What the Periphery Can Teach the Center

It is 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning in April, and I am sitting in a coffee shop in Brookline, MA, with two young women. We’re staking out this very spot, across the street from the closest kosher supermarket to the town we live in, 185 miles away. The supermarket doors are due to open at 7A.M., and we’re sipping much-appreciated coffee as we watch a line slowly accrue at the door. I feel the 13 days until Passover perching demon-like on my shoulder.

What the Periphery Can Teach the Center

We are here for Pesach shopping, naturally, and my 19-year-old ally is doing this sort of mad run for the first time. She’s a fellow for the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, where I and my other young colleague work, and president of the local Hillel. The three of us had aggressively workshopped the Hillel Passover shopping list on our ride through interminable Boston traffic. I myself have four lists in my pocket, covering what feels like the needs of every Jew for several zip codes in any direction. The teenager eyes the growing queue with frank disbelief. “I kind of can’t believe I’m doing this,” she murmurs into her coffee. I grin. “Welcome to Maine Jewish womanhood!”

I want to be clear: it is not like I did not wait in crazy-long lines at kosher supermarkets back when I lived in Brooklyn, not like I didn’t schlep groceries for friends or spend crazy time and effort on holiday preparations. But until I moved to small-town Maine, a state that clocks in with a mere 1.3 million people,there was never any undercurrent of desperation to these acts; they were never freighted with the certain knowledge that, if we didn’t drag ourselves down to do a town’s worth of shopping, there might not be food for Passover…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY MELANIE WEISS AT LILITH.ORG