Posted in Daily Prompt

Good Ol’Psalm 130

Throughout the past 7 weeks doing my hospital chaplaincy internship I have been asked to pray. I pray with patients. I pray with families and friends. I pray before surgery. I pray as there is imminent death.

The other day when I walked into a room, the woman’s request was to “I need spiritual uplift. I need to regain my faith.” She has been going through some difficult medical issues and has some difficult situations at home as well. But she felt herself less faithful than usual, so much so, that she felt that she had to ask God for forgiveness.

This was not a conversation I am used to having. I rarely talk about my faith in God. I rarely talk about faith. And here I was, watching a person suffer both physically and spiritually, asking for me to give them faith.

She had a phone call (which I kinda hoped would let me leave) that gave me a bit of time to think of something, and I came up with Psalm 130.

Anyone who went to Jewish day school or camp or attends services regularly probably knows this one by heart. Any time there is anything bad going on (and unfortunately there is a lot, even today) we would end davening with Psalm 130. The Psalm of calling out from the depths. The Psalm of crying out to God from our lowest place, praying that He will hear us and save us. Praying that he will forgive us and watch over us.

For those who are suffering. For those who have been injured. For those who are living in fear. For those who have lost hope. For those who have lost loved ones. For those who are also worried about the state of the world. Let us say Psalm 130, and may God hear us.

A song of ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;  Lord, hear my voice.Let your ears be attentive   to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,   Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  Israel, put your hope in the Lord,  for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.  He himself will redeem Israel   from all their sins.

Posted in Daily Prompt

My Life is Unpredictable…but in a Good Way (Most of the Time)

Life is unpredictable. My life feel very unpredictable. In some ways bad and in other ways really good and exciting.

When thinking about what life would be like when I am 30 I thought that I would be married, with at least one kid, and with a job. I thought I would be more or less settled, be acting as a “real adult”.

At different points in my life I thought I would be different things. I thought I would be an artist, a teacher, a director, someone who runs programs in a nursing home, and someone in charge of intergenerational work.

I had always wanted to live in Israel. I don’t really think I ever really thought about where I would live if I was in the US, but I would guess it would be NJ or Maryland, as those were the places that I had connections to.

Instead, I am single, not even dating someone. I don’t have a full-time job. I don’t really have a place to call home. I don’t really feel settled.

Now, some of that is not all that bad.

I am upset at times that I am not in a serious relationship, but at the same time I realize that I would not have been able to accomplish what I have (at least not in the same way). I would not be able to take up some of the opportunities if I had a husband and children to think of. And maybe now that I am finishing school (finally) this too will come to be.

I thought that I would be in Israel and stay in Israel. And then I thought that I would come to NY for a year. And then I found a job in Australia, so I am going to be moving there for four months. Yes, I feel unsettled. I don’t have one place to call home. I don’t yet feel like I have a community here in NY. But I do have this amazing experience coming up. I am moving to another country to teach and to do the job that I have been training for.

When I was younger there were times I joked at becoming a rabbi. But that is all it ever was or could be. And now it is what I am doing. I never thought that I would see the day that women in the Orthodox movement would be studying to become rabbis, let alone myself be one of the first 30 to do so.

I never really thought that I would be someone who people know (I was really quiet as a child). I never thought that people would want to learn from me or think I am worthy of being something so great. I never thought that I would belong to so many different types of communities. I never thought that I would actually have the opportunity to travel around the world (after Australia, the only continent I haven’t been on is South America [well, and Antarctica]).

So there is something to unpredictable. Sometimes it is scary or frustrating or upsetting. But other times it is amazing.

So here is to the unpredictability of life. Please let it continue to be for the best.

 

Posted in Daily Prompt

The Storm

I feel like the world is in the midst of a storm. It is a storm that is full of destruction, and we have no idea what it will look like post storm.

Just like a storm, we don’t  know exactly where it will hit or where it will hit the hardest, but we know that it will come.We know that bad things are happening around us. We can see that people are killing each other for no reason. We can see that laws are being made to keep people from being part of the community. We can see that there is becoming a bigger and bigger divide between people. We just hope and pray that it happens not to our family or friends.

Just like a storm all one can do it try to prepare, but storms are unpredictable. We can try and be more aware of our surroundings. We can try to learn preparations of what to do in x case. We can try to build a strong community. But it could be our community next. It could be our community that innocent people are killed. It could be our community that there is an act that kills hundreds at once. It could be our community that people are being marginalized only because of their race, and we aren’t doing anything about it.

Just like a storm it is scary, which the winds howling, lighting flashing, and thunder booming. We hear news report after news report about a bombing here, a shooting there, a stabbing in another place. We are reading this in the news and on Facebook. We are watching it on TV. We are hearing it on the radio. It is everywhere. If someone doesn’t feel it, they are living in a fantasy world. I feel at times it is listen to the news, take it in, breathe it out, and try to go about my day. What else can I do? I need to go out, even though I know that something can happen.

Just like a storm there is a lot of destruction. Houses are flooded. There is no power. People are killed and injured. But most of the time we don’t know the extent until the end. The world today with this storm is seeing and feeling that. There are places that have been demolished. There even is a feeling of lack of power. The feeling of both not knowing what to do and at the same time, is there anything that I can actually do. There have been many people killed. There are people who do not feel safe to leave their house for fear of what is outside the door- that at any moment someone will come after them.

