Monday, June 23, 2008

Is There Anyone Out There?

I've found myself saying more and more often that I wish I could find Jewish commune to live in. A religious kibbutz. A group of homes on a cul-de-sac owned by like-minded families. At first it was a joke but it has slowly become something more.

As is my wont, especially late at night, I find myself wondering where this desire has come from. I didn't feel it before I became a mother. I didn't feel it after getting pregnant. I didn't even feel it shortly after the births of my children. Instead, it grew inside of me as my parenting style developed and my attachment to my children grew.

And now, we are considering a move. It has become clear that our landlord is not thrilled to extend our lease. So we talk about where to move. What to look for. What is most important. We are also getting close to having to get the girls on a list for the Jewish schools in the area. So I find myself filled with what-ifs and wishes.

But what is it that I am looking for? What needs are not getting met in the community we live in? I guess the easiest answer would be that I am looking for more families similar to us. Orthodox. Preferably Sephardic. (No offense my Ashkenaz friends, but there are more of you than of us in my area and I would love my girls to grow up knowing and loving their Moroccan heritage.) Won't ask me over and over if the girls are sleeping through the night. Won't give me "the look" when I tell you about some neat project I want to try. Will happily share water kefir grains and sourdough starter with me or lend me a sewing machine when mine dies. Won't tell me that they'd rather have a plastic baby then use cloth diapers. Won't ignore me when I walk in the room. Will sit and listen and then give me a swift kick in the rear when I lament the oddities that come up in life.

Like I said, my perfect neighbor lives in the mirror.

It seems like I can get some of the features of my perfect neighbors but not all in the same person. The "crunchy" people I meet are either not Jewish or not religious. ("I eat organic beef and kosher chicken, but when I have kids, I'll probably get organic chicken, too, because I don't want them exposed to all those chemicals.") And when I listen to the religious Jews talk about parenting it is like they are talking about fixing a tractor. I can catch some of what is being said, but most of it is gibberish and totally foreign. ("There is no reason to breastfeed after a year. Women do it because they've formed an unhealthy attachment to their kid.")

Moving out of town isn't going to work, either. At least, not until we get rich and Aba can retire. So, pretty much not for a while now. (Anyone know what the lotto jackpot is up to?)

So we are pretty much left with a decision where the answer is already made for us. In town there are 3 Sephardic synagogues Aba will consider going to. They all pretty much cover the same geographic area. None of them particularly crunchy. But we have to live in one of these areas. Close enough to walk.

So I continue my search for the crunchy. We have to be out there. This town is ginormous. We can't be the only ones. Can we?