Monday, April 30, 2012

Venn Diagram Communities

היום שלשה ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות ושני ימים לעומר
Today is twenty-three days, which is three weeks and two days of the omer
גבורה שבנצח
A day of strength in a week of perseverance

Myself and a couple of fellow "Torah Geeks" were processing the mind provoking teaching by Aviva Zornbert at the UC Berkeley Graduate Theological Union this morning when a woman came up to join our little group. She remarked not only on the wonderful talk, but how she saw friends from the varied Jewish East Bay communities, from different Jewish strata of her life. She described it as a human venn diagram.

What a great description of how our communities have common points, even as they are separated by time or place or political persuasion :) Like the venn diagram, there are many different meeting points. Recently, a friend of mine from NY who I met working at NBC connected me with a friend of hers who is coordinating a program at Stanford that gives interested teens a chance to work with programmers to create a video game. Maybe one of my students would be interested. I immediately thought of a bat mitzvah who is really smart AND a total computer geek. Her idea of a fun summer is getting into a John Hopkins program so she can learn all sorts of code. Not only is she my student, but I've been close with her family for years now--plus her father's grandparents came from the same small town in Eastern Europe as mine. I connected her parents with my friend's friend and, voila---we had a happy girl who not only created a game but now wants to go to Stanford!

And then there's the friend of mine who I met through an online game that we participate in but who also, we found out as we conversed, worked at NBC Sports at one point and we knew some people in common. His sister lives in San Francisco and I see him when he visits. He's not Jewish but his sister is--she converted when she married. Sadly, her husband passed away recently. I went to make a shiva visit and bring a kugel. She used to work for Jewish Vocational Services and has been involved in other various Jewish communities. Of course, we found many people we had in common--people who would assume we knew each other through Jewish connections, not from her brother. But connected we were, and there I was to help comfort her in a time of need.

Yesterday I made the point that communities are a modern version of the tribal cultural structure. But I think the opportunity for intersection is something that is particular to our time, and only increasing with the growing connectivity that we are getting from technology.

Our world is really getting closer--whether we like it or not. Being able to reach out to those, not only in our immediate communities but those who are linked and relinked to those around us can, perhaps, bring a strength in the world.

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