birdI have never been an avid birder but I do enjoy listening to Vernon Laux, whose birding reports air regularly on WCAI/NAN (90.1 FM, the Cape & Islands NPR stations). His enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge of the birds of the area never fail to send my imagination soaring.

Vern recently spoke of sightings of birds returning to their summer habitat on the Cape and Islands but I was dismayed not to hear a single mention of a species that is particularly prized in our congregation, the “snowbird”! In point of fact, about a third of our congregation heads to warmer climates for all, or part, of the winter…mostly Florida, but Arizona and California are also favored winter-nesting sites for our snowbirds.

This past February, during the public schools vacation week, I went “snowbirding” in Florida, visiting with as many FJC members as I could see in a week’s time. It was my first real visit to Florida and I was able to spend time on both the east and west coasts getting a feel for how our snowbirds spend their time and a taste of what Florida has to offer. I was greatly impressed not only by the natural beauty of the area but also by the enormous range of activities and opportunities for cultural enrichment.

The weather was mild (not swimming weather) but it was a wonderful break from the blizzard that had hit New England the week before my Florida trip. I was graciously received wherever I went and it was obvious to me how much it meant to FJC members to have a connection with our community while they were away from the Cape. I was wined , dined and lunched and given tours of beautiful areas.

Some of our snowbirds are officially residents of other states, carefully monitoring their calendars so as to stay within the constraints of residency requirements. Others maintain Massachusetts as their primary residence. What all of our FJC snowbirds share in common is a devotion to this Cape Jewish community. They may be members and/or supporters of synagogues in their winter locales but we are blessed with their presence and enthusiastic support even when they are away from us.

By the time this Newsletter reaches you, our snowbirds will be returning in significant numbers, recognizable by their tanned winter plumage! As always, we look forward to their return!

Reb Elias