We are all far too familiar with the phrase “Jewish geography.” Jews know most Jews, or at the very least, have mutual friends or connections. Living in Baltimore, a place with such a strong, tight-knit Jewish community, I pretty much knew every Jew in the area. However, I never truly understood the power of connection that our community holds up until this past summer.
This past July, I went on an Alaskan cruise. As far as I knew, the only people who would be on this boat were elderly people. However, not only did I make a large group of friends, I found somebody I can reunite with many times again.
On the first day, I made a few friends my age. These friends had made more friends, and we shortly became a friend group. I didn’t hide my strong Jewish identity, but I certainly didn’t make it a point to ask if anybody else was, since I didn’t think they would be. I made one friend who I figured out was Jewish, but she did not participate in youth groups or synagogue.
Early on in the cruise, I heard her speaking to my new friend, Jonah, about his dad being a rabbi. A RABBI! I was astonished. After talking, we made a few connections. Number one: he used to live in Maryland and attended a Jewish day school in Rockville which I knew many people in. Number two: his dad actually knew my aunt, who was on the cruise! Number three: he now attends Jewish day school in Dallas, and we found even more common friends! And number four, by far the biggest: he is in BBYO, and is going to IC! I didn’t think I would even find people my age on this cruise, more or less a fellow Jew who I would see again in around a half a year!
It’s so eye-opening to see how quickly Jews can connect. It is this tight-knit community we have created which allows us to bond over mutual friends and locations. BBYO allows teens to make these connections and find these new friends, and I find it so amazing that it led me to a new friend. Truly, everywhere we go we can easily find other Jews, and I find it so remarkable that we are able to share this common love and sense of community, which is so difficult to find.
Alana Gordon is a BBG from Achot BBG #2383 in Northern Region East: Baltimore Council.
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