“Lech Lecha,” God says to Avram and Sarai in the early chapters of Genesis. “Go forth from your home to a place I will show you….”
Since biblical times, Jews have been leaving home, for reasons ranging from divine command to economic opportunity. Relocation is a big change, and you need to be prepared.
If you are already involved in organized Jewish life in your local community, look for parallel or similar institutions and programs in your new location. If not, consider this move an opportunity to explore your Judaism and Jewish communal life in a different way.
Here are a few “basics” of organized Jewish communal life to explore regardless of your level of affiliation:
In small Jewish communities, the synagogue is often the only, or at least the strongest, sign of Jewish life. In large Jewish communities, joining a synagogue can help you find a niche group. Get a bulletin, try out different Shabbat services, and see if there is programming for the different demographic groups represented in your family. Even if you previously affiliated with a particular movement, don’t let that stop you from checking out different options in your new hometown. Be on the lookout for congregations and havurot that are unaffiliated; they can usually be found in local Jewish newspapers, Jewish city websites, or federation lists. The following movements have lists to their affiliate synagogues: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Chabad-Lubavitch.
Jewish Community Centers
JCC‘s are a central address for Jewish culture and arts, health and fitness, age-specific programming, and camps. JCC’s often have a wide range of services, from childcare and preschool for those with young children all the way to hot meals for seniors. Their membership staff will gladly take you on a tour of the facilities and get a free pass so you can check things out personally.
The Foundation for Jewish Culture has links to Jewish museums, theater groups, and film festivals.
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