Posted in CPE

It Was Just a Bad Day

I need to write a d’var Torah for tonight – but I can’t think.

My head is whirling after today. The morning was fine – actually quite good. It was the afternoon that sucked. I finally had the courage to talk about what I am feeling in my work to my group, and well, I felt worse after. We are told that this is a place to receive care, but I didn’t feel cared for. I felt scrutinized. I felt that even though I shared, I shared incorrectly. I was not able to ask for what I wanted – which thinking back, I think all I wanted was for it to be acknowledged that it is hard, nothing more and nothing less. Or maybe what I wanted was to push back on feedback I received earlier this year that I only ever bring the things I feel good about – but here I was bringing the thing that is making me cry daily for the past two weeks, and really I just feel worse.

I feel like I failed the group – even though I know it is not my fault and I know I should not feel that way. I feel like I was in a double bind spot  – of accepting what others say so the conversation can move or to constantly tell people I am not being met, which then I get looks of exasperation, or told later that I am trying to get attention, or just met with frustration that the conversation can’t go on. It is times like these that I wish that I said nothing at all, that someone else would have started the conversation, that we can focus on someone other than me, because the focus on me always feels bad.

I’m annoyed with something someone said, but also not clear if I will say anything – mostly because I don’t think it will do any good, nor do I think I will be able to say it nicely, but I guess I could surprise myself. To be told that I speak with a voice of authority, and sometimes it sounds like I am the only one who knows – there can be truth to that, I am sure. I know that I had to learn how to hold that voice, to make sure that I am heard. But at the same time, I don’t think that is always true. I think that most of the time I just go with what the majority wants, and many times if I bring a suggestion it is just shot down. I have been fighting with the material this year, because I actually don’t agree with it. I have been reading it and using it, and I am finding the faults. I am annoyed that this person can speak like this to me, because I feel like they too speak with a word of authority, and speak that the only way to do this well is to delve into the emotions head on, I never feel heard by them when I speak a different voice. I feel like they take over the room because they are the experts and know exactly what to do and how to do it, and it is ok if they need support when they are upset or going through a tough time.

I felt like I was not allowed to feel what I was feeling. I left still feeling sad about the past two weeks, still sad over the stuff I know I will be doing in the upcoming weeks. I feel sad that I made everyone else feel upset and frustrated and hurt.

Here’s to hoping writing this out of my head, helps me to focus on what I need to get done.

Blah….

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Posted in Life

Reconnecting

I feel funny this morning.

I’m here in Pittsburgh, and A is here. The guy I dated two years ago. I really didn’t know what to expect, when he told me that he was randomly going to be there for a week, and then it turned out that I would be here too.

On Friday we went on a boat tour of Pittsburgh. I thought it was going to just be seeing an old friend, but then we started talking. Really talking – talking about our relationship two years ago, talking about the breakup and how I felt, very fast we go to speaking about the what ifs, and that we both miss each other.

Then he was at Shabbat dinner with me. And I really didn’t know how to react to him. There are things that haven’t changed at all. There is definitely a feeling there that is the same as it was those two years ago. And that feeling really does make me nervous. It is the feeling that he cares for me, that he can see me, that he is drawn to me – and it is not only something a feel, but something he says aloud.

Last night we sat on the porch of my host’s house watching the rain pour down, talking for hours. Somehow the conversation lead to a conversation about marriage and children. We spoke about attraction and what we are feeling. How to have both the feelings , but also acknowledge that there is something there. Honestly, I was both overwhelmed and comfortable at the same time. Last night, he was so sure, and I was so not sure. It felt too early to talk about a long term future together. We haven’t seen each other in two years – I know I have changed and of course he has too. But there is something there…but it is too soon. I went to bed with my head whirling. I looked back at posts that I wrote when we were “not talking” to each other, right before we actually ended it. I was reminded of the intense feelings that I had for him back then, and the reality of how that felt today – that some of it was still there. My brain was just whirling with thoughts and feelings, and so unsure what to do.

And today we met up for breakfast. He had his rational head on, and now was feeling overwhelmed. It was intense to see him. I have so many conflicting feelings and am getting used to sharing them with him, as I am different. We were trying to plan, but it is really unplannable. He has to play for the wedding, and it is too overwhelming to think about all this too. There is just not enough time to be together and to actually talk about all that we need to talk about. Do we start a long distance thing, knowing that we won’t be able to see each other. Are we really meant to do this? Are we thinking to far into the future before we have a present?

I am trying really hard to just be in the moment. I am trying really hard to allow myself to feel what I am feeling, and to just allow that to be ok – and maybe even to share those feelings with him. I honestly do not know what I want, but I do know that there is a certain comfort of just being with him.

