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Census Maximus

August 2, 2011 – 9:57 pm21 Comments

The most interesting, and apparently controversial, census image that we could find

By Anthony Frosh

‘There’s this unspoken thing among Jews,” comedian John Safran was quoted in a recent interview published in The Age,  ”that no matter whether you’re kosher or not, you always ask for kosher meals on aircraft to help keep the demand up.”

Now, while I’ve never heard of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the rumour exists and if there are Australian Jews who do just that.

And while I generally order the Asian Vegetarian meal, I must confess that last Shabbos I was telling my machatonim to make sure they include Hebrew and Yiddish when they answer the census question on language spoken at home.

“But we don’t speak Yiddish at home,” my sister-in-law pointed out.

“What’s that got to do with it?” I retorted. “Do you want to be personally responsible for the cancellation of the SBS Yiddish language hour?”  I proceeded to impress on my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who do frequently speak Hebrew to each other, that they should answer every question on the census with an eye to how the resultant data might be used.

“But we can’t lie!” they exclaimed.

“I’m not suggesting you lie. We do use Yiddish words and the bureau of statistics don’t provide a minimum quantity, so technically, you wouldn’t be lying.”

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) believe that the Jewish community misses out on vital services and funds as the Jewish population in Victoria is not adequately represented in the census due to the voluntary nature of questions relating to religion and ethnicity, and low participation rates in the census.

John Searle, president of the JCCV stated,

“If you are Jewish, then be counted as a member of the Jewish Community by answering Question 19 on religious affiliation as – ‘Jewish’ or ‘Judaism’. Accurate representation ensures that effective planning and funding is allocated to the Jewish community by Federal, State and Local Governments. It also enables community services and organisations to adequately resource schools, healthcare, aged care, childcare and other essential services”.

And while on the topic of the underreporting of Jews, it is known that a number of Jews, particularly Holocaust survivors, and even some of the next generation, do not declare their Jewishness on the census, given the history of how census data was used by the Nazis to round up Jews.

I’d be interested to hear how you and your family approach the census.

Census night is this Tuesday August 9th .

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