Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

The Next Step

Today I had an interview. It was my first (maybe only…) interview for what I will be doing next.

I am very conflicted about what I want the outcome to be.

The interview was for CPE residency in a hospital. It is a really good hospital and a really great job. I would be doing things similar to what I did over the summer, just full time and with overnights, and for an entire year. It will be a hard year, but a year of support. A year where people will push me, but also will be there for me. A year that I will really be out of the Orthodox bubble and out of everything that I know from rabbinical school.

But then there is the voice in my head telling me that I am giving up. I am taking the easy route. I went into this field to be a rabbi – a rabbi of a shul nonetheless, and I’m not even going to try. I am giving up on my 7 years of learning halacha to sit with people, and not even Jewish people. I am taking yet another year in my life before doing a real job – as this is only one year.

Or maybe this is what I am meant to do. I have always had a part of me that loved working with people and being with them. But then again, I love working in the Jewish community…even though at times I want to leave.

I know that I have a lot to give. That I am good at the teaching and community building. I am good at doing the stuff that happens in a shul, as I learned in Australia. I also know, that I know a lot of Halacha and should do something with it. That I have the real power to be a voice in Jewish history. That I am part of that change – and if I don’t go that way, then am I giving up?

I really loved my work in Australia. I really felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. I was treated as an equal; I was treated as a rabbi; I was part of the community. I want that again. I want to really be part of something; something that the shul really wants and that the rabbi really wants.  I want a real job, not one that was created for me. I want to be my own person and not tied to some benefactor – no matter how kind they might be. I don’t want to be chained to schools. When one leaves a program they should not still be attached…how am I ever going to be my own person that way?

I’ve been meaning to call a woman who is a navy chaplain to explore that idea, mostly because other people have told me to look into it. But I have yet to make that call…

Part of me feels like I am reaching for anything because really all I want is to feel settled and to feel some form of stability. I am reaching outside of the pulpit rabbi world because I have not heard anything from school until a meeting today, where I was told that I was in the wrong not to tell the woman who is barely in school that I feel like they have nothing they are looking into. Apparently the way that it works for shul work is they find a shul and push – but she wasn’t sure that was what I wanted – even though that is what I said. I’m damned if I have a plan B, and I know I would be damned if I don’t have a plan B.

I really do think that doing CPE residency would be really great. I think that I would learn a lot both about the job, but also about myself – which is something I haven’t really taken the time to do. I think that not having to move to another city or country in 6 months is quite relieving, although I guess the truth is that I would have to move again in a year- so why put off the inevitable. I think that being again in a job that I don’t need to fight just to prove that I have the right to exist is really appealing.

Because really, all I want is to just exist and not to fight…

PS. If anyone has suggestions, ideas, thoughts, etc. please feel free to share

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

No Hate, No Fear, Everyone is Welcome Here

I donated money to organizations who are working on the ground. I signed petitions. I shared posts asking for people with specific skills. But still I felt passive. I still felt overwhelmed and powerless. But I don’t see myself as an activist or one who goes to protests. I so rarely speak about politics publicly.  I’m unsure of myself. I am a bit afraid of the crowds.

But I went to the protest and march in Battery Park yesterday. I figured even if it does nothing, at least I know that I did something. I stood up when I could.

So many times during the day tear sprung to my eyes. It was a very overwhelming and emotional experience.

There were so many people there. So many people fighting. I didn’t even have to follow my phone to get there, all I had to do was follow the people carrying signs. The workers for the ferry were saying “this way ferry, that way to the protest”. It was a real thing.

There were people who spoke about their personal stories of getting to America as a refugee; there were people who spoke about being undocumented and the fear of what will happen to them and their families. There were so many politicians who came out – judges, senators, congress people, and others who work for the State of New York and New Jersey. There were the politicians who said outright that this ban was stupid and that it is illegal. That they will fight until the fight is over, and encouraging the crowd to continue to go out and continue to fight. Senator Cory Booker reminded everyone that this will be a long and hard fight, we should know that, but we should never give up and give each other strength to continue the fight.

There were old people there, some where it was clear that standing was difficult for them but they were out. I found it amazing to see older women (I would guess 80’s) in pink pussy hats – still out protesting. There were whole families there. There were so many children of all ages. Some babies strapped to their parents. Kids on parent’s shoulders holding signs that they made and chanting along with the crowd. Pre-teens and teenagers standing with their parents in solidarity. And really – I didn’t see any kids complain or fuss. They were there. Their parents must have explained well or they just realized the importance of what they are doing. While watching them I thought to myself of what this is doing to them as children- what are they going to remember? Do they realize what they are really standing in protest about? How will the next generation interact with their government?

