This Shabbat is the annual “Shabbat Hekerut” (“Getting to Know You” Sabbath) in our yishuv. Every year, sometime after the Chagim and before the serious winter sets in, the families both host and are hosted by other families on the yishuv. A few weeks ago I sent in my page with the fifteen options of families that I wanted to get to know better (including the new ones that just moved in over the summer).
Although we have three active synagogues, on this Shabbat everybody davens together in one minyan for both Friday night and Shabbat morning (every year it gets more crowded, ken yirbu). On Motzei Shabbat there is a huge social evening, and at the end there is a video clip of the new families introducing them to everyone else.
Our yishuv started with 7 families, and now, bli ayin hara, numbers almost 200. When we came we were number 54 or 55. At that point it was possible to know everyone, and the feeling was one of family. As the yishuv grew, it became impossible to really “know” everyone, and most of us become friends with those who have kids in the same grade. Most of the newcomers have children younger than my own, so my goal at this point is to recognize faces, so that I know who to stop for when taking trempistim – hitchhikers. (I will stop for women anywhere, but I will only stop for a man if I know he lives in my yishuv).
Shabbat Hekerut is indirectly responsible for my finding my job. One year we got to know a family, and two years later they remembered me when they heard of job that might be suitable.
We decided to live on a yishuv before we even made aliyah, because of a lot of reasons. One important one was the feeling of community. Those of us who grew up “out of town” (meaning, out of the New York area) remember what it was like to be in a small but close Jewish community, and we sought that out in Israel. Living in a city, where you don’t know your neighbors, seemed very cold. This Shabbat always reinforces for me that we made the right decision.