expecting all Jews or even most of them to move to Israel, nevertheless is not perturbed by the thought that many actually might. And say two generations from now French Jewry will be gone - a third to Israel, two thirds into the same non-denominational limbo most (non-Muslim) Frenchmen are sliding into - would this be a catastrophe? Of course, it would be better if two thirds moved here and not vice-versa, now that I think about it. But in any case, I don't feel that having a Jewish community in France is essential for anything.

(And don't get me started on the Germans).

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