Posted in Life

Homesick..maybe?

The past couple of days I have been feeling weird. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it is as if something is missing. Maybe it is because the holiday season is over, and it was this time last year that I was returning to Israel, and instead of preparing to go back to Israel, I am preparing to go back to New York.

Or maybe it is because going to New York is real this time. I have starting the process of finding an apartment – again. And I know that no matter what happens I need to be there.

Or maybe it is because it is after the chagim, and so the year is really starting. Which means that I am really in my last year of rabbinical school. Which means that I need to start figuring out how to apply to jobs. Which means that I have to figure out where I am willing to live.

Or maybe it is because I have not been in Israel for 6 months, and I just miss it. I miss the smell of the streets. I miss the familiar feeling of home. I miss bumping into my friends. I miss going out with my friends. I miss just being able to go out with people, and not look at my world clock to figure out time differences.

Or maybe it is just hormones.

Or maybe it just is.

Or maybe it is all of the above.

I am not sure why, but I am sure that I feel weird. I am feeling lonely. I just want people to talk to, but it just isn’t happening. I want someone to be with, but there is no one here. I started to miss A again, which is just strange. I can’t tell if I actually miss him or if I miss the idea of him. I miss having someone want to touch me, or even to have someone to touch. I miss having someone to talk to, and not have to explain everything, because they already know who the important people in my life are or know who I am and what I like.

Last night, I went with a group of people to see Wicked. It was actually a lot of fun. It made me smile that after only three months, I had people to go out with – but also how strange that in a month I am going to say goodbye, and there is a good chance I will never see them again.

The show was also really great. I think I actually liked it better here than when I saw it a few years ago on the West End in London. But the story line really got me thinking, and there were many times that I almost started crying (this is a big factor in showing that I am feeling weird).

There was the bit with Elfaba, where she spoke about how she had to fight and do it alone because no one else wanted to be with her. So she learned to be alone. She learned how to fight. But there was a point in time that she wanted someone else to help her, but there wasn’t anyone. And even when she met someone, she felt like she should push him to someone else, because there was no way that he could actually want to be with her. I feel like this is my life. What if I never find someone to help me fight? What if I have pushed people away, thinking it was in their best interest? Why do I care about someone else more than myself?

I really don’t know what will be happening next. The idea of not going back to Israel leaves a pit in my stomach. Last week, I started talking to people who want to continue with the Kabbalat Shabbat at the nursing home. I also saw a Facebook memory from the home, and really missed the residents and my friendship with them. Only yesterday people were posting in excitment about the first rain. It made me miss it. Miss being excited about the rain. Miss the smell. Miss the start of the cold and the winter.

There are so many things that I want, and for the first time in a while I really feel pulled in so many places and feel unsettled. I want to find someone, but I live no where. I want to live in Israel, but then I can’t work as a rabbi and I need to be there to find a job. I want to work as a rabbi, but that means most likely I will have to stay in the US, and most likely not live in a big community. I want to have something stable, but everything can change if I meet someone.

Well, it is almost a new week and a new month…maybe (hopefully) things will start sorting themselves out.

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life, Rabbinical School

It’s the Small Things

It’s the small things that people notice.

The second you took to look in their eyes and smile, and notice that they exist in the world.

The minute that you took to show someone where the service was up to.

The two minutes you took to say “Good morning, how are you?” But actually stood there, in case they wanted to answer.

The ten minutes you took and hear about someone’s kids/spouse/pet/vacation/anything on their mind.

The twenty minutes it took to make a sheet with page numbers and put book marks on those pages for another person.

I think a lot about my job (or the job that I want). I think a lot about what the differences are between being a woman and being a man in this position. One thing I have noticed after this holiday season is the amount of time I spend with the congregants.

I am never leading service. I won’t be called up to do something unexpectedly. I don’t (yet) have children to run after. So, really I have no where else to go when services are being held. And so my job becomes calling out page numbers, showing page numbers, explaining what is happening in the service. I could never use a different prayer book, because I know that everyone is looking at mine to see where we are. Thankfully people have learned that I stand for more than they need to, because they look at me as to when to stand and where to sit. They listen to my voice as when to answer or say something out loud.

