Yom Kippur came and went. A sublime experience. There is no other possible way of describing it. This years joy over this most wonderful celebration of life, had an extra element of joy, as on the occasion I was visiting a small, but tight knit community somewhere in Israel.
There, in the little synagogue – packed full on the occasion by fiercely secular Israelis, side by side with those who celebrate the more orthodox traditions, I was reminded once more how strong our common bonds are. The Ethiopian tradition, the Persian tradition, the Polish and English, even Swedish traditions, and I think there was a new immigrant from the Azerbaijan too – flowing together, we all say the same, we all do the same, as we have done for thousands of years. And we remember together, our close loved ones who have passed away, but also all the martyrs who offered their lives to preserve and safeguard our faith and traditions. It is a raw emotional experience, to stand there, empty of food and drink, but full of faith and energy and simply remember.
And it brings the continued threats against us into sharp focus. Whether it be in Muslim countries where – although there are no Jews there (they kicked them out and stole their belongings on the late 1940s) – the masses, when infuriated for some slight somebody in Denmark or in California has committed against their sensitivities, do not hesitate to come out on the streets to demand Jewish blood to calm their passions, or in Norway, where I am loath to say that Jewish sensitivities are not high on anybody’s agenda, and where local intellectuals are once more sliding down that slippery lane of “moral” outrage. Shechita is forbidden, under the rather thin excuse of animal welfare concerns. A concern thrown out of the window when it comes to preserving the Sami traditions (which is a sensible exemption from the general rule), and more puzzling, for the more than 120 000 hunters who enjoy an unchecked license to kill game without stunning them. I have been long enough around to know that there is a considerable amount of booze and wild partying going on up in the mountains, and frankly, not a few hunters are 5 sheets to the wind when aiming (in a manner of speaking) at their prey. I simply don’t believe that even 50% of the game and fowl die within seconds after being shot. They do in stead, bleed to death. But shechita, which is controlled, is prohibited. Go figure!
And now the Norwegian chapter of the Moral Majority have set their eyes on the rite of Brith Mila. All of a sudden this rite of passage is an abomination in the eyes of these ignoramuses. All of a sudden Norwegian Jewish parents are compared with child abusers if they want to continue to identify with our culture and religion. But apparently, Norwegian kids can have their ears operated on if they stick out (a great parental concern) or have their teeth fixed if thought not adequately straight or white or fitting with todays ideals of beauty.
In contrast, in Israel, all religious faiths enjoy full freedom to observe their rites, traditions, with a State that guarantees the unhindered right to free worship. Even when worshippers use this freedom to call for more Jewish blood in return.
Which makes me wonder. Do we Norwegians have as much religious freedom as the Israelis?
I will spend my next days in the Succah pondering this. Maybe it is time to move here? Hashana habaa beYerushalayim?