Monday, April 21, 2008

April 22, 2008 - Opua

I realized something at the grocery store yesterday - I've never seen a kosher label on any of the products in New Zealand super markets. Here we are, in the midst of Passover, and there isn't a piece of matzo bread to be found. Such a shame. Even a shiksa like me can appreciate the wonderful combination of boursin on matzo. Then I realized that, I've never seen boursin here. Or a synagogue. Some quick research online this morning revealed that only .01% of the population of New Zealand is Jewish. For comparison, 2.5% of the US population is Jewish.

For a country that is in some ways so similar to the US, Canada, Australia and England, its population is comparatively homogeneous, not just in terms of religion, but also in terms of race. On our travels around New Zealand we saw plenty of people of European descent, and in lesser numbers Asian and Polynesian. However, we could, and did, go weeks without seeing anyone of African descent here. I can only remember two occasions: I took some family photos for an African American family touring the Hamilton Gardens and I several months ago I talked to a guy from Cameroon at a grocery store. In these, and so many other ways, we have been reminded that, for all its similarities to other English-speaking countries, this is still a small island nation, on the edge of the world.

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