As I was planning this month’s virtual cook and chat for newcomers to the Twin Cities, I started reflecting on my own move here in August of 2012.
We were picked up at the airport and whisked into a big comfortable car where our kids were given individually packed goody bags. The rental home we were supposed to live in fell through and we were promptly taken in by virtual strangers. Our kids started calling our hosts Bubby and Zeidy.
During this time our kids did not take that we were living in someone else’s home into consideration at all. They behaved as if we were in our own home taking all the liberties of leaving their backpacks and shoes all over the floor and demanding what they wanted for dinner. This went on for ten weeks!
We developed a vibrant social circle and a support system through Aish Minnesota, the organization that brought us to Minnesota. While our cars were being shipped cross country, we were lent luxury cars we could never dream of owning. We received tickets for every Jewish event and new friends paraded our family around, introducing us to everyone they knew. It was such a warm welcome.
I hear all the time that the Minnesota Jewish community is hard to break into — in fact, this is echoed in the recent Twin Cities Population Study, where 101 respondents cited their status as transplant as part of why they felt a limited connection to the Jewish community.
Directly quoting some of the study’s participants:
“We find the community here is largely of people with deep roots in the community, and they are a bit insular. I don’t get the impression that people intend to be so insular, but they all seem to know each other from Hebrew school, and we often feel like outsiders.”
“I’m not from here and have no family in the area. I don’t know many Jews, and don’t feel like there is a way into the community.”
Hearing this inspires me to act. I want everyone to experience the red carpet that was rolled out for me!
This is just one of the reasons my role as Community Connector at Minneapolis Jewish Federation is a perfect fit. I was thrilled at the opportunity to meet newcomers and introduce others to this great community. When COVID hit two and a half months into my onboarding, we were able to pivot to virtual connections, but I worry we’re not able to reach as many recent transplants.
And this is where I turn to you, wonderful TC Jewfolk readers! If you know anyone who recently moved to the Twin Cities, please let them know about our upcoming virtual cook and chat on Thursday, January 21. I’d love for you to help me make a first impression so warm it will melt the 10,000 lakes.
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