Jews in the United States often pay attention to their European counterparts only after an anti-Semitic incident. A fuller though not necessarily reassuring picture of life on the Continent is offered by University of London historian Nick Lambert— who conducted interviews with ninety Jewish parliamentarians, academics, and heads of religious courts in England, the Netherlands, and Italy.
Speculating why Jews are relatively uninvolved in the EU, Lambert finds that Continental Jewish communities — at least as reflected in the musings of these thinkers — are fragmented in terms of identity, uncertain about their place on a continent that’s increasingly Muslim, and yet ambivalent toward Israel as a possible place of refuge and source of pride. Differences between “communal” and unaffiliated Jews, Orthodox and liberal, and strong vs. questioning Zionists are familiar, yet sharper in a confined geographic space. While Lambert’s book is sometimes dry and overwritten — unlikely to be read cover to cover — it offers substantial insights into a large segment of the world Jewish population.