I Was Pregnant and Moving Across the World. Judaism Helped Me Find My Home. – Kveller
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I Was Pregnant and Moving Across the World. Judaism Helped Me Find My Home.

Prioritizing Jewish community and traditions reminded me that home isn’t a physical place, but a feeling.


It takes a certain kind of meshugenah to move thousands of miles from home for love. Especially after a few weeks of dating. But it was beshert

I met my beloved in the sticky heat of New York City in July. I was a 30-year-old writer from London – proudly single, I might add, having written a bestselling book about single positivity. He was a 37-year-old attorney living in Brooklyn. We both put zero expectations on our first date; presuming, as so often with online dating, that it was likely to be nothing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was no going back the second I saw him getting out of a cab in Chinatown. Cocktails were drunk, sparks flew.  

By September, we were pregnant and planning our wedding. 

I had no intentions of packing up my life back in London. But in the words of Nora Ephron, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” 

We leapt, together, into the unknown: into a new relationship, a new apartment, a new love. And soon, into starting a family.

But moving cities isn’t for the faint-hearted. When I came back down to earth, everything cozy and familiar was gone. Pregnancy, especially when away from friends and family, can be a challenging experience. Nausea, hormones, anxiety, aches and pains — pregnancy will throw everything your way. Add into the mix being in a new place, and it’s a recipe for a hard time. 

What got me through that period? It wasn’t apps like Peanut, Classpass (although I do think SoulCycle is a transcendental experience) or Bumble BFF. It wasn’t co-working spaces or random meet-up groups. It wasn’t FaceTiming friends or planning trips home. Not therapy or journaling. It wasn’t any of the things that people tell you will help with homesickness. 

It was Judaism. Judaism brought me home — to myself, and, in turn, to a new life. 

Judaism reminded me that home isn’t a physical place — it isn’t a zip code, country or address — but a feeling, one which you create with your own rituals and traditions. You can always come home to yourself with a mix of self-care, self-compassion and community. It’s very liberating to know that you don’t ever have to be in one place to feel at home.

I have learned first-hand through this past year and its challenges that you don’t think you “need” Judaism… until you do.  

In London, I liked Judaism, but I didn’t need Judaism. I kept to certain traditions out of habit: I would make Shabbat dinner for myself during lockdown and celebrate the High Holidays with my family, but my emotional connection to those traditions wasn’t that strong. 

But being away from the life I knew before, my connection to Judaism has only grown. It’s a constant thread that stitches two halves together: the one where I was single in London, the one where I am married and pregnant in New York. (Both are heavy on the challah.)

I have loved exploring a new city through a Jewish lens, spending weekends devouring pastrami sandwiches and matzoh ball soup in Long Island’s kosher delis, discovering the best bagel shops in Brooklyn and browsing the aisles of Zabar’s. My husband, who grew up Reform with a strong taste for Jewish food, has been my personal tour guide to the city’s best corned beef hash and latkes, showing me his childhood through the viewpoint of fried food and deli meat. 

But it’s not just food. Judaism helped me find my people, much more than any friendship app, by joining our local synagogue, making friends through Chabad and celebrating the High Holidays. I even joined a grief group created by 92NY, the Jewish cultural center in Manhattan, and found unexpected companionship through the weekly Zoom meetings. 

I’ve found myself wanting to make a Shabbat dinner every Friday night and go to synagogue on the holidays – something I did somewhat begrudgingly with my family before and sometimes skipped. I honored traditions here that I overlooked back in London, where my social calendar was more packed out. I’ve found myself growing naturally more observant, as I plan the Jewish life I want for my own family. Judaism is an anchor; I’ve sought out Jewish experiences, people and communities in order to root into the city. 

And I’ve learned that in your first year of marriage, co-creating the Jewish life you want together can be a beautiful and nourishing thing. My husband grew up in a different Jewish community than me; together, we have navigated the kind of Jewish life we want together and are creating a blueprint for the Jewish home we want to bring our child into, a blend of rituals old and new. He taught me what a bialy is, and I, in turn, made sure the house was stocked full of cheesecake for Shavuot. 

So if you’re going through a challenging time, may I make one suggestion? This Friday night, even if it’s just you alone in your apartment, take the time to cook yourself something delicious from scratch. Something that takes time and attention. A lemon garlic roasted chicken, perhaps. Or dust off an old recipe for your grandma’s brisket. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Light a candle. Say the prayers. And allow yourself to exist in that quiet space — where the work week is done and the weekend hasn’t yet begun. And breathe in the Jewish home that’s all around you. 

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