The Community and I: Two Years Later
A few weeks ago I came to New York to visit my parents and enjoy the city. The train could not move fast enough to please me. I was as impatient as my children, who stood on their seats and took turns jumping on me. “Why does it take so long to come to Grandma?”
But in four days we came back to Northrup, chastened and subdued, as relieved as if we had been rescued from a disaster. Just as in other homecomings I was moved by the sight of the church spires as we approached the town, though I’ve never been in the churches. I liked the old houses and unpretentious stores. Horns tooted to attract our attention. We stopped again and again to greet our neighbors. “Hi,” we called to each other. “How are the children?”
In a few minutes the children were running wildly through the house, racing, shouting, banging doors to use the energy accumulated in the train and apartment house. I went from room to room, enjoying my possessions as if I had never seen them before. I was home.
There was no doubt that New York was home no longer. Even the anxiety that the city always brought was gone. I could remember when coming out of the subway in the neighborhood where I grew up made me shudder for a moment. It was as if I were suddenly eighteen years old again, looking for a job that wasn’t there, unsure of friends and future. This time I was just another visitor, surrounded by husband, children, and valises. I walked along a busy street feeling like a horse that needed blinders. I’m used to looking at people, but there were too many. My head ached. Everything seemed blurred. It seemed that it was easier, and more possible, to live in Northrup.
Northrup, however, has changed since I wrote about it two years ago and we have changed with the town. The years have increased our understanding of ourselves and our neighbors. We are beginning to learn what we can expect; what it is too soon to hope for. Jews continue to come to the town and Jewish organizations have grown and prospered. The Jewish community, however, is less unified than ever.
The town’s building boom has not abated. More than three hundred people move in each year, and every ride out to the edge of town is a surprise. Streets stretching like tentacles from the main thoroughfares meet each other in the woods and fields. New houses are larger and more expensive than the old ones. But there are only a few large estates, tucked away on the outskirts. Between their seclusion and the developed areas of town stand a few one-room shacks where sick or shiftless people sit huddled around a fire in winter, with their large families, waiting for the welfare worker or truant officer. The town has attracted middle-income people for the most part, salesmen, professionals, and small businessmen.
Four out of every five newcomers are Jews. The neighborhoods in which they settle are completely Jewish. Very few of them buy the large rambling houses in the old sections of town where the oldest Jewish residents still live.
The large new developments and the thriving Jewish organizations seem proof of a vital and well-organized community. Those outside it often speak as if it were a formal organization of like-minded people with definite goals and programs. Those close to it, however, are aware that the organizations have grown because of fortuitous circumstance and a handful of strong personalities. The term “community” refers to place, not to common ideals or desires. It is as unrealistic to speak of “the” Jewish community as it would be to call the rest of the town a “Christian community.”
Ten years ago the Jews of Northrup were as close as a family. Five years ago they were already divided by age, money, and education. Today there are other divisions. The length of time one has lived in the town, one’s reason for coming, the kind of Jew one is—all these are as important as whether one has a maid or not, and whether one is of the older or younger generation.
A newcomer to the town today finds it harder to make friends than two or three years ago. Established social groups do not seek or welcome new people. Each new neighborhood forms its own cliques. Each little social group is very much like what the Jewish community once was, except that it is homogeneous. Those who do not belong with any group are like people without family. The social group is a substitute for those who are away from parents and relatives, and the family feeling thrives on real or imagined coolness from outsiders.
Two years ago there was a couples’ club at the Temple that tried for a country club atmosphere. Now it has been replaced by dozens of little clubs. Some eat together. Others play cards or parlor games. A small group plays chamber music; another discusses the Bible and Jewish history. The women are the ones who organize and maintain the groups, whether they play charades, gin rummy, or Mozart.
The Jews who came to settle here in earlier years often adopted the interests and prejudices of the Jewish oldtimers. Today, the new people are unaffected by the older groups. They only talk to each other. Many have come to Northrup simply because there are Jews already here. They come from Jewish neighborhoods in the nearby cities and want to live as they always have. They have increased the membership lists of the Jewish organizations, but they do not depend on these latter for friends.
