Wednesday, November 30, 2022 -
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Inside/outside. No, not the Pixar film with the strikingly similar title, but the motif of Amit Mate’s d’var Torah this past week at EDOS.

A Denverite who made aliyah, Mate was in Denver for the yahrzeit of his father, Mr. Brian Mate, who had been a beloved teacher at RMHA.

Amit shared an essence of the immigrant experience; no matter where you are, in your adopted or native homeland, you carry the contradictory emotions of feeling both an insider and outsider. For him, now an Israeli, he’s “outside” when he’s in the US. But being in a congregation where he feels at home, where the congregants knew his deceased father, he’s “inside.”

What a coincidence that this talk came just before Thanksgiving, possibly the ultimate inside/outside experience for me in the years that I lived as an immigrant. Without fail, in all the years I lived overseas, Thanksgiving dinner was a must. OK, so often it would be on Friday night instead of Thursday, but my American and American-adjacent friends would gather over mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans for the quintessential feeling of home. Once in a while I would attend the Thanksgiving event hosted by the embassy, where a message from the president would be read aloud. It didn’t matter if it were a president I had voted for or not, it felt good, in that moment, to know that the president thought of us Americans who were far from home.

Inside/outside is a theme that has permeated and enriched my life, in big ways, but often in small ones. A favorite pastime is stocking up on household items, food or otherwise, when I’m “home” — which could be Denver, London or Zurich. Jam in Switzerland; stationery in the UK; toiletries in the US. This away-from-home shopping is a tradition among every expat or immigrant I’ve met.

Then there are the Thanksgiving flipsides — celebrations one imports when one returns home. For me, that’s always been Burns Night, first encountered when I studied abroad in Edinburgh. If dressing up in a kilt for a raucous evening enhanced by many drams of whisky isn’t enough of a reason, Burns Night is January 25, the date of Robert Burns’ birthday, which happens to be my birthday too!

While I’m not as faithful to this celebration as I was to Thanksgiving, I’ve still managed to attend one or two in Denver.

For Jews, the ultimate inside/outside nation, there’s nothing new about Diaspora celebrations. Through millennia we’ve learned to enhance life through varied experiences.

Wishing everyone a happy (belated) Thanksgiving, wherever you may be celebrating from.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at

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