Just like in a storm we see great community unity, we are seeing people band together. unfortunately the world comes together more when bad things are happening. We realize how much closer we are with one another. We realize that it could have been my relative or friend that was hurt. We realize that acts of terror can happen everywhere. We realize the shootings kill. We realize we must do something because there are people really not being treated well, and it is our responsibility to create a world that is equal to all.

I pray that just like after a storm there is something quiet and peaceful and a place for regrowth, that the world will get to that place soon too. There is a lot of destruction that a storm can do. We have seen it with hurricane and typhoons and tornadoes. Towns are destroyed. People are killed. There is a lot of loss and pain. But when the sun starts to come out again, even though it is difficult, people learn and are able to rebuild again. The town mourns together, while at the same time starts to rebuild. I pray that we, as residents of the world, do not need to do much more mourning- we have done enough. I hope that we will soon get to the time and place of rebuilding, and through that build a world that will be able to weather the storm.

I pray that those who have been affected in any of the recent acts of violence or terroism find comfort. And may those who are creating the acts be stopped swiftly.

Posted in Daily Prompt

Journey

I think of life as a journey. I think of the many journeys that I have gone on. I have the journey I took to pursue theatre. I have the journey I took to move to Israel. I have the journey I am currently taking to become a rabbi (and many more because I do a lot of different things).

In some ways there is no common denominator except for myself.

I was thinking a lot about that idea of myself and my name yesterday, and how throughout my journeys it is the only thing that has followed me (ok, well maybe my suitcases and my stuffed elephant). But I was thinking about the fact that I made a name for myself and it comes with me.

It is rare that I go somewhere and people don’t know my name. They know my name, because of me- not because of other people in my family- but because of me. Even being in the hospital for only 6 weeks, I was talking to a security guard, and another came over and was like “oh…you’re X”.

One of the biggest changes I am seeing as I am getting closer to the end of my studies, especially which my switch in institutions, is that until now I represented myself. My previous institution did not promote us, and most people did not even know it existed, but they did know me. I found ways to get teaching and scholar in residence positions, really around the world. I met with people at conferences and spoke about what I was doing. I am good at being a social butterfly.

In this new institution, it is one that people have heard of. The institution wants to not only promote the students but also their name. All of a sudden when I enter a space, in some ways I am no longer just representing myself, but I am also representing them.

As my journey continues, I think about my name. I also think about how in some ways my journey is not mine alone- at least in this specific aspect. Many people tell me that my journey and fight to become a rabbi is making history. It is a journey that people are following. It is a path that is only just now being made, and so my treacherus journey will hopefully make ways so that others who want to do it will be able, but safely.

I hope that all the fighting and pain that I have experienced on this journey are so others don’t have to feel it. I hope that if anyone else chooses to take this path, they find it smoother and with beautiful scenery on both sides.

Posted in Daily Prompt

Guest

I have many different associations with the word of guest.

  • I think about the home that I had in Jerusalem, and really any of the places I have made “home”, my house was always full of guests. We had people sleeping over. If I was cooking for Shabbat, I would never say no. It was great to have guests, to fill the house with other people. To be a place that people felt welcome- actually to be in a place that was not a place that they really felt like a guest.
  • I think about all of the times I was/am a guest. I go back to when I was 18 and went to many different places because I couldn’t stay in school for Shabbat. Or I think about now, that I am not really settled and need to find a place to sleep when I finish late at work or want to be near my friends on Shabbat. I think about the fact that I am going to be moving once again to a new community where I don’t know anyone, and so I will be a guest not only in the shul (I’m there only for 4 months) but also I will be a constant guest in people’s homes for meals.
  • There is something great about knowing that I have a place to go all the time. But there is something also tiring about constantly being a guest. I have to be better behaved. I must have more energy. I can’t walk around in my PJs all day or sleep in. I need to follow someone else’s rules and figure out what they want. There is a place of indebtedness that I feel (at least with some people). I feel like even though they said yes, I am somewhat an inconvenience to them. I am taking over a public space, or I am an extra person to use the only bathroom in their house. (I pray that I never make my guests feel that way).
  • I think about the hospital. I think that in some ways the hospital the patients are guests there. I think even more so, my role as a chaplain is that to be a guest in a patients room, and even more so a guest into their life. I am there to listen, but to listen to the life that they want me to hear. They tell me information that will show me a bit of their life- their loves and hates; their fears; their beliefs; where they live; facts and descriptions of their loved ones; etc. For many, I might only ever see them once- and I get to be brought in a guest to their personal life, without actually being involved.
    • This actually was an interesting thing to think about. I want to maybe bring that into the rest of CPE this summer.
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Layers

I am always dressed in layers.

Sometimes my layers have to do with the laws of modesty that is expected of me. A top is too low cut or there aren’t sleeves or the skirt isn’t long enough…I try to find clothing that I don’t need to wear layers, but it is hard. Even in the clothing stores that are said to be modest, they sell shorter dresses, so you will have to buy something to go under. But ineveitably, things ride up througout the day or while walking, and there is a constant shifting and reorganizing my outfit. They say it is the fashion. I say it is just wearing a lot of clothing- especially when it comes to the summer.

Othertimes I am dressed in layers because it is cold and hot. I find that air conditioning in most places is just too cold (especially on buses) but it is usually very warm/hot outside. So I am prepared with a sweater or a scarf or both. By wearing (or bringing) layers I am able to go about my day taking off or putting on clothing.

As they say it is easier to put things on rather than take things off.

[I don’t feel like this is a very profound post. It is the first thoughts I had about layers, although I could also talk about layers of people, layers of conversations, layers in nature, and how they come to teach us something- but I’m not really feeling it.]