Wherever You Go: Connecting When You're Isolated
But really, what if you go somewhere and there’s no-one Jewish?
Ellen writes: There’s a song that goes “wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish….”
(Here’s a link to just one of many renderings of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJy7Jh8mxjk&index=3&list=PLdWKRPwgmrvL_bqaKUKtEecuY6vOHrhMn )
But really, what if you go somewhere and there’s really no-one Jewish?
Awhile back, we got a note from someone who was moving to a rather remote corner of Europe with no Jewish population that he or we could find: Did we know about Jewish life there?
I did some poking around and was able to confirm with him that yes, the nearest Jewish community we could find was 300 miles and a ferry ride away. We built a custom resource guide with what we could find about that “nearest” community and added a few more sites where he could access streamed worship services. He also shared some that he used regularly. In fact, he considered them to be congregations to which he belonged. (In case you’re wondering or want to share, here’s what we shared.)
Here are directories to find a Service that suits you: Reform: https://reformjudaism.org/attend-shabbat-services-online Multi-Denominational: www.myjewishlearning.com/article/where-to-stream-high-holiday-services/
Our new friend shared these with us, which is where he worships regularly: Orthodox/Chasidic: House of Seven Beggars Synagogue sevenbeggars.com/
Seven Beggars has its own Youtube network (https://www.youtube.com/c/KeruvMediaNetwork), and offers a weekly story hour and Torah study, as well as Shabbat services, and instruction on how to attend services on Shabbat and holidays if you are concerned about breaking Shabbat laws.
Universalist: Sim Shalom simshalom.com/ They stream services daily Monday – Friday , and provide a virtual Siddur to follow along. Depending on which Rabbi is leading services, you can bring up that Siddur to participate or follow.
That project got me to thinking: In today’s connected world, can you build a Jewish community while being the only Jew?
In short, yes!
If you’re looking to just have a conversation with other Jews, there are forums. Here are a couple: Jewish Forum, hosted by The Hebrew Café. www.thehebrewcafe.com/forum
There’s also the Judaism forum from the City-Data Forum http://www.city-data.com/forum/judaism/
These are both old-style discussion rooms, with threads, but plenty of conversation.
The Jewish Women’s Archive runs a virtual book club https://jwa.org/programs/bookclub
Looking to do some serious Torah study?
Start with Sefaria (www.sefaria.org). It has texts and commentaries, in English and Hebrew. Look further to find “sheets” –texts related to a particular topic, some with other comments, and “Groups” – sheets compiled by particular groups with a particular focus.
Don’t want to study alone? My Jewish Learning has an article about finding an online study partner ( https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-find-a-jewish-study-partner-online/ ). (Truth be told, My Jewish Learning has an article about anything and everything! You could do a lot of learning without ever leaving their universe.)
I looked at the sites they mention. Project Zug (https://www.projectzug.org/ ) matches you with a study partner based on interest in one of their 29 courses, and a brief questionnaire. You then use video chat to explore the texts, questions, and videos they provide. There’s a sliding pay-what-you want fee.
Partners in Torah (https://www.partnersintorah.org/ ) sets up a teacher/student partnership for free, and you study by phone or video chat. It’s Orthodox in focus.
If you need to say Kaddish, there's at least one virtual solution as well.
Lab/Shul had a virtual Minyan via conference call once a week. It's unclear whether this still is in operation (the particular link is dead), but you may have to register now to access it. https://labshul.org/Participants begin by sharing their name and why they are there. There’s a reading and then Kaddish.
Illness, work, circumstances can keep you from a physical community. But today, truly, you don’t have to be alone as a Jew.