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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

July 15, 2016  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Reflections

Joel and Ellen Goetz

Years ago St. Petersburg was able to boast having a Jewish Community Center, a Jewish newspaper, a Jewish Day School, a Kosher Market and active synagogues. Sadly, this is no longer the situation. What happened?

When our parents came here they were anxious to seek each other out, to socialize, eat kosher, join synagogues and participate in the Jewish community. We needed and wanted the comfort and support of our fellow Jews. But, as Bob Dylan told us, “the times they are a changing.” And, as time went on, there was a shift in attitude and more of a desire to “blend in” with our Christian neighbors. The children were not as interested in keeping kosher or carrying out the Jewish traditions. School activities came first.

The “Jewish experience” is now in a decline. We don”t seem to need each other. Maybe in today’s economy we are not willing to travel the extra mile or donate quite as much or pay more dues. Food shopping has become a matter of convenience for many. And, there are more unaffiliated Jews than ever before.

Thirty years ago there were less inter-faith marriages or Jewish divorces. Thirty years ago knishes, kugel, kishka and kreplach were familiar and comforting words. We were so happy to meet fellow Jews at the kosher deli. Now it is all about Thai and sushi and tacos and “kosher-style” is just fine.

The Day School is gone. The Jewish Community Center is gone. Many of our community leaders have passed away. And, some synagogues, the Jewish newspaper and the kosher deli are all struggling to survive. Is it that we don’t care anymore? We all seem to be competing for the same supporters. Incidentally, some of our church-going Christian friends would agree.

Today, we can boast that we have a Holocaust Museum, a Jewish mayor and a synagogue participating in Pride Week. It’s true, the times are changing. Just check with the internet! But, we really DO need each other, even if we can’t quite see it. Hopefully, it won’t take a major happening to bring us together. We need to make the extra effort to keep our heritage and the “ Jewish experience” alive and thriving in St. Petersburg … or it will continue to decline. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.”

Joel and Ellen Goetz are owners of Jo-El’s Kosher Delicatessen and Marketplace, a kosher institution in Pinellas County for nearly 35 years.


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