Where Did Schmoozing Go?

Posted on by Rabbi Barbara Symons

We used to schmooze. And we were good at it. Perhaps even experts.

As much as many of us see one another via Zoom, we don’t schmooze before or after a class or service, while standing at the oneg table, during a mitzvah project or passing in the halls. When we do have time to share, we have become quieter; there is less to say. As one person noted, we can’t talk about the restaurants we tried or the activities we did. Then, suddenly, we gained our voices, but the topic narrowed: Have you gotten the vaccine? Did you have a reaction? Can you help me find a place to get the vaccine?

Where did schmoozing go?

Here are my thoughts: because of the layers of the struggles we are all facing on top of the layers of personal struggles which did not simply vanish, small talk has gone by the wayside. Talking about thoughts, feelings and issues of import require more than a schmooze. We are thinking not only about health but about mortality. We are concerned about our economic futures – our own, our loved ones’, our towns’ our country’s. We are witnesses to unfairness – for example as people get the vaccine who are not eligible leaving less doses for those in most immediate need. We want our children – not only those in our families but our nation’s children – to be able to get back to school safely and continue their education. We wonder how we can do more than shake our heads in disbelief and despair that people of color make up more of the proportion of front line workers while not having access to the vaccine and therefore are more likely to get sick and even die. We want to hug our children and grandchildren. We worry about the political present and future of our beloved country. And…and…and…

Schmoozing would take our mind off some of these big, aching questions even for a few minutes. But let us hear the message that our situation is pleading with us to hear: we must invest our time and energy in these all-important conversations. It might take planning a family meeting or contacting a governmental official or reviewing our finances. After all, we have the time if we put together the few minutes we would have schmoozed here and there.

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