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So you think you can Soapbox? Good, because I can’t!

July 25, 2011 – 11:08 pm17 Comments

By Anthony Frosh
A couple of weeks of ago, I received a call from one of the organisers of the upcoming event The Jewish Community: What’s in it for me? that is on this Sunday evening.  She asked me if I’d like to be on a panel for some Q&A style event. I agreed, albeit with a little bit of hesitation. A few days later, it became apparent that there was some kind of change in the format, and I had been bumped to a soapboxer. Now, I’ve got a fair idea about the sweet science of boxing, but soapboxing is not something I’ve had much experience in.

According to the email I received from the organisers, each soapboxer would have to get on their “soapbox for 3-4 minutes, to comment on our community, to suggest what we are getting right or wrong, and to perhaps offer up suggestions as to what needs to be changed.” After making an argument, the idea is that each soapboxer will conclude with a question to the Q&A panel.

Now, if there’s one thing that totally contradicts my self-image, it’s standing on a soapbox. I had strong thoughts about withdrawing. The problem was that if there’s one other things that totally contradicts my self-image, it’s being a “piker”. Oh dear, what a dilemma.

I thought about this soapbox business, but the reality is, I’ve got nothing! (“Nothing Jerry, nothing!”) Well, close to nothing. I can bore everyone with an explanation of the trade-off between rising house prices and rising school fees. Since we can’t do anything about rising house prices, we need to jettison the day-school system in favour of a much more muscular version of UJEB; one where the parents fund and run the system. As I said, boring.

That’s why I thought I’d call on the Galus community. I need you to write my soapbox shtick for me, or at least come up with some good ideas or questions to throw at the panel. And what’s more, I promise to give you full credit.

I need to let the organisers know what my question(s) to the panel is by Thursday, end of day.

For event details, click here.

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17 Comments »

  • Rachel SD says:

    Hi Frosh,

    Another thing that you could talk about is how difficult it is for young people with ideas and community-based projects to get financial (or even other forms of) support.

  • Yoram Symons says:

    Ah Frosh come on – u’ll do fine! There’s a strong chance you’ll be the only non-windbag there ;)

  • Grandma C says:

    Dear Mr Frosh,
    You should bang on about how fantastic your own soapbox is…..i.e. Galus Australis. It is the soapbox of the Melbourne Jewish community (especially for the younger generation) if ever there was one. Or am I getting it wrong? I think you are one of the Galus founders/administrators, are you not..?
    Actually, I would love this soapbox to receive more of a contribution from Sydneysiders or other Jewish areas of Australia than it does; I don’t know whether this reflects apathy on the part of the non-Melbournian communities, or lack of publicity in other places around Australia, or maybe Melbourne has much more going on that is worth soapboxing about. The only reason I (being a Sydneysider) know of Galus is through my daughter who is now an active Melbournite..!!!

  • "Eighthman" (well, a proxy) says:

    Grandma C is correct. Tell them how much your readers value GA, how they feel that it is important it is to have a diverse and open forum with few barriers to participation, for the free exchange of ideas.

    You don’t even need to be able to think to comment here – look at the things “I” usually say – incoherent, uninformed, ad hominem and yet I still get a look in.

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Rachel – nearly all of our worthwhile communal institutions were built by young adults dedicating their own time and digging into their own pockets. Whilst the shuls and schools, charities and cultural centres all call upon big philanthropic donors for aid, nearly every one of them began with a meeting of like-minded new migrants or like-minded twenty-somethings who just started creating.

    Much, I suspect, like Galus Australis itself!

    My question to the panel would be something like “Do you genuinely think diversity is a good thing for the Jewish community? And if so, what will you do to support – not just tolerate, but actively support, encourage, build and strengthen – groups and organisations within the community whose beliefs you disagree with?”

  • Eighthman says:

    “Eighthman”

    ‘I don’t know what is more to be feared, soldiers with fixed bayonets in the streets accustomed to plunder or scribblers locked in garrets accustomed to lie’

    Everyone hates reason when it is used against them.

    ‘Incoherent, adhominem, uninformed’? pretty mush describes your post.

    In all of that I fail to recognise an argument, other than a self-description, but then again leftist don’t need arguments, they are part of the ‘anointed’ who presume the mantle of infallibility and who think themselves born to lead everyone else by the rings in their noses.

    Challenging their sacred cows is ‘adhominem’ and ‘incoherent’ especially when there is no come-back. Leftist ‘democracy’ is always a matter of only defending the right of those to speak who agree with them. The rest are howled down in an orgy of sanctimony and self-righteous bombast.