Older women who have lived in Northrup for twenty years or more find less and less pleasure in the large, crowded meetings of the Ladies’ Association or Hadassah. They meet in the afternoon instead to sew or knit or play cards. They are ill at ease when no one knows who they are. Many have forgotten their early struggles and only remember that they were once “the” Jews in town. They came to all the town functions, sure of their respectability and worth. They had non-Jewish friends they no longer have time to see now; in the old days they did not worry about the voices, manners, or clothes of fellow Jews. Some speak of the poor neighborhoods from which many of the newcomers come with a disdain that shows how they have forgotten that they grew up there too. Feelings are mixed and confused. One grandmother stands at the door during a crowded meeting and enjoys the excitement. “Ich shep naches fun die kinder,” she says. Another leaves in a huff because she has not been properly received.
The people who came to the town five or more years ago share with the oldtimers a dislike for the newcomer who is not civic-minded and doesn’t come to the town to stay. Their feelings are hurt by those who want to retain their urban anonymity and do not care what anybody thinks of them. An old resident complains sadly, “Whenever I saw a Jewish face I said hello. Now people look in my face and don’t answer. I feel embarrassed. I can’t stand when people pass me by.”
The Jews who have lived in Northrup for a length of time tend to be more like the older Gentile residents than like the newcomers in their feeling toward the town. They have come to love a place because it belongs to them. They are possessive about home, land, community, and town, and they feel uneasy about people who buy houses casually as if they were renting an apartment. Real estate agents have fostered this tendency: “If it isn’t perfect, live in it a few years and I’ll find you a better house,” they promise. Mortgage payments are computed like rent and down payments are small if there is no parent to subsidize the home-buying. The early arrivals hoped to stay. “I don’t care if I never move again,” was commonly heard from those who had traveled during the war and after. Today one hears as often, “I don’t have to stay here forever.” The town is considered a stepping stone to more fashionable and convenient places. Northrup does not compare with other booming Jewish communities, where more prosperous business and professional people go. There are few mink coats at Temple or Hadassah meetings. Many women earn the contributions they make by sewing aprons and selling cosmetics, housewares, and clothes.
The longer one lives in Northrup, the more easily one succumbs to the idea that one has an identity in it. We imagine that we know ourselves because so many people recognize us and believe they know who we are. Though it may all be an illusion, it is a wholesome way to live. The stronger the feeling of identity, the greater one’s sense of civic responsibility is likely to be. Yet, as the town grows, it is inevitable that the proportion of responsible people should decrease, and those who were here at the time when the proportion of responsible people was greatest cannot help but deplore the change and resent the ones who brought it about.
Many Jews have been moving out of the town as well as into it. Those who came to Northrup only because they could find no place to live in the city went back as soon as they could. Engineers, teachers, and salesmen move as their jobs change. There are also shifts within the town. Families sell small houses and buy large ones. Some who only two years ago would not have had the courage to live without neighbors close by have shed their agoraphobia and bought a few acres in an isolated area and become what their neighbors derisively call “Yankees.” Everything changes, but still remains the same. The inexpensive little houses are quickly sold to young couples from the city, who see them as their former owners did when they came. “So much land,” the newcomer says of his tiny garden. “It’s good to have room to breathe.” But his neighbor looks out of her window, counts his children, and plans a high fence to protect her rose bushes. In a few years hedges and fences have become as common as they were once unusual. . . .
Among the earliest and the most recent Jewish residents we find an articulate minority who make it plain that they came to a small town hoping to live a more “American” and a less “Jewish” life. They came, ironically, to escape a Jewish neighborhood. One woman once commented that she had never felt part of America until she settled in the town. She claimed that the Yiddish-speaking environment she knew had always made her feel like an outcast. To be an “American,” one needed a Cape Cod house, a picket fence, a cat and a dog. She wanted to live with and like non-Jews, and hoped to put her past behind her. When she sent her children to Sunday school, it was because the Christian children went to Sunday school. She expected to be able to enjoy a Christmas tree without complaints by Jewish neighbors. She joined the Temple, though she preferred the services at the Unitarian church; she paid dues to the Temple couples’ club only because the local country club was closed to Jews.
When the Jewish population was small some of its leaders were drawn from just such people. But as the reputation of the Jewish community grew, more people moved to the town just because it offered an opportunity to live among Jews. People came not only from the cities, but from all the little surrounding towns where ten or fifteen Jewish families lived in isolation. One met more and more people who had lived in small towns all their lives, people who did not like to live in a city but were weary of their role as “the Jews” of a town. They were happy to find a place where they could be themselves without feeling peculiar. They were eager to conform to whatever pattern the Jewish community set and were not interested in the town itself. They expected their role in it to be limited by their Jewishness, as before.
