“Six degrees of separation,” sometimes called the “small-world phenomenon,” is the theory that any person is connected to any other person through no more than five acquaintances. While this theory seems rather restrictive for the general population, I would hypothesize that it’s five degrees too generous for the Jewish world.
We’ve all played Jewish geography. “Oh, you’re from Nebraska. You must know….”
This is followed by “We were in Mrs. Schwartz’ fifth-grade Hebrew-school class together.”
The conversation concludes with “It’s such a small world.”
My go-to “small Jewish world” story for the past four years has been about my daughter Jenny, who moved to Israel and assumed a teaching position in a start-up bilingual elementary school. After the new staff roster was circulated, a colleague reached out to her and said, “Kovach from Albany, you must be related to Rob and Ilana. They taught me how to swim at Camp Givah in the 1980s.”
This week, I have a new favorite story. My son Dov, in Israel for the summer, was chatting with a stranger in the street.
“Where are you from?” the stranger asked.
“Upstate New York.”
“Where in Upstate New York?”
“Do you know the Kovaches?”
“I’m Dov Kovach!”
A colleague once corrected me. “It’s not a small world,” he said, “It’s a large world, well managed.”
I like that.
If you have a fun “large world—well managed” story, please share.