“Where’s your family?” A friendly “old timer” asked me at Friday night services a couple of weeks ago. When you’re a member of a smaller congregation, like our home synagogue in Jackson, Mississippi, everyone knows each other. It’s perfectly charming when the question is “where’s your family,” and I never mind giving an honest answer.
Hamilton, a new musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has captivated my nerdy history-and-Broadway-musical-loving-heart in a big way. That’s not surprising — but what is maybe a little bit more surprising is how it’s once again helping me make connections to my work sharing Southern Jewish history… including something I bet you didn’t know about Alexander Hamilton.
For those of you who wear rings, this probably sounds familiar: you fiddle with your ring, a thousand times a day, without thinking about it — and all of the sudden, you stop and think about the significance of that ring? There’s that overwhelming woosh of emotion that stops you in your tracks and suddenly you find that you have completely forgotten about what it was you were working on and are reliving some key moment tied to the ring.
In elementary school, the Jewish holidays were never an issue — I went to a Jewish day school, so school was out for each holiday. But in my public high school, I was the only student who took off for two days of Rosh Hashanah, the first two and last two days of Sukkot and Passover, and both days of Shavuot. Needless to say, my attendance was spotty the first month of my freshman year, when all of the holidays fell on weekdays.
After the end of my two-year term as an ISJL Education Fellow, I moved back to Massachusetts to begin rabbinical school at Hebrew College. While I have been so happy to be back in my great home state, I missed the South a lot.
When you live in the Deep South — and especially when you have to travel a lot for work — sometimes you have to call on unexpected neighbors to help you get your sukkah up in time for the holiday.
Last week, Kveller, a partner site of MyJewishLearning, published a provocative piece about one woman’s experience being Jewish in the South.
When I tell people that I live in Jackson, Mississippi, they often remark on how “different” it must be from where I grew up. “Different” in this context is loaded with the implicit understanding that what the word really means is worse; the sentiment being expressed is that Jackson is not a great place to live. People wonder why I would choose to come to a place like Jackson.
Do you have desk toys? Like a magnet set, koosh ball, maybe the ever-popular drinking bird?
Our family recently relocated to Greene County, Georgia, leaving our longtime home of Marietta. One of the hardest things to leave was our synagogue in Marietta, Congregation Ner Tamid; as founding members, we have deep roots there.