When You Treat Me Like You

When you ask me where to find candles
just assuming I must know
my heart expands, relaxing
my eyes well with tears
simply because you counted me among your own

When you tell me “Good Shabbos”
casually as you walk by
just assuming I celebrate it
not asking me if I can break it for you
my smile widens

When you try to pass the wine bottle to me
even though its awkward and I demurr
I smile inwardly because you forgot
I blended into your world so well
it never occurred to you to ask

When I can sit, unnoticed and accepted
there is a quiet kind of peace
no justifications needed, no explanations asked
I finally feel like me
the Jewess I’ve been inside

I hold my breath as you approach
afraid you’ll ask me where I grew up or who I’m related to
not because I’m ashamed or trying to hide
because I don’t want the clock to strike midnight just yet
or this magical moment to be broken

I want to linger here just a bit longer
before the questions come and I become unusual
I want to breathe in this space just a little more
where who I was no longer matters
and who I am is all I need to be

Back in Alaska and Life on Fast Forward!

Yesterday, we returned from our trip to scout out a new community for our family.  It was a whirlwind trip and had a lot of layers and highs and lows, but we definitely found a connection to one of the particular communities we visited on the trip.  It is small, but has everything we need, including good day schools for both kids and more learning for us and more kosher food.  My husband and son enjoyed going to minyan every day and my daughter even made a friend.

Our first trip to a grocery store with a large kosher selection must have been amusing for everyone else shopping.  My daughter actually jumped up and down in joy and I just kind of stood there, my jaw dropped, trying to figure out what to buy.  I’m so used to going to the store, finding what is available, and then cobbling together a meal from that and having so many choices was just overwhelming to me!  If I’d had my kitchen nearby, I could have made my family anything at all they wanted to eat!  I also felt self-conscious, worrying a bit that we all stuck out, but a woman inadvertently did me a great kindness, similar to the boy who came up to me my first time in an Orthodox shul to ask me if I was related to someone else he knew.

This woman was looking for havdalah candles, the candles that Jews light at the end of Shabbos.  There were quite a few to choose from, but she was looking for a specific candle and she asked me if I knew where it was.  In the midst of all these Jews who seemed so frum and put together, she asked me, the wide-eyed Alaskan.  I explained that we were visiting from Alaska and that I didn’t know where those particular candles were among the havdalah candle display, but I felt more at ease after that.

We attended classes, visited schools, ate kosher sushi, and really just enjoyed being part of a community.  There were little moments that meant so much, like when the non-Jewish hotel owner knew to tell us “Good Shabbos!” as we left on Friday to go to where we stayed for Shabbos or the greetings from Jewish families in the grocery store.

The message was…”You don’t have to be alone anymore.”

Now, we return to the whirlwind of school applications, home sale preparations, packing, and helping our son study like crazy, but we can see where we’re headed.

And it’s warm and bright despite the cold windchill.