This is a guest post by NYOTB Jennifer Slate Grischkan.
Our Jewish forefather and foremother, Abraham and Sarah, were known to live in a tent with four open sides, so that they could easily welcome guests into their home. This simple act of outreach has set the standard for Jewish organizations for oh, the past 5000 years or so.
For the past five of those years, I lived in Columbus, Ohio, where I tried to channel my inner Sarah and serve as a sort of one-woman welcome wagon to the young Jewish community. Any time I was connected with a young Jewish family who was new in town, I would put together lists of resources (Jewish and otherwise) to help the family acclimate to Columbus and would invite them to join my family for dinner. I knew what it was like to be the new kid in town, and how isolating it could be when you didn’t know where the fun playgrounds were for your kids, where to buy a challah for Shabbat, or where to get a haircut.
And now, once again, I am that new kid.
My husband, 2.5 year-old son and I moved to the Twin Cities at the end of June for my husband’s career. As soon as I found out we were moving last winter, I jumped on facebook and starting networking like crazy.
I emailed sorority sisters who now live in Plymouth, a guy I knew from BBYO back in high school who is now married to a MN native, and friends of friends and family. I created a personalized Minneapolis map on Google in order to try to learn where essentials like Trader Joe’s, Costco and the library were before I even got here, just so I could hit the ground running. I contacted the Jewish Federation, Hadassah, a Jewish preschool, and a synagogue.
But all of my planning hasn’t been foolproof, of course. Minneapolis has been full of surprises, most of them delightful. In no particular order:
As I type this, I am sitting on my screened-in patio enjoying the fresh evening air. Low humidity, lots of bright sunny days – what a pleasure! Admittedly, I am a little nervous for my first Minnesota winter, but I keep reminding myself that I look better in turtlenecks than bikinis.
My sense of direction isn’t the best, but man, it doesn’t help that so many of the main highways and byways are referred to by numbers: 5,7,35, 73, 94, 100, 169, 394, 494. Within the suburbs there are even numbered streets, like 12th Avenue. Very confusing for me, but I’m slowly getting the hang out if it.
The rumors are true – Minnesotans ARE nice! I wasn’t sure what Minnesota nice was, until our cable installer started chatting with us. And a waitress at dinner one night. And the nice elderly lady at the grocery store. People here have no problem talking to complete strangers in a friendly, interested, not who-is-this-weirdo way. It’s certainly helping me come out of my shell and meet people whom I may not have approached otherwise.
The Jewish community
I have heard from a few Minneapolisers (Minneapolisites? Twin Citizens?) that the Jewish community here is difficult to break into. I’ve been here for less than a month and I have to say I don’t feel that way at all. It definitely takes some work to put myself out there, and sometimes I get a little depressed when I walk into the preschool and no one says hello, but overall you have not disappointed, TC Jewfolk. The director of my son’s preschool has passed along my name and contact info to a number of other Jewish moms who have reached out to me, one old friend from college has already extended an invitation to join her family for the High Holidays, and the Hadassah ladies have been in touch.
Thanks to everyone who has welcomed me into their “tent!” Abraham and Sarah would be proud.
As the NYOTB, I’ll be writing about my experiences here in the Twin Cities and I would love to hear your suggestions! Let me know what sights to see, eateries to nosh at and highways to avoid. And if you’re new here too, shoot me a line – we can go get coffee together. As long as I can find it.
NYOTB: The New Yid on the Block
This is a guest post by NYOTB Jennifer Slate Grischkan.
Welcome. It would be interesting to get your fresh perspective on the Minneapolis/St Paul relationship. From your text you apparently settled in Minneapolis. Did you investigate both communities and how did you decide where to live and become involved? This blog is read by many tcjewfolk who are only loosely affiliated with the tc jewish community and looking for their niche. Perhaps reading about your experience will help others find their connections.
Welcome from your fly over land to the real fly over land. Mazel Tov!!!!!
Wow. Ed Stole my post! I wondered if you looked at St. Apul, and what you have experienced so far with the view/voice of the two cities. Welcome.
Thanks guys! Ed – my husband is working at Minneapolis Children’s, so we needed to be close to his job and that’s why we chose this area, but I definitely want to check out St Paul!
Welcome! I/we moved here 25 years ago from Reynoldsburg, OH with a two year old and a 4 year old. What was then Sabra Hadassah in Columbus had been my immediate family when I got there in 1980 and Scopus Hadassah became my family when I arrived here in 85. After two years in Golden Valley, Bruce and I decided that we would not move again unless someone could prove that there was a better place to raise our children. We are still here. All of Hadassah is still my family. I substitute in five of our Jewish pre-schools so look me up if you need a local mom or bubbie for your wee one. It would be fun to play Jewish Geography for I’m still in touch with some of my Columbus friends and my daughter was a 2003 OSU Grad. Go Buckeyes!
Welcome. Please come to my shop for coffee — Bean Good Cafe. We are easy to find in St. Louis Park at 5101 Minnetonka Blvd – next to the City Hall. Your first coffee is on the house! MANY years ago I lived in Cleveland for about seven years. I was single and working. I’m sure you will have no problem meeting other young families here. We are nice.
The TCs is lucky to have you!
My name is Riki and Im new in town too…well maybe not that new. Im here for 6 months allready and I would love to get your addivice about getting some social connections.
I moved to MN from tel -Aviv because my husband is a minnesota native and I wasnt that good starting a new life here. I guess him being from here and my self from Israel made our situation difficulte when it came down to getting around 🙂
If you have any advice- I would be very appriciative!
I just found these notes while looking for something else. I never heard back from Jennifer and didn’t see your message till now. I hope you have integrated into our community. Even so I wanted you to know that we in the Minneapolis Chapter of Hadassah are very warm and want to be an extended family for all of our sisters and brothers here in Mpls, in Israel and around the world.
Everyone in Hadassah is welcome to ALL Hadassah activities. Our young woman’s group (25 through about 40ish) is called Neshama. Then there is Tikvah Group which has women of all ages. Our chapter has activities coming up for families, women, couples, etc —day, evenings & Sundays. Then we have a wonderful group of incredibly bright and active older women who are our role models. Hadassah is celebrating it’s 100th year of educating people and in many ways saving lives both physically and figuratively. Our membership for a Lifetime of empowerment, friends and fun is only $100 till December 31st(after that $360). Please find me on facebook,respond to this or e-mail me at [email protected] so I can help you meet a great group of women who care to make a difference.
I almost certainly would not have contemplated this was useful two or three months ago, yet it is interesting how age evolves the manner you respond to stuff, thank you for the blog article it really is pleasing to see something sensible now and then as opposed to the usual rubbish masquerading as blogs and forums around the internet. Cheers
If anyone is still reading this, just wanted to let you all know that my family and I moved back to Ohio for my husband’s career this past July. We were all so sad to leave the TC and had such an amazing experience. Good luck to any newcomers who find this article!