    Step up to the plate “eighthman”, but contrary to your belief, the bland, weary slogans and plattitudes that fills the empty space between your ears however will not pass muster for ‘arguments’.

  • TheSadducee says:

    ? is that last post meant to be here?

  • frosh says:

    Hi Grandma C,

    We’re aware Galus Australis can be a bit too Melbourne-centric. This is not by design, and we would love more contributions from Sydney and other Jewish communities in Australasia.

    As it happens, our (former) most prolific Sydney contributor moved to Melbourne earlier this year.

  • ariel says:

    frosh,

    as they changed the format on you, you are well within your rights to pike without it contradicting your self image…

  • Andrew Harris says:

    From the distant shores of Nhulunbuy, Arnhem Land, it strikes me that the most soapbox-worthy issue at present, apart from the obvious brilliance, importance, and incredibleness of Galus Australis as a platform for communal discussion and engagement, is to determine why, oh why do we need so many kosher take-away joints? What about a decent, classy sit-in joint? They can do it right in Istanbul, and there aren’t even half as many Jews…

    Good luck with whatever it is you end up saying!

    Best,

    A

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Definitely agree with Andrew Harris!

    On a more serious note, you could talk about the division between the religious and secular sectors of our community. Melbourne is large enough to allow people to live their lives without mixing with people from the other end of the spectrum. Although many people have a wide range of friends, I would hazard a guess that most religious people have mostly religious friends, and most secular people have mostly secular friends.
    Overtures from religious to secular people are often met with cynicism (“they probably just want to mekarev me”) or disinterest; overtures from secular to religious people are often met with fear (“they’ll corrupt me”) or disinterest.
    It’s nowhere near as bad as somewhere like Israel where sheer numbers allow for much more narrow insularity; but I imagine it’s worse than somewhere like Perth where the single Jewish school probably serves as a melting pot. (This is just a guess – I’ve never been to Perth – you’d know more about that Frosh.)

    You could ask a question like: “Do you value religious-secular interaction and how would you propose to increase this?”

  • Tunz says:

    yup, im with Andrew on that one! a classy sit-down joint that doesnt cost the earth, that has a decent atmosphere (plastic tables and chairs do not count).
    Should be as inviting to non-kosher eaters.

  • letters in the age says:

    here it goes………..

    An alternative school outside of the bagel belt that caters for progressive jews and their partners who are secular in nature and can exclude all the “princesses” within a 20 km boundary

    there is a need and a gap in “that” market.

    bless

  • frosh says:

    Thanks everyone for your responses so far.

    On the restaurant front, in Melbourne at least, I think Amalya fits the bill of a kosher place that one would be happy to go to even if kashrut weren’t a factor.

    It would be great to have a couple more places like that, of course with different genres of food.

  • gedalia says:

    Here’s a soapbox statement. What type of message does it send out to host a forum that is called “What’s in it for me”?

    Is this just a typically poor attitude? I won’t go near the community unless it is to my advantage and my self serving needs are met? If there is nothing in it for me then I won’t identify?

    This needs to be turned on its head. The better forum is about what I might be able to give to my community, not about what I expect to take from it. The more you give, the more you get out of it. So it strikes me that the very name of the forum itself is counterproductive to what is needed as a response to the sociological research.

  • Gedalia – the name was chosen because it reflects the prevailing (poor) attitude to community. I fully agree with you that we need to radically change this state of affairs! Unfortunately, people aren’t lining up to come the that other forum on “what you can do for your community”. The first step is to get people more engaged and empowered, and to give them an opportunity to be a part of a process of change and improvement. That is what Groundswell is about.

  • gedalia says:

    David – we are on the same side of the coin in agreeing that, sadly, people won’t cue up to a forum called “what you can do for your community”. Nonetheless, I would rather see a forum called this, as it is the genuine culture that needs to be fostered. When I read the title of the forum it sends a message to me of “take, then give” or even “we will dupe you into being engaged and empowered, then expect you to give”.

    I have no doubt that Groundswell has genuine intentions. I think the upfront message needs to be that community is a two way process, you first have to put in to get the satisfaction of taking out. And in the case of a Jewish community, you need to be Jewish, and not find surrogate alternatives to Judaism in order to bring Jewish people together.

    There is a great article by David Hazony on Forward about fractured Jewish communitys. Melbourne seems to be a microcosm of this.
    http://forward.com/articles/140399/

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