As I planned my holidays this year, I decided that my travels should include the exotic locales of Providence, Rhode Island; Baltimore, Maryland; and Lakewood, New Jersey. Well known, respectively, for quaint villages, being a third of the Triple Crown and world-renowned institutions of higher learning, I was quite looking forward to seeing such a span of the Eastern seaboard within just a few weeks. And, oh yeah, for spending the various holidays in the various places that have become “home.”
As Elul passed, and Rosh Hashanah approached, quite a few people asked the inevitable questions, “Are you going home for the holidays?” “Will you spend Rosh Hashanah with your family?” Or just, “Will you be around?” The simple answer to all these questions is “No.”
But that’s only the simple answer. As each holiday came close, I realized how incredibly excited I was for each trip, and seeing the people in each different city I was visited.
Providence for Rosh Hashanah. Residing there is the family who played an integral role in my teshuvah. This family has been there for me through thick and thin for the past eight years, and as I have watched their family grow from 2 kids to 6(!), they have watched me grow in my Yiddishkeit, and grow personally to the place I am now. I’ve spent many Shabbosim with them, and now the holidays are becoming a tradition as well.
Baltimore for Sukkot. I can’t even begin to enumerate the people who have become my family there. Baltimore, the city I lived in for three years, the place I feel I grew the most, both religiously and personally. This was my fifth Sukkot in Baltimore, and I hope to continue the tradition for many years to come. Baltimore is such a wonderful, warm community, and the only thing I regret about my visits there is that I never have enough time to see all the amazing people I love there.
Lakewood for Shemini Atzeres and Simchat Torah. In the home of my friend who has made me part of her family. The place I am expected to be for holidays and Shabbosim on a regular basis. Where, for Pesach, this Sephardi family specifically made dishes sans kitniyot in order that I could stay there.
So while I may not have visited Alabama for the holidays, and I may not have seen my relatives by blood, I did go home. In each of the above communities, people have outstretched their arms, and opened their hearts, and made me family. They say home is where the heart is. I guess it can be in many places at once.