There’s an old joke in Judaism about the way Jews are never quite happy with their local congregations. I wasn’t dating my future wife long before I heard it for the first time, probably from my father-in-law. It goes something like this:
A man is rescued from a desert island after 20 years. The news media, amazed at this feat of survival, ask him to show them his home.
“How did you survive? How did you keep sane?” they ask him, as he shows them around the small island.
“I had my faith. My faith as a Jew kept me strong. Come.” He leads them to a small glen, where stands an opulent temple, made entirely from palm fronds, coconut shells and woven grass. The news cameras take pictures of everything — even a torah made from banana leaves and written in octopus ink. “This took me five years to complete.”
“Amazing! And what did you do for the next fifteen years?”
“Come with me.” He leads them around to the far side of the island. There, in a shady grove, is an even more beautiful temple. “This one took me twelve years to complete!”
“But sir” asks the reporter, “Why did you build two temples?”
“This is the temple I attend. That other place? Hah! I wouldn’t set foot in that other temple if you PAID me!”
Source: Wikipedia, “Jewish Humour“
I can’t say I believed it. Surely, it must be an exaggeration! And yet, while visiting Bermuda I stumbled on this article about the Jewish community there. And, it’s true. An island that had only 110 Jews had to have two congregations. And the only reason they are back to one now is that they deported one of the rabbis. (He broke a local labor law. Harsh punishment.)
While today Bermuda has only one congregation serving approximately 110 affiliated Jews, in the not so distant past there were two congregations, Bourne said. The other congregation, to which he belonged, broke away both because of personality differences and a dispute over using more Hebrew in the service.
When the split came, the breakaway congregation decided not to use more Hebrew even though that supposedly was what the dispute was about, Bourne said. Meanwhile, the original congregation decided maybe incorporating more Hebrew into the service was a good idea after all.
Source: “Bermuda scion links with Zion” (1999-11-05)
Up next: As if you should ever trust me when I saw what’s coming next…