Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Sunny Days

It’s been a while, since I’ve been happy and had a really great week. Since finishing school about two weeks ago, I’ve been having a mostly enjoyable time, seeing friends and exploring things in New York.

I get to wake up (for the most part) when I want to, which then also lets me stay up late and not worried about getting home at a certain time.

I went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum, which is a really nice design museum. I really want to go back for their Thursday night cocktail parties.

Yesterday I went to MOMA with friend’s of mine from Australia. This was my first time there, and we just had a good time. The security people are surprisingly funny and nice- so if you go, I suggest chatting with some of them. Just ask their favorite exhibits, it’s one way to find cool things in such a large place. We also went to an interactive lecture on one of the exhibits, called “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” , which was really great. It was really interesting to see and think about the role of women in the “man’s world” of art as well. How there are many women who waiting for their husbands to move so they can have a name for themselves; or women who needed to push just to be noticed; or how even in the art world women need to prove themselves more than any man, even if they are just as good, if not better. It was interesting to see how some even used “women’s” material to create new things, to take control of what society gives them and to change them and make it their own.

I found a festival of accordion playing, called Accordions Around the World at Bryant Park. There were multiple circles throughout the park of accordion players, switching to a new player every 15 minutes. It was actually quite cool.

This week I went dancing THREE times! I went to my usual place on Saturday night, and then went to the first two days of midsummer night swing. I got to dance with some really great people. The first night was swing dancing, which was a lot of fun. But the second night was salsa, which there was even more spirit. There was an “after party” when it shut down, in a tiny park right across the street from Lincoln Center.

I even met someone- not really sure what if anything will come out of it. But on Tuesday night, at swing dance I caught a guy’s eye and asked him to dance. We started talking, and one dance turned into a number that I don’t even know. He even took my number that night. And then last night, in the giant crowd of people I saw him again, and once again we danced together. I don’t know if he will call, but it was kinda nice to meet someone, even for the short term.

And now it’s almost the weekend and July 4th. Next week I’m off to Toronto, mostly to see my former roommate from Israel, but now I will also be teaching a class. At the end of the month I’ll be teaching in Atlanta. And it looks like I will be going to Columbia (the country) at the beginning of August. So even though I am still waiting around to find out which hospital I will be working in, trying to find a new apartment, want to be dating, miss Israel and my friends– things might be starting to work out.

via Daily Prompt: Sunny

Advertisements
Posted in Rabbinical School

The Big Day

I’m no longer a rabbinical student!

After 5 years, I am now allowed to call myself rabbi. After thinking that such a thing was never possible, it is now real!

It was not easy and there were a lot of tears that came with these past years. A lot of fighting. Of standing up for myself and others. Of finding ways to push myself and prove that I am able to do this job. Of being broken, really broken, and finding ways to slowly put myself back together again- maybe into something else. I am no longer the same person I was (although I do hope to get back some of my old optimism and drive).

Even though this was not mentioned at the chag hasmicha, one of the things I am proudest of is being able to study at a high level in Hebrew. I was able to learn and interact with the text in their original language. I was able to write exams in Hebrew, and still be able to pass. My teacher saw me as someone who was smart and capable.

I was seen even as a student as one who can be a halachic decider. I was encouraged to take my skills and think through problems, and give my own answers. I learned from my teachers not only to look at the law but to also look at the person, to look at the situation. I know that my drive is to be lenient, but I have been able to prove why those leniencys  are legitimate.

The Chag Hasmicha was beautiful and full of joy. There were 400 people that attended in person and an unknown amount that attended virtually. The room was buzzing and just excited to be there. All the anxiety that I had going into it left. Each of us graduates spoke, each in our own voices.

I had so many friends that were there. My friends were finally able to meet one another. I had teachers there. My family was there. I had students there. I did feel like certain people were missing, but I knew that they would not be able to attend as they were so far away.

I’m still in shock that this actually happened. And now I have the summer to explore NY. I have nothing really planned until I start my job at the hospital (minus finding a new apartment).

One of the rabbis who spoke gave one word per person- my word was vision (or visionary. He added after the ceremony that other words he thought of were confident and poised). After so long of hearing what I wasn’t good at, it was interesting to hear this very positive and strong qualities being called out in front of others. That it is not just myself who notices my confidence, that it is something that comes through. And that he and others see my vision- which I really hope I never lose.

I really do hope that all of the pain and hurt lead to something positive. I hope that I don’t fully loose my hope, ambition, vision or drive. I hope that I don’t lose my love and ability to work with the law.

I’m still a bit overwhelmed, and it is weird to be going around with this newness about me. I both want it to change me and I still want to be me. But for now I’m just going to see what happens.

