Ponds Part 2: No One Craps On My Pond Except Me

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Consider this a continuation of this previous post about tortured analogies for Jewish communities.


Ironically, just as I was posting about the possibility of leaving Current Location for Potential New Pond, a Current Location Friend texted me because a friend of a friend was considering a move to Current Location due to a potential new job and had questions about the particular congregation that I am active in – would I answer questions for this friend of a friend?

I said yes. To avoid confusion, I’ll refer to this friend of a friend of a friend as “Potential New Fish”. Here’s a visual aid:

An image to represent Friend Of A Friend Of A Friend Of A Friend, aka “Potential New Fish”. Photo by Cofish Aquarium on Unsplash

Potential New Fish and I exchanged contact details and Potential New Fish emailed me some questions.


Side note: I’ll admit I found myself disliking Potential New Fish a bit. Potential New Fish did not ask me anything about myself (granted, outside of this blog, I do not like talking about myself, but I found the absence of any interest rude). Potential New Fish name-dropped other well-known congregations I was supposed to know (granted, had I relocated for the other job offer back in 2021, I probably would have wound up at one of those well-known name-dropped congregations) as if Potential New Fish was some kind of celebrity-congregation attendee. And Potential New Fish made a point of asking about where to find the dream congregation of ideological compatibility, hordes of young people, and reasonable commute to work*. (Granted, Husband asked the same shit when we visited our Potential New Pond). But because I hate young people as a collective, I almost reflexively dislike whoever asks this question. (Also, newsflash, there aren’t going to be a lot of young people in a Conservative synagogue. Just accept it.)

*For a job that Potential New Fish had not yet received an offer; Potential New Fish was just that confident they would get it. It added to my (totally unfair and unwarranted) first impression that Potential New Fish was conceited.


Still, I answered the questions, thoroughly, honestly, and thoughtfully. I gave an in-depth description of the congregation’s philosophical approach and practice. I shared the best things about this congregation. I gave non-judgmental view of the congregation’s COVID policies and practices. I was honest about the lack of young people.

I did not say that I was considering leaving. Ambivalent as I am about Current Location, I do care about the congregation a lot. I think the fact that I care about Current Location Congregation came through in my email. This congregation was one of the reasons I loved and stayed in Current Location for so long.


Potential New Fish thanked me for my email.

Potential New Fish cited one congregational practice that I mentioned in my email as a deal-breaker and said this congregation would not work for them. Personally, I think it’s a stupid hill to die on, but my opinion does not matter. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the congregation, movement, practice or anything – honestly, the specifics don’t really matter. Potential New Fish gets to pick which hill to die on.

[And I realize it sounds stupid to talk about a fish dying on a hill. This is what happens when you cross belabored metaphor and overused idiom.]

A fish dying on a board because I couldn’t find a photo of one dying on a hill. Photo by Harris Vo on Unsplash


I found myself kind of annoyed by this response. It felt like this Potential New Fish was shitting all over my pond.

The same pond, mind you, that I’ve spent so much blog space also shitting on.

Look, Potential New Fish is within their right to determine that Current Location Pond isn’t a good fit for them. But it felt personal.

No one craps on my pond except me.

Yeah, you heard me. This is my pond and I’m the only one who gets to shit on it. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay


  1. Oh wait, Potential New Fish (great visuals!) insulted YOUR congregation? Ohhh… I misread until the end and thought you were describing a congregation you’d visited recently. (I probably should’ve started with your original post!) But that’s horrible. Ugh. It IS kind of personal. Those are your people. I mean, your fish. Geez. So not nice of her!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. You have exclusive shitting rights because you are involved with the current pond. New fish doesn’t know the pond and that is why the fishy new fish is phishing you for pond scum (maybe not. I could be reading intent into the ripples). Its a great read no matter what.

    Liked by 2 people

          • No need to apologize. You are not being insensitive. It’s very difficult to get kicked out of a Methodist church. But when you stand in the way of church leaders making stupid decisions they really really want to make, you gotta go.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Pretty much the same. In short tyying to be Baptist instead of Methodist, which are pretty much opposite ways of churching.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Churching is a good word, because Christianity today does not have much in common with the first century Christianity. Baptist come out of the Lutheran/Calvinist traditions which teaches everyone is totally depraved, there is no free will, everyone is damned by God unless they are one of the chosen to be saved, then they are saved no matter what. Methodists from the Wesley tradition belives God offers previnient grace and everyone has free will to accept of reject God’s grace. You basically damn yourself by the choices you make.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I recognize that many religions have to struggle with free will vs. everything is determined by G-d and I don’t claim to have a logically consistent opinion on this question for myself, nor do I agree with everything Judaism says on the matter (although, Judaism says an awful lot of things some of which contradict each other too). But in the end, I definitely believe in free will, and I find it so challenging to conceptualize living under the belief that there’s no free will and nothing you do will change the fact that you’re totally depraved. At that point, what’s the point of bothering with the religion? Is the thinking that if you’re devout enough, G-d will choose you to be one of the lucky chosen saved ones? (And isn’t that still admitting some measure of free will too?) I try not to judge other faiths when I’m an outsider, but conceptually, I don’t really get the why of bothering with a religion at all if there’s no assumption of free will.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Absolutily. While Calvin thought you could be sure of your salvation, he was one of the most depraved of all i.e., he called people who disagreed with his theology heretics, and got them burned at the stake, but the idea is you don’t know if your chosen, so you need to lead a good, wholesome, moral life either way. Which still doesn’t make a lot of sense if you have a greater chance of being damned than saved. But with free will you choose by faith and goodness. Then there is the whole thing about whether are you saved by faith alone or do your good deeds contribute to your salvation?

            Liked by 1 person

    • I realize I may have been quick to judge and totally unfair here. I don’t know this person/fish, everyone acts more conceited than usual when preparing for a job interview, etc. But I do think it is safe to say that we are not kindred spirits. Whatever the fish equivalent of not ‘birds of a feather’ is – that’s what we are.


    • 😂I appreciate the support, but I fully admit I may have been quick to judge and totally unfair here. I don’t know this person/fish, the reason person/fish didn’t want to join the congregation was valid (I think it’s a stupid reason personally, but I acknowledge it is a valid one) and look, we just didn’t click. It happens.


  3. I don’t think it’s strange to understand. I complain a lot about the Orthodox world, but I can get defensive if I hear outsiders (or former insiders) criticising it for reasons that I think are unfair, or even sometimes for reasons that I myself have complained about. Group loyalty can be fluid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The insider/outsider and the sense of loyalty definitely makes a difference. I feel this tension more with criticism of my industry from outsiders (who have no idea what they are talking about) and insiders (who really know what the industry’s problems are) – and, my latest career move notwithstanding, I am not in love with this industry either and still hope to switch out at some point.

      Orthodoxy is a funny one for me because I don’t consider myself an insider, former insider, or outsider exactly (more explanation in a future post perhaps) and I have plenty of opinions, but I’m also well aware of the fact that I am not coming from a true insider’s perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m the same way. I’ll shit on something all day and the second an outsider raises an eyebrow I turn on them. I even do this with my workplace if you can believe it. It’s a very well-known company and if people express anything less than delight I get mad even though I know there’s more reasons to criticize than not.

    Liked by 1 person

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