Members of the Jewish Community are, up to certain extent as a micro cosmos of the general labor landscape. As the technology advances the labor landscape became a sort of human kaleidoscope: People work more than ever form home; the ever growing share of the sector service increase the number of people working in shifts regime ; part time or multi jobs became the norm for many youngsters and more . In other words, the world of relatively homogenous labor landscape is over. These development pose challenges to Jewish communities, especially to smaller ones that try to maintain a regular Jewish life which in many cases depend on critical mass or quorum (such as Minyan).
The challenges can be met also in other aspects of the member’s working life; For example, the limited offer of Kosher food in Barcelona (a few shops) poses a substantial challenge to any observant Jew. Moreover, working Spanish culture considers the colleagues’ common lunch as an integral part of the working/social daily cycle, thus Lunch is not only about eating but also a tool to establish and reinforce non formal relations. A Jew colleague unable to take part in such social event is deemed to certain disadvantage in the organization.
Diverse working schedules affect not only individual members but the community as a whole. People that work long hours, and in many cases at different shifts turn participation in routine services that require Mynian (be it the morning or evening service) into a rather complicates and in many cases impossible mission. Since the number of Jews in Barcelona is very small, it is very unreasonable to find an organization with more than 2-3 Jews so organizing local improvised services at work is a practically inexistent option.
The topic of combining working routine and a Jewish life becomes acute on Weekends and Holidays. First, substantial sectors in Barcelona (Tourism, just to mention one) or even auxiliary sectors to main activities (such as maintenance, commerce, Health care etc.) operate practically around the clock during the whole year. The observance of Shabbat and holidays require a decent dose of flexibility from both the employer and the employee as well. In addition business owners, which observe Shabbat, lose a significant chunk of incomes and competiveness. The problem in a small community is more acute as Jews are generally dispersed and there is no Jewish quarter with intrinsic Jewish life (as is the case of big Jewish communities), which could become a sort of Sunday market.
The above issues are there and are expected to remain as long as the Jewish community does not achieve a critical mass (and even in that case, the challenges will remain somehow “easier”, though not vanish). Still we find that small communities may counterbalance the challenges by exploiting other advantages of smaller communities. For example, the intimacy associated with us may become a sort of networking system that could favor the members in labor aspects (such as finding a job, getting a legal advice and so on) and not only within the community but with other communities in Europe. As a matter of fact, European Jewry was a traditional for centuries a model for business, social and cultural networking. Should such inherent network be institutionalized or left to the free flow of information and people? We thought that this question could be an interesting departing point for further discussions.