Here is my speech:

In a bracha that I wrote for last year’s musmachot, I said “none of us got here by chance or because it was expected of us. We are here because we felt the desire or the need or the compulsion to do this with our lives, even if when we were children it was not a possibility. “  

Each of us here today felt the need to fill this role. We pursued our studies of Torah, despite all who said we can’t and shouldn’t. We chose to be pioneers, going into unknown, potentially dangerous territory, knowing that we will forever be creators and innovators. We follow in the paths of the “firsts” who came before us, those who chose to defy what is expected of them, those who were strong enough to ask why not, those who also were blessed with support from their family and friends.

Recently I completed the tractate of Baba Batra. I wanted the completion of a mesechet to coincide with my receiving of smicha. Today I am both marking the completion of my formal studies and committing to continuing my studies.In the text of the siyum, we say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אלקי, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעֲזַרֽתַּנִי לְסַיֵים מַסֶּכֶת _____, כֵּן תּֽעַזְרֵנִי לְהַתְחִיל מְסֶכְתוֹת וּסֽפָרִים אַחֵרים וּלְסַיֵימָם, לִלְמֹד וּלְלַמֵּד, לִשְׁמֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת וּלְקַיֵּם אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי תַלְמוּד תּוֹרָתְךָ בְּאַהֲבָה

We, thank God for helping us complete the tractate, and in the same breath we ask God to help us “to start other tractates and books, and to complete them, to learn and to teach, to observe and to enact and to fulfill all the words of the teachings of your Torah with love.”

So this afternoon, I say to God, thank You for helping me complete these years of study, and may this not be the end of my Torah learning. May You help each of us start new books, forge new paths, begin new jobs, and dream up new dreams, so that we will be able to complete, learn, teach, enact and fulfill all the words of the teaching of Your Torah with love.

My thoughts I shared on Facebook:

OMG (I can’t think of something better to start with) I’m a Rabbi!!
Way back when in college people would joke (mostly seriously) that I should become a rabbi. I always said that it wasn’t possible, and everyone would tell me don’t worry, you’ll find a way. Well here I am, 9 years after graduating college celebrating receiving smicha. [According to my father, in my 8th grade year book they said that I would be a rabbi- I don’t remember this though, I’ll have to go into the storage unit and check].
Even at this hour, I am still in shock and awe that today happened. The ceremony was beautiful and full of joy. I am so happy and lucky to have sat on the bima with such amazing women, and now join the women who have come before me, who will continue to do great work in the world.
There are so many people that I feel I need to thank (sorry if it is a bit rambly). Thank you to my parents who encouraged me to dream big and to try- even when it doesn’t exist. Who encouraged me to learn and engage in Torah, even if it wasn’t the norm. Who were the first ones to seriously suggest that I pursue such a path. Thank you to my siblings who put up (mostly) with my craziness and the craziness that comes along with having a sibling that “everyone knows”.
Thank you to my teachers- even those from way back in elementary school who taught be and showed me how to love Torah and learning. Thank you to those who pushed me and challenged me to try harder, to think more, to ask questions. Thank you to those who started me out on this path of smicha and those teachers who I was able to learn from, in the last few months. Thank you to the many chevrutot throughout the years- I know I would not think the way I do now if it wasn’t for learning from you.
Thank you to everyone who came in person today. It was amazing to see so many people from so many different parts of my life. [it was also the first time some of my closest friends from these different parts of life met each other, which is also crazy and cool].
I had a high school teacher there [who reminded me, that he said he taught us that in our life time we would see women receiving smicha) and a teacher from college. Friends from almost every place I have been since middle school, there were people from middle school, high school, college, Pardes, Australia, Midreshet Lindenbaum, Israel- and probably people I am forgetting.)
Thank you to everyone who sat by their computer and watched a live stream of the ceremony (or at least tried to). I know that you wanted to be there in person, and it means so much to me that you took out part of your day (or even the middle of the night) to celebrate with me [also, thank God for the internet].
Thank you for all of the amazing brachot, well wishes and support that keep on coming through on Facebook, email, text and calls. Thank you being with me during these past 5 (or 7) years of intense study to do this crazy thing. I don’t think I can ever express how thankful I am and how lucky I know I am, to have so many people, all around the world, from so many parts of my life- supporting me, encouraging me, and just being my friend.
As I said this afternoon, “I say to God, thank You for helping me complete these years of study, and may this not be the end of my Torah learning. May You help each of us start new books, forge new paths, begin new jobs, and dream new dreams, so that we will be able to complete, learn, teach, enact and fulfill all the words of the teaching of Your Torah with love.” May whatever is next only be for good.

Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

Wonder Woman- Sex and the City- It’s Really Happening

So it’s a post about a lot of things.