There was a sense of togetherness yesterday in the park. People were friendly. People smiled at one another. Really, I was not afraid of the crowd and really there was a crowd it was hard to move at times- but I wasn’t afraid. I know there were police around, how many I am not sure, but I felt safe.

Even though I have not lived in the US for over 8 years, this feels important. I feel like if I am here, I need to do something – I can’t ignore it. I think that really this is not only an American issue, this issue is taking place around the globe, just differently. The sanctions made by the president will (and are affecting) people from all nations around the world. America is a strong country, and if they are able to do such things what will stop other countries from doing something similar.

The speeches, the cheering, the sheer number of people standing there was really moving. I hope and pray that our actions will actually be able to create positive change. I hope that the checks and balances in our government will be able to get America back on track to being a country that people once again feel safe in; for it to return to being the home of the free and the brave.

 

 

 

Posted in Life

Never Again? Can that Be a Reality?

I turned on my phone after Shabbat to see the protests at the airport. People with Visas and green cards are being turned away. People who have come to see their children studying in University. People coming to visit sick loved ones. People who are refugees fleeing from persecution, who are being turned back to places where they will die or be tortured.

How can the US, the “leaders of the free world” act in such disregard to those that truly need our help? How are we not helping those in need?

For the argument that we need to look inwards first- yes you are correct. And again I ask how. How are our governmental officials able to sign documents that take away health care? How is it a country that it is not a give-in that health care is something that everyone should have? That instead we all need to pay hundreds of dollars- but that is only if we are lucky enough not to be truly sick or didn’t spend time in the hospital (even in the NICU).

How do we live in a world where a country and decriminalize domestic abuse? Do we really live in a world still that thinks we can hit our family members? That if someone doesn’t do what we want we can beat them? That now those who are abused have NO WHERE to turn to?

How is it possible that the US elected such a leader? What happened in the world that anything he said seemed like it should be backed? How is it possible that with all the protests going on, there is NOTHING to do to stop it? That the best we have is to continue to protest…

How can it be that there is so much hate and fear? I thought there was such a thing as checks and balances in the US government- how is nothing being done? Why are the people’s voices not being heard?

I feel helpless. I feel pain. I want to be shouting, but I don’t know who to shout at.

 

Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

Cult of Single Blessedness

Yesterday at school we had a full day seminar on the changing American Jewish family. For the most part I think that it was done very well.

The first session was basically statistics. Statistics of intermarriage, marriage, and divorce. I don’t think I was very surprised with the statistics.

There is a statistic that the more women are invited into religious practice the more men leave. I was thinking about this fact, and I wonder if we are moving too much to the emotional side, and forgetting about the benefit of the logic side. There is a lot of talk about the great things of the different ways that women think or what women are “adding” to the conversation – but that way doesn’t work for everyone. But we see that the emotional side is missing, so our focus is only there- now even in men’s yeshivas. I think that part of the problem is actually the separation of sexes for studying and so many interactions. If we joined together more often, then I think we would be able to find a balance, or a way to go back and forth and allow for both models to be real.

There was a comment by the first speaker that Jewish men are not interested in Jewish women. That they don’t find Jewish women sexy. I think that something that she didn’t take into consideration, is that many Jewish men don’t know how to interact with women. They either will make rude comments, or speak without thinking, or just don’t realize that things they are saying are inappropriate, or are nervous or shy and just don’t know what to do. (Her thinking it is the woman’s fault is not so surprising based on her comments at the end of the day….will get there soon.)

Something very interesting that was said, was that men today, even orthodox men are more feminist in their thinking. I commented that I don’t feel that men are supportive of what I am doing, that they are some of the least supportive. The speaker commented though, and rightly so- that they are for women working, and being a CEO or a doctor or a lawyer, or that they are for women getting equal pay. And that is being feminist. She is very right. I never thought about that, but then it makes me so much angrier. Why is it that they are ok with that and not with what I want to do? Maybe it’s just that they grew up with that model already and so it is easier to accept.

