Letter from Anacortes

In an excellently written and very amusing article in the World Jewish Digest, Alison Buckholtz encapsulates the difficulties Jewish service members can face in more remote duty stations, and by cataloging her family’s efforts to bring yiddishkeit to their military community. Sans crucifix…

From the article:

So as we drove down our new street in Anacortes, it wasn’t the extravagant, blooming landscaping that caught my eye, nor the swing set waiting to give our children a ride to the sky. It was the large brass mezuzah at the entrance of our neighbors’ home.

I breathed a sigh of relief. We had met very few other Jews in the military, but the lack of a Jewish military community had rarely affected our lives. We’d been fortunate to make good friends during my husband’s many tours of duty in a variety of places around the world, and the issue of religion never crossed our minds. Given our children’s growing awareness of their surroundings, however, I worried about how would we mark the holidays in a town with very few Jews and whether our kids would have any Jewish friends.

And yet, here was a mezuzah right across the street! It seemed that my fears were unfounded – at least until darkness fell.

Because that was when those neighbors flipped the switch on their six-foot-tall crucifix. Beaming from an oversized Palladian window, the multicolored cross bathed our yard in light. As we later discovered, our perfectly friendly neighbors were committed Christians who hung a mezuzah to bring an extra measure of holiness to their home.

That cross taught me a lesson: if my husband and I were going to create a haimishe atmosphere for our children in this far-off corner of the United States, we’d have to do it all on our own.

Read the entire article.