Wonder Woman

The other day, we took a school trip to see Wonder Woman (it was the last day of school and we needed something that was mobility friendly). I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it (I go to about one movie a year, and it is definitely not a super hero movie).

The movie made be both laugh and cry.

The land of the Amazon’s was like no all women’s space that I have ever been in. It was a place of strength and beauty. They were not complaining or feeling sad about being single or the worries of their relationships. They were not broken, hurt or in pain from not being treated with respect. They were not fighting for their legitimacy. And so they were able to be strong and push one another to be strong, without it being that they have to be stronger than men. They were not trying to prove anything or be better than anyone. They were just strong.

The sexual tension was great and funny. What happens when the woman is both gorgeous, smart, and strong willed. She was able to find someone who, be it took a while, was able to accept her for who she is, and still love her. I hope that is true in my world too…

Wonder Woman was portrayed as someone who cares about the world and is incredibly strong- both physically and emotionally. She has to make hard choices, ones that give her great personal loss in order to help the greater good. But she is also able to form relationships. And even with all of her own personal loss, and first hand view of the ugliness of the world, she still is able to believe in human kindness and love.

Some quotes that I loved:

“It’s not about what you deserve. It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”

“I used to want to save the world, to end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know… that only love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight, and I give – for the world I know can be. This is my mission now, for ever.”


Sex and the City

I started watching Sex and the City. I’ve never watched it before, at least not regularly. I find it fascinating because it is so different than my life experience. I am around the same age as they are (at least in the first season- I’m 31), so it is also interesting to see how they are living their lives.

They each have their own apartment (makes me want to continue living on my own). They each are very successful in their jobs. They love living in the city.

There are things that are SO different than mine. Like I almost never wear heels, and definitely not $500 pairs (I don’t even own a pair that costs even half of that). I also question how it is possible that every place they go, each is able to pick up a new guy and bring him home. I’m not saying that I want to or would sleep with every guy that I meet- but I don’t even get asked on a date when I go places. Is it that I am doing something wrong or going to the wrong places? Or is it just for a good story line?

But there are ideas that I think are very true. The talking about the fears of being single, and things we do to quiet those fears. The look people give when you are “of a certain age” and not married. The fear of what happens if I am too old to have children by the time I “settle down”. The makers of “making it”- having one’s own space, having a job, having good friends.

Something I do love is the confidence all four women have when walking down the street. They all walk as if they own New York. Yesterday, I did not bring a rain coat to shul and it started pouring. I was going to a person I didn’t know for lunch and got drenched- there was nothing I could do. And there I was walking the streets of New York, in a beautiful blue dress, heels and pearls, drenched. It was great I made eye contact with other people in the same situation and we just smiled at one another. I just stood up tall and enjoyed the process of what I must look like to others, and the entire walk over I just thought of myself like Carrie Bradshaw. To make it even better- when I was walking home (it was no longer raining), a woman stopped me to tell me how great my dress was, and how fitting my hair was to the style of dress.


It’s Really Happening

Today is the day! Today is the day that I receive my smicha, and really become a rabbi. I am in shock and awe that this day has really come. It has been a long and sometimes exhausting journey, but I did it.

I have many more thoughts, but I need to shower and get dressed for the big event.

I hope that I can have the confidence, flair and creativity of the women on Sex and the City, and the strength, grace and love of Wonder Woman. 🙂

Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

The Last Week

This is my last week of school – potentially forever.

I am now 31, and since starting school at age 2, I have only had one year of my life not in an academic institution. And here I am at the end. Yes, I might still go to classes. Yes, you never stop learning. Yes, I never know, maybe I’ll go get a PhD. But it is not the same.

I will no longer be a professional student. For the past five years the majority of my pay check has come from me sitting in the Beit Midrash. Next year my pay check will be from working. I will be going to a hospital. It will be looked at as if I am capable of doing what I am paid to do. That I have the knowledge to do this job. That I no longer need to be a student.

I also think about the people I will hang out with. I’ve always had school friends. Friends that I can easily talk about academic or philosophical thoughts, and they know exactly where I am coming from. A group of people who are in tune where my head might be going, without having to explain what I am talking about. A group of people that I spend most of my day with. I’ve had co-workers before, but there is something different with fellow classmates or students, that I am having a hard time describing. There is a greater separation. There is a greater idea that you have a world outside work. That you wouldn’t want to hang out with the people you work with 24/7. That you don’t end up sharing as much with one another. It will be interesting who will be my friends next year. Especially because it will be the first time since grad school that I will have friends and colleagues that aren’t Jewish, that don’t have the same cultural experience as me.