 

via Daily Prompt: Premature

Posted in Life

My Year in Books #2

When I moved to the US in May 2016, I decided to keep a log of the books I read, mostly to see how many full books a year I read. So keeping with the tradition I started last year – here are the 2017/2018 books. My favorites are in bold.

Shtum Jem Lester 27/5/2017 313
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Kathleen Rooney 29/5/2017 284
How to be Single Liz Tuccillo 31/5/2017 404
All Grown Up Jami Attenberg 2/6/2017 197
The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life Sharon Pywell 3/6/2017 308
The Antiques Kris D’Agostino 304
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World Adam M. Grant   326
The Bookshop Penelope Fitzgerald 123
How to be Everything: A Guide for those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to be When They Grow Up Emilie Wapnick 5/6/2017 203
Ninette of Sin Street Vitalis Danon 84
The Wide Circumference of Love Marita Golden 10/6/2017 292
The Weight of Ink Rachel Kadish 17/6/2016 567
In the Stacks: Stories about Libraries and Librarians Michael Cart 21/6/2017 288
An Alphabetical Life: Living it Up in the World of Books Wendy Werris 23/6/2017 284
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book fo Books, Plot Ensues Pamela Paul 24/6/2017 256
Letters to a Young Poet Rainer Maria Rike 30/6/2017 80
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman 4/7/2017 327
We Should All Be Feminists Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 15/7/2017 52
The Someday Jar Allison Morgan 18/7/2017 343
The Idiot Elif Batuman 22/7/2017 423
My Italian Bulldozer Alexander McCall Smith 27/7/2017 240
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling 29/7/2017 222
The Heartbreak Hotel Jonathan Kellerman 30/7/2017 368
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race Margot Lee Shetterly 19/8/2017 349
The Book of Speculation Erika Swyler 20/8/2017 339
Chemistry Weike Wang 25/8/2017 211
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows Balli Kaur Jaswal 26/8/2017 293
How to Behave in a Crowd Camille Bordas   319
Extraordinary Adventures Daniel Wallace 328
Cake Time Siel Ju 208
Cities I’ve Never Lived In: Stories Sara Majka 28/8/2017 192
The Rules Do Not Apply Ariel Levy 2/9/2017 207
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman Denis Theriault 137
Very Valentine Adriana Trigiani 5/9/2017 367
Careers for Women Joanna Scott 8/9/2017 304
Girls Who Travel Nicole Trlivas 9/9/2017 336
Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome Ty Tashiro 13/9/2017 288
Britt-Marie Was Here Fredrik Backman 16/9/2017 324
The Correspondence JD Daniel 17/9/2017 144
Books for Living Will Schwalbe 20/9/2017 288
Forest Dark Nicole Krauss 2/10/2017 304
The Secret Life of the Mind: How Your Brain Thinks, Feels and Decides Mariano Sigman 288
How to Find Love in a Book Shop Veronica Henry 5/10/2017 336
The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness Jill Filipovic 6/10/2017 336
Sourdough Robin Sloan 7/10/2017 262
The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story Edwidge Danticat 12/10/2017 181
A Girl Walks into a Book: What the Brontes Taught Me about Life, Love and Women’s Work Miranda K Pennington 14/10/2017 320
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things Jenny Lawson 329
The Secret Room Sandra Block 368
Hey Harry, Hey Matilda Rachel Hulin 276
The Runaway Midwife Patricia Harman 416
The Romance of Elsewhere: Essays Lynn Freed 21/10/2017 224
What is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel about Everything Rob Bell 22/10/2017 336
At Home in the World Tsh Oxenreider 6/11/2017 240
I hope I Screw This Up: How Falling in Love with Your Fears Can Change the World Kyle Cease 11/11/2017 242
Bad Rabbi Eddy Portnoy 17/11/2017 236
Perennials Mandy Berman 18/11/2017 273
I’m Fine…And Other Lies Whitney Cummings 25/11/2017 274
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew Sullivan   326
Holy Anorexia Rudolph M. Bell 26/11/2017 179
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old Groen, Hendrik 2/12/2017 384
Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Furture Nutcracker Maguire, George 4/12/2017 287
The One Real Thing Young, Samantha 9/12/2017 382
Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories Hart, Megan 400
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance Lang, Ruth Emmie 16/12/2017 346
Jane Eyre Bronte, CHarlotte 23/12/2017 284
The Book of Separation: A Memoir Mirvis, Tova 29/12/2017 320
God: A Human History Aslan, Reza 30/12/2017 321
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky Heacock, Summer 336
The House of Unexpected Sisters McCall Smith, Alexander 6/1/2018 240
Single-Minded Daily, Lisa 10/1/2018 304
Loveable: Embracing What is Truest about You, So you Can Truly Embrace Your Life Flanagan, Kelly 13/1/2018 224
London is the Best City in America Dave, Laura 19/1/2018 256
Misadventures of a City Girl Wild, Meredith 20/1/2018 187
Mr. Right-Swipe Schultz, Ricki 304
Toward a Meaningful Life Jacobson, SImon 24/1/2018 352
The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life Buechner, Frederick 25/1/2018 128
The Wisdom of Not Knowing: Discovering a Life of Wonder by Embracing Uncertainty Frankel, Estelle 30/1/2018 208
Every Little Thing Young, Samantha 2/2/2018 352
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Brown, Brene 3/2/2018 208
The Afterlives Pierce, Thomas 384
Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul Levy, Naomi 9/2/2018 338
The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessions from the World’s Happiest People Buettner, Dan 10/2/2018 288
Eternal Life Horn, Dara 23/2/2018 256
Hello, Sunshine Dave, Laura 24/2/2018 256
How to be SIngle and Happy: Science Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate Taitz, Jenny 3/3/2018 272
How to Fix a Broken Heart Winch, Guy 4/3/2018 128
The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love Birch, Jenna 19/3/2018 304
The Hazel Wood Albert, Melissa 21/3/2018 368
How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love and Life Kaplan, Janice 24/3/2018 352
When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness Bono, Tim 29/3/2018 272
Fire Sermon Quatro, Jamie 31/3/2018 224
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy Jacobs, Nova 1/4/2018 337
Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself Epstein, Mark 6/4/2018 224
Murder at the 42nd Street Library Lehane, Con 7/4/2018 307
How to Paint a Dead Man Hall, Sarah 306
Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist Goldstein, Meredith 20/4/2018 272
How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that are Holding You Back from Happiness Owen, Andrea 21/4/2018 224
The Immortalists Benjamin, Chloe 27/4/2018 346
The Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem Waldman, Elisha 28/4/2018 256
The Coincidence Makers Blum, Yoav 29/4/2018 304
The Anatomy of a Miracle Miles, Jonathan 5/5/2018 352
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper Patrick, Phaedra 12/5/2018 331
Church of Marvels Parry, Leslie 308
Everything Happens for a Reason Kate Bowler 16/5/2018 178
The Wedding Date Jasmine Guillory 19/5/2018 310
The Little Clan Iris Martin Cohen 327
One Station Away Olaf Olafsson 20/5/2018 299
This Messy Magnificent Life Geneen Roth 21/5/2018 202
Posted in Life

