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 In Hashavua Article

In late June, on my way to a conference, I stopped in St. Louis to visit Elaine, mother of Angela Gold – our beloved songleader/music teacher of blessed memory. Arriving on a redeye flight, I had a few hours to pass, so I found a Starbucks that opened early and parked myself on a couch to work. During those few hours, I witnessed what felt like the most Jewish Starbucks on the planet. Twenty or thirty customers settled in all around me, talking “Jewish”: debates about Israel, synagogues and kosher caterers, discussions about health and about recent passings. I felt very much at home amongst these strangers who spoke “my language”. I later met Elaine at a nearby restaurant for brunch, who expressed deep appreciation for the Yavneh community that embraced her daughter and continued to show support after her move home. And while she was profusely thanking me for our community’s support, many of those dining at the restaurant were greeting her by name, some got up to give her hugs of condolence, and one tried to engage her in conversation about the possibility of her grandchildren attending the local Jewish day school. It felt like an extension of the Starbucks shtetl. While I was in awe of the strength of that community, Elaine was marveling at the closeness of our own community’s embrace of Angela. I realize that we too have a community, but it looks a bit different. Our lobby at drop off and pick up becomes our town square. In an area where few of us were actually born, and even fewer have local extended family, our Yavneh family is a blessing. But this type of family doesn’t just magically happen. We are taught in Pirkei Avot to not separate ourselves from community, “al trifrosh min hatzibur”. To me, that feels like a passive request. It takes effort. Many parents work and don’t have the opportunity to hang out in the lobby regularly, they feel community through playdates and at school-wide events. Summer is an ideal time for families who are not traveling to reach out to one another for playdates and family get-togethers. As we look toward the coming year, there will be a whole new crew of families joining our Yavneh community. I hope we all make the effort to make these new family members feel welcome by volunteering to mentor a new family, actively introduce yourself to people you don’t know at the back to school pancake picnic and throughout the year. We may not have a physical Jewish Starbucks, but here in Silicon Valley we certainly are able to create a virtual one. Shabbat Shalom -Zvi