Sometimes you hear a far-fetched story and it turns out to be true. Apparently in the late 1960′s during the long reign of Jean Drapeau as Montreal mayor he agreed to meet the mayor of a religious community in Israel that had their own “city” of 500 souls. The mayor meets this man, and asks him how many citizens he represents. On hearing the seemingly paltry figure, the honorable mayor cannot restrain himself and breaks out in laughter. I’m the mayor of 1,000,000 people ! The largest French city in the world outside of France, and a guardian of French culture.
Nonplussed, the visitor retorts, Mr. Mayor, I understand your importance and the responsibility you have, but you have to understand your honor, the responsibility I have. I am the mayor of 500 mayors! Maybe its part of the quality over quantity argument, but it does premise the idea of Jewish people being diverse and complicated as this story indicates:
Stephen Marche:Partly, the Jewish tendency to exogamy has emerged naturally from the cosmopolitanism of people who have made their homes in the biggest, and most mixed, cities of the late 20th and early 21st century. The institutional incoherency of Judaism has also done its bit. Goys fall between the cracks, and Judaism is full of cracks (“that’s how the light gets in,” according to Leonard Cohen). In Rome, in the year 1555, Pope Paul IV decreed that the Jews of the city could have only one synagogue. Instead of banding together under the impetus of the political nightmare and coming to a theological compromise, the Jews of Rome set up six different spaces for worship within the same synagogue. That magnificent fractiousness means that the disapproval of any given rabbi is more or less irrelevant; if you want a rabbi who approves, just walk a little farther down the counter. Read More:http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/60294/intertwined/
1573 — Between 1573-1581, the Cinque Scole Synagogue is erected in the ghetto of Rome. When the ghetto was established in 1555, the Jews were permitted only one synagogue, though there were five prayer communities with ethnic, linguistic and social differences. Later, Pope Pius V agreed to have one building house the five synagogues, which satisfied the literal restrictions, but permitted the Jews to establish Castilian, Catalan, Temple and New Congregations… Read More:http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/italytime.html