Jewish Geography

Legendary Vienna by Harvey Pekar

Jewish geography is a popular ‘game’ sometimes played when Jews meet each other for the first time and try to identify people they know in common. An Israeli version of the game, pitsuchim, has been a common pastime among young Israeli backpackers traveling the world, taking its name from a 1980s television quiz show.

As Etan Diamond observes in his book ‘And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia’: ‘This ‘game’ of ‘Jewish geography’ follows a simple pattern. One person asks, ‘You’re from [insert name of city here]? Do you know [insert person’s name here]?’ The other one usually responds something like, ‘Sure, he sits behind my uncle in synagogue,’ or ‘I met her once at a youth group convention,’ or ‘She is really good friends with my sister’s college roommate.’ Non-Jews often find it astonishing that such links are made so easily, but given both the relative smallness of the Jewish community – and the even smaller size of the Orthodox Jewish community – and the extensive overlapping social circles within these communities, it should not surprise too much.’

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