Like I told ya, I'm Ophi...a chunky, funky, quarter-finding, bagel-eating JEW.


"Ah, the Twin Cities?" you ask. "Lovely area!" I moved to Duluth, a small place three hours north of Minneapolis.

Most Duluthians are tall, stoic Scandinavian folk. Passive-agressive is the modus operandi for these quiet northern settlers. In fact, this is the only place I've ever been where all the brunettes have blond roots and the Irish people are considered "ethnic."

I'm a loud, combative five-foot-two Jewess whose roots tend toward the darker side. To say I don't quite fit here is an understatement. So for outsiders and newcomers, I've prepared this handy sightseeing guide.

Note to visitors on the cusp of 2002:
I no longer live in Duluth, but I decided to leave this part of the site up with hopes that it will provide amusing comfort to other Jews (and non-Jews) scattered in towns whose major attractions include corn shucking, twenty-foot crucifixes, Walmart megastores, or Swedish craft bazaars.

I now live in Duluth's antithesis—New York City—and I confess to feeling an occasional nostalgic twinge for the tiny Northland town. For five months, the only Jew I saw most days was my own face in the mirror. The "negative space" created by the absence of other Jews defined my Jewishness in ways that living two blocks from a kosher deli never could.

In Duluth, I shocked myself by attending the town's only synagogue. You couldn't drag me to temple in Manhattan. And being asked by a well-meaning Minnesotan, "Jewish? What's that?" made me realize that Jews indeed are less than three percent of America's population.

The absence of a solid Jewish community in Duluth offered me an amazing sense of possibility: I could be Jewish any way I wanted to be. This often translated to an hour at the synagogue Friday evenings, followed by dancing at a bar called The Cove. In an observant Jewish setting, this could be frowned upon. To me, it was an awesome way to celebrate life—and thus honor Shabbat—on my terms.

While I don't see myself settling permanently in an area as Jewless as Duluth, I know that if life took me to such a place, I could handle it. Oddly, Duluth may have prepared me for my first adult trip to Israel in 2000. It was as much a culture shock to see Jews be the majority culture as it was to see none at all.

I'm still figuring out what my Minnesota tour of duty meant to me. At any rate, it was the birthplace of this website, which has led me to many amazing people and opportunities. So for that, I must tip my yarmulke to the six-foot blondes, creamy casseroles and mini-marshmallow salads that I knew back when.



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©2001 by Ophira Edut. The hand that rocks the dreidl rules the world.