It bears mentioning that very little about Jewish life in our small town in central Maine resembles the larger world. And it also bears mentioning that, in a lot of ways, this is the most traditional community I’ve ever been part of.
It can be hard to tell if some of our idiosyncrasies are cutting-edge or a throwback to an earlier era. When I have kosher meat ordered in bulk through our local Maronite Lebanese butcher, am I embracing a post-modern, consciously interfaith model of community… or just trading on a historic relationship between the two “other” groups in town? When my wife and I schlep kosher items from Portland, Boston, and points south up to our town, are we ironically embracing an intersectional understanding of our Jewish and female identities and responsibilities… or are we just doing the modern version of what women of our congregation have been doing since they had boxes of groceries shipped up on the bottom of a Greyhound bus?
And, maybe first and foremost, when I gather the world’s least likely group of women to clean, kasher, and cook for days straight before our rowdy community seder, am I doing the radically innovative… or the most boringly practical? (And as long as the chametz gets destroyed and the matza ball soup doesn’t, should I care?)