Friday, April 12, 2013

For You Were Strangers In A Strange Land

I had an interesting conversation today with a Jewish woman who is new-ish to Okinawa.  We were talking about what brought us out here, the weirdness that is a first-tour in the Navy, and the experience of being Jewish.

Her husband and I had similar experiences in getting orders to the one place that we did not have on our desired-locations-list.  Neither he nor I were really asked where we wanted to go. 

She was born in Israel and spent her early years there, but she spent the majority of her life in Chicago.  As she put it, “I never really knew what living without Jews around would be like; they were just always there.”  It felt like a conversation that I had with Leora a year and a half ago.

But she told me she couldn’t put her finger on what was missing from her new life in Okinawa -- until she came to services on Friday night.

Was it the liturgy?  No, not so much.
Was it the tunes?  She knows some different tunes.
What was it?

“One of the men introduced himself and started telling me about all his ailments.”  Jewish community at its finest.

I can’t say that the Jewish Community of Okinawa is the strongest Jewish Community in the world (though we are heavily armed).  Nor can I say that we have the best regular attendance, most ruach (spirit), or greatest voices (the Lord did not bequeath tone to the Jewish people of Okinawa on His Sabbath Day).  But between the ailments and the simchas (another Simchat Bat this week!), we’ve got all the makings of a real Jewish community.

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