Yes, it is true that the Jewish world is far-flung. We might be centered in a few places, but, oh, do we have outliers.
And we also have connections. The Jewish world is as tightly connected, it often seems, as paper clips would be if you put them in a plastic bag and bounced them around. We are a jangled, tangled mass of intersections, holding onto each other at innumerable odd angles.
So, if you, our readers, forgive me this one time if I use first-person language, just this once, to tell a story that I saw unfurl as I sat shiva this week.
The Jewish Standard’s talented associate editor, Larry Yudelson, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., but his parents both come from Atlanta. I’ve known that for some time, abstractly.
I have lived in my Upper West Side apartment building for 12 years. I have known the couple who lives below me as nice, warm, thoughtful, and smart, but I never knew them to be Jewish. They have the accents, the manners, and the courtliness that marks them as Southerners.
So imagine my surprise when I learned, at shiva, that Nathan and Rochelle Parker are Jewish. From Atlanta. Members of the classic Reform grand dame of southern synagogues, The Temple. Larry had just left, so I called him, put Nathan on the phone – and we learned that his grandfather, a governor of the Federal Reserve in the Southeast, had been a colleague and mentor of Larry’s grandfather, who was a noted economist. The families were intertwined for decades.
I learned this because something prompted me to ask.
That tells me that there are many such stories, far more than we ever will unearth, that link us all. We are a small people, but we seem to have magnets embedded in us that join us one to the other. We can run, but we can’t hide.
We know that all of you – that each one of us – has a story. If you think that your story bears retelling, please let us know. We might have to say no, but if it’s possible, we would love to be able to say yes.
We at the Jewish Standard wish all our readers a sweet and peaceful 2015.