We formed Alternative Jewish Voices as a platform for the unrepresented breadth of our Aotearoa Jewish community. Our community is wider than the membership of Jewish synagogues and organisations.
At the series of Wellington rallies in May, people repeatedly approached us after we spoke. They introduced themselves as Jews, unaffiliated with any institution. Some fretted that they might be considered “not Jewish enough to speak.”
The power to define, and conversely the fear of being excluded by a definition, is hardly new. We are not writing to examine our history of communal exclusion or alienation here. We would like to end it.
If you have a Jewish parent or grandparent, then you are part of the community. Join it: speak up, own and be identified with Jewish issues, explore your culture, history, religion or identity – however you may enter into it. If anyone doubts your standing to do that, please educate them nicely by explaining, “I am as Jew as you.”
In our last national census, the number of people identifying as Jews fell by 20%. There are nearly three times as many self-identified Jedi warriors as there are Jews in Aotearoa at the moment. Notwithstanding the inherent appeal of being a Jedi warrior, it might also be that our Jewish institutions don’t feel relevant or welcoming to all of us.
This is not a political exercise. We won’t ask about your politics and we won’t claim to be representing you. We seek only a more inclusive sense of our own community. We should know each other.
We invite you to get in touch. Write to the contact address at the bottom of this page. We’ll make a mailing list, we’ll ask how you might like to be in community. Who knows where it might lead. We hope you will find others with curiosity like your own. New friends, a meal, an exchange of stories, a debate, a bit of exploration about this Jewishness of ours – whatever.
Please get in touch, and please share this with others who might want to join us.
Alternative Jewish Voices