Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The More Things Change...

With all the changes that have taken place over the past few years, you'd think I'd find it easy to come up with blog posts. To be honest, part of what made me decide to start this thing back up was that I've been thinking a lot about the current shul politics from my old shul in Chicago, and wanted a forum to vent. I probably will anyway, but it's been dawning on me that it might be a little weird for me to be so obsessed with the going-on of a shul I no longer belong to. Granted, my family goes back 5 generations at that shul (6, once my infant niece starts going along with her daddy), so it's not that incomprehensible, but I find myself more interested and animated about the politics of a shul in Chicago than those of my new shul here in Ottawa.

I don't know if this means I'm stuck in the past, or if this is part of my way of retaining ties to a community I love. As much as being a member of the Board had been a headache, I kinda wish I still was, so that I could have a voice in the current events. I'm realizing more and more that I really just want to feel connected, because I haven't had a community to connect to since we moved out of Chicago.

Queens never felt like home. As strange as it sounds, given the incredible number of Jews and Jewish establishments and institutions in Kew Gardens Hills, I never found a community there. We met some amazing people, and made some good friends, but we had no shul, no home base, no particular group or community. Some of that was undoubtedly our fault, because I know we could have tried harder. But the truth is, I felt lost there. Overwhelmed by the number of shuls and micro-communtities to choose from. And I think I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, and in some ways didn't really want to fit in. The neighborhood was so yeshivish, that I felt a kind of pride about being too modern, too left wing for the neighborhood. I didn't want to fit it with the aidel maidels and kollel wife types, who lived in their cozy frum bubbles. Can you hear the snobbery? I was proud of being different, of working outside the community in one of Brooklyn's poorest neighborhoods with HIV+ individuals. I was an individual, refusing to fit the cookie cutter mold...and I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily. But I think it may have prejudiced me against meeting new people and seeing them for who they really were, and not just how they seemed to be. After all, someone walking past me on Main Street probably would have put me in the same category, based on my appearance.

I'm rambling. Sorry. I guess what I'm trying to express is that the whole time I was in Queens, I was comparing it to Lakeview. Not that Lakeview didn't have its flaws, because there were plenty of things that I didn't like. I went from being on the far right of one community to being on the far left of another, and it was a jarring change. Now that I know we're not moving back to Chicago any time soon, I think it's time for me to put my Lakeview affiliations on a back burner and focus more about where I am now. I don't want to make the same errors here as I unknowingly did in Queens. This is my home now, the community where I'm going to be raising my children. I have to keep reminding myself that.

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