I’m a convert. Or will be. Whatever. My Jewish identity is ultimately religious, or at least primarily so. Yes, there are the cultural aspects, and the national, and the tribal. And yes, they all impact me to some degree or another. But for me, my Judaism is, and always will be, a religion.
I like services. I like Torah study. I like the mitzvoth (well, a lot of them anyway). And when I go to Friday nights, I’m almost always the youngest one there. Which can be great, because I’ve got a lot to learn from them. Not just about Jewishness, but simply life in general. They’ve lived through things I never have, but that might be applicable in some weird way to my own life.
But, sometimes, old(er) people are old(er) people and there are stumbling blocks to developing friendships with them. I do crave relationships with my peers, but alas, most Jews my age are simply NOT principally religious Jews. They look at me like I’m sprouting wings or something for enjoying the melodies that plagued their childhoods. And I, of course, return the favor by snarling my lip at their preference for events full of libations and loquacious potential dates being sized up for their ability to simultaneously satiate their mother’s desire for a nice Jewish boy/gal and their own libido.
Chevrei is different. I think D. is a great leader and did a wonderful job creating the “right” tone. Of course, by right, I mean what I liked and approved of and have sought all along. Yes, I made some new friends last time. And yes, there were candles and challah loaves and Kiddush and enough food for an army. But there was also really great discussion, and people who, shock and awe, WANTED to participate in religious ritual and services. I left so damn happy to have found people that finally valued some of the same Jewish experiences I did. And I even volunteered to help plan the next one.
And now it’s coming to bite me in the butt as I attempt to reach out to other young adults in the SF East Bay region for our Sukkot event. (9/24. CBS. 6:30 services, 7:30 kiddush, 8:30 sup on veggie potluck dishs in the sukkah. Be there or be square.)
We can’t ask other congregations or minyanim; who would agree to post flyers for a competitor’s event?
U.C. Berkeley Hillel would probably work with us, but surely they also have their own Sukkot stuff going on? Much closer to home, with the people you now live with and study with and are friends with, all of which serve to disincentivize our event.
Jewish Federation has its own Young Adult Group but would probably be willing?
JCC would most likely be willing to work with us.
There are plenty of online groups I could spam.
But my problem is that these all reach out to Jews who, already, in some way, commune with other Jews. They are already established in groups, and while there is most likely a portion dissatisfied with the organization, the most involved Jews are already doing their thang.
So how do I reach out to the Jews who aren’t in any Jewish groups because they don’t like what the groups currently offer? How do I put myself in contact with them, whether they seek services or socializing? Help me Obi Wan Kanobi.