She also spoke about how unmarried mothers by choice, are more greatly accepted in communities than just single people. I don’t think that is so surprising, considering the community is so family based. They are interested in the family programming, they have kids to go to programs with, they are able (and not annoyed) to talk about strollers, schools, pediatricians, etc, which are things that those who don’t have children are unable to do.

The second session was on being single. The first person on the panel spoke about single women in 19th Century America. It was during that time that women in general were part of the “cult of domesticity”- you were at home at helped with home stuff, and then you got married and you lead the home stuff. There were apparently always women who never got married, and they were considered “cult of single blessedness”- they would help with home stuff, but sometimes travel for it, or be the one to replace someone, because they didn’t have anyone else to take care of. They were mobile in a way that others were not. But they were also just expected to do what was missing, rather than being their own person.

She also spoke about Rebecca Gratz (who is a super cool woman and did a lot of amazing things). She was single, but started major organizations that helped not only her community but the greater city. She was unique in the matter that she was able to do all this and still be single. The NCJW would not regularly accept single women at the time, but they did accept her. I think that makes sense- she would not be accepted into a regular program, so she just started her own. She was strong and able to create, and so she did. She was not going to be put off by those who did not accept her.

The other women didn’t say anything else new about singleness in the Jewish community. One woman said that she thinks that getting married should not be seen as a goal- because it is not necessarily attainable. There are many people who do “everything” they can- sign up for websites, live in the “right cities”, speak to everyone- and still don’t find a mate. Another person spoke about a cycle of singleness- that we are all ways in times of being in relation to another person- so it is not a goal or something you get to do.

I do wish we spoke about the halachic issues of talking about sex and shomer negiah for “older” singles. Are we as an observant Jewish community really expecting single people in their 30’s and 40’s to never hold hands? What do we do with their desires? Or do we just not talk about it, and people do it in secret, and we just accept that people are sinning?

We had a panel on divorce. It was fascinating to hear from all four about how we we should interact with it in the same way we might with death and mourning.  It was very moving to hear from two women about their divorce experience and creating blended families. It is not an easy process, and I really believe that we need to have more sensitivity. Not only during the time of divorce, but after too, especially if there are kids and there are life cycle events.

The day I think was really nice for the most part. I think that the conversation about singleness was true and sensitive. I think that the conversation about divorce was moving and eye opening. Even the conversation, where it seemed like we had “token” representatives of “different” families was done tastefully and the speakers were eloquent and informative.

But then at the very end, the key note speaker gave some key points from the day, and spoke about how she thinks that marriage is an attainable goal. It is all about being in the right places. And if we are not married it is because we are not trying hard enough- we aren’t talking to people, or signing up for things, or giving guys a chance. It was then that I (and most of the group, especially those of us who are not married) got really angry. It was very clearly not a key point for the day and I think it is a horrible idea. She basically called those of us not married failures.

I don’t want to be the one who speaks constantly for “single” rights- but lately, I feel like I need to. I want to show that yes I can do things. Yes people should take me seriously. Yes, I do want to get married, but at the same time I am not going to put my life on hold because I am not. So maybe for the time being I will join the cult of single blessedness (also because it sounds really cool) and do everything I can during this time.

Posted in Life

Virtually Marching

I’m not going to the march tomorrow – but I wish that I was.

I’m not going because I’m overwhelmed. I couldn’t fathom figuring out how to get to DC, back from DC, somewhere to sleep, figure out Shabbat plans and everything else that needed to be done. I then found out about the march in New York, but I already made plans to see someone very close to me, which allows me to be with someone who knows me and supports me, which is what I need right now, because I really feel lost and alone.

But I want to be there.

I want to be with other women supporting women, because there is so much against us.

I think that there is a lot of fear right now- fear because of gender; fear because of race; fear because of religion.

There is a fear of what will happen when people who have hurt others come into real power. What does it say about our society when we have people in power who speak disgustingly, who are constantly putting others down; who are making others feel scared for their well-being or existence…is that really what others think?

One way to combat fear is to have a group of people. People supporting others, so that they are not feeling alone- which is the worst part of fear.

I think we need to stand together to regain what we deserve. We deserve health care (I haven’t paid for health care in 7 years because I wasn’t in the US, I don’t understand  how this is not the case here).We deserve the right to our own bodies- why do people think they are still allowed to tell me what I can and can’t do with my own body.We deserve to live in a country and not be afraid to walk in streets; or go to our places of worship; or speak our opinions. We deserve to feel safe.