My Green Umbrella

I landed in America two years ago today.

I did nothing to mark this day today. I didn’t  mention it to anyone at work. I didn’t post on Facebook. I didn’t mention it to friends. I didn’t even cry.

But I left Israel two years ago.

The past two years were not easy to say the least. I was homesick. I missed my friends. I missed having a community. I missed going to the shuk to do my shopping. I missed seasonal fruits and vegetables. I missed the smell of juniper. I missed automatically having off for the Jewish holidays. I missed the beach. I missed speaking in Hebrew. I missed my apartment. Really, I just missed my life – and honestly, sometimes I still do, but I am not brought to tears when I think about it.

New York was (still is) lonely for me. It does not feel like home, even though it’s been two years (ok, a year and a half- minus the two months in NJ and the 4 in Australia). Yes, I do now know what brands of stuff I like to buy. I know where to go grocery shopping. I am no longer totally lost when I get on the subway or when I need to go somewhere new. But I don’t have a community (well, definitely not a Jewish one). The person I speak to the most often is living in Israel. I am slowly making friends, but I realized the other day, only one person is someone who I met here since coming to the US, the rest I knew from Israel.

A lot has happened in the past two years. I did my first unit of CPE. I moved and worked in Australia. I moved to New York. I was in school. I received smicha. I started my job as a chaplain resident. I was offered a second year of residency, which I accepted…

…so I guess I am staying another year.

And today, I found holes in my green umbrella. It is the umbrella I bought over two years ago, from the store on Ben Yehudah for 15 shekel. It never should have lasted two months, let alone two years, but it did. I know I have to throw this umbrella away, but there is a large part of me that is not ready to give it up.

I want to hold onto something from then… but maybe it is a sign, that it is time to say goodbye to it (and my life that was), and start using the new colorful polka dot one I just bought, and embrace what this new city has in store.

