On Sunday evening, if the volcano on Bali cooperates, I will be flying to Bali. I've had all my shots and am armed with doxicycline and insect repellant to ward off malaria. The flight leaves Adelaide at 7:00 p.m. and arrives in Bali five hours later. By the time I work my way through customs and immigration and make my way to my hotel, it will be close to 1:00 a.m. Adelaide time and I'm sure I'll be ready for a well-deserved sleep. The next morning, I'll board what I'm sure will be a pristine Lion Air jet at 10:50 a.m. for a 1 1/2 hour flight through to Jakarta. That's when the adventure begins.
I will be met in Jakarta by Benjamin Meijer Verbrugge. Benny is the head of the United Indonesian Jewish Community, an amazing organisation comprising Jewish communities stretching from Jakarta in the west to Papua more than 1500 miles to the east. Hundreds of Indonesians have come out of the woodwork over the last five years or so, expressing a desire to connect with Judaism and the world Jewish community. Some of them are descendants of Dutch Jewish traders. Others have stumbled upon Judaism and decided that it is the faith tradition for them. My job, along with my colleague Tokyo Rabbi David Kunin, is to get a sense of what exactly has been happening in Indonesia. Why are so many people drawn to a faith tradition which has no legal recognition in the world's largest Muslim country? What does Judaism look like in Indonesia? What kind of support are they seeking, and what can we offer them? On those days when I'm not completely and utterly exhausted by our busy schedule, I'll hope to fill you in as our adventure unfolds.
Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky
I've been the rabbi of Beit Shalom Progressive Synagogue in Adelaide since 2006. As part of the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, New Zealand and Asia, I'm now starting my fourth trip to Indonesia to teach, pray and celebrate with the communities here.