The Jewish community is currently experiencing very special times, especially in light of its millenary history. We are the third generation living with sovereign Israel, which has a solid American diaspora and enjoys extraordinary Jewish life freedom– a feat unheard of in seventy generations!
However, these same factors, combined with the context of modern life – integration with the larger society and the predominance of universalism over nationalism – also create a distance from the essential attributes for the longevity of this community. We are paradoxically furthest from knowledge, study and debate, especially about our own history, our philosophical thinking, our teachings on ethics and morals and many other precepts adopted today on a universal basis.
The history of the Jewish people, their resilience through the ages, the rich and diverse thinking of their best minds, political movements and contributions to universality today occupy an absolute second place on the agenda of the largest portion of this great nation. This is proved by the statistics on attendance at educational and cultural institutions, not to mention practical life and its routines.
With its structure and weight in the Jewish community in Brazil, CIP is responsible for working on this diagnosis and with great strength to seek to reverse this situation. Therefore, it is getting ready to launch the “Jewish Academy” next year.
Taking advantage of current technological tools, the Jewish Academy will make available the best of Jewish wisdom in different forms, at different levels of depth and for all age groups. The idea is to bring the community back together with all this valuable content, including courses on Israel, Zionism, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish literature.
The Academy will also serve as a forum for the meeting of affinity groups, thinkers, intellectuals and anyone who has an interest, curiosity and motivation to connect with the knowledge, wisdom and special aspects of Judaism.
The new technologies of distance learning will be intensively used, including establishing partnerships with the best similar institutions existing in the world, bringing the most predominant names of the Jewish world to the events, courses and debates.
We cannot guarantee that “if we build, they will come”, but at CIP we are convinced that our obligation is to create possibilities. The beauty and richness of this millenary history, its unknowns and challenges, its characters and its influences are so fascinating, that we believe that yes, they will come.
Mario Fleck is the president of Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), co-chair of the American Jewish Committee for Latin America, and member of the Weizmann Institute executive board.