I am so excited!! Next week an article I wrote is running in the Atlanta Jewish Times! I am thrilled as you can imagine and will post a link to the article once it goes live. In the meantime, I wanted to share the content with you. I hope you enjoy!
My husband and I left New York in the midst of the economic crisis in 2008. We needed a change. We wanted to live somewhere where life felt “easy” and cereal didn’t cost $7 a box. We decided to do what any rational couple would, we chose a far off place where we knew no one and could live that laid back lifestyle we sought after. We moved to Atlanta.
At first glance, Atlanta was great. Everyone smiles and holds the door open for you. No one cuts you off and flips you the bird. Neighbors race over to welcome you with homemade cookies and bottles of wine. Life was good. Except one thing. WHERE ARE THE JEWS??
Growing up in Queens, New York, a corned beef sandwich and knish were easy to find and no one looked at you twice when you said you were fasting for Tish B’av. I grew up in Bayside which is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the nation. We had bar mitzvah season, all the kosher Chinese food you can eat and exposure to all sects of Judaism. Moving to Atlanta, of course I knew Judaism wouldn’t be as prominent, but I didn’t prepare myself for what happened next. I became a minority.
Adjusting to my new surrounding proved to be more difficult than I expected. I missed good deli and frequenting my favorite kosher lunch spots where pizza and French fries were the norm. My old office was closed for practically the entire month of September and all of the women swapped recipes for brisket, charoset and rugelach. In my new position here in Atlanta, I work for a global corporation and our office is home to 300 employees. There are three Jewish people in the building. Myself and the two Attorneys - talk about irony.
At first I was disgruntled by the fact that the Jewish way of life isn’t engrained in southern culture until I realized something. When you grow up submerged in a culture where your religion is “popular,” a naiveté exists that allows you to believe your way is the way. Perhaps moving to Atlanta under the notion that I would find lox and bagels at every deli and people would see my necklace and say “Love your chamsed!” (Rather than, “What is that hand supposed to be around your neck?”) was naïve.
I began letting go of my cynical attitude and embraced my new surroundings. My husband and I joined the “shul circuit” and thankfully found one we can see ourselves becoming members of and we have begun hosting holiday meals in our home. The truth is that it feels good to be “special.” I enjoy answering questions about Judaism to my new friends and having them over for Shabbat dinners.
Moving to Atlanta has taught me that just because you’re not “popular” doesn’t mean you don’t matter. Sometimes in life you have to accept that while you cannot change your environment, you can change how you flourish within it.