If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you already know that this past weekend we traveled to Baltimore to attend the Jewish Intentional Communities Conference at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. The purpose of the retreat was to connect the individuals from across the country who are currently creating new types of communities, or hoping to become part of them. We went with open minds, totally unsure what we would find, who we would connect with, what we might learn. We knew we weren’t interested in moving anywhere right now, but that we have a deep longing for community which is not yet fulfilled.
Mo and I have lived in many major cities with huge Jewish communities, without ever actually feeling fully at home in or part of those communities. The closest we’ve ever been was in Jerusalem, where we had a beautiful group of friends who spent Shabbat, holidays, and happy events together, and felt like family. In Miami we are sort of alone in a crowd, not going to synagogue often and sharing meals occasionally with a few scattered family members or friends. We have always talked about how and where we would really love to live some day. My wish for being part of a community is not to live in an actual commune with shared housing or on a farm in a rural area. My hope is to live in direct proximity to people I care about, to share the demands and joys of daily life. I love to cook and care for kids, why not do it for other families as well? Then we can share those responsibilities, and ideally end up with enriched lives for ourselves and our children. We all work hard, but doing the daily grind alone can make it feel like a hamster wheel where we never get anywhere. I believe that sharing the work and the ups and downs of our lives in whatever way is comfortable for each of us can only be for the better.
I think that most people long to be part of a caring community where we are supported and needed. Perhaps in the past this need was met with family groups and whatever community we were born into. Now that we are more likely to live far away from family and leave our hometowns, we often find ourselves isolated. We live independently which is nice in certain ways, getting to do what we want, when we want, how we want. However, I find it unsustainable, especially for young families, to do all the things that are necessary to create a life, especially if both parents are working. I don’t think the standard way of doing things works so well, especially since I (and many others) have made the choice not to outsource to packaged food or take out, or don’t have available babysitting or funds for help with childcare, cleaning, etc. Can two adults really handle all the tasks related to food, shelter, and relationships?
Thankfully Mo and I have always found ourselves with friends we love who are part of our lives in varying degrees of intimacy. We would love to live closer to people who share many of our values without direct pressure to practice religion in a certain way. We have no idea when, where, or how that might happen, but at the conference we met many people who are “crazy like us” and who have the same hopes we do.
Coming home from an event where we were focused on dreams and hopes for the future is inevitably a let down. We still have about six loads of laundry to do, and cooking to prepare for the week, and a day job to go to, and, and, and… However, I hope that our desire for community informs our actions each day, even in our somewhat isolated apartment living lifestyle. As the people we met at the conference return home and write about their experiences I plan to share a set of links with more information here. I also recorded my very first podcast, so I will share the link as soon as it is up!
Here are some photos from the weekend:
Thanks for reading, have a great week!