Sunday, September 11, 2022

A Synagogue in New Mexico

You may have seen the story bandying about the internet: "A tiny New Mexico Jewish community is trying to buy back its historic synagogue building". The community in question is Las Vegas, New Mexico -- what I affectionately dub "the other Las Vegas". I have an affectionate dubbing because, as it happens, there was a possibility that I'd be moving to that town of that 13,000 souls 88 miles away from Albuquerque.

My last year on the job market, before I ended up accepting a position at Lewis & Clark, the position I was "furthest" along in was a political science/legal studies job at New Mexico Highlands University, which is located in Las Vegas. I was far enough into the process there that I started to research facts about the city in question (such as its distance from the nearest large city and -- of utmost importance to my wife -- the distance to the nearest Target). I also looked into the city's Jewish community in history, where I learned many of the facts the rest of the internet picked up over the past few days -- the historic synagogue (the oldest in New Mexico), and the fact that the synagogue is no longer in Jewish hands following the gradual diminution of the town's Jewish population.

I don't have any substantive commentary to add. It was just an interesting bit of overlap between the current news and a near-miss in my life, and the unique challenges and history of being Jewish in a town that may have Jewish history, but does not have many in the way of Jews.

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