Jewish Journal

Jewish Culture for the non-Jews.

Dana Hadadi Israel

January 19, 2012 | 12:34 pm

2 big green eyes welcomed me in the most magical city of Cracow, Poland.
They belonged to a blond angelic girl name Sabina. Sabina is suffering from a rare syndrome of great hunger for knowledge, and this drives her in her continuous pursuit for spiritual challenges.
Once revealing Judaism is the origin of her belief in Jesus, she decided to know anything about the Torah of the Jews. She takes classes, she volunteers at the Jewish Community Center and she dreams of Israel. (I’m just ashamed I know nothing about Jesus, though I can’t regret my obligatory biblical high-school education.) Sometimes people ask her ‘what’s the deal’? Is she up for conversion, did she fall in love with a boy? Questions that reminded me narrow approaches from back home:
I like long skirts, but I couldn’t go with them in certain circles in Tel-Aviv without people assuming I’m religious. I’m not allowed to use an expression such as “Be’ezrat Ha-shem” (with God’s will) or “Baruch Ha-shem”(God Bless), which I consider to be taken from daily Hebrew, rather than to represent a cult, because my friends would get alert. Moreover, I get alert by the fact I was just perceived as religious. Why?
When I step confidentially into the Yoga studio down town do I think of conversion to Hinduism? Can’t a Jewish Israeli enjoy Jewish culture without observing “Shabat”? What about the non-Jews? Must I become a Viking In order to enjoy a good troll-story?

The Jewish community of Cracow offers the Poles a taste of Jewish culture, which is apparently recognized by the locals as a need- first time for me to face such embracement. 
I shouldn’t have been surprised; JCC’s director, Jonathan Orenstein believes- “We should teach more about Jewish life in the place dedicated to the immortalization of Jewish death”.
He should know. Thousands of Israeli youth meet Jonathan every winter on their way to experience history as vivid as their educational program can target itself to. For me, it’s pure crime; Israel don’t put as much as resources on introduction of Judaism in the Diaspora as much as it puts it in Shoa horror stories.( It is not so Zionistic.) Tremendous effort is given to the justification of giving those 18 years old a year later- a gun. Why else would they cherish Nazis culture?  The camps were not created by Jews. Jews created adorable inspiring cafés, some of which still play good old Klezmer music in the remarkable attractive Jewish quarter.
The Jewish community in Cracow taught me utopian reality in which Jewish culture is treated rightly by Jews, non-Jews, religious and seculars.
If it was up to me, I’ll vote for erasing the monuments of terror, in favor of more Jewish theater and restaurants.

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