Monday, June 15, 2009

Out of town will save us all?

From a beliefnet article by David Klinghoffer


Most Jews who know anything about Orthodox Judaism associate it with major population centers like New York, Baltimore, Miami, etc. The truth is that almost all the negative stereotypes linked with traditional Judaism stem from such places. Yet there exists a whole alternative universe of Orthodox Judaism in traditional communities in other places, provincial localities like Seattle where I live, but others as well: San Diego, Portland, Sacramento, Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other relatively small American cities. The Orthodoxy in such places is quite different from what you find in New Jersey, Long Island, and so on. It is thriving and dynamic, accepting and diverse, enthusiastic for tradition in surprising ways, and largely undocumented. It's also a lot more attractive, at least to me.

Anyone from the provinces care to speak up?


Anonymous said...

I count vibrancy of Jewish life in the number and quality of Kosher restaurants. When I visited Seattle for the NASFIC in 2005 I was underwhelmed to say the least.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Really? While I was in Seattle for a business conference there were some excellent Asian(*) restaurants available.

And by the defintion, Boston is a pit - the tiny town of Highland Park NJ rivals it in both numbers and quaility.

(*)Thai/Korean/Japanese/Chinese - what I call (outside of the earshot of anyone affiliated with the restaurant) Greater East Asian CoProsperity Sphere cuisine.

Bob Miller said...

As longer as we're not in Israel, we're out of town in a major sense. Out here in the smaller American cities, our condition of exile is more apparent, as is our minority status.

The ultimate answer is the final redemption, not further dispersion. In the interim, though, we need to ask ourselves what type of community will enhance our mitzvah observance the most. Small cities are not the best answer for all Jews, as evidenced by the migration of young people, college age and above, to larger metropolitan areas or other areas of higher Jewish concentration.

Leora said...

Everyone looks for different things. Personally, I would rather live here in Highland Park than where my brother lives in Columbus, OH.

I once ate at a fabulous kosher restaurant in Seattle. We may have kosher restaurants here in Highland Park, but none that entice me. The ones in Teaneck may be tastier but the prices are high.

No place is perfect. I happen to like my son's high school. It's in Teaneck, and because we live in New Jersey instead of Columbus we get to have school choices. You don't get school choices in those small communities.

rejewvenator said...

It's not about city size. Miami is the 42nd-largest city in the US, but it has a huge Jewish population. San Diego is something like the 8th-largest city in the country, but it has a very small Jewish population.

Personally, I live in NY, but I live in a small suburb in Westchester, where there is one shul and only a few hundred Jews. It's a pretty decent compromise - lots of access to schools and restaurants, but a small and close-knit shul community.