Religion & Beliefs

You Can Pick Your Friends…

Over the last few years, I’ve become involved with several listservs that have really changed my life.  And while it sounds a little odd—virtual friendship—it’s also special.  It doesn’t take the place of friendship in the real world of course … Read More

By / April 25, 2007

Over the last few years, I’ve become involved with several listservs that have really changed my life.  And while it sounds a little odd—virtual friendship—it’s also special.  It doesn’t take the place of friendship in the real world of course (though often you get to know your internet friends in the physical sphere too) but it serves an entirely different purpose.

See, your listserv friends can be people from all over the world, and so it’s a lot easier to find “perfect matches”.  If you’re a vegetarian Jewish stamp-collector who likes to garden, you can find a soul mate who wants to discuss Jewish vegetarian recipes, and rare floral stamps.  If you’re a native New Yorker transplanted to a rural area for work as a small-town newspaper editor, you can find other people to vent with about slackass copyeditors and your need for a real bagel.

Then too, a listserv (because it is NOT made up of people you have to run into at the grocery store) can be more honest sometimes, more real. People can assume a certain amount of anonymity, feel protected from public shame. Especially if they’re struggling with the same issue. Especially if that issue is something they have a hard time talking about.

As for me, my listservs (and trust me, two is plenty) center on:

1. Jewish intermarriage, and

2. Being a new mom and a poet at the same time

 And I don’t want to gross you out with the bloody details of just what new moms talk about (a lot of it is pretty gory) or bore you with our poetics.  And I don’t want to start another thread about intermarriage here… but I do want to stress that when I signed up for both of these listservs, I had no idea how many amazingly deep and personal conversations I’d get from them. How many lasting friendships and honest answers to hard questions. 

The internet is full of all kinds of Jewish listservs, that focus on a huge range of issues. Listservs for Jewish Lesbians from England, and  Reconstructionist Jews working in American synagogues.  Listservs for Jewish people tracking family genealogy in specific regions of Eastern Europe, and for Reform men focused on Jewish men’s issues.  Listservs for Chabadniks in Evanston, and for Jewish lawyers anywhere. Listservs for crunchy hippie Jews who like to hang out in the woods, and for the parents of Jewish children battling cancer. Some are small and some are enormous, but if they’re active, they’re worth a try. 

Try doing a search over at Yahoo Groups, for the things that interest you, and I bet you’ll find something…  or just google “listserv”, “jewish”, and  “labradoodles” (or whatever gets you hot).   

You can always unsubscribe if you hate it, and obviously some lists are better than others.  But it can be an amazing way to build YOUR kind of Jewish community.  In your own way, at your own pace.