What are the Keys to Being Happy in A Community?

Although no one is claiming their community is perfect, many BTs seem very happy in their communities.

What are the keys to being happy in a community?

a) Focusing on the strengths of the people and institutions
b) Being involved in the community
c) Understanding the communal norms
d) Keeping under the radar
e) Finding a good shul and/or Rabbi
f) Other

20 comments on “What are the Keys to Being Happy in A Community?

  1. When we made our current choice of community we visited close to dozen times (including during the week). We visited our second choice community four times as well. I think it is crazy to put less effort into deciding where you live than you might spend to purchase a new or used car.

    One thing that I finds helps a lot in being happy in a community is participating in communal events I personally might not find that interesting. If you think of yourself not as a consumer of the output of community, but rather as a contributor, you’re more likely to be happy.

  2. We rarely have complete enough information about what to expect in a new community, despite all our probing.

    Moshe Rabbeinu told Pharaoh, “For we do not know how we are to serve Him until we get there” (Shemos 10:26).

  3. To Bob Miller #9: I really had no idea whether the people in my new community were going to be nicer than the people I was leaving behind. We needed to move, as we were losing our apartment and no one would rent to a family with six (at that time) young children (our landlord was taking over the whole house to accommodate his own growing family). I was happy to find that people in ZYX were so nice.

  4. Alex,

    It means that communities change, so relating to a given community may require different skills at different times. Or even that you leave if things get ugly.

  5. IMO, the keys are friends, mentors and being able to contribute to the community while maintaining your identity as an individual. I would not like to be part of a community where the “herd instinct” triumphs over one’s ability to think.

  6. Communities go through positive and negative changes. What you see going in might not last as people come and go.

  7. A great piece of advice I received many years ago from a rabbi I respect was to focus on the individuals I surround myself with (both rav and peers) rather than the larger community. I have found that this works as it makes it much easier to find compatibility –much easier to select people one gets along with, respects, has things in common with than to try to find the same in hundreds of people (or more). This has worked for me.

    Of course, even this might be difficult if those in the community were actively hostile as Judy Resnick described. It sounds almost unbelievable that people would act like that and it sounds like a terrible thing to have to experience.

  8. Everybody has pressures. The question is how well do they get along with one another as people?

  9. “It helps a lot if the community is happy.”

    How do you determine if the community is happy, or if the community is acting happy on the outside while suffering on the inside due to everything from the tuition/parnassa burden to chinuch issues to shalom bayis problems to lack of REAL community support because everyone is pretending to be happy and therefore not really in need of support…. ?

  10. I agree with tesyaa. Especially if one is easy-going and able to tolerate hashkafic differences.

  11. Friendliness is the most important part of being happy in a community, more than hashkafa issues. If you live in a community where you differ hashkafically from the majority of the community, you may have some religious and/or parenting issues to deal with, but if you live in an unfriendly community, even one which matches your hashkafa perfectly, you will be miserable.

    I’m very happy in my friendly community.

  12. Years ago, we lived in Community XYZ, and I was pretty unhappy there. I found myself to be the target of hostility and unfriendliness. It wasn’t just my imagination: I won’t go into details, but there were specific incidents that made me miserable. I can remember right after moving to Community ZYX, going to a ladies’ shiur on Shabbos afternoon, and thinking to myself afterward how amazing it was that those other women actually spoke to me in a normal tone of voice! (I was so used to in my old community being spoken to in a sarcastic or sneering tone of voice that I had almost forgotten what it was like to be treated like a decent human being).

  13. “keeping under the radar” sounds like awful advice – and implies an awful community.

  14. I’m sure that a lot of people will disagree with me but I have found to be happy in a community you have to ask yourself, “If I was not frum would I want to live here?” If the answer is no then it will be hard to be happy. Yes, we make sacrifices for our frum lifestyle, but if you live in an area that the only thing it has going for it is the frum community and you hate everything else then you can run into problems.

  15. It helps a lot if the community is happy. Sometimes there are cliques upon cliques who can’t get along with one another and turn simple matters into a war.

  16. Finding a community in which you fit; where you don’t worry about what the neighbors will think, and can just focus on what HaShem will think of you.

    Having a community in which people support each other.

    Having friends and neighbors and institutions that you generally respect, even if you don’t agree on everything.

  17. It’s very hard to separate “being happy in your community” and “being happy,” don’t you think?

    That difficulty could make the answer to this question very elusive.

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