From Jerusalem to the “Great Fringe of the Diaspora”, as my hostess calls it, in just 28 hours on harrowing travel.
After a marathon Shabbat of Mission Minyan activities and meals I’m duly shocked to still be awake. Nonetheless, the day proved that there are Jews in San Fransisco who actually identify as such. The dirty little secret however, is that most of them are actually East Coast transplants. Fellow guests included DJ Handler and Y Love, who is performing at the aforementioned feast later today.
The shock of re-acclimation to Western Culture always hits me upon my first attempt to buy anything from a super market. I generally end up staring, in paralyzed wonderment at the absolutely astounding array of choices. 45 varieties of pasta, 70 tea options 125 canned or bottled drinks in the refrigerated section for your convenience. Every possible variation on a theme you could ever want and then some.
This rich choice of consumer goods contrasts starkly with the relative dearth of Jewish options in San Francisco and in the West Coast. At any grocery store here you can get about 7 varieties of cola. However, if you are out in the wilderness and you can’t find your Diet Cherry caffeine-Free Coca Cola Classic, then, well, you just grab that plain ol’ diet coke and make do with what you’ve got. If you live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you may choose to attend shabbat services at the litvish shteibel with exactly the right hashkaffah and politics that is also within the appropriate walking distance from where you live.
A multiplicity of choices allows you to be picky – even cantankerous and divisive about the exact flavor of your Jewish experience. On the West Coast though, you gotta take what you can get, and because of this, a certain kind of diversity sems to truly flourish. Jews of all stripes, from the observant to the athiests all worship and eat together in harmony.