It is a momentous occasion that so many women around the world are gathering together to support one another. It is a momentous occasion that women are creating this great gathering that will be filled with men, women and children gathering together, saying that they will be together and not give up. They will continue to fight and be there for one another in this fight for what is right and just.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

HEAR OUR VOICE

And so here I am. I wish I was going to be one the ground somewhere, but I am not. I want to be part of the group standing together. I want to be part of the fight; to fight for what is right and just.  Even though I will not be standing among the crowds in the physical streets, I am placing myself among the crowds of the virtual streets. I am here. I am part of the march. I am part of the movement.

May we all find the ability and strength to continue to support those who need support. May we also continue to find the ability and strength to step aside for a moment so we can support ourselves. May we never give up the fight for what is right and just in the world.

 

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Crossing Over the George Washington Bridge

I think back to when I was in Girl Scouts. When we moved from Daisy’s to Brownies we crossed a bridge to represent our growing up. According to the Girl Scout website, the bridge ceremonies are:

Moving On to New Adventures

Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout’s life. It’s a defining moment when a girl becomes aware of her achievements and is ready for new adventures and responsibilities. Celebrating this change should be fun, personalized, and memorable for everyone involved. And most of all, it should be designed by the girls in true partnership with adults.

Bridging ceremonies usually take place at the beginning or end of the Girl Scout year and can have three parts:

  • Opening: Guests are welcomed and the tone is set.
  • Main section: The ceremony is explained and the girls celebrate moving from one level to the next.
  • Closing: Girls can participate in friendship circles and thank their guests.

Each of the ceremony’s parts offers plenty of room for the girls’ creativity and individuality. The ceremony should always focus on paying tribute to Girl Scouts as they move forward.

Opening

Tomorrow is the day that I cross the bridge (the George Washington bridge) to my new home. I will be living in my own apartment in New York city. I will be there for at least 6 months, but potentially through August. I am bringing all of my belongings (it’s only 3 suitcases and an Adidas bag). It is making my move to the US real.

Main Section

This is a big move. This is what I knew would happen, and in some ways I was putting it off. It is part of my year of transition. I have realized that in 2016 I lived on three different continents. It is also the beginning of the end of me being a student. It will be (hopefully) my last very temporary home.

I said goodbye to my friends, my house, and my job. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that it might be a longer goodbye than I intended, as I am started to apply to jobs in the US.

When I moved to the US in May, I thought that I would be moving in August. I had my time with CPE which I really enjoyed. I lived with my parent’s again, which I haven’t done since I was 17, which at times was great and at times was awful. There was something wonderful to come home with food in the fridge; someone to take care of me; someone to drive me places; to be part of the family again. But it was very lonely; I once again felt like a child instead of the adult I was growing up to be; I wanted my independence and I needed to be dependent.

While looking for an apartment in July, I came across a job opportunity in Australia- and the next thing I knew I was moving there instead of NYC. Australia was amazing. I don’t think I have been that happy in a while. That is not to say that it was perfect. There were definitely times of loneliness and trying to find friends and figuring out what to do. But for the most part I was happy. I don’t remember a time there that my body hurt from stress.

And then I moved back to the US. This time for real. I moved back and had to start looking for jobs to figure out what is next. I landed at my parents, which once again was wonderful to have but at the same time made things very difficult for me. Again I had people to care for me, take me places, try to love me- and all it made me feel was a failure. That here I am 31, no significant other, no friends, no job, and I live with my parents. Even though I knew that it was only short term, it was really hard. A mix of that reality, trying to figure out what is next, coming to terms of maybe not going back to Israel, and trying to find a place to live – this has been one very stressful month.

And now I am about to move. Yes, in some ways I am used to moving. But this is my first real move, where I will have my own space, in the US. It is the first time that I am moving so close to my parents. It is the first time in a long time (since 2004) that I didn’t have to think about how many liquids I’m packing; or that my mom could tell me to go “shopping” in the pantry to take things; or to pack sheets and towels; or to know that I can leave something, and get it back quickly, as it will only be an hour bus ride away.

Closing

So, tomorrow morning, when I go to school, it will be my last journey over the bridge to school. After school I will be taking the subway to my new apartment.

