Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Like when your flight from Miami to New York is cancelled (blizzard), all flights really, and you are stuck for an indefinite period of time 1,000 miles away from home. Not fun. Alas, I don’t like being stuck, in any possible way. What’s a girl to do?
Let me first say, I’ve never hitchhiked or hitched a ride with a stranger in my life. Well, at least not solo. But the idea of being stuck in Florida for an unknown period of time prompted me to act. I overheard a lovely Jewish man talking about renting a car and just driving on up to New York, and causally invited myself to join the road trip. Thus began my vertical cross country journey, full of Jewish cultural learning, kosher stops, match matching, music, and insight from a singing Rabbi, who truly does have an amazing voice.
Our bonding began over the struggles of finding food we could both eat- I being vegetarian, and they kosher. As it turns out, kosher options on the road are limited. We did find a random place a bit off the beaten path in Orlando with cuisine agreeable for all. I didn’t realize how challenging eating kosher could be! Almost like being a vegetarian in the Midwest (my dad’s idea of a vegetarian meal is a fish sandwich from McDonald’s).
We exchanged music- the Rabbi’s own album of traditional Jewish music, and I played some acoustic whip and nae nae- they loved it!! I’ve had such positive experiences getting to know people outside of my comfort zone, both in and outside of the US. We chatted about life, reassured our nervous mothers, discussed marriage, how broad the word God is, and the dynamics of raising children (they have 4) in a Jewish family throughout the evening and into dawn. I even introduced the Rabbi to the podcast Serial, which he actually listened to all night as he drove.
We shared prayers, well, they graciously shared their prayers with me, a wig was removed late into the night, and I learned a lot about Rabbi’s. I’m lucky to have been trapped in a car for 20 hours with such lovely people. We made it safely back to New York, and while I still know relatively very little about Jewish faith and culture, I love that I got some insight. Religion is not a barrier. I can connect with people of all religions. How sad that we can allow religion to separate us, when the common thread of all religion is to be a better person? I’m even more convinced that there is no ‘right’ but just different. I’m grateful for everyone I’ve met along my journey.