In the frum world, Out of Town or OOT for short is generally considered anyone who lives outside of the New York metro area. Not only is it a term to mark geographic location, it is generally used in the same way someone would call another person Yeshivish or Modern Orthodox. The people who generally use the term are of the more black hat variety and when they use it, it generally carries a negative connotation. Like if someone is OOT they are not as frum as those from “in-town” and they aren’t as connected. Some people use it as a positive attribute by calling someone Out of Townish which means they have a nicer attitude and less materialistic outlook than those in NY are said to have. I am sure that we could debate until moshiach comes as to who or what counts exactly as out of town, but in my opinion, many cities with large frum populations really shouldn’t count unless some of the following listed below holds true. The Bay Area is about as far out of town as it comes, but this posted was thought of because of a comment Philo made the post about making people believe you’re an obnoxious frummy from New York.
You know you’re from out of town if…
If you have no kosher pizza store… you just might live out of town.
If the Orthodox and Conservative get along and mingle… you just might live out of town.
If your hand shmura has to be ordered several weeks in advance… you just might live out of town.
If black hats, kippot srugot, and Chabad daven in the same shul, and even eat shabbat meals at each others’ houses… you just might live out of town.
If you refer to “the” kosher market (or if it’s part of the supermarket)… you just might live out of town.
If about 30% – 40% of the congregants drive to your shul on shabbat, and no one gives them a hard time… you just might live out of town.
If appeals for the local federation are part of your Orthodox shul life… you just might live out of town.
Now for my commentary on the subject:
If 70% of the Orthodox shul’s membership is not shomer shabbos
Your shul has a very short very secret list of people you can eat by (the Rabbi first confirms you’re frum, which isn’t hard to do)
The only time you see a yarmulke in public is when you walk to shul on shabbos
You and your friends drive 400 miles to eat in 5 restaurants and drive back on the same day (when I lived in Rochester we would drive to Toronto to do this and in the Bay Area people drive to LA to do this)
Someone who attended Reform Hebrew school as a kid is considered to be frum from birth
Your local chabad shliach lains for the modern orthodox shul
You get a text message each night asking you if you can make the minyan in the morning
You go to frum weddings in the local Conservative or Reform shul
You meet people riding their bikes to shul on shabbos because they live in the eruv, but far away
The only people who speak Yiddish are 80 years old
Your kids commute over an hour each way to school, it’s the only school
The Kollel kids are in class with the Renewal kids
There are no choices for shul, it’s chabad, or some independant egal minyan in someones basement
The closest kosher restaurant is a days drive away
The chabad shliach sends his kids away at age 8
The biggest event of the year is when Trader Joes gets some random kosher product, like their chalav yisroel feta.
The kelim mikvah is at the beach
In the one Jewish store no one slams the change on the counter
The Judaica store sells same sex ketuva’s, treife menorah’s and has a section devoted to Rav Zalman…along with all the regular stuff you expect to find
Kiddush is healthy and never brown
People serve milchigs and parve for shabbos, regularly!
Frum people don’t know regular frum terminology like BT or FFB (this is why places like Detroit and Baltimore are just mini-NY, but definitely not OOT)
When someone says “the city” you say which city?
You haven’t had to parallel park since your last visit to NY
There is no official mikvah attendant, but people on call or mikvah partners
Someone’s cell phone ringing during the rabbis drash is totally normal
You think snood has something to do with sleeping in the nude
You’ve never seen a shabbos robe in your life
Your shul never has a fleishig cholent
The only siyum you hear all year is on erev pesach
Walking 4 miles to shul each way is normal
You have a shabbos apartment on the Jewish side of town
The only women who cover their hair and wear skirts are married to Rabbis
The Rabbi introduces himself by his first name and it’s English
If you’re shocked by sex and money fraud scandals in the frum community…
You’re considered ultra-orthodox because you don’t eat vegan out
You’ve never met a real chossid (chabad is not counted)
The frum day school doesn’t require the girls to wear skirts
Women are invited to shalom zachor’s