Taking Southern Jewish Stories Home to Wisconsin

I was thankful to have so much to share at my Ripon reunion this year.

I went home for Thanksgiving. I love the holiday itself, but my favorite part of the entire holiday is the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Thursday—reunion night.

On that Wednesday night, everyone from high school in my small hometown of Ripon, Wisconsin, meets up for a little reunion.  It’s a lot of hugging and catching up, and it’s one of my favorite things. I love reunions. When I see an old friend, it comforting and warm with familiarity, yet so apparent how much time has passed between visits.  I love catching up. I love picking up right where you left off. And this night is all of this.

In years past, I always envied the people who were returning home from new and interesting places, with new and interesting stories to share. This time last year, when I was going to this reunion, I had no idea what life had in store for me. I was a senior in college, and while graduation was on the mind, I was trying not to think much about it. I thought it was awesome seeing people come back to Ripon and say that they live in DC, or Los Angeles, or even London.

I wanted to do that — go far away, and do something interesting. I hoped I would do just that. But I had no idea what it might look like.

One year later, I go to this reunion… and I am that person.

Maybe I’m even the most interesting reunion-goer of all, working for a Jewish nonprofit in the middle of Mississippi.

This year, I got to tell my friends all about my adventures in the South. About living in Mississippi, and about how much traveling I do, and all the awesome places I’ve been. I told them about going to places I would have never thought I would have gone to—but now, traveling to small Southern cities is something I do almost every weekend.

On every Thanksgiving, I am thankful. Thankful for my friends, for my family and for the life I live. But this Thanksgiving, I felt especially thankful. I was not only thankful for all of the wonderful things and people I have in my life, but also I was thankful for the opportunity I have here at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. I was thankful for being able to spread my new-found knowledge of Southern Judaism to my friends in Wisconsin. I was thankful for being able to travel and see incredible places throughout the South, and most importantly, I was thankful for the people I have met because of this Southern journey.

I’m already excited to share new stories next year.

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