Posted in Daily Prompt

Blank

My first thought of blank is empty. I am not sure if empty is a negative thing, although that is what I first think of. It is the lack of fullness. It not being used or being useful. It is in some ways nothingness.

But then it can be the opposite. It can be the opportunity to be filled. The opportunity to change and be molded. It can be the opportunity to be moved or change, as something that is full is usually much heavier than something that is empty.

There is a lot of potential that comes with a blank slate. All opportunities are there for you to try, and there aren’t any preconceived notions to hold you back.

I think to an idea of what was in the Holy of Holies. Just a room with the aron. That is it. There is a blank space that anything could happen, but it is also the holiest of places. What is holy in the place space of it being blank? Why specifically there?

I read an article once that said when the Mona Lisa was stolen, there were more people who came to see a blank and empty wall of the missing Mona Lisa than who came to see the space when the Mona Lisa was there.

What is it about a blank space that draws people into it? What are we looking for or hoping for? Why does it have to come from this word that both has such negative associations but at the same time a word that brings about ideas of renewal and change?

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Posted in Daily Prompt

Orderly

I can’t tell if my life is orderly or if it is a giant ball of tangled  yarn.

As one of my friends likes to joke, but somewhat seriously, I am quite particular about things. Each thing in my house has its place. Things should happen in a certain order. I really like logic and for things to make sense. I like having a routine. Up until 6 weeks ago(maybe a year ago), my life was very stable and orderly.

I lived in the same apartment since June 2010, I had the same job since December 2011, I was in a learning program since September 2012- all found after moving to another country in February 2010. Things went as they were. Every summer I went to the US to teach in camp (for the past 5 years). And then I would come back home, and go back to my routine. I knew my hours, I knew what was expected of me, I knew that at some point I would direct a play.

Almost every year, my goal was to be social I would try really hard when I would get back, to go on dates, make sure I had free time…but inevitably, I would get bored, and it wouldn’t go the way I wanted it to, and then I was back to finding more things to do to fill my time- and then it was time to fly again.

Then there is this year. I changed schools, so my schedule changed completely. I was still learning, but now I was learning in the afternoon and not the morning. I was still working, but I was working in the mornings and not the afternoons. My nights were partially taken up with class, so I didn’t have the option of going out, or if I did, I had to be home before 10:30 so I could make it to class.

And then 6 weeks ago I quit my job, because I had to move back to the US. Two weeks ago I packed up all of my belongings and moved to a country I hadn’t lived in since 2008. For the first time in 5 years I am not going to camp, but rather doing a chaplaincy internship in a hospital.

And maybe the most shocking of it all for me, is that 8 weeks ago I started dating a guy, and actually like him. He is someone who we tried breaking up multiple times, but it just didn’t work. For the first time ever, I am going with my emotions and doing things that make no sense at all. I am telling him how I feel. I am trying to keep something going, even though logically it makes no sense (he is still in Israel). There is something bigger going on, because even after not speaking for two weeks I knew how he felt, and knew that I had to do something (I wrote to him before our decided date of talking again after a 2 week “let’s think about what this is).

Part of me is really excited about next week because I will get my schedule for the hospital. I will know where I need to be and when, and will be able to plan around that. I am looking for an apartment in NYC, which will also help with finding a routine. Knowing where and when to go food shopping, do my laundry, classes to take, people to hang out with…

I know that I long for order and logic. There is something very comforting and calming about order. But it is really amazing to see how much beauty and amazing things can come about when there is a bit of disorder.

Posted in Dating, Life

If I Could Talk to You Right Now #2

Hi,

How are you? What have you been thinking about over the past two weeks?

I want to say mazal tov on your new practice and getting a second audition. How was the show that you had? How was your trip on Lag Ba’omer?

Part of me feels that you have left me. It feels like our month together was ages ago. I feel like we haven’t spoken to each other in months,not weeks. I have almost convinced myself that you have moved on, and maybe I should as well.

On the other hand, I still miss you. When I close my eyes I can see you staring into my eyes. I can see us together looking out over the hill, sitting in the park, lying around in my room, being in the hotel in Tel Aviv. I still have the desire to call you and tell you what happening in my day, and to see what happened in yours.

It is crazy to think that this all happened in only a month. I agree with you, that we were not “cooked” enough to maybe make this work.  I know that I was afraid to tell you that I love you or to accept that you wanted to be there for me. But I have to say, that now not having you, I am having a hard time going back to who I was.