Posted in Dating, Life

Title – One Year – Virgin Embarrassment – Seeing Ex’s

Title

I think I want to change my title. I go back and forth between Rabbi  and Rabba, but I know in my heart I want to be rabbi. I just assumed that politically it is easier for others for me to be Rabba, but I do like Rabbi much better, at least in the US. As I am teaching less, and doing hospital stuff more, it seems like the right choice.

There were also new women ordained this year, and some of them are now going by Rabbi, and so I won’t be alone in my choice.


One Year

It was approximately a year ago (give or take a few days) that I received my signed klaf and I became a Rabbi.

It has been a year with a lot of change – but unlike the past three years, these were personal changes rather than physical changes. I feel so separate from that place that I was in, while at the same time, I can remember exactly what it was like to stand there as the rabbis signed this parchment with my name on it. How it was at that moment I felt all my breath leave me in disbelief that such a thing was really happening. That the day of the signing was more intense for me than the day of the test.


Women & Power

This past week I was on a panel to discuss women and power. I think that the phone conversation we had in private was more interesting than what we said in public. It was clear that there was an intention when we got onto the stage, and even more clear that there is a lot riding on what we say and how we say it.

It was an event to promote our rabbinical school, and so it would not have been appropriate to actually discuss the difficulties that we face, although I do think that would have been more fruitful. It would not have been ok to answer honestly about the struggles that we feel and felt, in our past internships, jobs, and even in our education. We were sitting on the stage to inspire people. To have them believe what we are doing can change the world – and is changing the world. We had to show them, that yes there are difficulties that we are facing, but we are doing ok, we are not breaking, we are not crying, we are not questioning if we made the right choice.

I learned in this panel, that with my job, I am actually in an interesting position to just speak my mind. The hospital doesn’t really care so much what I say, especially within the Jewish world. I can speak up and share my anger, frustration and disgust without fear of getting fired or worse. I can voice that I think the Jewish world is doing a disservice, without being shunned (and honestly, I already feel that, so it can’t be worse).

One of the things that I was most upset about, it was not answered – was I was asked to write an article. I wrote it. It was edited, which in general means just for grammar, and I am very thankful for someone to do that. But instead, it was cut and changed. It was not written in my voice. And when I said something, I was completely ignored. There was nothing I could do about it. I am angry that someone thought they had the right to change my words that much. If they wanted it to be shorter they could have told me. If they didn’t like my message, that also could have been said. But it was ok – because well, she too was a woman, and how could a woman take away another woman’s power.

People liked that article a lot, and I am happy about that. I will smile and nod when someone will bring it up, but it is not my words. To make it worse, is that she actually completely erased my words. She didn’t make a new document, or ask for my opinion on the changes, they are just gone.

So with women and power – I think that we do have power. We can have power. We have a lot to say, and I should say things more. But there is always going to be that little political voice in the background, holding us back, shutting us up, making us look and act in a certain way – so that we do our jobs, but with as few waves as possible.


Virgin Embarrassment

A good friend of mine is desperately trying to find a guy to touch her. There is a part of me that is worried about her, and I have told her. She comes from a community where she was told that men and women don’t touch, and if they do they are sinning. She also thought she would be married by now (she is 27). She is slowly having open conversations with men from Jewish dating sites, and talking about what she is willing to do and not willing to do. And talks about the shame and awkwardness of telling someone, well, no I have not yet had sex, I don’t think I want to have sex with you right now.

I know I have shame around the fact that I have not had sex. That i am pretty inexperienced when it comes to anything sexual. Just last night I was talking to a guy on OK Cupid. When he found out I was a Jewish chaplain, his first question was “so does that mean no touching men and no sex?” I was annoyed at the question, but at the same time, the question makes sense. He wants to know what he is getting involved in – and if all he wants is to have a random hookup, I will not be the right person. I told him I touch men, and he then asked about sex, and I said no.

I don’t know if I mean no forever, but I do know that I mean no until we are in a relationship. But I am embarrassed by this. I am 32 years old, if I am not dating, I might as well have sex, or at least be open to it – it might make internet dating more open for me.

I realized how much I dread that conversation. I dread having to tell someone that I have no idea what I am doing. I am afraid that he will think less of me or think that I have some problem or think that I am some really sad case.

And at the same time as wanting this – there is a voice that says, well, you are a rabbi, you can’t have it even if you want it. When I went out with friends on Wednesday night, we were talking about men asking about sex on dating apps. Y said, that it was a gross idea if a guy asked for sex if he knows you are a rabbi, of course you are going to say no, and he just has a weird fetish. I answered,  that well, actually I would love someone to have that assumption, and maybe there are things I am willing to do, even though I am a rabbi. To this answer I was just glared at, as if I said something heretical (which I guess it was). But I do think that Judaism needs to discuss this issue. We can’t pretend that it is not real feeling, that there is sexual desire even with the title, and that intimacy is a real important thing.