The largest group to come to Northrup, however, were not searching for “American” or “Jewish” values. They came after the neighborhoods had been built up, the Temple and Hebrew school established, and after stores catering to Jewish tastes were in business. They chose Northrup because they could afford it and because it was close enough to the city. They thought of it not as the beginning of the “country,” but as the outskirts of the city. Most were unself-conscious Jews, totally unsympathetic to the idea of assimilating in the town. They also found the idea of a unified Jewish community a naive notion. The energetic people in this group preferred to spend their time organizing nursery schools, youth centers, and improved transportation facilities, so that their children could enjoy the same things they had had in the city.
Only two years ago it was impossible to organize a B’nai B’rith or Zionist group without irking those who wished to limit the number of Jewish organizations out of fear that they would compete with each other. Newcomers, however, were not concerned with the approval or the disapproval of the machers. They set up their organizations and found members for them. Their program often duplicates others already in existence, but they do give another set of officers a chance to enjoy the exercise of authority. The Temple organization now seems eager to embrace the other organizations rather than thwart them. Its rabbi no longer seems concerned with unifying opinions and practices. The Temple now hopes to reach individuals through the groups they join.
The organizations people join tell us very little about what they believe. Though the Men’s Association insists that all members be of “Jewish faith,” “Jewish ancestry” would be the more accurate word. Parents send their children to the Hebrew school, not only because they approve of its curriculum and methods, but also because it is the only such school available. Hadassah members are not necessarily Zionists, and B’nai B’rith members are not any more concerned with American affairs than the members of the Community Center or the Zionist groups are. Each organization must cope with diverse opinions. The leaders often do not speak for the majority. The lay and professional leaders are frequently in conflict with each other. The rabbi and Hebrew teachers are educated and committed Jews interested primarily in the survival of Judaism and the return of Jews to the faith and culture they have neglected, whereas the lay leaders are frequently uneducated, and concerned only with everyday Jewish interests. Some are idealistic, others merely ambitious.
The first rabbi to live through the growing pains of the Jewish community of Northrup left a year and a half ago. His departure—with good wishes, testimonials, and sighs of relief—had been inevitable. It is doubtful that any rabbi could have survived the confusion. He was like the first child of tense, aggressive, and insecure parents who never wanted a child in the first place.
The search for a new rabbi took more than a year. The families that offered their homes to visiting applicants grew weary of flounder, lettuce, and cottage cheese. Many prospective rabbis were rejected before their sermon was heard because they demanded more kashruth than their hostesses could guarantee.
Meanwhile all social talk centered upon whatever rabbi was visiting. Services were well attended by the curious, who wanted to see who the new man would be. People asked themselves and each other what to expect and what to demand. It was agreed that a European rabbi, or a scholar, who might have contempt for the local lack of religion and scholarship, would not be happy in the town. One individual voiced the feelings of many when he said, “I don’t want to be pushed. I don’t want to be made to feel guilty. I feel I’m a pretty decent guy and I don’t want anyone to tell me different.”
When the quest began it was for someone who would make a good impression upon both Jews and Gentiles in town. People spoke of “someone who will do what the congregation wants,” of a “regular guy” with the children. Some found the search for a rabbi so stimulating that it was seriously suggested we have only visiting rabbis preach to us on Friday nights.
But the long search became embarrassing. Visiting ministers joked about the hard-to-please congregation. It was agreed that a leader was necessary as a spokesman in the town. The early objectives changed. More and more one heard the desire expressed for someone who would be sincere. Even the people who were strong for a practical man, not too much of an idealist, spoke about somebody “honest” whom they could admire.
When they finally did choose a rabbi, it was because of his youth and his integrity. They accepted him not for the opinions he held, but for his honesty in stating them. Whether they will be able to accept him as an authority remains to be seen.
It is generally believed that the rabbi can make his greatest contribution as a teacher, educating parents as the Hebrew school educates children. But first he will have to find those who have the self-discipline and alertness to be students; then he will have to adjust his teachings to the various levels of understanding. He may find it hard to teach people who come to Temple for “peace of mind,” not for disquieting and probing thoughts. It may be hard to teach those who want to feel, not think, about Judaism. He may not find many who share his view that education should bring doubt and dissatisfaction, self-improvement and concern for others. Those, however, who do share this view have been waiting a long time to hear this said and they will listen to and support him.
