It’s that time of year again. We’re pushing (slogging?) towards the Jewish High Holy Days, which automatically makes me take stock of my life. Sure, the normal New Year is fun. There are fireworks and stuff. But, the Jewish New Year, leading to Yom Kippur, is when the magic really happens for me. One year, I decided to move to New Orleans. The next year (okay, last year) I decided to fall in love. Who knows what will happen next year? I sure don’t!
If you take into consideration that I also attended the National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute the first week of August, you will see that I have an even more concrete reason to take stock of my life. For an entire week, I got to learn, schmooze, network, and live with a bunch of hippie Jews in the woods. It made me realize some Jewish areas in my life that need work. It also made me realize how much I enjoy other aspects of my life.
I want to talk about these positives today, at least where they revolve around my Jewish life.
Today was the naming ceremony for my rabbi’s daughter. Members of the larger New Orleans Jewish community showed up for the occasion. Rabbis attended. The director of the Jewish Day School attended. The Orthodox rabbi from down the road read a blessing that asked God to protect the new baby and her family. Then, we all ate pizza together and enjoyed the moment. I love that the New Orleans community comes together in ways that you don’t find in other cities, especially as members of different denominations of Judaism.
Ethan Linden, my biggest asset when it comes to Jewish geography. He is open, welcoming, and made moving to New Orleans a lot easier. He lets community leaders lead egalitarian services and is welcoming and open to everyone I’ve seen him come in contact with. He takes time out for his congregants and makes sure to carve out time for his family. He leads by example, and his example is a pretty tough act to follow.
Shir Chadash. Every time I attend an event here, I am greeted by people of all ages who always ask where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing if I’ve been absent. Members bring food to congregants who are sick or just need extra support. The staff is awesome and organized; events are always memorable and well attended.
I am a member of the queer Jewish salon here. I attend the occasional independent minyan service. I get updates about events for young singles, for young families, for events that need volunteers, for concerts and plays and lectures by and for the Jewish community. If I had the energy and time, I could probably fill up my week with Jewish events.
There are two kosher restaurants near where I work. It’s nice to lead up to Shabbat with a kosher lunch or just choose kosher over the fried and fast food alternatives.
This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it’s pretty representative of what I feel is being done right in New Orleans.