Relocating: Long Distance

Jews are often referred to as the wandering people. Jewish history is filled with stories of transition, migration, and dislocation. Tales of long distance moves begin with Abraham and Sarah who are instructed by God to “Lekh L’kha L’artzecha (go to your land).” The exodus from Egypt, the exile to Babylon, the migration of Jews throughout the Roman Empire, and the expulsion of Jews from Spain demonstrate the variety of reasons for long distance moves. While most moves today are motivated by either a job change or retirement, there are always challenges in moving away from friends or family and relocating to a new community. Jewish history is instructive on how to cope with long distance moves. Seek community, join Jewish communal organizations, plant new roots and have faith.

Moving into a New Home

A tradition among Jews from Russia is to bring salt, bread and wine – so that the new homeowners will have spice, sustenance and sweetness in their new abode.

Affix a mezuzah to the doorways through which one commonly enters the home and rooms. The mezuzah is placed at least 2/3 up from the floor (or in the top 1/3), tilting in toward the house or room on the right side as you would enter.

Why is the mezuzah tilted? There was a debate among medieval commentators as to whether it should be vertical or horizontal. In a remarkably unique gesture toward inclusivity, the rabbis decided on a compromise position of placing the mezuzah at an angle inviting us to remember the necessity of compromise within the doorposts of your home.

Inside the mezuzah is a “claf” or handwritten parchment with the words of the first paragraph of the Shema prayer instructing us to teach the words of Torah when we walk along the way and when we lie down. As we affix the mezuzah to the door frame, we say a prayer.