A Moving Checklist

Suggestions on how to go about relocating to a new Jewish community

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Gather Materials

Call and/or e-mail any organization that you think might be helpful or that you are considering joining. Most Jewish organizations have informational mailings they will be more than happy to send out. Once you receive the information, come up with a list of questions and don't be afraid to call the organization back for additional details.

Request prospective membership materials from synagogues.These will provide an important first glimpse at the character and culture of each congregation.

Call schools and ask for registration forms and program details. In addition to the registration forms, ask also for a parent handbook (if one exists) and a curriculum overview. Be sure to ask about registration policies as well as the dates (calendar) and schedules (class days and hours) of classes.

Sign up for e-mail lists. Community, social, and volunteer organizations often have monthly or weekly e-mail lists that keep you up-to-date with events and activities. Knowing what's going on is the first step to getting involved and meeting new friends.

The Grand Tour

It's a good idea to scope out the Jewish community if you are able to visit your new home before moving.

Set up visits with schools and synagogues. Make sure you meet with the staff people in charge, including rabbis, cantors, and school directors.

Check out the local grocery stores. The availability and variety of kosher and Jewish-ethnic food can communicate a lot about a community.

Time the drive between your home and any places to which you are likely to travel frequently.

Find the resources you and/or your family might need immediately upon arrival. If you are expecting a baby shortly after moving, make sure you acquire names of mohelim (ritual circumcisers, people who perform brit milah) and/or details for baby namings and simhat bat celebrations. If you observe the laws of family purity, locate the closest (and nicest) mikvah. If you have a family member who needs to locate a minyan at which to recite kaddish for a loved one, check out the schedules and availability of services.

Pack It Up & Move It Out

Make yourself a Shabbat kit. One of the best things you can do in your new home is to celebrate Shabbat. Even if you end up ordering pizza delivery, the Shabbat evening rituals can be a meaningful way to bring holiness into your new home. Even though you might be unpacking gradually, it is a good idea to pack your Shabbat candlesticks, candles, challah cover, and Kiddush cup accessibly.

Take down your mezuzah. The last thing you should do before leaving your old home is to take down your mezuzot (if you have them). When you take them down, keep each mezuzah case and parchment separate (Ziploc bags work well) and include the screws or nails that you used to hang it. There are also those who hold by the halakhah (Jewish law) that you cannot take down your mezuzot if another Jewish person is moving into your home. If you are concerned about this law, consult your rabbi.

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Rabbi Rachel Miller Solomin is an educator living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) in 2001.