Posted in Life

Thoughts From the Week

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.




Posted in Daily Prompt

Feeling Pain in Times of Joy


My insides are very not calm. I feel like I am in a constant state of stress. I am feeling lost. I am feeling torn. I am feeling like I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Thank God, my brother and sister-in-law gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday. I am very happy to be an auntie. I’m very excited for them. It is going to be exciting and new to have a baby in the family; for my brother to become a father; for my parents to become grandparents. But this news also tore at my heart. I want to have a baby. I want to be married. I should be the one with a kid. Instead of being the one that doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have a house, doesn’t have a significant other – basically has nothing at this point. I worry that I will not ever have this, and so I am pained. I am excited about going to visit them next week,  and I hope that they will never know the pain that this is causing me.

I am thankful to have parents that love and care for me. I meet so many people who don’t have that. But at the same time, having them take care of me over the past few weeks has been one of the most difficult times I have faced. My heart sinks every time I need to go home. I feel like I am back to being in high school, where I need my parents to take me places; where my parents know my friends and what I am doing with myself every single day. I try (or am trying) to have it not bring me down- but staying with them just makes me feel like a failure and a loser. But again, I should be happy. I have a place to stay for free; food to eat; and even a ride to everywhere I need…yet this all fills me with sadness.

I am thankful to have the opportunity right now to choose again where in the world I want to live. The entire world is open at this point. It is quite amazing. But it is also awful. I feel unsettled, and in my unsettled state I am finding it hard to figure out where I should try to go next. Every place has its benefits. I really have no idea where I should be going next. I want to be with my friends, which would mean to go back to Israel- but I don’t think that is possible. So then where to? I applied for CPE residency for next year, and I now have an interview. If I get it and take it, I would  be staying in NY for another year, at least. I want to have a reason to be settled, but at the same time I recognize that settling down means I lose part of my ability to just move and explore this very big world.

I think back to only a month ago, when I was in Australia. My back was not in knots. I was mostly happy (yes, I was lonely at times –  which could be a problem for moving back). I enjoyed what I was doing. I liked the people I was spending most of my time with. There was something calming about the city (very much not like NYC , especially the traffic coming in).

As the New Year is coming (again) I hope that things will settle, and once again I will be able to feel a sense of calm and happiness.

via Daily Prompt: Calm

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

The Absence of Breath

I want to go back to where my shoulders are not up to my ears. To the days where I was hungry not nauseous. Back to where my stomach was not in knots.

I want to breathe easy. I want to not feel like I am holding my breath. To not feel my heart beating rapidly in my chest. For it to not feel like my insides are running around and nothing will slow it down.

I want the world around me not to be moving at a snail’s pace, filled with traffic jams and slow walkers.

I want to feel purpose again in my life. I want to be able to say what I want. I want to have quiet time. I want to do things on my own.

I want there to be certainty for the future. I want to know what I will be doing next. I want to know what will the best path for me. I want to know if it is worth it to make a home for myself or will I be moving again in six months.

I want to read the news and for it not to be filled with people being assassinated, cars ramming into parties, children being blown up. I want the leaders who are supposed to be representing my needs, to actually do so, instead of doing things that seem like it is only for their gain and fame.

I want someone to massage my head or at least play with my hair. I want the knots in my back to be released. I want to not notice my stomach.

I want to breathe easy. I want to breathe. I want to breathe.

I want to relax.

via Daily Prompt: Relax

Posted in Life

The Obedient Girl

Again I was told, in a roundabout way, to play the game. That I should play along with what others want you to do. You don’t need to really agree to it, but you must let the outside believe that you do. I should be overly thankful for people doing things for me, even if they are the things that they are supposed to be doing in the first place.

I am so tired of being in the false world. I am tired of buttering up people who should be doing these things in the first place. I am tired of being overly thankful just to show face, like everything that happens to me is the biggest favor that can be done. That in reality, I am not worth anything, and it was only because of them that I am able to get to where I am.

When do I have the right to say what I want and not what others want to hear? When do I get a chance to say what I want, and to be listened to. When do I have the opportunity not to worry that my needs might offend someone else or make them feel bad about themselves? When will I have that right?

Yes, I am aware that I am able to start things and do things on my own, and I have shown that. And maybe that is what I just have to do. But if I want to be in this world, I also need to play the game. I need to build up other people’s egos, while at the same time work on what I need for myself.

This very much complicates things. On the one hand I need and want help from others. I do not want to be doing this on my own. It is really difficult and it is lonely. But on the other hand, others have failed me too often, or haven’t heard me, or refuse to listen to me.

It is when I saw what I want, and I am not that little girl who just does what I am told any more. I have my own mind. I have my own wants. I have my own needs. I see myself as an adult, but even so- apparently I am not just able to share my opinions. And at least on the outside, I need to still be that obedient little girl.

Posted in Dating

Being a Significant Other

I just read an article called “Romantic Love is Killing Us: Who Takes Care of Us When We are Single?”

There were a lot of good points in this article, some that I have thought about (or maybe even have written about). Some were sad (some true in my life, some not so true in my life). It was the end that I really agreed with:

I don’t want to be loved. I want to be cared for and prioritized, and I want to build a world where romantic love is not a prerequisite for these investments—especially not under a current regime with such a limited potential for which bodies are lovable. Which bodies can be loved, cared for, and invested in.

