Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shuls Lists, or, "Do You Know the Way to Teaneck?"

My latest pet peeve (and Lord knows, I do seem to breed them) is the ubiquitous shul lists that appear to be popping up everywhere. I first learned about this phenomenon a few years ago. The agency in which I work was looking for ways to better link Jewish educators in the field, and I was steered towards TeaneckShuls, one of the pioneers. I briefly subscribed to FiveTownsShuls, but then found that people living in the Five Towns area of Long Island apparently have way too much time on their hands (maybe as the result of having housekeepers) and postings were just happening way too often and with way too diverse a collection of information and needs.

Finally, I settled on my shtetl's own list: WestHempsteadShuls. This has met most of my Jewish neighborhood networking needs, and there is now a second list that is an unmoderated list, offering new possibilities for the sharing of information and new opportunities for sarcasm from me.

Here are some observations about several years of experience on shuls lists:
  • Everybody appears to be needing to travel to Teaneck from Long Island. I'm not sure what is in Teaneck that is so compelling (other than my friend Caren), but there should be seismic activity registered from the shift of population from the Island to NJ, based on the number of requests for rides there.

  • There is some magical ritual called segullah challah, which apparently involves baking challah, taking off the challah portion as a remembrance of rituals in the Temple era, all while having in mind that someone is going to attain healing from medical woes because I burned some dough. Learned this from FiveTownsShuls. Thanks.

  • There are more Orthodox singles events than there are Orthodox singles. And West Hempstead, which has 24 single Orthodox Jews between the ages of 25 - 55, is a hotbed of singles shabbatonim, inexplicably.

  • Mail service from the USA to Israel has been discontinued. That is the only explanation for the number of people who think that the best way to get a letter (or package, or dining room set) to the mishpacha in Israel is to ask people going to Israel to put it in their luggage, lie to the security agent ("Did anyone give you something to take with you?"...HA!), and schlep it from Jersualem, where you'll be staying, to someplace deep in the West Bank).

  • In the most bizarre (and true) posting: Some Israeli yeshiva students smuggled drugs into Japan, so we ought to recite Tehillim for them (apparently the idea of hiring a good defense attorney is trumped by Tehillim)


Notwithstanding my usual cynicism, I'm going to keep up my subscription to my two shul list groups. Despite the often trite nature of the postings, every once in a while there is a gold nugget of information about our community and its needs that comes through.