Thursday, December 17, 2015

It’s Official, We’re Exotic Now!

Maybe this is what we will put on the doors next year...
One of the interesting things that we are finding in the new area where we have chosen to live is the fact that there are very few Jews around us. It actually made finding the house during Hanukkah really easy because all someone had to do was look for the only house on the street with a Menorah (Hanukiah technically) in the window. Although, you might be a little confused if you walk up to our door as there is a wreath decorated with mini Magen David on it (thanks mom). Of course, we knew what we were getting into when we decided to move out here so the fact that we are clearly in the minority really doesn’t bother us.

It is actually kind of interesting when I think about the different places we have lived. In Jerusalem it was assumed that we were Jewish and, most of the time, the same can be said about our time in Brooklyn. In Bala Cynwyd we were members of a clear majority in the area and in Metuchen and Chesterbrook we were part of a pretty even mix. Even in Chester Springs there were a number of Hanukkah houses around us but, at that point, the percentage was pretty low. Now, we are one of very few families in the area with a Mezuzah on the doorpost.

We are so far removed from the Jewish communities that our son’s daycare asked us to come in and talk about Hanukkah. Being such a small minority it is pretty safe to say that we are no longer seen as simply Jewish but as some exotic family… and we are fine, and entertained, by that fact. So far, those with whom I have spoken to in the area, especially this time of year, have sincere questions about our faith and hang on to every word in our responses. And this is without us talking about the fact that we are Israeli too.

Obviously, there are other Jews in the area but it has been entertaining thus far being the token Jews in the neighborhood. And as we try to find a local synagogue in the area (local meaning 20+ minutes away) I am curious to see if others have had the same experience. But, what has been important to us here is that our beliefs are ancillary to people getting to know us… the only reason the subject came up was because of the time of year. While being a Jew is an important part of us it is not the only thing that defines us and here we are finding that to be how people look at us.