(idea submitted by Jenny S.G. and Faith R.)
One of the more obvious and readily noticeable traits of Jewish Young Adults is their penchant for organizing other JYAs into degrees of separation. This activity, commonly known as “Jewish Geography”, usually occurs within the first five to ten minutes from when two JYAs introduce themselves to each other. The term “Jewish Geography” is somewhat misleading, in that the attempt to categorize or “place” the other JYA is not necessarily purely topographical, but is rather more vague, involving a mapping of similar or overlapping historical events, shared experiences, or intersecting social milieus.
The aim of Jewish Geography is for two previously unacquainted JYAs to quickly find common ground based on a limited degree of connectivity, usually between one and three degrees. The physical act itself involves mentioning the names of other JYAs that might overlap in both people’s lives. For example, if one JYA from Cherry Hill meets another JYA from West Bloomfield, they will mention the name of a cousin or an ex who grew up in the same township. If a match is not made on the first try, the two participating JYAs will proceed to inquire about other events in life, like Summer Camp, Youth Organization, or College, that will foster an overlapping association with a 3rd mutually known JYA. It is very rare for two JYAs to fail in Jewish Geography, as the degrees of separation, commonly accepted as 6, fall to 3 between JYAs.
Jewish Geography is a worldwide phenomenon. If two Israeli JYAs meet they will try to find a match, but they will alter their questions accordingly, like where they served in the military. Similar cultural adjustments are made for JYAs of British, Australian, or any other descent. It is not uncommon for Jewish Geography to transcend international lines and span across continents. For example, “Ari”, an American JYA, met “Mike”, an Australian JYA, at a bar in Tel Aviv and within three minutes realized that “Mike” had a cousin who attended high school with “Ari” in California. “Ari”, upon realizing that he had succeeded in his game of Jewish Geography mentioned, “Dude, Mike’s cousin was such a hottie senior year. Sucks she’s married now, but I’d totally still hit that”.
Regardless of location, Jewish Young Adults feel an overwhelming urge to connect to other JYAs, and fortunately Jewish Geography creates readily accepted guidelines that aid in this process. It still remains unknown whether Jewish Geography is based on purely altruistic goals of finding commonality amongst strangers, or if it is based on more malign motives of passing judgment or stereotyping. More research is needed in this area.
If you are a Non-JYA and find yourself trapped in an engrossing session of Jewish Geography, there is unfortunately not much you can do. No solution has been found to end the Jewish Geography process prematurely before it has reached its natural conclusion on a consistent basis. Fortunately for the Non-JYA, the entire process is fairly quick and usually painless.
(Original Jewish Georaphy?)
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