Monday, September 25, 2006

Nomads in D.C.

I've returned to my office this morning, bag in hand, fresh off the train from Maryland and ready to speak to the adoring masses. Hello, masses.

My Rosh Hashana was... well, in the interest of fairness and fear of spawning hate mail, I will simply say that the reform shul I attended at my parents' behest was not right for me, but I can see how its approach is suitable for people who are not me.

That said, my real struggle this weekend was not with the content of the services I attended, but with my parents' unending quest for a congregation that suits their needs. After leaving our traditionally observant Conservative shul several years ago, my parents have been shul hopping, attempting to bridge the gap in their comfort levels and find a community that welcomes them. What I find most striking about their venture is not that they struggle to find a shul that meets their needs, but that they feel they have no resources to guide their search. They feel uncomfortable asking any rabbis they know, pointing to the fact that rabbis work on behalf of their shul and, therefore, have a duty to draw new members.

Is there no recourse for my nomadic parents? Are they doomed to wander from congregation to congregation, forever outsiders? Maybe if they moved to New York, where every person has their Jewish niche...

Ariel at jvoices wrote an insightful piece on the shock of moving to New York, with its constantly proliferating opportunities for Jewish expression and Jewish contexts, that reminded me how lucky I am to live in this divine city. Not that I'm going to convince my parents to join me, but at least here, they'd find their Conservo-reformadox shul, with a Reconstructionist flavor.

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