Some shortcuts to playing the Jewish geography game

Calling all ex-Banana Boys! Your friends are looking for you. If you ever volunteered in Israel, spent time at summer camp or belonged to a Hillel group, there’s probably someone you’d love to get in touch with after all these years — if only you knew how to find them. With some work and a bit of luck the Internet can make your search much easier. So, whether you’re trying to find an old friend — or an old flame — here’s where to start looking.

First, about those Banana Boys …

It seems your friends from Kibbutz Bet Zera are trying to locate you. I came across that tidbit of information at the Lost Amigos Web site (and since the site doesn’t explain who Banana Boys actually are, you must know if you’re one). Lost Amigos is one of many sites where you can search for friends by location, institution or the name of the person you’re trying to find. You can browse Lost Amigos — — as much as you wish. If you want to add information about yourself or someone you’re looking for, then you will need to register. There is no fee.

Although there is no central directory for kibbutz volunteers, there are several great sites created by kibbutz alumni. Kibbutz Reshafim —

ex-volunteers.htm — has done a great job, as have the people who obviously loved their time at Cabri, You’ll find more links at the Kibbutz Ex-Volunteer Association,

Need more kibbutz information? You can find comprehensive (but Hebrew only) information about every kibbutz in Israel at Click on the search form’s “Chipoos” or search button and you’ll get a list of 276 kibbutzim.

Harvard Hillel alumni have a place they can call their own — — as do alumni of Birthright Israel. Just register at and connect. Also check out JewishReunion,

If you are trying to track someone down in Israel, the Bezeq phone company has created an excellent online phone book — Although this Hebrew-only directory is designed primarily for people with Hebrew keyboards, it’s still very accessible to all. Click on the “Makledet Virtualit” (virtual keyboard) icon, and a little keyboard pops up that allows you to tap in the Hebrew alphabet. Choose the region for your search and you may find your long-lost friend or relative.

And here’s a reminder. You can save yourself a lot of frustration when you are trying to read Hebrew Web pages by downloading the free browser Mozilla, While some browsers display Hebrew pages as a mess of indecipherable squiggles, Mozilla does an excellent job of displaying everything form aleph to tav.

Since there is no definitive directory of Internet users, you need to hunt through several sources until you succeed — if you do succeed. I recommend

people. As it sounds, this site really is geared toward journalists. But if you are trying to locate someone, you’ll appreciate having the best people-finding links in one location.

Long before there were computers, there was “Jewish geography,” that inevitable pastime where Jews from far-flung corners of the globe would try to find out whom they know in common. See if you can find someone you know at Jewish Geography, the Web site:

But why are Jews so fascinated by the challenge of Jewish geography? After moving to San Antonio, Texas, Jewish geography has become more enjoyable and important for Rabbi B. Allison Bergman Vann. At, she writes: “I believe that Jewish geography is fun because it underlines the amazing connections that we have in our lives. Relationships help us to put the picture of our lives together … Our lives and the relationships in them are like puzzles. We build the picture of our life piece by piece, receiving and giving pieces, all the time.” She then quotes Rabbi Lawrence Kushner:

“Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces to someone else’s puzzle. Sometimes they know it. Sometimes they don’t. And when you present your piece that is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not, you are a messenger from the Most High.”

Mark Mietkiewiczis a Toronto-based internet producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet. Reach him at [email protected]