Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chavurah

A chavurah is a small group of like-minded Jews who assemble to share communal experiences such as lifecycle events and Jewish learning.

When my family moved to Anchorage in 1983, we joined a chavurah. They became our extended family during The Alaska Years because visits from blood relatives were few and far between.

It was an eclectic group because Alaska is an odd place for Jews; it's just not an easy place to be Jewish. The closest Kosher butcher is in Seattle. And Jewish holidays begin and end at sunset which is tricky when there are just 90 minutes of daylight in the winter and 90 minutes of darkness in the summer. And so my parents' closest friends became a group lawyers, oil industry executives, and teachers who fled the Lower 48 for some reason or another.

Have you noticed that as people grow up they ground themselves by becoming more religious? I find comfort in Judaism now, and I never gave it much thought until I became a parent. A few years ago Dave and I joined a chavurah through our synagogue. The families were nice enough but there wasn't enough commonality to bind us together. I wish it were otherwise.

I have great memories of those years and of those people. Each seemed larger than life. Grace gave me an incredible lemon cheesecake recipe. Sandy and my father served on a volunteer board together for 20+ years. (I am still mad about the trip they took to Deer Valley, Utah, on my 21st birthday when I was away at a college.) Fran and Cheryl moved to San Francisco shortly after we returned to the Bay and we still see them from time to time. Roxanne-With-The-Purple-Hair. Jim, who ran the US Customs Office in Anchorage. (Do you think that ever came in useful?!)

Sandy passed away this weekend, quite suddenly. He and my father were friends for 27 years. Anita and my mother were friends for 27 years. My parents are beside themselves. I am shaken to the core.

Sandy was about as unAlaskan as they come. I am quite certain he never shopped for his clothes in-state. Their home was pure Colfax and Fowler. They weren't outdoorsy. They were New York Jews who simply lived and worked in Anchorage. Anita cross stitched our children gorgeous pieces when they were born. And they sent signed Marianne Wieland embossed serigraphs, like the one pictured above. Marianne Wieland is my favorite Alaskan artist.

The midnight sun shines less brightly now.

1 comment:

Kathy B! said...

So, so sorry. The sun, indeed, is a bit less bright.