Guest blog: "Southern Yiddishe Mama"

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(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans resident Leigh C., who maintains her own blog, Liprap's Lament: The Line. You can read more of her writing there.)

What brings a Jewish mother to New Orleans?

In the beginning, I was just a gal looking for a job, and I found one here. The operative word here is one, since, at the time, I was busting my buns in New York City working three jobs, two of which I knew I would be losing unless I found something else to replace them. So I came here, where I found culture shock that gave way to love for my surroundings, many other NYC refugees who shared that same feeling, and my second family, the greater Jewish community here. I met my husband here. We got married here.

And then, we had to leave. Job-wise, we found it difficult to stay. I also found out, shortly after filling up my car’s gas tank at a Magazine Street station and turning many shades of green from the smell of it, that I was pregnant. We moved to the borough of Queens six months after 9-11 and had our son there. We found a synagogue – a blessed expansion of the New Orleans mishpocheh – only a few blocks from our first apartment there, became active members, and settled in as much as we could. We got to know New York, but we kept our house in New Orleans and rented it all out in the hopes that someday, we would return. We got that opportunity to come back much quicker than we could ever have hoped. A merger was going through at my husband’s business in Brooklyn, and he found another job in southeast Louisiana.

Nearly four years to the day from when we moved to NYC, we came into New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras 2006. I began blogging shortly before then to do my best to let our friends in New York know what was going on with us and with the city. Two encounters in NYC had convinced me that this was necessary – my son’s preschool teacher’s indignance over Mayor Nagin’s “Chocolate City” remarks could not be easily discussed in depth at the dropoff time for preschool. My husband also had to give an hour-long geography lesson to a friend of ours in order to show him that New Orleans was not located right on the edge of the Gulf, although poor levee maintenance and unchecked coastal erosion will most likely have it lapping at our doorsteps in ten years.

So, here we are again, with a five-year-old son, in the city that we love. And I have found, sadly, that it is still hurting after all this time – in some of the same old ways and in excruciating new ones. But it is not going down without a fight.

What keeps a Jewish mother in New Orleans?

I invite you to read on and find out…

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