Sometimes I feel that my presence is worthless. I feel like all that I do is call out page numbers – that is all I am worth. But then I talk to people and they tell me how much that really tiny gesture allows them to follow for the first time. Or how much of an impact I have made on the community, and how the congregations looks to me as a guide.

I think it is hard to realize that the tiny, easy things we do are sometimes the greatest things we are doing.

 

via Daily Prompt: Tiny

Posted in Life

50 Questions to Really Know Someone- Or so the Article Said

I saw this article for “50 questions to know a girl”, and I thought, hey this might be interesting to answer.

1. What’s one thing that’s happened to you that has made you a stronger person?

Working with older adults. 

2. What’s one thing that’s happened to you in your life that made you feel weak?

Many things from the smicha program I was in, in Israel. 

3. Where is one place you feel most like yourself?

Camp

4. Where is your favorite place to escape to?

The beach or a book

5. Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today?

My grandma

6. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I would be in my head less

7. If you had one day left to live, what would you do first?

Try to see my family and at least some of my friends

8. What decade do you feel you most belong in?

50’s because of the clothing, I’m too forward thinking of a woman really to live at any other time than now

9. Who are you closest to in your family? Why?

My brother; we think very similarly.

10. Who is the one person in this world that knows you best?

A mix between my best friend that I am still friends with since I was 11; Shuk boy; and my roommate from the past three years

11. What is your favorite quality about your best friend?

Super calm

12. When you were younger what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

an astronomer/fashion designer; a teacher; an actress

13. If you could identify with one fictional character (from a book, show, or movie) who would it be?

Um…really not sure

14. Do you easily accept compliments? Or do you hate compliments?

I’m getting better at accepting, but they make me squirm a bit, and definitely make me blush

15. Is your favorite attribute about yourself physical or non-physical?

non-physical

16. What is your favorite physical attribute about yourself?

my eyes or my collar bone

17. What is your favorite non-physical attribute about yourself?

ability to really go anywhere in the world and find ways to feel at home 

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes

19. Do you believe in soul mates?

Yes

20. How seriously do you take horoscopes?

Not very- although there are many times that they have been very close to the truth. Especially when I read what are the attributes of Virgos. 

21. Have you ever been in love? How many times?

Maybe once

22. What makes you fall in love with someone?

A feeling of comfort

23. What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

It terrifies me, it is the idea of being open and actually saying what is on my mind. In places that I feel comfortable to push myself; or with people who have known me long enough that they won’t think I am crazy or talking too much or being too sensitive. 

24. What’s one thing you’re scared to ask a man, but really want to?

What is wrong with me that it is so hard to find a date/someone to love/someone to be with?

25. If you were a man for a day, what would be the first thing you do?

Feel/look at my body and the differences

26. What do you find most attractive about each sex?

The bigger than meness/eyes

27. What’s one thing you’d love to learn more about?

Learning different languages

28. What is something you’ve never done that you’ve always wanted to do?

Recently I have had a strange desire to go skinny dipping and sky diving. 

29. Why haven’t you done it yet?

Skinny dipping- not really sure where/kinda scared; sky diving- not sure where/money

30. If money didn’t matter, what would your dream job be?

Something that would allow me to travel around the world, but also work with people

31. If you had off from work today, what would you do?

Go find something to explore in the city

32. What was the last thing that made you cry?

Being homesick on Yom Kippur

33. What was the last thing that made you laugh?

Making mistakes in the kitchen while cooking with friends

34. What is your favorite memory?

Walking and standing over the bridge by the Begin Centre on Yom Kippur

35. What’s the last thing that REALLY embarrassed you?

Parts of the conversation with D

36. What is your biggest fear?

That I will always be alone

37. Do you have any regrets? What’s your biggest one?

Yes – although I have rationalized them so they make sense, and I no longer regret them, for the most part. The ones I will randomly question are about break ups. 

