Sunday, October 11, 2015

Closer than Mars: The world's most distant Jewish community 

On the edge of the world lives small community of Jews - who manage to maintain an Orthodox lifestyle in the face of some pretty big challenges. Auckland, in New Zealand, is home to a 3,000-strong Jewish community.

This small community might be slightly too large for my PhD thesis, which deals with Jewish communities numbering fewer than 1,000 individuals, but its unique geographical location opened a "door," if you will, for me. My project has two central purposes: To prevent the extinction of these tiny communities and to increase cooperation between large and small Jewish communities.

Auckland's Jewish community is largely Orthodox in nature. It is also very welcoming, allowing both individuals and the community at large to express their beliefs freely. An interesting example of the community's openness is the fact that its has a woman as its leader, a role typically reserved for men.

Auckland is also home to a small Reform community, living peacefully alongside and cooperating with the Orthodox community. This is another example of the community’s atypical tolerance, if you will.


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