by Nechama Gutman
It’s amazing to think that I grew up in a community where making plans to play with a friend on Shabbos meant calling on Friday afternoon and making arrangements.
You see, the nearest friend I had growing up in Coral Springs, Florida, lived 3 miles away. Coming from a small community most of our parents became baal teshuvas together. There was no thought in the beginning of how spread out our little village was or that there were only 4 other homes we could eat at. That was life. We grew together.
Our families grew, our yiddishkeit grew, our connections to chassidus grew and in time, our community grew.
I remember when my parents decided to firmly begin keeping kosher, when working on Shabbos was no longer a thing in our family. I remember one of my favorite Shabbos walks when I was around 7, I was walking home with a friend’s father to join them for Shabbos lunch and the skies opened and poured because when you walk 4 miles in Florida you will always get stuck in a summer rain storm. It was life.
Now looking back at those memories, it is Incredible to see what has evolved. My children have 7 families on our block that we have regular shabbos meals and play dates. No more walking 4 miles to the nearest shul.
There a there are 4 Chabad Houses within a 6 mile radius. The 4 friends that I had to choose from on a Friday afternoon is long gone and replaced with the 5 friends my son brings home, 10 mesifta boys who stop by on their way to lunch for a cold drink and a taste of shabbos and an afternoon shuir around the corner.
Our Sundays are filled with Hakhel gatherings with our friends, and more importantly, our children’s friends. It’s incredible. The families of now are not the families from then.
The footsteps our parents took nearly 30 years ago has paved the pathway for our children to continue.
Our community is constantly being infused with new families who are bringing their own strengths and wisdom from their journeys over the years.
It’s amazing how so many different people from so many different communities have created a tapestry of this community.
From Woodstock to Montreal, Crown Heights to Kentucky, Melbourne Australia to South Carolina. It’s a community that has a place for all and a place I’m proud to call home.