38. Have you ever broken a law? If you haven’t what is one law you’d love to break?

Not knowingly. I don’t really have a desire to. 

39. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Randomly move to Australia for four months. 

40. Would you have a conversation with a stranger?

Yes! I love talking to strangers. 

41. Would you tell a stranger they have toilet paper hanging from their shoe? Or their dress tucked into their underwear? (Or anything else that is embarrassing to be seen in public)?

Yes. 

42. What’s your favorite joke?

Don’t have one

43. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Cat

44. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?

Armadillo

45. What’s one show, movie, or book, you’re embarrassed to admit you enjoy?

Secret Life of the American Teenager

46. How do you think your parents would describe you as a child?

Procosious

47. If you could go back to any age or time of your life, what age or time would it be?

When I was in college – but I would want some of me to be who I am now

48. What’s something you believe in that not everyone else does?

That halacha is not black and white, nor should it be. 

49. What’s one thing you would say that makes you unique from other people?

My path in life.

50. What is one thing you feel your life is missing?

A significant other

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Waiting for…Godot?

“Waiting for Godot” is one of my favorite plays. It has been since I first read as part of my required reading the summer before sophomore year of high school. I found the play funny. I found the play so true to life.

Yes, I know it is a weird story of two guys just waiting around. And yes, they are both ridiculous. But think about it, how often are we just waiting for something, and we don’t even know what. Or how often are we just sitting around waiting – waiting for someone to arrive; waiting for an answer from someone else; waiting for test results; waiting to see if we got a job. The list can go on.

And so, what do we do during that time of waiting?

Sometimes we can go about our “regular” lives. We go food shopping, we go to work, we cook, we clean, we go out with friends, we play a game on our phone. But sometimes the thing we are waiting for just puts us in limbo, and we just have to wait. There is nothing that we can do to fill that space. Or we are too nervous for the thing we are waiting that we can’t concentrate on anything else – which could lead us to the absurd (ok, I know when I have too much time to think or worry it always going to the absurd).

At times I want to believe that I have control in the things I am waiting for, but really, I don’t. I don’t think that waiting always has to be a passive act, one can be proactive or productive during that waiting period.

I want to get married, but I just have to wait to find the right person. And this waiting period (at least for me) is not just sitting in my apartment patiently waiting for something to happen – my waiting is filled with trying online dating and apps; talking to friends to set me up; going to events to potentially meet someone. But nonetheless I am still waiting.

I am waiting to find out what happens after June. I will be applying to jobs. I will have an active role in this, but at the same time, I know that part of me will just be waiting. Waiting to see who hires me; waiting to see where there are job openings; waiting to see what my life looks like so I can make an educated choice.

And so I’m waiting. (Maybe not for Godot, although if Godot is God with a message of what I should be doing and how I should be doing it, then that too). Hopefully I will have enough patience, or at least enough humor and imagination to get me through.

 

via Daily Prompt: Waiting

Posted in Uncategorized

Going Outside

It is that time of year to go outside. A sukkah is built with it’s flimsy walls and ceiling, and we are meant to be there for as much as we can.

It is that time of year that I hold nature in my hands for seven days. I scrutinize an etrog and lulav, making sure it is to my liking. I take them in my hands for davening, and even though it is only for maybe a half hour (usually less), I finish that experience smelling like citrus.

I am used to this time of year being the beginning of fall. The time that leaves start to fall. Trees start to turn color. Trees no longer have their flowers. The air is starting to get cool again. This year it is the complete opposite.

It is spring time. The air is warming up (although it will be cold again tonight…) The trees and flowers are in bloom. Areas that used to be bare are starting to be full of green.

Every year it amazes me that Sukkot comes so soon after Yom Kippur. It was only days ago that we were in shul praying and fasting, and here we are going back to shul but without the trepidation. We are going to shul with excitment. Knowing that we will be singing hallel, waving our lulav, and in only 7 days dancing with the Torah.

