Shalom Life | April 26, 2015

Rosh Hashanah Comes to Kotztebue Alaska

How one Jew found a way to celebrate the New Year Among the Tundra

By: Taali Lester Tollman

Published: September 18th, 2012 in News » World

Rosh Hashanah Comes to Kotztebue Alaska

Kotzebue is a small town located 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle on Alaska's Western cost. Its population is 3,201 and, as of this August, its Jewish population increased 100 percent. My step-daughter, Sadie, moved there to work as a special needs teacher for pre-schoolers with her girlfriend and my husband and I were a little concerned about her choice.

Temperatures through the winter can dip to -45 centigrade and sometimes more than just the ice freezes. In fact, there are times when many of the town’s cell phones and car batteries become incapacitated. This made me nervous. I will admit that taking the subway after 9 pm can make me nervous, so my tolerance for adventure is low. Still I worried, and not only about the cold. I worried about what she would eat, it's hard to grow much fresh produce on the tundra, about the people she would meet, her job, but mostly I wondered how she would feel being the only Jew, not just in Koztebue, but the only one for miles away.

I called her before Rosh Hashanah.

"So how are you guys going to celebrate the holiday?"

"Um, I guess we will cut up some apples and eat them with honey," she said easily.

"Do you even have apples up there?" I was wondering if we should courier her some.

"Yes, we have apples, we'll also invite a few people over to celebrate with us and eat dinner. Make it feel more like a holiday"

"Nice," I said.

And it was nice. Thousands of miles away from us, in a place so foreign and strange, our daughter was expressing her Judaism quietly, in her own way. And I was proud. I was proud of the fact that after all the holiday dinners we had shared as a family, the hours at synagogue, the time spent at BBYO, the trip to Israel, whatever it was, we had clearly done something right.

As a parent it sometimes feels like one big crapshoot, you never really know how things will turn out. But this Rosh Hashana I felt victorious. Although we couldn't be together, and we’re separated by far too many miles, we all participated in the same rituals. We brought friends and family together to talk, to tell stories, to enjoy a meal and dip apples into honey, praying for a sweet New Year.

Here's hoping. We seem off to a good start. Then again, that could just be the honey talking.

Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties TrendingIsrael: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth TrendingNetanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer Trending
 

Yes, There's A Grateful Dead Album Entirely in Hebrew

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Yes, There's A Grateful Dead Album Entirely in Hebrew

Released by Sagol 59 and Ami Yaris, "The Promised Land" features songs from the revered jam band beautifully translated into Hebrew

Read More

Ban Ki-Moon Eats Shakshuka On Israel Independence Day

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Ban Ki-Moon Eats Shakshuka On Israel Independence Day

An exploration into Israeli food, and maybe the first step towards peace, Ban Ki-Moon tries shakshuka for the first time

Read More

WATCH: Tel Aviv Zookeeper Captures Awesome Footage of Animals Drinking

April 24, 2015 | By Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels
WATCH: Tel Aviv Zookeeper Captures Awesome Footage of Animals Drinking

Elad Hershkowitz captured the unique footage by placing a GoPro camera at the bottom of animals' water troughs to get a closer look at how giraffes, lions, rhinos and lemurs relieve their parched pallets

Read More

First Nations Actors Storm Off the Set of Adam Sandler's Western Spoof

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
First Nations Actors Storm Off the Set of Adam Sandler's Western Spoof

Despite concerns raised by actors on the set, and even following a walkout by cast, Netflix and Sandler stand by the 'The Ridiculous Six'

Read More

Poland Wants Mattel To Recall 'Apples To Apples' Game For Labelling Them As Nazis

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Poland Wants Mattel To Recall 'Apples To Apples' Game For Labelling Them As Nazis

A card which refers to their country as "Nazi Poland" during the second World War has been deemed offensive and demeaning to Poland

Read More

Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties

April 24, 2015 | By Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org
Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties

George Pataki has a strong history with Jewish voters for a Republican

Read More

Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth

Israel takes the 11th spot on the UN's annual happiness report, coming out on top of countries like the U.S. and U.K.

Read More

Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer

April 24, 2015 | By Kobi Nachshoni
Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer

'They are lawbreakers. Service in the IDF is a source of pride,' the Israeli PM stated

Read More

More Headlines