So in school I took notes on mini-thoughts I had throughout the week, and figured now that it is vacation and I have nothing else to do today, I will share them with more than a computer sticky note.
Issue of being Israeli in America– if you want it so much, then just move…What does it mean to teach the love of the country that I had the opportunity to live in, but had to make the choice to leave..
So I am in a really weird place where I don’t really feel like I have an identity. I want to call Israel home, it is where I chose to live, and where I want to go back to, but I also know that I might not be able to. In a weird way, school keeps on calling me the Israeli, which is upsetting other people who were born there, lived there for just as long (if not longer), who also identify as such. I heard from a third party that it is causing tension. I guess rightly so. There is no reason for them not also to be seen as such. I guess the biggest difference is I am still talking about going back; I’ve been fighting against being in America; I am the one who so recently came back…I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t want to cause unneeded tension, there is more than enough in school, without that.
In addition, we speak often about the love of Israel. In shul we say the prayer for Israel. Israel is part of so many conversations, but I feel like they are false. I want people to love and respect where they live. I want them to not glamourize Israel. If you love it so much than move.
Maybe my hurt and upset is because I want to be there, and I had to make the choice not to be. Maybe it’s because I am still in a process of mourning that I had to leave (I think if I knew it was only for a year or even only for 5 I would feel differently, but the unknowing if I will ever go back is what is hard). Maybe it’s because I feel like in some ways I failed. I am the one who moved to Israel only to move away. That I spoke about it so often and part of my identity is now “the Israeli”, that to not be able to go back, or not pushing to go back, makes me feel like I am a hypocrite. And so every time we have a conversation about Israel, it is a small reminder that I am not there; that I failed; that I’m back to a place of just talking and hoping, when I could be there if I really wanted to be.
Place of a woman to be quiet and accepting, while at the same time having the ability to fight back and to just do without pragmatism…Place of being able to make decisions when you have power vs. when you are seen as one without power. How can you make change when you are just fighting for you own being…What it means when you are in the community vs. your starting part is outside- and what that means for ability to create change and sustain strength
One of our classes this past week was about fighting back. Our teacher who was/is an activist taught it. For much of his life, he just did what he felt was necessary, even willing to go to jail. He did not care about being accepted by the mainstream.
I think about being a woman and being able to do this. I don’t think that it is possible – or maybe it is, because I have less to lose… But when I think about it, I see this man, who has smicha from an accepted place, and so for the most part he is accepted and heard, and then he makes himself louder. For myself, I am not accepted and heard at all, and so just to be noticed I need to be loud, if I go too extreme then I will lose those who are supporting.
There is still an expectation that I will be quiet and accepting on what is given to me. The idea of fighting the fight without thinking, I know that people will comment that I am just going crazy. That I don’t have any standing. That I will not have the respect that I need to actually accomplish change.
But maybe I need to remember that this is a strength. That no one has any expectations (or maybe they are expecting me to be crazy – which is another reason not to). That I am already creating drastic change to tradition, so might as well just go all the way.
The more I am back in school I am once again feeling frustrated and trapped in being an Orthodox woman. It was amazing how both in the hospital and Australia, I once again felt that freedom. But back in school, a school that is supposed to be getting me ready to go out into the world to do such a thing, is where I feel the most stifled, and frustrated with my gender.
Anger at similar weakeness & lack of ability to hold that…The needyness and whining and want…
I find that when I was working in the hospital or nursing home or even with friends outside of school I am willing and able to hold other people’s pain and suffering. But when it comes to schoolmates, I get so angry and frustrated with them. I just want to scream at them. Or I just don’t have the patience to the sit with them.
I know that it is because their pain and weakness is the same as myself. I know that it is because all I want to do is scream at myself for not doing more. For not standing up for myself. For not being able to get what I am working for. For allowing others to make my decisions.
But I also think that in general many of the woman I am with are just really whinny and needy. That a visitor has a cookie, offers it to a teacher, and they call out that they want it, even before the teacher says that they don’t want a cookie and are happy to give it to someone else. That there are people who always need attention. Who need to be heard. He need their needs to be met, no matter what else is going on.