The divergence between professional and lay opinion in the running of the Hebrew school is as great as in the Temple. The school was organized by a group of parents, began as a Sunday school with volunteer teachers, and grew into a four-day Hebrew school with no Sunday school program for children over eight. It is governed by a lay committee that hires the principal and teachers, but all important decisions are made by the principal and the Temple rabbi. Standards and curricula are prescribed by the Board of Jewish Education in the nearby city. The Board, however, is more concerned with high standards of learning than with the realities of life in Northrup.
Many parents are bewildered. The organizers of the school did not realize that it would escape their control so soon. Parents hoped for a smattering of information that would give their children security in what they feared was still a hostile world. They hoped to discover Jewish heroes and explanations that would take the woe out of Jewish history. They wanted their children to learn about Jews, not how to be Jews. But all the teachers were firm in stating that it was the latter, not the former that they would teach.
Many parents found themselves in a position like that of the immigrant parent who sends his child off to a school that has no relation whatsoever to the child’s home. Some parents are able and willing to learn from their children. Others feel so threatened by the old attitudes which they have rejected that they do their best to negate whatever their children learn at the Hebrew school.
The problems are built into the situation. The greatest is the lack of teachers. The committee interviewing teachers finds it must choose between two or three men or women, fifty and sixty years of age, Yiddish-speaking representatives of the old generations and the old values. Teachers born and educated in Russian or Polish villages, even after half a lifetime in this country, retain many of their prejudices and stereotypes and find it hard to advise children challenged by the temptations of a non-Jewish community. Still, many parents have great respect and affection for these teachers and hope that their children will be influenced by their zeal and sincerity. Others doubt whether there can be any communication between the generations.
Hebrew education at our school is hampered by many compromises. There is a constant tug-of-war between parents who want a minimal Jewish education, in keeping with their own amount of Jewish learning, and the professionals, who press for as many Hebrew school hours as possible. The elimination of Sunday school will in time increase the number of children who get no Jewish education—or it will bring about the founding of another school. The professionals may, however, eventually succeed in convincing more parents that the hours spent in Hebrew school are truly well spent.
The children, meanwhile, are well aware of the feelings of their parents, and respond to them. Some accept Hebrew school as a social activity, the preparation for Bar Mitzvah and Bas Mitzvah parties. Others think of it as time that could be better spent in scouting or dancing, or at piano lessons. A few children insist on going to Hebrew school simply because their parents are reluctant to send them. One way or another, the teachers bear the brunt of the confusion. The children come directly from public school with their capacity for attention and sitting quiet used up. They’re hungry, and bored and eager for diversion. The teacher looks at row after row of jaws grinding bubble gum. Spitballs fly across the room. Comic books are hidden behind Hebrew grammars. Whether or not the teacher is permissive, the children behave as if he were. It is understood that Jews are part of the family and can put up with the worst manners. Teachers scold and shriek and shout, control and patience tried beyond belief. Even holiday celebrations turn into tedious, disciplinary lectures that have no joy or taste.
Despite the changes that have taken place in public school education, the Hebrew classes in Northrup are not very different from those of twenty years ago. History is taught as a series of unconnected stories. Hebrew is studied more as the language of the Bible than as the living language of Israel. Most of the learning depends upon memory rather than intelligence, and many of the bright children are discouraged by the word-by-word study of the Chumash, which leaves little room for personal reactions.
Nevertheless the majority of Jewish children in town do go to Hebrew school, and few parents ignore the social pressure for a Bar Mitzvah. Even the nonconformists who do not send their boys to study cannot let their thirteenth year go by uncelebrated. One finds notices in the local paper indicating that “thirteen boys were invited to the thirteenth (Bar Mitzvah) birthday of so-and-so. Gifts were given and a delicious Chinese dinner was served.”
The usual celebration is in the form of an elaborate kiddush after the Saturday morning service. To the schnapps, herring, and honey cake of the old day have been added great quantities of kishke, chopped liver, gefilte fish, jello molds, and Chinese egg roll. In the evening there are often dinner parties with hundreds of guests, an orchestra, photographers, and a master of ceremonies. The cost of the celebration depends less upon what the parents can afford to spend than upon family tradition.
Though one may hear criticism of the quantity or quality of the celebration, it is agreed that it is impossible to watch a thirteen-year-old, suddenly sobered and disciplined by the book and the people before him, without being moved. There seems to be a need, however passing, for ceremony and order, for knowing one’s part and playing it according to the rules—even where otherwise there is laziness and lack of interest in rituals and disciplines.