It is the time of year that we go from our internal prayer and staying inside our homes, to being outside. Sitting with friends and family. Really listening to the world around us. Being part of nature.

Posted in Life

The Day of Atonement has Passed…

Wow – the high holy days have passed. It is so hard to believe that it is already this time of the year.

This year, especially, there was so much preparation. Speeches to write, rooms to set up, papers to print- and then it is just over. I feel like this year there was an almost peak – and then it was all over.

It is amazing to having this type of job – but something I was thinking about during the chag, was how in many ways I will not necessarily have my davening desires filled. That none of my praying or being in services is for me anymore (although I do think that is problematic, and I need to figure out how to find myself in it).

There is the part that I will constantly have the role of helping others. This year (and also last year) it was my job to keep people on the right page. This year I had a page counter, and so instead of just being with my own thoughts, I had to be aware of the page we were on, and keep up with the page counter. As annoying as it was at times – in some ways it kept me awake during some of the more boring times, but it was really all worth it, when the amount of congregants came over to thank me, because they were actually able to follow along this year. It was nice to hear that something so small was able to help so many connect in ways they were not able to in the past.

The other is that of tunes and songs. I know this is the complaint so many people have when they join a new community – that the tunes they are used to aren’t sung. But it is true. There is something comforting to the tunes that I know. The tunes are what play in my head while getting ready for the holidays – and then they just aren’t there. But here was even a bit more frustrating, as for much of the davening there just weren’t any tunes at all. It was just read out loud really slowly. Or if there were tunes, no one else sang along, and so I felt a bit awkward singing too.

I don’t know where I will be next year. But I most likely will be in a community (hopefully), and the tune choices are not mine. The community will do whatever they have always done. And I am just there to speak or show pages or maybe make announcements. It doesn’t really matter what I want shul to sound like – unless I start my own community.

For the first time I stayed in Yizkor. I felt like I should, as I gave the Yizkor speech (which, I made an MP cry, so I guess that was good). It was not at all what I assumed it would be. I don’t know if it is only this shul, or if this is what happens in all shuls, but I found it really bland and boring. There wasn’t as much reflection time as I assumed there would be. The reading of the names was really choppy, and seemed drawn out. For a service that is supposed to be about remembrance, and a service that people come out to when they don’t go to anything else – I was surprised that this is all that it is.

I also sat alone this year. I really liked my seat. It was great for concentration. I just sat and davened, without any distractions.  There was also something really nice about sitting next to the aron. Sitting right next to the Torahs. Being able to stare at the Torah as the ark was open. But at the same time, I was alone. I didn’t have someone sitting next to me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone to say hi to in the middle of shul. If I wanted to say hello to someone I had to make sure I got out of shul quickly, as none of the women were going to be able to see me otherwise. But that seems like a metaphor for what I am doing – there is always going to be something lonely and separate when being the rabbi. That at much as I want to be just a regular person in the community, I will never be if this is my role. People see me as an authority figure or someone with a different status.

Well, Yom Kippur is now over. Now is the time to get ready for Shabbat (two more speeches) and sukkot (doing nothing – but will prepare the rest/some of my upcoming classes). It is also hard to believe that I have only 6 weeks left in Australia. Oh how time flies…

Posted in Life

Rosh Hashana Reflection

Looking at my answers from last year’s 10Q it unbelievable that I am where I am- at least I think so.

This time last year, I was really sad and hurt. I wanted to give up everything that I have been studying for. I had no desire to fight or even try. I was willing to give up my dreams.

It was an interesting year of putting myself back together. Part of the time was just to separate myself. I took a lot of time on my own. I learned on my own and didn’t worry/deal with any beit midrash or school drama. I did not really engage in my friend’s drama’s either. I met with a therapist, which I think was a good thing over all. I gave myself the time to mourn and heal, and eventually started to be myself again. Pushing myself to try things and create. Once again coming to be confident and have some belief in myself.

