Still Searching

Zoe Jick
December 27, 2011
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Its always been straightforward before. My go-to community was right in front of me. Growing up in Reform day school, my Jewish circle didn’t extend far passed my family and my classmates. In high school, I found NFTY and Israel summer programs. My Jewish support system lay in late night phone calls with fellow campers and students who longed for Israel and for self-evident Jewish life. As time passed, and I realized America would come to be my home, I found comfort in Hillel and campus activities that kept other American Jews close by. Despite the obvious soul-searching trials of any Jewish twenty-something, I was never alone in my journey; for the first twenty-three years of my life, Jewish community was not hard to find

Graduating from college brings all sorts of existential crises, but the most poignant for me has been the gaping uncertainty of how to be involved with a Jewish community as a non-observant, yet actively identified, Jewish young professional in a new city

The options are endless. I get asked to on a weekly basis to join friends for Kabbalat Shabbat, but I would honestly rather meet up at a happy-hour than in a sanctuary. I was invited to join a local young havurah, and was almost enticed by the vegetarian potluck, but realized that I would be bored for any of the singing that didn’t use Camp Eisner tunes. I am included on listserv after listserv, the JCC calendar and 92nd St Y schedule are posted on my wall, and I even thought about asking random friends over to build a sukkah in my backyard, but so far—nothings clicked

So far the closest I’ve come to finding a Jewish lifestyle that suits me is by simply inviting friends over for Shabbat dinner. The food isn’t kosher, my guests are mostly not Jewish, and sometimes we even forget to light the candles, but taking an hour to relax over a Friday night meal seems to sanctify the night well for me. I am grateful to my friends for enjoying the night with me and always respecting how much I need to experience Shabbat every once in a while

I am open to more suggestions. Where do the young NY non-religious Zionists spend their time? I’ve tried camping out at hummus restaurants on St. Marks hoping to eaves drop on Israelis with creative Jewish ideas, but I think I look more like a creep than a hopeful Jewish young woman. I am open for any thoughts

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Zoe Jick is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where she studied religion. Currently, she works as the New York Regional Director for the World Zionist Organization and she holds a recruitment position for Masa Israel Journey. Zoe also writes a travel food blog, which can be found at www.everywhereeating.wordpress.com

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