I had a conversation with a woman this afternoon about joining a synagogue. The closest synagogue to us where we currently live is an hour and twenty minutes away away. If you’re Jewish, you know that means it’s fairly impossible for us to both shomer Shabbat and have a community. I’m finding this somewhat unbearable. For several reasons.
First of all, and as I keep telling people, Samuel must have a community. I cannot bear the idea that for him, his religion could mean driving 3 hours to and from a place in order to share with others like him. I spent my early through mid twenties becoming more and more engaged in Jewish life, and then moved to Israel for two years in order to be more connected with Judaism. I can’t think about Samuel as a young adult needing to similarly educate himself. Or, possibly, never even joining a Jewish community at all.
But really, that’s only part of the reason. Really, what drives me to panic, to tears almost, whenever I think about it, is a question. A morbid question. What would happen if one of us died? Who would we call? Who would come? Who would perform the funeral? Where would we be buried?
When Natan died, it was obvious. The synagogue stepped in and took care of things we would have never known how to handle on our own. While I was in the hospital, our rabbi, the same one who married us, visited. He had to go visit his elderly mom the day before Natan died, but the cantor was there on the day Natan died. She talked with the funeral home. Later, she drove me to the mikvah, and was there for me, after my first menstrual cycle. The rabbi performed Natan’s funeral, and came to our house every afternoon for the days after. A member of the community lent us her house for the meal after the funeral, because our apartment was a one bedroom with space for maybe three additional people. Another member of the staff organized food for days after. We now live 750 miles away. The rabbi visits the graves of all the deceased congregants and family members each year.
I’ve talked about our friends stepping in, and certainly we have friends here.
But it haunts me to think, what would happen if one of us died while we live here? We would have none of that. And I can’t live like that. So I talked to a woman today about joining a synagogue, even though it’s more than an hour away. And I may make us move, for a daily commute, because I can’t live like that.