Jewish culture versus personal comfort

Posted on February 12, 2007

I saw my counselor today and things are underway to get me in to see the physician’s assistant who is supervised by a psychiatrist. It could be a few weeks, but it’s a good recommendation from my counselor who has known me for four years, and the two of them can work together to make sure my treatment is appropriate. I do believe my counselor is an excellent advocate for me.

I talked to her some about being Unseen at shul and about my hopes for our shul’s future. While she is not Jewish, she had a perspective I had not considered.

She suggested that it may be cultural. Not like Jewish culture versus Christian culture, but like geographic culture, how people are socially different in New England than they are in the Pacific Northwest than they are in the South than they are in America’s heartland. She said it sounded like it had a lot to do with their comfort level.

This is my personal space, she said making a kind of boundary around her. I immediately thought of the Talmud’s concept of a personal courtyard. Then she said, people believe anything outside of their space has nothing to do with them. They are focused on what is immediate and in their comfort zone.

This would explain the shul kiddush turned high school cafeteria. People see someone crying, think oh, that’s not comfortable, let’s go back over here to people I know who are happy and up. It’s comfortable, I know them, and they can be in my personal space/courtyard.

I personally do not believe this is what Jewish community is all about. I actually do not believe this is what my rabbi thinks Jewish community is all about, though I cannot speak for him. My observations of his behavior and the issues he is passionate about and the words he speaks from the bima tell me that he would prefer we care a little more for one another. I have no idea why I never heard back from him about meeting last Friday, but I do know it was a very busy week and a lot of unanticipated demands of his time and maybe he didn’t even get that last email. Or maybe he was just overwhelmed with everything else going on and I slipped through the cracks again. I don’t know.

Although I have thought more than once about making Aliyah, it is not something my family can do right now. Maybe in the future. So I do not have the different sort of community in Israel. I am limited to the Jewish community in which I live, and if it is a cultural behavior then people are probably going to have to want to work hard to attain a different level of comfort and community that is within their personal space.

But the alternative is that people like me continue to cry for help and wonder if anyone other than G-d hears them.


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