Living in a place with a tiny Jewish community does not mean that celebrating holidays has any less ruach, or that the festivities are any less meaningful or in any way diminished—to the contrary! I can’t stop feeling cheerful—almost giddy—about how great my first Purim in Maine was, after recently having moved here from Connecticut. It had all the expected ingredients: Megillah reading, groggers, matanot l’evyonim (gift for the poor), hamantaschen, mishloah manot, and a festive seuda—but the different settings and all the new people I met made it feel like an exhilarating and familial discovery.
Since I moved here last summer, I have worn a tallit for the first time, had several aliyot, and felt deeply moved at a Kol Nidre service played by a cellist, while sitting next to my partner. This may not sound all that unusual, unless you’ve spent the last thirty years—the entire time since you became Jewish—in a modern orthodox shul, like me. But in all fairness to my old shul—which I consider my extended family—I should tell you that it was there that I learned how to chant the Megillah (for our annual women’s reading), and also where I have delivered several D’var Torahs over the years.
Moving to Maine has opened my eyes—and heart—to options of Jewish observance that I had not considered before.