What Makes or Breaks a Community

What Makes or Breaks a Community


Between waking up early in the morning for Daf Yomi (the independent learning that I do before school) and getting home late from play rehearsal, my life is currently very hectic. As a result, the little treats that I have in my life – an episode of Doctor Who, a chapter of my book, a longer shower, an extra hour of sleep – are more important than ever.

Eden Farber
Eden Farber

One hugely significant treat I have for the nights that rehearsals run extraordinarily late is a chocolate bar.

To tell the truth, this chocolate treat doesn’t just give me the endorphins I need to make it through a rehearsal with a smile, but it actively maintains my sanity. So you can imagine then how it felt when I went to my locker and found my lunch bag unzipped and my chocolate missing.

Things only got worse when I spotted the wrapper on the floor of a nearby classroom.

It was heartbreaking. Even the generous and kind offer of chocolate from the office lady at my school didn’t lighten my mood. The problem is that, along with the stolen chocolate, something bigger had been lost: trust.

Some people suggest that it’s a “dog-eat-dog” world we live in and that many people only care about themselves. Apparently, it would seem that when the going gets tough, the tough do whatever they can just for themselves – even if that means pushing their friends out of the way.

Follow this way of life, and a community just might break apart.

My school is a close-knit one; not only does every student know everyone else’s name, but they know in what area they live, in what class period they pray, and in which carpool they ride.

And it’s not just my school that is a small community. Many synagogues in the Atlanta area are relatively small, and all over the world there are other such communities: few in number but bound tightly together.

It’s when the essential bond of trust is breached that we are left with holes in our unity. This is both unfortunate and dangerous.

No, one chocolate bar will not make or break a community, divide a synagogue or break up a friendship. But losing trust in an institution – or, more importantly, the people that make it up – starts to rip away the fabric that holds it all together.

So, what can we do?

It’s not about keeping our hands to ourselves. The minor issues are merely straws piling atop a camel’s back; each separate one is insignificant.

Our focus needs to be on preaching a belief and behavior that promotes community needs over immediate gratification. We need to re-instill trust in our friends and work at relationships, instead of throwing them aside.

We need to remember that strong communities, through thick and thin, will value every single member and eventually come out on top. That is the formula for unity.

That, and perhaps more chocolate for all.

Atlanta’s Eden Farber, 15, was recognized in the Jewish Heritage National Poetry Contest of 2010 and has published op-eds and poetry in Modern Hippie Magazine and the NY Jewish Week’s Fresh Ink for Teens section.

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