I used to be really good at cutting people out emotionally. I had an easy time moving on to the next thing when I needed to. But you changed me. You got close to me and had me get close to you- both emotionally and physically- and as much as I am doing to try to forget you, block you out, do what I normally do, I just can’t. You keep on popping into my head. I trained myself well to not desire, not to fall into something, not to be vulnerable…but that all changed because of you, and then I had to leave.

I’m sorry that it had to happen. I’m even sorrier that I tried to push you away, and for once in my life I hope that I did a really bad job.

Part of me is still afraid. I am afraid that I am making up the good parts in my head. I am afraid that maybe I am just settling. I am afraid of what it means to be leading with my emotions instead of my brain. But then I think about it, and I know that I am trying to psych myself out, for what I fear will come.

I am afraid that you won’t speak to me at all comes Monday. I’m afraid that you are going to tell me that you want nothing to do with me, that is going to be too hard to be long distance. I am afraid that you haven’t been thinking about me at all in the past two weeks. I am afraid that I am the one who cares more, and is being so unrealistic about why wants.

I know that it will be more difficult if we decide to be in a long distance relationship. I know that it is not your ideal (and in reality not mine either, I like seeing and being with you too). But I feel like my heart is still tied up with you, and I don’t want that break…

Well, I guess it is only two more days.

Here’s to waiting and being patient….

Miss you & Love you.

Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

Spiritual Autobiography

I decided to become a rabbi because it was what I was doing, just without a title or training. When I was a child everyone joked that I would become a rabbi, just at the time it was not a possibility. The only way that it would be possible is if I dressed up like a man, as Yentl did. I even remember having an argument with a friend in college, where he was telling me that I should become a rabbi, and I told him why I could not  and that I did not even have the desire to.

It was in the middle of graduate school that I finally started thinking that I actually did want to become a rabbi. To me it was something logical. I looked at what I did and what I liked doing- building community; leadership; teaching Jewish subjects; talking to people about Judaism, God, and religion- and all those things combined made a rabbi. It took me three years to actually accept that is what I want to do, and to find somewhere to do it.

I think similarly with regards to my desire to work with older adults.  I have been working with older adults for as long as I can remember. I made sure that my youth group went to run parties or visits to the local nursing home. I was part of an intergenerational theatre group at the JCC. When I worked in a hospital, even though my job was to work in the children’s building, I always found ways to go to the geriatric building. When I studied to become a clown, I was lucky that the organization allowed me do my residency on the geriatric floor. In college I ran a volunteer program and an intergenerational theatre program at two nursing homes.

When I sit down and think about where my skills are and things that I love, it is working with older adults. I saw this very clearly last year where I helped with services at a nursing home over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It was a group of people I had never met in my life, but yet being there felt very comfortable. I was not sure at the beginning what the rabbi wanted me to do, but as soon as the residents started to arrive at services I just knew what needed to be done.

After that experience I started thinking more seriously about working with older adults post ordination. I look at what I had done at the nursing home that I worked in for over four years, where my job title was therapeutic recreation specialist, but in actuality my job was much more than that. I helped men put on tefillin, I sat with residents, I spoke to families, I ran holiday programing, and ran an intergenerational prayer service.

I learned a lot about areas in life  that are regularly forgotten for this age group. There are many people who love and care for the residents, but religion and spirituality are not necessarily the first thing people are thinking about, especially in a job that is very demanding. The residents that I worked with needed help with all or most of their daily living activities, which meant that the staff was getting people dressed, feeding them, taking them to bathroom, and anything else that they needed. It was not part of the schedule to allow the men to put on tefillin, nor was there a person on staff that was able or had time to help them with it. There was no thought that residents would want to pray or go to Bible study. It was a conversation every year about making sure that residents that wanted would be brought to memorial services or services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

I want to be able to create a space that these things are not forgotten. I believe that it is important to have someone on staff that takes these aspects of life into account, and has the time and ability create these opportunities. At times it takes a bit more creativity because people are not always physically or mentally capable to do what they used to do.

I also want to create an intergenerational space. I want to have programing that is not seen as “helping” but rather about “doing”. The prayer service that I ran was for young people from the community to have Friday night prayers at the nursing home once a month, instead of in their regular synagogue. The prayer service was a traditional Friday night service, which is why I think it worked. People tend to be intimidated to go and visit someone (even if they know the person, but all the more so if it is a stranger), but when it is in a situation where there is no forced talking, it is a bit less so. People came to pray, not to have conversations with other people, but because of this, they actually able to start talking with the people around them.

Looking at my past, it is clear that this is what I should be doing. When I tell people that I work with older adults, the first reaction many times is “isn’t that sad? Why would you want to be around old people all day?” I don’t have a good reason, other than I love it.

