the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) recently conducted research into the ways in which young Melbourne Jews are engaging with the Jewish community, in order to ‘enhance’ their ‘engagement with young people’. Helen Rosenbaum, who did the research, spoke to sixteen people and produced a really interesting report – as I was reading it I was somewhat comforted. I think those of us who are on the outer of the Melbourne Jewish community often feel like everyone else feels at home in it; but the number of people who expressed sentiments of dissent and alienation was stark. As Helen wrote, “The findings indicate that a socially progressive Jewish voice is valued by politically aware young Jews, many of whom are searching for a secular Jewish community to belong to.”
So now it seems that the AJDS is actively interested in engaging younger people, which will hopefully be a good thing for the jewish community in melbourne more generally. After some pushing from a couple of people, I’m potentially going to be on the exec (the AGM is this weekend, so I’ll know after that), and Helen, Max Kaiser and I are organising a forum for young Jews to talk about the kind of community we want to be a part of. Here are the details:
Re-imagining the Jewish Community: A Forum for Young Jews
What kind of Jewish community do we want?
What issues are important to us and what do we want to do about them?
Lots of us young Jews are searching for a Jewish identity which is relevant to the issues facing the world today. Many of us also feel alienated from the mainstream Melbourne Jewish community.
So let’s come together to talk about the kind of Jewish community that would be meaningful to each of us. We’ll talk about the kinds of ideas, events and programs which could exist: we’ll challenge the idea that there can only be one Jewish community, or one Jewish way of thinking, in Melbourne.
Who are the AJDS?
The AJDS was formed in 1984 to promote free discussion on Jewish and general social and political issues. Our approach can best be summed up as a progressive voice amongst Jews, a Jewish voice amongst progressives. We challenge the idea that Jews in Melbourne speak with one voice. We challenge mainstream Jewish positions on the Israel/Palestine conflict. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous people in Australia and their struggles for land rights and justice. We oppose the vilification and detention of asylum seekers seeking refuge in Australia. We believe urgent action is necessary to combat catastrophic climate change. We work towards building a feminist world. We create spaces that are open to people of all sexualities and oppose the marginalisation of LGBTIQ people within the community.The AJDS is aiming to build a progressive Jewish community that can speak out about Israeli policy but does not centre Jewish experience or identity on Israel, nor on the Holocaust.
The AJDS recognises the vacuum that exists in the Jewish community for young people concerned about social justice and environmental sustainability. With your help we aspire to fill it. To that end, we’ve recently employed a young community organiser, who will be able to provide support for implementing the ideas and plans that we develop over the day.
Afternoon tea provided
Sunday 4 March, 3pm to 5pm
Multicultural Hub Melbourne – Green Room, 506 Elizabeth Street (opposite the Queen Victoria Market)
So if you see yourself reflected, in any way, in the description, please come along! I think it will be a great space for discussion and organising