By: Elanah Chassen
When I first moved to Rhode Island six months ago, I wondered how meeting people “in the real world” worked. Sure, I have my coworkers whom I enjoy working with, but how will I meet people my age in the area? In college people were always around, there was never a dull moment, and surely there always someone to hang out with. But as a recent college graduate moving to a new city for a job, how do I meet people? Where do I meet people?
Life has a funny way of working out. As I started my new life in Rhode Island, (401)j also started its new life. (401)j is a community without borders, where young people (20s, 30s, and 40s) are able to grow, connect, learn, and form lasting friendships. There are “Clusters” of peer-led groups of Jewish young adults who create community through the pursuit of a common interest. Clusters are overseen by (401)j, but are organized, coordinated, and led by a community member. Members can choose a Cluster they’d like to participate in or choose to create their own Cluster. In the short six months I have been a Rhode Island resident, (401)j has brought new friendships and opened up new experiences. Over the past few months, I’ve met a diverse group of young, Jewish professionals who, like me, are also interested in meeting others their age. That said, (401)j was the answer to my question six months ago by creating avenues such as events, Clusters, and get-togethers to branch out and meet new people.
As I learned what (401)j Clusters were, I knew that I not only wanted to take part, but also wanted to create one. Over the past few months, Rabbi Barry Dolinger and I have been working together to create D’var in the Bar, a collaborative conversation on contemporary Torah topics. Every six or so weeks, D’var in the Bar will meet, each time with a different speaker and a different topic. This is an opportunity to explore Jewish learning in a casual atmosphere while discussing fascinating topics that apply to you. But D’var in the Bar is more than that. In addition to the learning aspect, giving is an important component of our learning. Each time we meet, we will be giving back to our community by asking people to bring clothing, a non-perishable food item, or money that will go towards a specific charity. Interested? The first D’var in the Bar will take place on Wednesday, January 22nd at 6:30pm at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket. Rabbi Dolinger will lead our first discussion. We will be exploring “The Forgotten New Year of the Trees.” Learn about the religious and secular resolutions to live responsibly and give back.
Whether you are new to the area or have been a Rhody resident for a wicked long time, join in the conversation!