It does not have to be this way. We can commit to keeping each other alive despite our sexual capital. We need to care for each other to keep each other alive. The myth of self-assurance is neoliberal victim-blaming in an attempt to obscure, neutralize and depoliticize our actions in the name of independent thoughts and actions and to skirt accountability.

Can we care for each other outside of love? Can we commit to keeping the unloved and unlovable alive? Is this a world that we have the potential to build?

And yes I agree! I want people to care for me, not only in the romantic way. I think that talking to my single friends, it is not only the romance that we want from a significant other. But rather it is the desire to feel significant in someone else’s life.

I know that I am lucky. That I do have certain friends who are there for me. But I need to reach out. I need to call them to tell them that I am sick or unwell. I need to call around to see if there is someone who wants to go out to do something or go to a show. I need to call around to see if people want to have a shabbat meal with me, so I will not be sitting along.

I wish there was someone just there. Someone to do things with. Someone to eat meals with. Someone that makes me feel significant and that I mean something.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit since getting back to the US.  I feel the loneliness.

I have to live with my parents. Now, on the one hand it is wonderful. I have a warm house to be living in. And I am so thankful that my parents are happy to have me and are taking care of me. And I know that it is temporary. But at the same I am sad. Here I am 31 years old. No boy friend or husband. No children. Sleeping in my parent’s two bedroom apartment, having my parents take me places.

My brother and sister-in-law are about to have a baby (please God any day now). And I am very excited. But at the same time, I am sad. I feel like I am a failure. That I should be married by now. I should be the one with at least one kid by now. And what does that mean that he is the first in this milestone, that in the orthodox world makes you a “real” adult”.

And maybe the thing that was the cherry on the sundae, was A asking me advice on how to sleep with his current girlfriend. I really don’t think it was so much the question, as the idea that she is in NY, while he is still in Israel. What is wrong with me that he did not want to even try with me being away? He and I never even discussed having sex, at least not in practical terms. And even more so, he wants to see me next week, and I have nothing to show for myself, other than my work. I went on two dates with two different guys…he has had multiple relationships. What if my pattern continues and I don’t date another person for another year and a half? What if no one wants me ever?

And so I sit in NY/NJ alone. Away from my friends. Away from the people who were there to take care of me when I was sick and not doing well (even though I would have to call first). And all I can think about is how backwards I have gone, which then makes me feel small and isolated, and a great failure.

I ask the same questions as the author:  Can we care for each other outside of love? Can we commit to keeping the unloved and unlovable alive? Is this a world that we have the potential to build? And I’ll add one more, when will I become significant to one other person?


Posted in Rabbinical School

That Time My Ex Asked Me Sex Advice

So as a rabbinical student I get asked a lot of questions. One of my teachers laughed at me once, because all the questions I would go to him with were REALLY complicated. I get asked a lot of questions about sex and intimacy. People open up to me. I think partially it is because I am young, and partially because I am not judging people.

I have no problem listening to people’s most intimate details. I hear about sex with their partners. I hear about periods and discharge. I have even checked bedika cloths before.

But here, my ex gets in touch with me to ask me about going about how to have sex with his current girlfriend. He goes into semi-detail of some things he has done (either with her or others). He is turning to me, not as his ex, but as his rabbi.

Part of me is totally ok with it. Thankfully this is all via Facebook chat and in person. I need to be ok answering questions, no matter who they are from. I could be in a shul, and the longer I am there the more I will know about the congregants. I am able to cut out my emotional tie to him, and think in the realm of halacha. Listening both to his emotional needs as well as his spiritual.

And then at the same time I am hurt. I don’t need to know what he is doing with someone else, instead of me. I think actually the bit that hurts the most, is that she is in NY currently. The whole reason we broke up (or so he said) was because it was going to be long distance, and he did not want that. And here he is, planning on how he can have sex with her next week, and asking me how to do it.

Part of me wants to tell him I can’t have this conversation, and in some ways I did. When he asked about someone teaching his girlfriend the laws of nida, I very easily could have said I would, but instead I gave him a link to an organization that would be helpful and a link that explained the basics. But at the same time, I know that throughout my time as a rabbi, I will come across people who I might not feel so comfortable talking to about things, but I might be the only person that they can ask. And so then it is my job to either give them an answer and work through the issue with them, and/or give them contacts for others who can.

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

Keep it In

Keep your feelings in because they will hurt others.

We are just trying to help you. We are doing things to make it easier for you. You don’t appreciate anything.

Others can feel. Others have good ideas. Others can make stupid suggestions that are the core of the pain.

Just sit there and accept them with a smile. It doesn’t matter if you feel lonely or suffocated or that you have no power. You just need to accept that everyone else knows what to do.

If you tell us how you are feeling you are going to make us upset. We are only trying.

You are selfish and care about no one else but yourself. You are not showing respect. You are talking down. You are treating us like shit.

I don’t want to hear you complain. You have everything. We are giving you a place to sleep and food to eat. We are giving you rides to wherever you want to go and whenever you want to go. You are coming to US to ask for advice.  We just ask how your day was and details to make conversation – we aren’t prying.

You should be thankful. You shouldn’t be upset. You shouldn’t feel claustrophobic. You shouldn’t feel dependent. You shouldn’t feel like you lost your autonomy. You shouldn’t feel locked up and alone.

Don’t you dare say how you are feeling, you will just hurt everyone around you.