Off-topic again - teaching Jews about Judaism
Dr. Judith Cohen has a thought-provoking article on the formerly crypto-Jews of Belmonte. As they learn about Judaism and Jewishness, what models are appropriate? What does it mean to be a Jew, and is the Orthodox model the best, or the only appropriate model? In addition, who decides for a heterogeneous community what "it's" voice is? This is not a new question. Anyone who has encountered Jews in the former Soviet Union is likely to have encountered a similar monopoly on what such Jews are expected to learn and to practice to "return" to the Jewish culture of which they were deprived for so many decades—never mind that it was in their communities that much of the diversity in Ashkenazic culture that we now celebrate, arose. For one more example, I point out isolated Jewish communities in Africa and Asia as similarly isolated culturally, and to whom "one" Judaism is presented as the only valid model.
It is troubling that we have not yet fully accepted diversity amongst ourselves here in the United States (or in Israel, for that matter, where one's options for birth, death, and marriage are limited to approved orthodoxies). It is sad that Jews around the world, where resources are even more constrained, are given so few opportunities to discover themselves in the Jewish community.