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Turning Tides: Halfway up the Mountain

As told to Leah Gebber

Joanne had an accent that was all over the place. I pressed the receiver hard against my ear to try to make out what she was saying, but she was talking so fast it was hard to make heads or tails of it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I should have known. I had spoken to her for just five minutes, yet she had already made me do the unthinkable. When she asked me to come over, instead of putting her off until the next day, after my cleaning lady had come and gone and my house was guest worthy, I said yes. Just like that. I should have known…. To backtrack: Our little community was established around 15 years ago — and it was done so for pure economics. It was impossible for us to afford housing in the heim (New York), so our rav called a group of us together and encouraged us to explore this possibility. Our town is 35 miles away from the nearest heimish kehillah, so once a week we get a delivery of staples: chicken, bread, chalav Yisrael yogurt. Most of us have known each other (or each others’ cousins) since our first pair of shoes. When our kehillah was established, we didn’t know there were any Jews living here — actually, we didn’t find out until about ten years ago, when a small Conservative school was established. We certainly didn’t come to do kiruv. We treat our coreligionists with respect, but we’re not looking to share gefilte fish recipes. And nowJoanne had moved in.

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