I feel like a calling is just that, it is to do what we feel is something we love, something we are good at, and something that we can do to create positive change in the world. And for me, that is to take my calling to be a rabbi, and bring it together with my calling to work with older adults.

Posted in Daily Prompt, Quotes

Grain

I bizarrely have lots of thoughts about grain, almost none of them related to each other.

I think about grain and Halacha. What are the grains? What bracha do you say on them? When are grains a grain? What is the status of rice?

I think about grain in relation to the laws of Shabbat. About borrer and zoreh. I think about how so many of our laws are based on agriculture. They are based on knowing how to work the land and create out food, something that I feel very separate from today. I do cook, but I am not farming. I am not grinding my own wheat. I am not really doing any acts of separation. But all the ideas are something I think about.

I think about going against the grain. What does it mean to go in the way that you feel is right for you, when it is not the thing that anyone else is doing? How do you keep up the strength to continue to fight? Is it actually worth it to go against the grain?

I think about how small each grain is and can be. That all the very small pieces are horrible to clean up if they fall on the floor. That when they are cooked together they are able to provide food and nourishment. That when they are raw (for the most part) they are almost inedible, but when something is done to them they are the main source of food for people.


This is just a quote that I found that I liked a lot. It has nothing to do with grain, but I didn’t want to have two separate posts.

To have a friend, to call him or her by name and to be called by him or her, is already to know that one of the two of you will go first, that one will be left to speak the name of the other in the other’s absence. Again, this is not only the ineluctable law of human finitude but the law of the name. Mourning thus begins already with the name. (The Good Death, by Ann Neumann, pg. 206)

Posted in Daily Prompt, Uncategorized

Phase

Maybe it is because of the picture that was with the prompt, but I am thinking about the moon.

When I think of the moon, I think about Jewish holidays. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. I know approximately what the moon looks like, based on the what the date it. I think about what time of year it is based on the holiday that is upcoming.

I am able to look back at who I was and where I was a year ago. With the coming and going of the moon, brings the coming and going of a year.

The moon is interesting though. The moon is constantly changing, but changing in seemingly the same way,  over and over again. The moon stays the same, while everything around the moon changes. There are times that the moon might look closer (or might actually be closer)- but at times we will still see all of it, and a few days later see none of it.

I think about myself and change. I think there are different types of personal change. I feel like up until this year, my life was static. I had the same job, same school, same apartment. I knew what was happening around me. Yes, I grew up throughout the past five years, had interesting experiences, but I had those things to ground me. I had that constant in my life.

All of a sudden in the past two months (but really the past year) everything has changed for me. I no longer have the consistency of the moon in my life. I quit my job. I moved out of my apartment. I moved to a new country. I started a new program. I had a relationship. I said goodbye to my friends and community. Everything around me has changed.

As much as there is nice in consistency, there is also power and beauty in it being missing. But I know that this too is just a phase. Soon, I will get into some sort of routine again. It might be just for the year, but it might be for longer.

So here is to time without the moon, till I am able to find the moon again.


I like this idea of trying to write based on the prompts. I am not sure that I will do it every day, but I think I will try, at least over the summer.

Posted in Quotes

Some Quotes from This Weekend’s Books

When I am at my parent’s house, I tend to read A LOT. Like in the past 25 hours I read 3.5 books. Here are some quotes that I really liked.

“Willful Disregard” by Lena Anderson

Revolution is incompatible with the functioning of the human brain. That is, with being human. We cannot deal with the inherent absolutism and abrubtness of revolution. Everything a human does in gradual. All her insights, all her thoughts, everything that happens and is said is part of a process, layer upon layer of experience gained. Life itself is lived gradually, by defintion, and consciousness is created that way, by evolution. We are drawn to love in order to feel that someone is seeing us. (pg. 42-43)

Also from “Willful Disregard”:

When you love and someone receives that love, the body feels light. When the opposite happens, one kilo weighs three. Love that is just beginning is like dancing on a finely honed edge. It can happenthat a kilo never regains its proper weight, which generates a degree of apprehension in the fearful, the experienced and the farsighted.And in those who do not have Ester’s extraordainary capacity for hope. (pg. 55)

“What is Not Yours is Not Yours” by Helen Oyeyemi

To you who eat a lof of rice because you are lonely

To you who sleep a lot because you are bored

To you who cry a lot beause you are sad

I write this down.

Chew on your feelings that are cornered

Like you would chew on rice.

Anyway life is something you need to digest.- Chun Yang Hee (pg. 53)