Ask the Rabbi June-July 2022
Rabbi Carla Freedman
June-July 2022 Question
I am new to the congregation, and want to make friends…I had a wonderful group of friends “up north”, and miss them a lot. It has been a long time since I have needed to make friends…any advice will be much appreciated.
June-July 2022 Answer
Almost everyone in the congregation has arrived here after leaving a community where we had friends for many years. There are no sure-fire solutions, but I have some observations that might help.
First, friendship is like a tiny, fragile plant that needs to be carefully nurtured. Selecting the right plant for your environment is a challenge: light, water, air temperature…all need to be factored into the choice. In terms of friends, everyone needs to find people with similar interests…and that takes time.
So I recommend that you come to as many Temple events as you can, and look for the people who do the same.
I suggest that you spend a few minutes with someone, and get them to tell you about themselves (hint: people usually love to talk about themselves, so let them…and when they ask you about yourself, it is your turn!). Ask people about their hobbies, their education, their occupation, about how they chose to move here…you may discover commonalities…or you may not.
Come to Shabbat evening services regularly, so people get used to seeing you at Temple. Make a point of sitting with different people at the Oneg Shabbat, and ask people how they found Beth Israel. Remember: be the listener rather than the talker.
Ask people for recommendations…for a dry cleaner, for a hairdresser, for a good restaurant (Mexican? Italian? Deli?), museums?, art galleries?, dentist?, medical doctor? (you name the specialty!) If you act on any of these or other suggestions, be sure to let people know. And if you find a restaurant you enjoy, next time, invite the recommender to join you there.
Probably the most critical thing, however, is to relax and give friendship a time to form. It doesn’t happen instantly, especially since we have all left treasured friendships behind. As the saying goes, “You can’t push the river”.
People who have been here a long time already have friends, and may not be looking for more. So you are most likely to make connections with others who are relatively new to the area. To find these people, you will have to come to services, classes, and other Temple events, and slowly, carefully, cultivate a relationship.
All worthwhile relationships take time and work. Keep that in mind, and you are likely to be rewarded.