I guess this too is about being jealous. I wish that I was sure enough to take up space with my needs. That I could voice them and people would actually be there and listen, and help me. That I would be willing to allow myself to be that vulnerable but also selfish.
Having a taste and then worried that will never become a reality
As I am beginning the job search for real, I am terrified that I will never be able to live up to my dream. I loved CPE this past summer, but I also really loved my job as a rabbi in Australia. Being back in school I am remember the parts I don’t like, and think that maybe I should go back to the idea of CPE, going into the caring professions. But then things happen – like going to my internship in Chicago, where standing in front a shul giving a speech seems like the most natural thing or being part of a conversion ceremony for a new born baby brought me such joy and reminds me that is what I want to be doing.
I want to be working with people. I want to bring a richness and beauty and accessibility to Judaism to those who are looking for it.
Yesterday the mikvah felt like a party. There were 5 conversions going on, all with different rabbis, from different denominations. It was just really fun. All of us talking. All of us colleagues. All of us doing the same thing. For many, they got to see friends or people they haven’t seen in a while. I was there with another student, and she asked if this was initiation. All I was thinking was, wow, this reminds me of the events in Australia. I was one of the clergy. I saw some people over and over, or went to events and was already part of that circle of people.
I miss being part of that. I am ready to really be part of that. But I worry that I won’t have the opportunity to be part of that.
I applied for CPE residency and I have been offered an interview. I am really excited, because it is a great position. But I spoke to the rabbi from Australia last night, and he asked me if it is what I want to be doing – my answer was that I felt like I didn’t have other options. I saw a job last night for a rabbi position in Perth, and I was so excited by it. I was also saddened because I would not be able to apply. They put in the requirements that one needs to be able to sit on a Beit Din, which according to almost all opinions I can’t do, even if I might have the education. But it was that job that excited me more than anything else that I have seen.
Thinking about it more this morning, I think that I should apply to this job in Boston, that although is not really a rabbi job, it might be closer. Or maybe I should push going back to Australia again, because I was really happy there, and it was what I want to be doing. So maybe I need to push myself out of this funk (please God soon), and just apply to things and hope for the best. That I need to figure out what I want and go for it, it is the only way I have done things in the past.
Feeling completely uprooted and needing to be settled
I was talking to a teacher the other day and she commented that I must be feeling more settled now, and I answered no, I’m not. She was a bit taken aback, but I answered the truth. I feel like I am just floating along. I have nothing. I don’t have a home. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a community. I don’t have a country.
Yes, I go to school every day. Yes, I have a place to sleep every night. But nothing is mine. I think to myself that God is testing me/teaching me to be dependent. That I need to just accept other people doing things for me. That I need to accept that I have absolutely no control on anything, and so all control that I might have thought I have I just don’t.
I miss having a place to call home. A place where I don’t need to feel like I am taking up space of someone else’s roommates. A place where I can walk out of my room to go to the bathroom without fear that someone will start talking to me when I really don’t want to talk to anyone. A place that I have space for my things. Where I feel like it is mine. Where I am not living by someone else’s rules. Where I have the food things I like to eat and when I like to eat them. When I don’t need someone else to go everywhere or anyone I want to.
I have decided that when people ask me where are you from, I will answer, I currently live in New York. But event thinking about it make me feel home sick. It is hard for people to realize that I just gave everything up. I once again have nothing waiting for me. No matter what I chose to do next, I will have to start over. Yes, if I go back to Israel there are some friends who will still be there for me. But as I know from my travels, everything changes. I change as I have had different experiences. People change – friends will have babies, have new private jokes, move houses, make new friends… and I once again have to adapt to it and try and fit it.
I have already said goodbye to that life, but seeing pictures on my computer of people in the nursing home make me miss them and my work there. I wanted to convince myself that I was only going away for a year. I wanted it to be a study abroad. I wanted things to go the way that I want them to go. But I think that the reality is that I won’t be able to go back, at least right way.
I hope that moving into my own place will once again make me feel like a person, and feel a bit settled. It is very unsettling to be completely uprooted, to have nothing at all holding me, to have both the present and the future completely unknown.