For those of us with a sweet spot for hip-hop (for readers over 50 – think bee-bop on repeat with totally bubbie inappropriate material), we might be well familiar with East Coast and West Coast rivalry – names like Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. (not to be mixed up with the Notorious GIC, now a notoriously awful 1 per cent per annum) represent long-standing cross-continental conflict.
Well, on some level, it’s no different in the Jewish community. B’kol dor v’dor there will be a natural Jewish geographic rivalry, and while Minsk vs. Pinsk might have been it years back, this time around for us Hosers, it’s West Coast vs. East Coast, each coast bringing its own strengths and weaknesses.
Religiously, there’s something about the natural freedom of the West Coast and the allure of the Pacific that brings out the most spiritual practices of Judaism (and we’re pretty sure it’s not the salmon, as lox swims plentifully through every intestine on the East Coast, both upstream and downstream). There is something more natural, more loose, more traditionally disaffiliated yet more connected to divinity and the inner yogi in the West. Or in other words – if Safed found its way onto the continent, it would immediately place itself on a BC Ferry to Vancouver Island.
Statistically speaking (note: all of the following are from sources at least as reliable as Donald Trump’s intel “team”), there is a 37 per cent greater chance on the West Coast that a religious ceremony will involve cannabis, and a 25 per cent chance that meat will not be involved. West Coasters will be 20 per cent less likely to be affiliated with a traditional synagogue. They will be 40 per cent more likely to be affiliated with a yoga studio. They are 140 per cent more likely to attend services in a yoga studio.
On the other hand, geographically, East Coast Jews tend to be connected more with the Old World, as they are literally closer to the seat of European history. Coming from Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, you’re about the same distance from Stonehenge as you are from stoned friends (who are always happy to have you, even though they forgot to unlock the door, and most things in general).
From the East Coast, this is not just convenient for European travel, should you have a craving to experience a little anti-semitism in the flesh, but also puts you more on the Israeli clock, which brings East Coast Jews somewhat closer to the Israeli zeitgeist. By this theory, Newfoundlanders would be slightly more Israeli, and while this seems highly counterintuitive, Newfie does sort of sound like a cute Israeli term for a zionist pioneer (Bruchim Habaim HaNewfim!)
On the other hand, the relative peace, quiet and slow pace of life of the West Coast is fundamentally anti-Israeli and arguably anti-semitic. And while you could say that Tel Aviv is itself on the West Coast of Israel and a beach town with progressive ideas you might find on the West Coast, if you’ve experienced its humidity, it’s much more of a packed TTC subway ride in August than a stroll down Wreck Beach (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).
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Regardless of distance, it is important as Jews to practice the age old practice of Shalosh Regalim by going to the United States three times a year for holy shopping pilgrimages and staying the mandatory period to claim our fully duty-free allowance. Whether it’s Bellingham, Wash., or Plattsburgh, N.Y., we are not duty free of this obligation.
Interestingly, the East Coast and West Coast generally have similar easy access and the dollar exchange is of course the same, so you would think that this might quell the rivalry, though of course it is important to constantly figure out who’s getting the better deals on Big Box brands. Should those deals be perfectly equal, it is important that both coasts ceremonially rub this in the face of Jewish relatives in the Prairies for whom such access is not possible.
At the end of the day, we as Canadians, united by our Trans-Canada (brought to you by Tim Hortons), still deal with the same national problems, the same questions of whether Justin will be “good for the Jews” (Trudeau, but more importantly, Bieber), root for the Jays and Raptors (under different levels of duress), and feel that same love/hate relationship with Gary Bettman – is he good for the Jews, but bad for Canadian hockey?
The tachlis: In many cases these territorial rivalries are just media fabrications to distract you from the real issues: Fairmont vs. St. Viateur bagels.