Traveling? Here's How to Find Your Jewish Home Away from Home

Rabbi Evon Yakar and Bob Langsfeld

There’s a lot that goes into planning a vacation. Where should you go? Should you hit the beach or the mountains? What about being a little bit adventurous, with a hiking trip or some other activity-based travel? Whatever you decide is sure to make for an exciting time – but while getting out of your routine and shaking things up can be a thrill, you may still find yourself thinking toward the end of your trip, “I can’t wait to get home to my routine.”

What if you could have the best of both worlds – vacation but with a taste of home? Experiencing someplace new while also renewing and expanding your Jewish identity?

Travel offers the perfect opportunity to find a Jewish home away from home. With almost 900 Reform congregations across North America (plus many more outside the continent), there’s a high probability that one of our congregations is on your route – and they’d  love to welcome you into their community while you’re on the road.

If it’s your custom to attend Friday night services at your home congregation, why not seek out a Reform congregation in whichever city your trip takes you? Traveling during a loved one’s yahrzeit? Want to attend Torah study, or experience another congregation’s family programing? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the congregations in your destination city. There are also Reform synagogues located in resort destinations, and they’re especially accustomed to welcoming guests and sharing their congregation’s unique local flavor, traditions, and family.

By visiting a new congregation when you travel, you’ll learn about the local community, expose yourself to local customs, and maybe even meet a few local congregants to perfect your trip.

Here are just a few of the things our own congregants had to say about their experiences visiting other congregations while traveling:

  • “We combined our skiing with remembering a yahrzeit at a local congregation. When we arrived at our destination, the local congregation’s website told us about all their activities, and we configured our plans to include another ‘welcoming’ congregation. They greeted us and included us as if we were part of their family.”
  • “They were welcoming, engaging, and helped us with our Jewish needs. We experienced other traditions, and we heard other clergy’s thoughts (and especially chanting) and practices that were different than our congregation back home – but still wonderful.”
  • “Having the opportunity to share our Jewish traditions with a congregation having a ski and Torah event was a double pleasure. We met members of the host congregation at the bottom of the ski lift, exchanged greetings, and rode up on the lift with ‘new and welcoming people,’ skied a lot, had a break and discussed Torah, and skied a lot again. Perfect!”
  • “Sun, sand, and a Friday night service with a welcoming congregation… a great experience. Services on the sand, water and waves to compliment the ambiance, and a sunset that we will remember always.”

Likewise, visitors to Lake Tahoe, shared this beautiful reflection after spending time in our community:

  • “Last February, as we do each year, we traveled to a new-to-us ski destination. Hoping for powder days and good food, we discovered so much more. A couple of days into our trip to Lake Tahoe, we noticed a sign for a synagogue in town – and it piqued our interest. After a little investigative work, we discovered that Lake Tahoe boasts two Jewish congregations, one that hosts “Torah and Ski” on Tuesdays, and another that hosts “Shabbat on Snow.” What began as our regular yearly ski vacation soon became an opportunity to find our Jewish home away from home!”

Next time you travel, whether for vacation or for business, remember that the broader Reform Jewish community – truly, a Reform Jewish family – is always nearby and ready to welcome you home.

Use our Find a Congregation tool to locate a Reform synagogue near your next travel destination. If you’re traveling internationally, download this app from the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) to help you find Reform congregations beyond North America.

Rabbi Evon Yakar serves North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista, CA, and Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Living in the Lake Tahoe region, he celebrates countless opportunities to welcome and share Judaism with visitors. Bob Langsfeld is a member of the North American Board (NAB) of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), a lay community and resort community leader, and a former member of the RMAC Committee. A member of North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista, CA, he is a former treasurer and a past president of the congregation.