I moved to a studio in downtown Seattle in the early 2000s, planning to be here for six months to a year living near my sister to improve my English for work. In my country, I worked as a buyer/planner at an electronics company. On the flight back from a trip home, a woman asked if I was visiting or living in Seattle. I told her I was just visiting, but as she watched me look out the window at the city she said, “I know that look. This is your new home.” Several months later I met my husband through a mutual friend, and fast forward a few years and we were married and raising children here.

My family never talked about our Jewish heritage, but I remember having big family dinners on Fridays and not being allowed to go to the theater on Saturdays. One day I was on the phone with my father and mentioned that we were reading out loud from the Bible to our children at bedtime. 

“We don’t call it the Bible,” he said. “We call it the Torah.” For the first time, my father openly acknowledged our Judaism. We ended up joining a synagogue in Seattle and have since raised our children within the Jewish faith. Having grown up keeping largely kosher and unknowingly practicing various aspects of the Jewish culture, the transition felt very natural. 

While it would be nice to be closer to family, we have been warned that in our home country we would not be accepted into the community and our children might not be able to receive the same level of Jewish education. I had my first residency appointment several years ago, but unfortunately, sponsorship through my sister takes years. (While I have permission to be here, I’m not able to work.) But Seattle is home. It is where our community is, and our family understands that. When I told my parents that we had joined a synagogue they said to me, “Now we can be at peace.”

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