Community Engagement

Jewish Topography: Shmoozing in Action

Each year, NYC’s Jewish Community Center celebrates the holiday of Shavuot with an all-night learning event, Tikkun, meaning “heal.” Jews of all races, denominations, genders, ages, orientations, and levels of observance attended my session, inviting them to “delve, encounter, connect, and discover the breadth and depth of our communal and individual identities through a series of engaging and dynamic discussions.” Utilizing cultural mapping and sociometric games and exercises, I facilitated fascinating encounters and discussions about the visible and invisible lines that divide and connect us.

Jewish Topography was a play on Jewish Geography–a name given to the little social game some Jews play in search of a shared connection or network. For instance, when another Jew learns that I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona they might start asking if I know a local Rabbi or another Jew who lives there. Turns out, this game was played when I was dating my wife by her family and earned me a few more dates! In this workshop, rather than exploring who we know, we were traversing the diversity of who we are–the variety and contours that make up our cultural identities.