Sunday, November 06, 2011

Day 4: The Disappearing Jews

The religious Jewish community of Dublin is committing suicide. Don't expect to find an Orthodox synagogue in Dublin ten years from now.

I spent shabbat with a few of the families who are left (but not for long). I can tell you what they told me.

Ten years ago the shul was packed for Yom Kippur, which means that over 600 people were in attendance. This last Yom Kippur they had 186 people.

The "Hebrew elementary school" is 45% Jewish; the Hebrew high school has 10 Jews in it, out of 200 students. And they don't learn much in the way of Jewish content, other than historical. No torah, no halacha, etc. For that you have to go to school in London or Manchester.

There are 40 or so elementary school children from the synagogue's families; there are ten or so teenagers. Where did they all go? They go to London or Manchester, or to Israel, or they leave Judaism. In ten years, less than a handful of families have moved in. In contrast, the death rate remains steady (say fifteen a year, so 150 over ten years) and young adults are making aliyah, leaving Judaism, or moving elsewhere. Of the several families I talked to, all but one told me that they were already planning to move out, and they named the month they were moving (so the plans were concrete).

This is the kind of thing Rachel and I heard about in the smaller communities in middle America; the kids all move to the bigger cities. In Dublin's case, the bigger cities are apparently in England.

The families were welcoming and generous to me as a guest in the community. The rabbi and rebbetzen had me over for dinner, along with several other guests. The rabbi had also arranged a place for me for lunch, and that family, too, were nice. All the food was scrumptious. I (re)learned to play Canasta with my lunch hostess (if you don't know, it's a rummy variant and that's about it; like all card games, it's better as a partnership game).

Sat night I went to another bar. The music was ok - covers of popular dance and rock songs - and I did a little club dancing. Not as nice as Thursday. Oh well. One girl turned down my request to dance, but another one (out with her mom on her mom's 60th birthday) danced with me for one song.

O'Connell Street, central Dublin, at night

First pub

Knightsbridge pub

The band

A giggle of girls wearing flashing bunny ears

Danced one dance with me

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