Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Warm Sweatshirts and Cold Communities

It's hard to be an Orthodox Jew without a community, right? That's what they always tell you. That's probably the most important factor in looking for jobs for next year (can we just discuss how much I don't want to get a job and enter the real world?). Judaism is a communal religion. Well, that's what they say. But I wonder...

While home for the Yamin Noraim I realized that I don't have a community.

When I go home, I pretty much stay at home--I keep in touch with very few pre-seminary friends, and none of the ones I do keep in contact with live at home anymore. My parents don't even daven at the shul we davened at when I was younger, and while it is the shul I go back to, I know almost no one there--even the rabbi is new--so I tend to head out pretty much the second davening is over. Not having distractions is great for my tefilah, it is sort of disappointing.

And much as I love Columbia with all my heart and soul--and I really, really do--the frum community here is definitely not my community. Their sweatshirts last year read, "A warm sweatshirt for a cold community," and let's just say I've found that to be somewhat true. Which is fine. I always had a place to daven on campus and kosher food to eat and really that's all I needed from the Hillel--I found other places and other things to fill my time here. The frum community here is great for some people, but for many reasons it's not a place I indentify with.

So, I don't really have a community. And maybe I don't need one. Maybe I do. But I know that I want one. That if I'm going to go off on my own and find a job next year, I should do that in a place with a good community--one that I feel comfortable in. And maybe I could be a frum Jew without it. But real communities provide more than kosher food and a minyan, and I want one.

11 Comments:

At 10/10/06, 11:26 PM, Blogger yakki said...

its Very hard to be frum without a strong community. i hope you find one you click with eli7

 
At 10/11/06, 7:08 AM, Blogger Josh said...

I felt the same way about the community at Columbia when I was there a few years back, despite the fact that I had a good number of friends and genuinely enjoyed my time there. In my current situation, things are similar. As long as there's a frum infrastructure, though, I suppose that it's possible to stick things out, picking and choosing with which aspects of the communities to fully integrate and with which to pave one's own path.

 
At 10/11/06, 7:09 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

I've heard that sort of thing said before about the religious community on campus there. From what I hear, if you've got a chevra and you're in the thick of things, it can be great. If you're not...well, then you're kind of stuck. I'm sure it's not fun, though. Being a part of a community is so important (as I can tell you already know), although I'm not the poster child for community involvement, either, to be honest.

 
At 10/11/06, 9:54 AM, Blogger SaraK said...

As a young, single professional, you will definitely want to be part of a community.

 
At 10/11/06, 11:01 AM, Blogger Devorah said...

Now Eli7 and I may disagree on the warmth of Columbia's community (from an outsider's perspective who loved spending shabbos there [graned I had quite teh host] and found the community very inviting), but I think my dear Eli7 that though you may not be part of the community which is comprised of everyone who ever wanders into Hillel, you do have your own vibrant mini-community that organizes somewhat communal Shabbos meals and the like. And I think you're mini-community is much better that simply having a frum infrasturcutre nearby in which you're basically a stranger. I mean you have much more of a community there than where your parents live. So, in sum, I apparently an insulted on behalf on you Columbia community and min-community?? oy vey.

(And yes, clearly I must have a massive brief due if I'm commenting more frequently ;-)

 
At 10/11/06, 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anal on Grammar said...

"The frum community here is great for some people, but for many reasons it's not a place I indentify with."

"That if I'm going to go off on my own and find a job next year, I should do that in a place with a good community--one that I feel comfortable in."

What about never ending sentences with prepositions?

 
At 10/11/06, 11:14 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Anal on grammar: The rule about never ending sentences with a preposition is a lie your English teacher told you. To borrow a quote: "That is nonsense up with which I will not put."

 
At 10/11/06, 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the burden of "making you feel comfortable" always on "the community," whatever that means. How much effort did you actually put into making sure you would feel comfortable for 4 years of college? How many people did you introduce yourself to during your first few months in college? I don't mean to sound harsh but sometimes, in today's world, everyone expects the world to be handed to them on a silver platter without putting any effort into getting what they want. I don't know if this applies here but I'm curious to see whether or not you've ever thought about this...

 
At 10/11/06, 8:27 PM, Blogger Lichvod Shabbat Kodesh said...

In this case, your newspaper-reporting self is your weakness.

So do you stand by and be a spectator of your own community's shortcomings? Do you reject your community altogether and dissassociate yourself from them? Do you merely report the problem to the public as if this blog was an exposé tabloid?

Be proactive! Find a "warm sweatshirt" for the community! You should be the extroverted one, engaging your peers and in turn, they will open up to you and others. Whenever I am lonely in a cafeteria or restaurant, I try to muster enough "Holy Chutzpah" to sit with random people and meet new friends.

Let me know if things change...starting with you, a new culture may emerge in Columbia...

 
At 10/11/06, 8:28 PM, Blogger Lichvod Shabbat Kodesh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10/16/06, 2:06 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Eli7 - Sounds like for all your NY loving self, you need a smaller Jewish community - one that will notice your ups and downs without putting their noses in it. You may like DC or Boston!

 

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