Leaving Anatevka

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my former editor when I was shopping, and this past weekend I saw my former news editor unexpectedly.

It’s still strange for me to think that my former co-workers – my second family for 22 years – are not part of my day-to-day life. I’m starting to feel like an immigrant: surprised, happy, and a little wistful when I unexpectedly meet people from “the old country,” landsmen, to use the Yiddish term.

I think the analogy comes to mind because in June – for two weeks, as the final day of work approached for those of us who were downsized at The Canadian Jewish News – two people mentioned that the situation reminded them of the villagers preparing to leave Anatevka, the fictional shtetl in Fiddler on the Roof.

It was important to me to have that time before I left – tying up loose ends, deciding what to take home and what to leave behind, and bonding with my co-workers over coffee or tea, along with a seemingly endless supply of junk food and snacks in the office lunch room.

In a way, it provided closure for me, and helped me prepare to move forward.

As I fine-tune my resume in preparation for a job fair next week, I think about the  writing and journalism skills I honed at the paper, but also about the intangibles I gained – many of them in the lunch room, where there was, in addition to food, a seemingly endless supply of good conversation and lessons about life.