When parents ask what the Hebrew school hopes to accomplish by three, four, or five years of study, the answers are vague. They may be told that it is only preparation for higher study in a Hebrew high school or college. Yet the children interested in such higher study can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It is hoped that the majority will acquire a feeling of pride and loyalty that will help them mature into good Jews who know their responsibilities to family, temple, and community. The actual curriculum has, however, little relation to such an aim.
Though the average parent asks few questions about goals and accomplishments, few meetings run their course without an outburst from some angry individual speaking for a discontented minority. “How about teaching the kids good citizenship!” one parent exclaims after watching a U.J.A. film on Israel being shown to the children.
Another sits tensely through a Parent-Teachers meeting at the Hebrew school and waits for the chance to say, “I came here tonight to protect myself from this community. I don’t want you to run my life and tell me what to do.” His wrath had been aroused by a communication to the public schools listing the holidays on which Jewish children would be expected to be absent. Those included Shavuoth, Simchas Torah, Succoth, and the last days of Pesach, as well as the High Holidays. This angry parent felt that his children were being forced to observe holidays he himself never bothered with, and that they would be embarrassed going to school when the other children stayed away. “Why don’t you take a poll?” he shouted. “Why don’t you find out how people feel before you send notices?”
Though few become as angry as he, every holiday brings confusion. The Hebrew school tells children to observe the festivals. School teachers are annoyed at disrupted classes. Many are teaching Jewish children for the first time and no one has troubled to do more than give them a list of the dates when absences could be expected. Hebrew teachers assure their students that non-Jews will respect them for observing their religion, but public school teachers who know nothing about the holidays don’t know whether to respect or deplore them. A few teachers in the early grades call parents directly for information. One stencilled large sheets with “Leshono Tovah, Happy Chanukah, Happy Pesach, etc., etc.” for the children to color and present to their families or friends. They get neither information nor encouragement from the Hebrew school, however, because the belief there is that there should be no religion in public school of any kind, Jewish or Christian.
There is still very little social communication between adult Jews and Gentiles in Northrup. Those few who want to make friends outside their own religion can, but the majority make no effort to do so. People meet and work on community projects together. Everyday relations are very polite, formal, and respectful, but only rarely personal. The town remains atomized into little groups, each with its own exclusiveness, prejudices, and values. The Protestant groups are far from united, and Catholics and Jews usually remain as apart from the others as the Protestants do.
Public school, however, has broken down many of the barriers, especially among teenagers. At grammar school Jewish children are as a rule in predominantly Jewish classes, but at high school they become a small minority. It would appear, however, that the more friendly Jewish children become with Gentile children, the more concerned their parents get. There is great fear of intermarriage. Parents who always lived in a closed Jewish environment suddenly feel exposed to an unexpected danger. The fear seems no less on the part of those whose Jewish understanding is small than on the part of those who have had good Jewish backgrounds. They do not seem aware that their fear reflects their lack of faith in Jewish life and their inability to share their feelings with their children.
These concerns, however, have set in motion an organization to cater to teen-agers. Clubs and athletic activities that once had little support now receive funds and attention. Membership in the youth center is reserved for children of the “Jewish faith,” guests can come on only one night a week. These decisions were made by a small group of people with the encouragement of the professional leaders of the community. Many parents are not yet reconciled to them. Arguments continue, but teen-agers join and enjoy the juke-box and paddle tennis, the basketball and ice-skating parties; the leaders feel that they are protecting the youth from “outside” influences. A minority of Jews sees this as a step, and an unnecessary one, towards further segregation. The majority worry about how much it will cost and whether it is all really necessary. There is no town-wide youth center. Each church has its own youth activities and is determined to keep as many young people under its supervision as possible.
One may still hear a Hadassah member suggest that her organization spend more time rolling bandages for the Red Cross or recruiting people for Civil Defense than for the Medical Organization in Israel. The Jewish Ladies’ Association still prefers fashion shows and penny sales to discussions of Jewish affairs, and the Men’s Association relaxes with magicians and sports commentators. Nevertheless, all the Jewish organizations are influenced by a minority eager for the survival of Jewish values and religion. The older conservatives are quick to insist that the acceptance and understanding of the majority is not too important. They comfort themselves by remembering that Judaism has always depended upon a few, that it is too difficult for the majority.