What is even scarier is that I will have smicha. I will really be a rabbi. I spent all this time learning, and now it is being declared that I no longer need to be in school full time. I am being given permission to make decisions for others, on my own. I don’t think that I know nothing- I am quite aware that I know a lot. But I will no longer have the excuse that I am still a student if I don’t want to answer something or if I don’t know an answer. There is a greater expectation both by myself and others of what I teach, how I teach and even what I look like. I will be going out on my own, no longer representing (or semi representing) an institution of learning, but rather representing myself and whatever institution I might be working for.

At least for next year, I will not be doing something radical and culture changing. Most don’t (at least not the institution) care that I am an Orthodox female rabbi. They just know that I am employed by the hospital and that I am functioning as a chaplain, and that is it. Even in the Jewish world, sitting with people in the hospital is not a controversial role. I will not be teaching full time, I will not be deciding Jewish law, I will not be doing anything of the things that people see as wrong- except for having a title.

And so here I am, in my last week of school. My projects are all handed in. I don’t have anything else that I need to learn, so I can learn and do what I want during this time. It is a time I never thought would actually happen…but here it is.

Here is to one more week.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Feeling Whole

I want to feel whole again.

I want to feel excited about prospects of what I am doing.

I want to feel like I’m not just floating along waiting, hoping, wishing, praying for something better to come my way.

I want to feel excited to tell people what I am going to be doing. That the new things coming up in life are good and great.

I realized yesterday that most people don’t know that I have a job for next year. Even now, in June, I am unable to bring myself to talk about the fact that I will be in NY for another year. I feel sad about posting it on Facebook. In some ways it is in the hopes that something else comes along, and then no one needs to know about the changes in my life – but I know in my heart of hearts it won’t change.

Only yesterday I took a job a camp. I will not be teaching Torah like I usually do, I will be working in a cooking class, and through that teach Torah. It is not the job I want. It is not the staff that I really want to be part of. But I had no other options for the summer. When I thought about having an entire summer free I froze. I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. And now I am sitting, and I need to write an email to the person I am subletting from, telling him that I will in deed be moving out at the end of the month- and I am second guessing my decision. Maybe I should just bum around for the entire two months of the summer – even though I know in my heart of hearts that I will be miserable with nothing to do for that long. My friends have jobs and so no one will be free during the day time.

I need to find somewhere to live next year. And not only do I not know where I want to be or if I want to share an apartment or be alone- I still don’t know which hospital I will be working in, so I can’t make any real decisions.

I am finding that it is hard to live in the present, because I know I need to live in the future as well. That what I am doing next year is ONLY for a year. It is temporary. Everything right now is temporary and changeable. I just wish that there was something that I knew would be the same.

So here I am. Almost with smicha, the thing I have been working towards for so long. And I think I feel more lost than I ever have.

Posted in Dating, Life

I Still have the Old Maid Card

I’m at an age and live in a community where most people are married and have kids. That leaves me to be in the position, that when I go to my friend’s houses I am not able to just hang out with my friend, but I am also there to hang out with their kids and/or spouses. It means that our conversations are going to be broken up by screaming children. It means that there are conversations that will have to wait till after dark when the kids are asleep, and hopefully we are not asleep either.

I have friends who love being in this role, or at least they talk about it as if they love it. They go to kids plays and school open days. They bring presents and come over just to hang out with the kids. They take the child out to dinner or plays or something fun. They are the go-to babysitters. The surrogate parents- helping with feeding and changing, and sometimes even discipline.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the past two weeks. Starting with one of my friends who when she is having a hard time, she wants to hold babies and hang out with small children. And then I was at my best friend’s house- where really, I do have a very close relationship with her 5 year old. And then over Shavuot I was at someone’s house with three other “older” single women, who are part of this woman’s house hold of caretakers.

And to be honest- it makes me really sad. I never thought that I would be the old-maid aunty. That I would be the one that still has no husband or children of my own. I have to say that holding my friend’s kids makes me sad, because I don’t have my own. I feel like I am in the pity party, that they feel like they have to be nice to me because I’m just not there yet. I find myself talking to babies asking if I will ever have the chance to have my own, or will I only ever experience holding other people’s kids.

Will I always be that single one sitting at a table of couples who all talk about their completeness, or schools or camps or birth stories- and I have absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation, because it is not part of my life? Will my parents hang out with other small kids at shul because I will never be able to give them grandchildren of their own? Will they get more birds because that is the best they will be able to get?

I would never change my relationship with my friend’s daughter- I really do love her and love hanging out with her. And will always laugh when she asks me if I would have different rules for her if I was her mom or when she jokes that she wants me to be her mom instead.

But at the same time, I am finding it harder and harder to be around kids and those with kids. It is the thing that hurts my heart. I don’t want to be the surrogate mom, I want to actually have kids. I don’t want to be the single aunt, who never has a date or a husband. I don’t want to be the old-maid that either has nothing to say in conversations or just makes things up to try and fit in.