And here I am this year, basically the assistant rabbi of a shul. The shul I’m working for made a small mechitza in the front, and I had one of the rabbi chairs to sit in. I was sitting in the seat of honor- how crazy. I spoke, organized women to speak, and changed the page numbers.

At first it was a bit strange to be sitting there. Everyone can see me. It is something that was never done before. Some of the women were actually a bit upset about it. The treasurer even came over to me to make sure that I was actually comfortable, and that I wasn’t just doing it because of a crazy idea from the rabbi. But the truth is, I really liked it. I found it very comfortable to be sitting there. I think it was also very fitting to have me sit there, there was a different feeling of respect that went along with sitting in that seat, parallel to the rabbi. It was an even clearer message that the two of us are the same.

Also, I liked sitting on the men’s side. There were just many more people sitting there, especially in the beginning of davening. I wasn’t sitting alone in the back- I was sitting with everyone. There is a feeling of being more part of the service- which is kinda sad, and makes me wonder what can be done on the women’s side to create the same or a similar feeling.

By me sitting in the front, it allowed the women who were speaking to speak from the front of the shul. They were standing on the bima, in a place of honor, which I think also makes their words of Torah hold more of substance. I know that they did it last year, but people were telling me how nice it was and how much it added to the service- maybe they don’t remember or maybe they didn’t notice.

I do miss singing in shul. It was an interesting experience being the only (or one of the only) ones to sing along with the chazzan. I miss singing bits of shacharit – but the chazzan here doesn’t do that. And during mussaf, most people don’t sing along. It makes the service that much more quiet and long. I was thinking this morning, if I would ever have a Rosh Hashana experience like I had in Alon Shvut again, if I go into my desired profession. I feel like I will most likely be in a small community or nursing home, which would then mean that there is not that much communal participation, as most of the time they are unable to follow along.

Meals were actually kinda sad. I really miss being with my “family” in Israel. I miss being part of their world of brachot giving, and having real intention when eating the simanim. I miss not being the “frum” one who has to explain everything or answer to my religiosity. I miss being around people who know and care about me. In one meal I hosted there was a conversation about halacha and the bindingness of it, and one person was so anti-religious, that although he started the conversation, I found it very difficult to continue it with him.

I was supposed to have lunch at my house too, and the last minute the couple that was supposed to come cancelled on me. I am very thankful to the rabbi and his wife for inviting me to come along with them. It is times like that, that I am very aware of my singleness. That if my guests cancel I would be all alone on a Shabbat or chag- which is just a bit sad. I don’t need to have a lot of people, but I would like to have a meal with at least one other person, if I can

Looking at other things from 10Q from last year – I did have a desire to be in a relationship. I was in one, even though it broke off. It was really nice while it was happening, and quite sad when it ended. Every so often I think about A. As much as I enjoyed being with him, and I am not 100% sure that it would have actually lasted very long. There were some things that worked wonderfully, but then there were areas that we had never experienced. All I do know, is that I am able to be cared for, and if it is with a person who is genuine, I actually enjoy it.

I still would like a relationship- if possible to get married. I want to have a family, as well as a profession. I have that desire, and not only because I don’t want to be alone. I know that I am fully capable of doing these things one my own – but there is still a feeling of loneliness. But I really do want someone else with me. I want to care and be cared for. I want to love and be loved. I want someone to talk to when I come home from work. I want to have more going on in my life other than work.

So here is to a new year of unexpected journeys. This year is already off to a good start, although it is in unexpected places. I never would have thought last year, I would find myself in Australia working in a shul, teaching classes, giving sermons, and representing Australian Jewry at national and embassy events. I pray that this year is full of continued growth and feeling of fulfillment. I hope that I will be able to move from my need to be alone to a place of being with others, both romantically and socially. I hope that I continue to have the courage to apply to things that interest me, and allow that to take me to where I am meant to be. I hope that I will be able to find a job by the end of the year – and not only a job that I want, but also in a place that I want to be. I hope that I also start to find ways to settle down, finding someone, finding a job, and a place I would like to live.

So here is to 5777!! J