Many people tell me they like to visit synagogues when they are out of town or on vacation. I encourage you to do so. It is a great way to meet people and to see how much Jews have in common with each other, regardless of where we live.
While on vacation in Puerto Rico, I attended Friday night services at the Chabad synagogue and at the Conservative shul on Saturday morning. After Friday night services, we had a Shabbat dinner at the shul catered by the Rabbi’s wife. It gave us the chance to meet people from the Island and to enjoy the conversation afterwards. At the Kiddush after Saturday morning services, I met and schmoozed with and many nice people.
The Jewish journey is such that it has carried us through many lands throughout many ages. Some of the people I met told me that they had immigrated to Puerto Rico from Cuba in the 1960’s. Their families had originally come to Cuba as refugees from Turkey, and the Turkish migration was prompted by the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. It is amazing how Jews manage to preserve our identity despite all our travels and travails.
Not only did I enjoy services, have a couple of good meals, learn some history and meet some interesting people, but there was another benefit as well. That night my wife and I went to a local restaurant for dinner. As we were sitting there, in walked some of the folks I had met earlier in the day in shul. They warmly greeted us like old friends. Suddenly, because of going to Shabbat services while on vacation, I no longer felt as if I was a stranger who knew no one in a strange city. I felt connected to both some specific people and to being a part of the Jewish people.
The question, though, is if someone from out of town came and visited our synagogue, would they find you among the “locals” they would meet?