Although we're living in galut (exile, or better yet, the U.S. and not Israel), there is something special about this place during the holidays. Not living in Los Angeles or Chicago or New York or another city with a giant Jewish community means that the chances of running into a Jew, you would think, are slim.
Being in Denver this time of year, as Rosh HaShanah is on our doorstep, greetings and connections have popped up in the most unusual of places.
I stopped into Target this morning to spend a gift card that my in-laws sent me early for my birthday (yipes, turning 31 on the 30th) and heard greetings of "Shanah Tovah!" coming from nowhere in particular (seriously, I looked, I didn't see any Jews, I just heard the voices ... am I nuts?). Walking to the car in the parking lot after my migraine-fueled adventure into yellow cardigan purchasing, I saw a very tall, tanned blonde piling out of a minivan full of men.
As she approached our car, she took one look at our Na Nach sticker, one look at me (tichel wearing) and shouted "Shanah Tovah!" A bit startled, I responded in kind.
A bit later, while Ash and I did our final run out for groceries (seriously, does holiday shopping ever end?) at Trader Joe's (where everything is now pumpkin spiced, including the pumpkin seeds), the girl at the next check counter popped over to help bag our groceries.
Hannah, with a hamsa and star of David around her neck, wished us a "Shanah Tovah!" and proceeded to explain how she was working during the holiday. She did, however, make sure to pick up apples, honey, and a pomegranate. Although it bummed me out that she has to work instead of enjoy the holiday in all its joy and splendor, I understand where she's coming from.
I've always waffled between being Jewish being easier/harder outside of Israel, where being Jewish is a breeze, it's a given, it's carefree. In the U.S. you have to really try hard to find the little Jewish sparks here and there, especially when you don't live in a community like Teaneck, New Jersey.
And when you do find those little connections, it's beautiful and reminds me that the Jewish people are here, there, and everywhere -- in their own way and their own style.
Shanah Tovah everyone!