What does it take to really feel at home?

A familiar smile, a welcome embrace. A beckoning into the thick of the community, an invitation to lead the service.

My son is grappling with this question, but dare I say, we all grapple with it, throughout our lives. I have so many friends, I know so many people, but where, exactly, is my home?

Is it within me? Because an awful lot of us are scrambling to find it outside of ourselves.

Is the idea of home the place where you can fully be yourself? And the people who hang out there?

And then, let me ask the difficult question: is there even such a thing as home? Truly?

The feeling of going back to a place you know well, on break from frenetic college days, taking a break from the workaday world, returning for a holiday or family celebration. So is home, then, the art of returning, the act of taking a break from routine? And could that be done in the tropics, in a hotel, on a dirt path, all sound suspended except for the chirping of birds and the woosh of the wind.

In a way, I come home when it is my children and me and we have no agenda, no place to get to. Like last night, playing foos ball and pool with my boys in the rec center. A Monday night, yes, with school today for one of them, but we didn’t feel the rush to finish, to get home, to climb into bed.

The feeling yesterday of driving with my boys to the bank for silver and gold dollars, the Afikoman presents my grandfather used to give us every year. We visited a new-to-us cake shop to taste the gluten-free (and regular) cupcakes (well worth it, Cake Crumbs on Northwestern). We went to the grocery for a few last items, which became more than we had on the list (as it always does).

The entire day felt as if I were residing at home, if you can imagine. The walk to the library, searching the shelves for books, sitting in quiet chairs to thumb through the first pages and make sure we’d made good selections.

Interspersed with moments of work and checking off my obligatory to-dos, I was at home all day, and into the night.

My son is looking for his home in the Jewish world, and I’m on the quest right beside him. A synagogue that offers community, opportunity, connection, friendship. That’s what he wants, and why wouldn’t he? It’s what I’ve been yearning for, too, and just assumed I’d never find it.

Well, the search is on. Wish us luck.

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