The launch of JW3, as the center is called, comes at a time when many of London’s 200,000 Jews have become disengaged from Judaism. Increasing secularization, dispersal and inter-marriage have played a part, along with a sense that “‘if I don’t live my life this way then I’m not Jewish,’” explains Raymond Simonson, the center’s enthusiastic chief executive. As a cultural center – and not a place of worship – JW3 aims to create a sense of community by reflecting the diversity of Jewish life in the city. “I think we’re offering Jews a way back in who may have been moving away,” he says. “They’ll say ‘I don’t want to go to synagogue, I don’t believe in God, I don’t fast on Yom Kippur, but hang on, you’re doing a Woody Allen festival.’”
A reader comments on our previous post:
I think the Holocaust has a lot to do with this.
When I light the Menorah or sit down for Passover seder, I am celebrating my history and my family and my gratitude that we’re even here. My grandmother came to this country from Poland as a child and she lost basically her entire extended family in the Holocaust. Many of the stories told during Jewish holidays are ones of displacement, persecution and perseverance, and they ring all too true for the Holocaust generation. These traditions are how we remember and honor our ancestry and the extreme hardship our past generations endured simply to survive. Their sacrifice and courage is sacred to me and inspires in me more faith and grace than any God.