Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 11:11 Phenomenon, or Numerical Synchronicity

The Whole Phamily has taken an informal poll of real-life friends, and asked if they have experienced the recurring phenomenon of looking at a digital clock and seeing their numeric birthday.  For example, if their  birthday is July 16th, they often look at the clock and see the numbers 07:16.

Apparantly other people in cyberspace agree, and to some, this is called the 11:11 Phenomenon.

What in the world does this have to do with the Whole Phamily, which is exploring the interconnectivity of Judaism, names and beyond?

We believe that everything is connected.  Indeed, Jonathan Safran Foer, with a totally funkadelic website that evokes interconnectivity, and one of the leading Jewish writers of our day, asserts that Everything is Illuminated in one of his novels.  There is something to be said for numbers and names and how they are connected.

We are certainly not expects in the Zohar, the book of Kabbalah that is traditionally studied by men aged 40 years and up (this is when it was deemed certain that a Jewish man would be well-versed in the Torah and could therefore handle the intensity of its deep world truths).  Obviously various popular culture stars (yes, you, Madonna) ignore that, but obviously people are seeking out truth in age-old wisdom.  Indeed, Jewish astrology is very real, and very much happening as we write and you read.

Doubtful that as large a group of our immigrant ancestors to North America from Minsk, Pinsk, the Pale of Settlement, Damascus,  Aleppo or Alexandria were exposed to these concepts as the Jewish community is today.  Yes, the scholars were educated in deep metaphysical mysteries of the world, but not the average mama of eight children trying to get food on the table.

Today when you think of a favorite number combination and then later see it as a total on a store receipt from buying your day's groceries, realize that it's not totally random, and Judaism has a lot to say about that.

Do you look at the clock a lot these past nearly ten years and see 09:11?

On a positive note, the Whole Phamily thinks it's great when the time comes up as 6:13.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jewish Geography and Kevin Bacon

If you haven't yet heard about the famous game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, where you link an actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six connections, then, as in the words of Martin Short as the flamboyant wedding coordinator in the remake of "Father of the Bride, "Welcome to the 90's, Mr. Bank."  The game is a take on the idea of six degress of separation, but when you're Jewish, that number seems sometimes to dwindle down to three or even two.

You might know it better as Jewish Geography.

C'mon, we all know you've engaged in a fun game of it in your lifetime.  Maybe you shy away from it now.  But, even if you're from Bozeman, Montana, you most likely have played.  Whether you're from Boca, Skokie, or Roslyn, whether you went to camp anywhere near Honesdale or Lake Winnipesaukee (Adam Sandler is from nearby), you've done youth groups like  Young Judaea, USY, BBYO, B'nai Akiva, or NCSY, we know you've done it.  Whether you were in a Jewish fraternity or sorority anywhere, but particularly at Wisconsin (Madison only, puh-lease!), Michigan (Ann Arbor, of course), or Indiana (are there even any other campuses where out of state Jews would seek out?), you've played.  What about any affiliation with Penn, the SUNYs (particularly Binghamton or Albany), Maryland, Brandeis or B.U.?

Still no?

If you've been part of any of the teen tour circuit, including American Trails West, Rein, or West Coast Connection, you know the game.

Jewish geography is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon amplified and on steroids, because you can be visiting your cousins in LA and run into a friend's aunt or uncle that you met a few years ago at his sister's bat mitzvah in the valley while strolling along Third Street Promenade.

The Whole Phamily is constantly learning about connections to friends of cousins of sisters of husbands' next door neighbors at their parents place in Bal Harbor.  The network can seem endless.

Wanna play?