Contributed by: Daniel Wenger | Last Date of Travel: June 2004
Kosher Info: We stocked up in Brookline, MA, on our way up to Maine, purchasing enough food there for our trip as well as Shabbat. There were no Kosher restaurants or stores in Portland, but the Shul was hosting a Shabbat lunch for an event, though it’s unclear to me if it was catered from in town, out of town, or by the rabbi’s family. (See ‘Jewish Info’ below for an update on Kosher food availability.)
Tourist Info: We stayed here for Shabbat only, so we made our own walking tour of the area. The water was close by, and while there were some older residential areas around the Shul, the closer to the water you got, the more it looked like a more modern commercial downtown. I’m sure their tourism site would be happy tell you everything you can do there, but we used Portland as a Shabbat resting point on our way to tour the more outdoorsy areas of Maine and New England farther north and west.
Jewish Info: We presumed this would be a great place for Shabbat because it was one of the two cities that the OU website listed as having a Mikvah. Having arrived, we found out that the Shul had enough attendance for Friday night and Shabbat day, but nothing else (not even Shabbat Mincha). It was a waning community, though one that seems to see its fair share of Jewish tourists. To prove the point, we spent the weekend with a Stern College marine biology class (who essentially secured that there were more women than men in Shul), but that’s a story for another blog.
It appears, as per the Shul’s website, that the Shul and the community has been building up this year. The have hired a rabbi fresh out of the Chovevei Semicha program, who is working to revitalize what is left of the community. The site mentions a local store that has started to carry Kosher meats and cheeses, so it would seem that things have improved since we have last been there.