Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

There’s no place like home

I love Vancouver. It’s no secret. But like so many relationships, we have our disagreements. I want more Jews, more Jewish life, Jewish community. And Vancouver wants me to compromise; love her for who she is, without trying to change her. And I do, mostly. I love the ocean, the mountains, the sounds, the beaches, and the false creek. I love being able to ski and kayak on the same day. I love the abundance of amazingly fresh, delicious, yet cheap sushi. On a good day, I’ll even admit to liking the small big city (or is that the big small city?) syndrome: of walking down the street, sitting in a café, going to the farmers market, and running into people you know. Yet it pains me that I couldn’t be shomer shabbos with a progressive community in Vancouver. (Though, just wait, ’cause I’ve got long term plans.)

It’s annoying that the only kosher restaurants are the snack café at the JCC and a deli-slash-grocery store. That there isn’t really a Reform synagogue. That the pluralism, post-, and trans-denominational pushes happening in the US aren’t happening there. That there are so few visibly observant Jews, that I get to try to ignore the guys on the SkyTrain urging each other to “pull [my] strings.”

I want to see that all change, help it change, but I’m just not in a place to do that (yet).

This was my first visit to Vancouver that didn’t feel like “going home.” What an odd realisation. If I’m asked where I’m from, I’ll still say Vancouver. But now the question of where home is gets a shrug, an “I don’t know.”

I hope to know soon. For now, I can say that I’m in New York. And, for the first time in many months, I have unpacked my backpack.

Post script: Shabbos plus four days just isn’t long enough to see all the lovely people in Vancouver. Hopefully my next visit will be longer… and not after another 1.5 years.

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Filed under: home, travels

3 Responses

  1. ilanadavita says:

    Why did I have the impression there was quite a large Jewish community in Vancouver?

  2. feygele says:

    I can’t explain another’s impressions. However, I can tell you that the most recent census showed 30,000 Jews in the Greater Vancouver area (which includes 22 towns/cities/suburbs). For a metropolitan area with a population of just over 2,100,000, that’s not a large population. (Here’s the 2001 census break down by religion for Greater Vancouver (in 2001 there were roughly 17,000 Jews for a total population of 1,900,000.)

    The additional factor is that Vancouver’s Jewish population is largely “culturally” Jewish, and/or unaffiliated, and/or not religious. Sociological studies have shown that Canadian Jews move to Vancouver to leave the insular Conservative and Orthodox communities of Toronto and Montreal. (Studies also show that Jews leave Vancouver when they want to be more observant.)

  3. ilanadavita says:

    Thank you for all the explanations.

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