Living in Community


I’ve gotten a lot of feedback regarding my recent post on why I made Aliyah, particularly in response to the comments I made about community.

Some feedback came from my friends and neighbors in New Jersey who disagree that East Coasters don’t make time for community. (“Remember when I brought you that meal after you had Annabel!”)

Some came from old friends who congratulated me on my decision to make Aliyah, but challenged me on the notion that Israel is the only place to build community. (“You suggest that Israelis are just as busy as East Coasters, but you imply that the reason they have community is because they intentionally desire it, thus suggesting that east coasters do not.”)

Others were simply surprised that I live in Israel now. (“Well, that explains why your phone has been disconnected”.)

For the record, I do have community back in the States…and I’m so very grateful for the people I love there and who love me: My friends. My family. My synagogue. My kids’ schools. My book club. My moms’ groups. My colleagues. My clients. I’m a student of and a builder of communities. And, as I wrote previously, community is key to my sanity.

But, community is a word that is very much open to interpretation and evolution. As is the word “intention.” There is much to be written on the topic (which is why I created a category here called “Living in Community.”)

I do hope that all of you who have written me offline will consider reposting your comments on the blog itself because your input is one of the best parts about blogging.

I don’t blog to hear myself talk.

Ironically enough, I blog so I can build community here.

I share of myself so that, hopefully, I may engage you in a dialogue — one that will benefit both you and me. Personal blogs are a unique forum for writers; This isn’t fiction and I don’t have a team of thoughtful editors carefully proofreading each piece. (Oh, how I wish I did.) Some might say this is little more than a closely revised public journal entry on a very specific topic.

Where this veers from journaling is that I actually value your opinion, whether you agree with me or disagree, and do hope you might consider publicly sharing your thoughts with this community of readers. (It’s easy. You just leave a reply under “Leave A Reply” and click “Post.”)

There’s a good chance that by speaking up you’ll educate and inspire me (and others) in ways that can only happen by being part of a community.

The very basis of this blog is that I’m processing the Aliyah experience. I still have so very much to learn. I hope you will stay tuned to find out what happens next…and to continue to be part of the conversation.

4 thoughts on “Community”

  1. Jen, First off, I am enjoying every post you write, so please keep on blogging. Even after living here for 1 year, I am enjoying reliving the experience through yours.
    As for your post on community, yes, there is an intentional community here on Hannaton. But, it’s not to say that, of course, you can’t find communities in other places. Wherever we lived as a family (Boston, California, NJ), we always “found” a community, whether it was a group of 5 families or as big as a synagogue of hundreds.
    Yet, the community here is different than what we experienced in the States in a few ways. First of all, when you move to Kibbutz Hannaton, you don’t need to “find” a community. The very fact that you are moving to this renewed community is because you want to be a part of the intention and vision of this place.
    This is inherently different than living in a larger community and “finding” a community of friends that suits you.
    Here, there are (what… like 25 Kibbutz families in all?) and that is it. You may not have the chance to know the ins and outs of each family, but you simply are going on faith that the people who chose to live here and be a part of a community will be like-minded with you (in various ways).
    People who choose to live here choose obligation. Living here, they are committed to the growth and sustainability of the community. Whether it is welcoming a new family, helping with a family of a newborn, sitting shiva, volunteering on one (or many!) committees, randomly picking up trash, watching others kids at the playground without being asked, opening your home for those in need, and on and on. Whether these people are your closest friends or not does not really matter. Whether they share your politics or not, doesn’t matter. Whether they are mindful or not, doesn’t matter !!! 🙂
    It’s the obligation that matters and that you are committed to being obligated to the community no matter what.
    Now, that being said, I must comment that this is NOT an “Israeli” thing. There are plenty of communities throughout Israel (and even our neighboring towns) that are not living this intentional community. In fact, the Harchava (neighboring town of the kibbutz where we live which has about 100 families) is NOT an intentional community. People chose to build homes here for lots of reasons (great location, beautiful scenery, away from the fast-paced life of the cities, freedom for their children, etc.)… anything, but community. It is quite easy to see the difference between their lifestyles and the lifestyles of those who are part of the Hannaton (kibbutz) community. While the people living on the Harchava are, of course, nice people, there isn’t an inherent sense of community. For example. when there is a celebration or a death on the Harchava, it is incredibly visible to witness the lack of community. There are smaller communities within the Harchava (groups of friends who support each other, etc.), but it’s not a community as a whole.
    When a family has a new baby, for example, there is not e-mail going out to everyone setting up opportunities to bring over meals (as what happens in the kibbutz community).
    Certainly, within the Harchava, there are smaller communities or friends, etc., that people seek out and “find”, just as you would anywhere, be it Israel or the States.
    Finally, and probably most importantly, there’s no judgment, by any means. It just is what it is. And, one is not better than the other.
    For me, living in this intentional community has been absolutely wonderful so far, but it definitely has its challenges. Jen, I would imagine in time and with your honest outlook, that you will blog on this one day.


  2. I’m so enjoying reading your blog, Jen. And your comments about community are so interesting. Having lived in cohousing which is an intentional community of sorts, I must say that we are still becoming a community in some ways and in others I think we’ve made it. Helping others I’m great at and I’m getting better at accepting it when I need it. With most of my neighbors I just don’t really feel that “always welcome” in my home feeling. There seems to be a wall still up that makes me hesitate, that I might be bothering someone. It is a process and we are still working on it. Can’t wait to hear more about your journey in community. I am sorry that I didn’t get the chance to live with you in ours.


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