The power of this minority is apparent on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when it makes the arrangements and the majority conforms. Outsiders are surprised to find a large youthful congregation united in tallis and yarmelke. The services are long and tedious. The reader is as capable as could be expected in view of the small sum paid for his services. Yet on these days the need to be with other Jews seems to make it possible to accept the authority of the minority, even though tallis, prayer book, and skullcap will be put away for another year when the shofar stops blowing.
The attitudes toward giving are likewise set by this minority, whose members go out on a fund drive as if they were collecting taxes instead of charity. Those who accept the Jewish view that giving to others is a duty and a responsibility are not surprised. Others cannot understand why the Red Feather or Red Cross worker asks for a donation, whereas the U.J.A. or Israel Bond representative is likely to tell people what to give.
The reception the volunteer fund-raisers get depends upon the Jewishness of the people they visit. “I always give,” one woman said. “It makes me feel better. For instance, when my husband came out of the hospital I had to give a few dollars to the Temple. I made my girl a birthday party. It cost so much, so it cost another two dollars and a child in Israel has milk to drink. My parents were the same way. It had nothing to do if they had or they didn’t have. There were always boxes to throw a few cents in; a dollar for the old-age home, a dollar for the orphans, a dollar for the rabbis. I can afford more than my parents, so why shouldn’t I do the same?”
Another woman, however, told the man at the door, “I don’t see why I have to support everybody. Why should I give up my few little pleasures for people I don’t even know? It would be different if I were rich and had money to burn.” Most people react somewhere between these two extremes. They may grumble, “Always asking for money, do you think we’re made of money?” but find it hard to say no.
Fortunately, the Jewish community organizations of Northrup do not depend upon the zealous minority alone. Most of the work is done by men and women who enjoy it for its own sake. The women who enjoy selling tickets, food, or clothing, and the men who find excitement in arranging an auction or in hiring painters and carpenters contribute many hours to the Jewish community. They feel that they have a stake in it even though they do not concern themselves with Jewish survival, religion, or Zionism. Some expect the rabbi and teachers to give meaning to the Temple and the school they have built. Others, though unsure of their ideas of what Temple and school should accomplish, are still not ready to be told.
The lay leaders come from both groups. They may speak for the dedicated minority, or else they are active in the community—and say so openly—because they like the challenge of organizing, the stimulus of speaking in public, the pleasure of being known and admired. The rabbi and teachers find that the leaders most helpful to them are the ones who, whether educated or not, have respect for authority and do not believe that it is right to quarrel with “experts.”
In writing about Northrup in 1954, I questioned whether the community would meet the needs of serious-minded people. Today that question seems irrelevant. It is apparent that the planners think in terms of their own understanding and taste and assume that what pleases them will please everybody. The program chairman who prefers fashion shows, penny sales, and magicians arranges for just such a program. The more sophisticated activities are planned by more mature people. If they do not come off, it is because the “serious” people are not serious enough to work for what they want. If any attention is paid to the minority that likes to think and learn, it is because there are a few who have the strength, the will, and the patience to battle the majority who want to relax, who do not want to be surprised, disturbed, or questioned.
Today it seems more important to ask whether the educated and “serious” people in the town will work to make it the kind of community they would like to live in.
In a small town where everyone can still stand up to be counted, it seems improper to criticize anything without doing something, or helping do something, about it. If there is to be an intelligent and liberal rabbi, an adult education program, a good school for children, teachers who can teach, and a youth center with a positive purpose, there must be discerning people to work for them.
If the people with education and understanding do not accept their responsibilities and try to become leaders, if the Jews in Northrup remain short-sighted enough to prefer leaders unconcerned with ideas and ideals, then it is not unlikely that a few years hence will see the end of our community as a community. Northrup will then have become just a Jewish neighborhood, closer to the city than the town.
Yet more Jews in Northrup are becoming interested in Jewish things every day. More are studying and reading than before. The new rabbi has stimulated and encouraged many people who were never interested in Jewish affairs before.
Perhaps the Jews of Northrup may settle down to Jewish living when the excitement of building and moving is over. If they do, they may find that there are many occasions in Jewish life when one eats or drinks for the sake of the blessing, rather than for the food or the wine. Similarly, in Jewish activities there is need for blessings that are not formalities but real expressions of feeling and understanding, in order to make the material work accomplished more meaningful than it is now.
Perhaps in ten or twenty years it will be possible to compare our Jewish suburban life to a Passover feast and we shall know whether we have come for the Haggadah or the knaidlach. Today we may have to feed the hungry people before we can tell. Later it will be up to those who can read.