In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, and facing both economic instability and resurgent anti-Semitism across the continent, Europe’s Jews have made it official: they’re moving to Canada.
The choice has come as a surprise to pundits and xenophobes worldwide, and disappointed Jewish communities in Israel and the United States, which had been widely considered the two leading candidate nations.
The decision comes on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appeal to European Jewry to emigrate to Israel, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s assertion that her country’s Jews “belong in Denmark.”
“All this attention has been flattering, really,” said Europe’s 1.5 million Jews. “Bibi wants us in Israel, Denmark wants us to stay – France, not so much. In the end, we had to make the right decision for us. It’s not at all personal. We just hope everyone understands that.”
Europe’s Jewish community is more than 2,100 years old, predating the reign of Casesar Augustus, when early Jewish immigrants were first welcomed with open arms by all the peoples of Europe, as they would continue to be for centuries. Despite their meagre contributions to European culture and thought, Jewish communities across the continent have been subjected to seemingly endless bouts of equality and social justice, with few notable exceptions.
“It’s been one heck of a ride. They will be sorely missed,” said the remaining 99.78 per cent of Europe, suppressing a smirk. “We swear.”
Observers have cited Canada’s multicultural society, depressed dollar and chronic politeness as key factors in the decision, but Europe’s Jews see their decision differently.
“Think of it more like retirement. We are a very old community, and we’ve been through a lot. Why would we want to move anywhere noisy or exciting? At our age, the less excitement the better.”
“Nationally speaking, Canada is basically an old-age home: it’s quiet. The people are nice. The health care is good. You always feel a little cold. It’s far enough out of the way that you don’t have to visit all the time, but close enough that you can get there when you need to.”
As for how the decision was reached, Europe’s Jews are surprisingly candid: “We were pretty surprised [by the choice of Canada] ourselves. When we took the poll at our secret meeting, [Canada] didn’t get a single first place vote, but it was almost everyone’s second choice, so…”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, all of European Jewry has intimated that centuries of immersion in European culture have created an “unconscious but pervasive disdain for Americans,” which reinforced Canada as their strongest choice.
“Also,” they said, “if anything goes wrong, you guys have Kevin Vickers. That clinched it.”
On Israel’s behalf, Netanyahu expressed disappointment and a little relief: “Of course you invite your parents to move in with you when they retire, but the nation of Israel respects their decision to move to a quiet place on the other side of the world, too far away to visit, where absolutely nothing is going to happen to them.”
With the first official flights set to depart in the coming weeks and some European Jews already arriving in Canada, considerable logistical efforts are underway: Europe’s synagogues and community centres are being sold to finance moving costs, and Jewish historical sites are slated for demolition, in order to avoid future desecration. All patrilineal Jews have undergone voluntary conversions and/or circumcisions to prevent “another endless debate about what ‘Jewish identity’ means.” Intermarried couples can choose to convert and move to Canada, or divorce – in which case all children will be subject to shared intercontinental custody and double Air Miles.
And while European Jewry stocks up on sweaters and reads The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Jewish communities across Canada are preparing to see their numbers increase by 1.5 million to 1.8 million, and rising to the challenge of absorbing their cousins from overseas.
In Toronto, officials moved quickly to demolish community buildings to make space for much larger, more modern and impressive ones, set for completion in 2041. (Update: as of The CJN’s deadline, the project is 5 to 9 years behind schedule.)
Montreal’s Jewish community is confident that France’s Jewish population will acclimate quickly to the “unmistakable air of barely suppressed hatred” they remember so well.
In Ottawa, 13 new synagogues have been built, 11 of which will remain empty, in accordance with local tradition.
Vancouver’s Jewish community has ramped up production of marijuana, prayer beads and those shoes that look like feet, while the entire Jewish population of Saskatchewan has offered to share his bachelor apartment with any newcomers looking to get settled.
Winnipeg’s Jewish community (motto: “Where ennui meets torpor”) had volunteered to absorb the oldest of the immigrants and is producing a short video to introduce newcomers to the city. The film, titled Like Siberia, But With Cable, is set for a spring release.
Even at these early stages, the Jewish decision to leave is yielding positive results. The mass resignation of Jews from European industry has resulted in immediate spikes in rates of employment, education and child welfare. Reports are indicating a sudden and complete end to all corruption in political and financial sectors, as well as cleaner drinking water, the discovery of several new antibiotics, the apparent reversal of global warming, and the unambiguous end to all religious and ethnic conflict.
All’s well that ends well.