Tomorrow I will cross over the bridge and really start my time in the US. I will hopefully take this time to learn what I need from New York. I hope that I will find and build a community and friendships. I hope that I will be able to find a partner. I hope that it will become clearer what I want to do next and where I want to do it. I hope that having something grounding me, will help me feel less overwhelmed than I do right now.

via Daily Prompt: Crossing

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Some More Questions

1. If you could speak to anyone in heaven, who would it be?

Serach

2. What memory do you replay the most in your mind?

Times that I should have acted/said something differently- usually times that I should have been bolder

3. Do you have any reoccurring dreams or nightmares?

Yes, where I have meetings or am giving a class, and there are people that come into my room. It is not always the same people nor it is always the same class. But many times I will wake up and change my clothing so I am more presentable (ie. not wearing a tank top without a bra)

4. At what age did you learn the most about yourself?

19-22

5. When was the last time you were disappointed in yourself?

Last Thursday

6. Is there someone that you’ll never forgive?

Yes- or at least right now that is how I feel.

7. Which time period do you like the best, aesthetically speaking?

40’s/50’s or 1600’s

8. In what ways have you grown over the course of your life?

I am much less shy; at times I have confidence in myself; I am willing to create what I need/want (in most situations)

9. Do you think your parents are proud of where you are in life?

Yes

10. Is there a teacher that you wish you could call up and thank?

I have thanked those who I have felt the desire to thank – either by email or went to visit.

11. What’s the worst physical pain that you’ve ever suffered through?

When I strained my lower back and couldn’t walk or sit.

12. What couple (that you personally know) do you look up to?

A & H

13. What scent reminds you of your childhood?

Pavlova (perfume)

14. What don’t you regret that you probably should?

Have a 4 month intimate conversation about everything with shuk boy

15. What’s the most intimate thing a couple could do together?

A mix of physical, mental, and vulnerable nakedness

16. Which song lyric has had the biggest impact on you?

“Some day you will be loved…”

17. Do you believe in ghosts, aliens, or any mythical creatures?

Yes

18. When do you feel the most attractive?

When I’m wearing a really pretty dress & heels.

19. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone else?

Just been there

20. What unanswerable question bothers you the most?

What will happen in the future

21. What do you think the best part of being married is?

Having someone to share life with

22. Have you ever had a premonition that came true?

Kinda. Times where I had intense dreams that I needed to do something, but also times where hearing news was like deja vu.

23. At what age did you start to consider yourself an adult?

um…maybe 24…

24. What is the meanest thing your inner voice tells you?

You are a failure at life.

25. Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?

Sometimes

26. What do you think your purpose in life is?

I wish I knew for sure. I do think that it is to do good and to work with people…

27. Were you ever tempted to cheat on a past partner?

No

28. What do you do when you’re feeling lonely?

Depends on when and where. Sometimes curl up into a ball, and other times push myself to find something interesting happening and go to that or just call a friend.

29. What type of animal would you like to be reincarnated as?

A fish in the Great Barrier Reef

30. Do you believe every life has an equal value?

Yes

31. Do you daydream more about the future or your past?

Future

32. What would instantly make you fall out of love with someone?

A feeling of calm.

33. Do you believe you’re going to be a good parent?

I hope so.

34. What scares you the most about growing old?

Getting old and dying alone.

35. Do you like the sound of your name?

Yes

36. Which celebrity do you think you’d be BFFs with?

I have no clue

37. Do you believe in fortune tellers and tarot cards?

Not sure.

38. How long did it take you to learn to love yourself?

I’ve gone back and forth. Two years ago I finally got out of being in a place that made it hard to remember to love myself.

39. What do you think the afterlife consists of?

Being happy- both being with those one loves and doing the thing ones loves without any of the awkwardness and mistakes of this world.

40. Have you ever manipulated someone to get what you wanted?

Yes.

41. Do you believe in love at first sight or do you think it takes time to grow?

A mix. I think that there is something that happens in the first interaction that allows for love to grow.

42. Which celebrity death impacted you the most?

None- I don’t really follow pop culture so much.

43. Do you write in script or print?

Print, although every so often I have a strong desire to write in script.

44. Which wild animal do you wish you could keep as a pet?

An elephant

45. Do you believe in destiny?

Kinda.

46. If you had to get a tattoo to honor someone, who would it be?

Women of the Talmud

47. Do you feel like anything is missing from your life?

Yes

48. What’s the most childish thing you still love to do?

Color

49. What bad habit have you managed to break?

Biting my nails

50. Do you believe success comes in the form of money or happiness?

I want to say happiness- but there is something to having money to function in the world too.

Interior