Gen17: Pesach unites us

Seder was celebrated during BJE’s traditions class at Lane Cove Public School. Pictured from left: Cameron Sternfeld, Ari Levy, Georgia Meisner, Raphaela Levy Mesman, Eitan Levy, Benjamin Conlon.

SEDER celebrations on Friday and Saturday night will see more people across our community come together in a display of their Jewish identity, than any other occasion in the year, according to the findings of the Gen17 survey which were released in the past week.

More than 8500 people took part in last year’s landmark cross-communal poll, which revealed that 82 per cent of Australian Jews always attend the festive Pesach meal commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, with a further eight per cent stating they usually attend.

Despite the religious basis of Passover and other chagim, only 27 per cent of respondents said believing in God was “very important to their own sense of Jewish identity”.

The overwhelming majority said that what was most important to them was feeling a part of the global Jewish community, learning about Jewish history, remembering the Holocaust, combating anti-Semitism and upholding strong moral and ethical behaviour.

President of NSW’s JCA Stephen Chipkin said the survey showed how Australian Jewry is changing.

“As a general statement, our community is becoming more secular and less observant,” he reflected at the Gen17 launch in Sydney last week.

“The makeup of our Jewish identity is becoming ever more fluid.

“We are becoming more diverse and we are asking for more acceptance of our diversity.”

Chipkin noted that the community must now consider the shape of Jewish schools and what they teach, the merging of Jewish values with universal values and the community’s relationships with Israel, charitable giving, immigrants and, with one in five members of the community marrying out, our approach to the intermarried and their children.

Beth Rivkah College students (back row from left) Mimi Gerschman, Perel Deren, (front row from left) Mimi Naparstek, Hannah Steinberg and Ella Frenkel getting ready for Pesach. Photo: Sav Photography

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block said the survey represents a useful snapshot of community attitudes in 2017.

“Given that it follows on from the Gen08 report, we are now able to look at trends in attitudes and perhaps more importantly, community needs as they have evolved from 2008 and into the future,” Block said.

“As such, we now have a useful tool to assist community planning and the dedication of community resources.”

Gen17 launched in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

To hear from the co-author of the survey click here.

Full details about the survey in this week’s AJN.

JOSHUA LEVI