Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
When a person moves to a new house, there are rituals, of sorts, that celebrate the milestone. We hang a mezuzah on the door and recite Bir’kat Habayit, the blessing for the home. We invite friends and families and new neighbors to the home to “christen” it with conversations and friendship and laughter.
But when a person leaves a house – when a person moves within a city or moves to an entirely new place – there is no equivalent set of rituals. There’s no ceremony for taking down the mezuzah or the photographs on the wall, there’s no blessing for packing up dishes in boxes or bringing clothes to the donation center.
My roommates and I love our house. We love the swing on the front porch and the trampoline in the backyard. We love the arched doorways and the cozy reading nook. We love the comfy couches and the unexplained grate that we hop over so we don’t hurt our feet. It’s a house that became a home. But now, we’re all moving, and leaving this house behind.
So how can we mark the significance of leaving a home? How do we make moving special?
Inspired by some friends from college, we threw a House Cooling Party which is, like it sounds, the opposite of a House Warming Party. We even coordinated to serve a thematically-appropriate cold treat from a local Popsicle shop, owned by our neighbors.
And how can we Jew-ify our move?
We’ll leave a mezuzah on the front door for the new tenants… two of the new ISJL Education Fellows.
During my first summer on staff at camp, right after my senior year of high school, each person in my cohort of first-year counselors was given a mezuzah to put on their dorm room door. I’ve carried that mezuzah with me ever since then, hanging it on each new residence, and bringing it down with me to Mississippi, where it’s been hanging for two years. But now I’m leaving it behind; that mezuzah now belongs to the new Fellows who have moved in, welcoming them to Jackson, and to the coziest house in the city.