But until then, it is just another thing that needs to be hidden away.


Seeing Ex’s

A (the guy I was dating in Israel before I left) recently got in touch with me. He told me he was going to be in Pittsburgh for Memorial Day Weekend for a wedding…and randomly, so am I. It turns out HE IS GOING TO THAT WEDDING! Which is really random, and I have been thinking about what it will be like to see him. He asked me if we can go out when we are both there, and I said maybe. I have been thinking about saying yes and seeing if I would want to try again. I think, even though I am/was mad at him for things he has said, there is a part of me that is still desperate. He is the only person in two years that has actually been interested in me. There is something comfortable with him (or at least there was), but also I will not have to have the sex conversation in the same way – he already knows where I stand. I’m not really sure what to do with that, but it will be interesting to see him. I do know, that I just want to look amazing when I do see him.

 

Posted in Life

10 Years

I went to my 10 year college reunion this past weekend.

10 YEARS!!!! How did 10 years pass?!

It was weird to be back. As I walked around campus I had flashbacks to being a student. The buildings looked the same. The smells were the same. Feeling the wind blowing, made me think about what it was to be a student. The students looked the same, except I didn’t know any of them, and some how I was older than them.

I sat on the academic quad, right next to the theatre building – looking at the path that diverged connecting all the academic buildings to each other. I thought about what it was to be able to just learn. To be told to explore and change the world. I was a bit sad, that it was the last time I really felt like I could do anything in the world. I was so hopeful and full of dreams – and I don’t fully feel that way any more. I wish I was back in the world where all I had to do was learn.

The people I keep the most in touch with were not at the reunion. But there were a number of people from my class there, and it was all the people I haven’t seen in 10 years, many of which I haven’t spoken to since graduating. I was happy to see some of them. It was nice to remember why I like them. How I was accepted for being me, and that was it. It was crazy to see where we all are. What are the things we are doing. How we are really people, after living in the college bubble.

I spoke to the chaplain there, and she still believes that I am doing great things, and I have the ability to continue to do so. We spoke about what I liked at my job in the hospital, and how I am having a difficult time finding a religious community. She understood where I was coming from and how important a religious community is. She asked if I could come back to Maryland and also gave the suggestion of looking into working as a university chaplain. It felt nice to get back in touch with someone who knew me and is able to see me now.

It was also difficult. I did feel alone. It seemed like everyone came with a friend or a partner, and I was just meandering alone until I bumped into someone. I took no pictures and wasn’t asked to be in any. I know that is a silly thing – but it feels to me that some times people want to be with me at the time, but not to remember me or keep in touch. Almost everyone I met was in a relationship – be it married, engaged or in a serious relationship. Some were pregnant or already had children. But there I was, alone.

I spoke at the memorial service on Sunday morning. It was mostly women from the class of 1958. They sat on one side of the chapel. I looked over at the white haired women, still connected by their times in the college. Still connected over 50 YEARS. But sitting there, reading off the names of their friends and classmates who have died in the past five years (since the last reunion).

I still say that my time at college was formative to who I am today. I do want to be connected. I still am friends with people from college, and they are very important to me in my life. I am not where I thought I would be, but I am doing good things. It is hard to remember being so young, impressionable, hopeful. When did I start to get old? What will I accomplish in the next 10 years? Who will I be in 10 years time?

Posted in CPE, Life

The Gentle Combing of Hair

I pray that when it is time for me to die, that I am very old and grey, and that I should be surrounded by family and friends. Please let it be those who love and care for me, not just someone who is paid to sit by my side.

I pray that I am able to find a person who will love me across time. I recognize that there are very few people in my life that I will probably get to say I have known for 60 years, but may there be some, who have known me through all the different versions of myself, and through it all chose to still be around me.

I pray that my siblings will still want to sit with me, even after all those years, and that we still have a closeness and bond that could never be broken. I pray that when I die, that they are able to tell the stranger who might come to sit with them beautiful memories of when we were kids and even later in life.

I pray that I will find someone who will want to marry me, will pursue me, and want to be with me for me, and love me for it. I pray that with that person I should be able to have children, and be able to see grandchildren.

I pray that there is someone who will weep while he combs my hair, with such gentleness and love,  to make me look put together, even though my soul has left my body. I pray hat he should never have to dream about doing such an act, but if and when the time comes, that he is around to do it.