Posted in Dating, Quotes

It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single

Over the weekend I read “It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single” by Sara Eckel. And throughout the entire book, all I could think was “YES, YES, YES…This is what happened to me too!!” I want to tell everyone who is dating, who is searching, and all those who are trying to set people up – they should all read this book! Everyone should learn ways to not internalize the stupid things that people say. I mean, more importantly, one should learn not to say stupid things – but being that we can only control ourselves, I figured I would start with not internalizing.

It didn’t try to tell me to be happy with being single. It didn’t try to tell me that I am perfect. It didn’t try to tell me that if I would change just this one thing, THEN, I would be able to find the man of my dreams.

It was so true. Yes, there are some great things that can happen when one isn’t tied down in a relationship. I recognize that I have been able to travel the world because I didn’t have a husband. Yes, I am still able to go out at night, because I don’t have children at home. Yes, I have learned to be my own support because, sometimes there is no one to come home to, and I still need to get through the bad day and get onto the next. Yes, I have been able to make my own name, please know me for me. Yes,  I am a strong, independent, intelligent woman. But at the same time – I’m also sad and lonely. I want to have a partner. I want to have someone to come home to. I want to snuggle with someone. It hurts when my father calls me to tell me that a random person from shul, many years younger than me, just had a child- and I’m barely getting a date. I do internalize the idea that because I am not getting asked out that there is something wrong with me, that I am not loveable. I crave that connection. I do look around me, and it seems like everyone else is able to find partnership so easily, so there must be something wrong with me.

And so being single and 32, with a very boring dating life (not because I am not trying) has both it’s ups and downs. And this was the first book, that I have read, that really showed that. (So go out and read it!!!)

So here are my 27 reflections on her chapters.

  1. You Have Issues
    • Yes! How many times have I been told to read books or to talk to someone or the general comment of “You’re not going to find anyone until you get right with yourself”. Really? Are you going to tell me that every person in a relationship is 100% with themselves and was the day they met their significant other.  And, yes – I do read the books. And I have spoken to a therapist. And I do try to do cool and different things. I try to explore and learn and grow. But, y’know it doesn’t always do anything. As Sara writes “I had a lot of fun, made many friends, traveled to foreign countries – the whole happy-single-woman shebang. But my love life, when it existed at all, was a random assortment of tepid dates, weird make-out sessions, and two-month what-the-hell-was-thats.  Meanwhile, people all around me fell in love like there was nothing to it. They moved in together, got married, had babies – often without the benefit of a single yoga class! I didn’t get it. was the one reading all the books. was the one confronting my issues.” (pg. 4-5)
    • This is not to say that I am perfect or I don’t have my issues – of course I do. But at the same time, I do see myself as a fairly successful, independent adult woman.
    • “What if your only “issue” is the belief that you have them and that they’re keeping you from a relationship? What if you stopped defining yourself as someone who is afraid of intimacy or attracted to the wrong kind of man? What if you instead saw yourself as a flawed but basically lovable human being? What if the only reason you’re alone is you just haven’t met your partner yet?” (pg. 7)
  2. You Have Low Self-Esteem
    • Really?! Well, yes, there are times where my self esteem is low. And as she write, self esteem (as opposed to self compassion) many times is actually based on another person. So if you are constantly being showed that you “aren’t good enough…pretty enough…enough”, then no matter how many pep talks you are getting, it’s not really going to change anything. I have actually said this to close friends of mine – usually who are straight women – and said, yes, I do think that I am pretty, smart, interesting, etc , but it kinda means nothing when it’s not coming from those who I am desiring to attract. Women and old people can tell me these things till they turn blue, but at the end end of the day, I do want it to be a guy in my relative age bracket, who I am not repulsed by – so I can actually feel like there is truth.
    • This is not to say that I don’t have self-esteem. In my professional life (and I do get noticed for these things) I am actually really good at stuff. I am praised and acknowledged for my intellect, my compassion, my creativity – and so it feels great. When I start a new job or a new project, I do need to gather it in from my own being – but soon, there are new logs to the fire that help it burn. When it comes to relationships for myself, it is just my own pep talk after my own pep talk – and it makes me question if maybe, there is just something wrong with me, and I am trying to talk myself up to something that is false.
    • She write that self compassion is about seeing these things, noticing them, but then still finding love and compassion for yourself. “Instead of assigning blame, you simply take a moment and acknowledge the painful disappointment you’re feeling. You don’t try to talk yourself out of feeling bad – since feeling bad is a completly natural response to rejection. Instead, you channel that good friend: ‘Wow, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know it must be hard and confusing. I wish there was more I could do to make you feel better, but you know this feeling will pass. We all get rejected sometimes. No matter what happened with this guy, you deserve a great relationship.’ With self compassion, you don’t need to bolster yourself up or tear anyone else down. You don’t have to waste energy on the pep talk because you already know you’re just fine, regardless of what this or that dude thinks.” (pg. 14)
  3. You’re Too Negative
    • “Most of us have done the thought experiment where you’re instructed not to think of pink elephants, and then of course discover that trying to banish anything from your mind makes it more prevalent – trying not to think of pink elephants wildly ratchets up your awareness of pink elephants. This is why instructions to “think positively” don’t work. ‘A person who has resolved to ‘think positive’ must constantly scan his or her mind for negative thoughts – there’s no other way the mind could ever gauge its success at the operation – yet that scanning will draw attention to the presence of negative thought,’ wrote Burkeman.” (pg. 18)
    • In addition, sometimes there is what to be negative about. Again, if I am not seeing results no matter what I am doing, it is really hard to become positive again, and again…
  4. You’re Too Liberated
    • Really? And yes, I have heard this one. The fact that I want a job or that I am successful at what I do, makes it seem like I don’t want a man in my life. Or that people make the assumption (yup, they don’t even talk to me about it) that I am just too busy to date. Right now for example, I am a hospital chaplain. When people see me they say “oh wow, you are so busy”. NO I’M NOT – my job, most days of the week are just 9-5. Ok, I have class sometimes, but usually, I don’t bring work home with me. That means from 5pm through the next day, I am free!
    • Also, if I am not working (and yes there were times I had more than one job), who the heck is going to pay my bills? My parents aren’t. So yes, I do need to work, and sometimes more than one job, but so I can live. Single people have expenses too.
  5. You’re Too Inimidating
    • OH MY GOD, YES!! I hear this one ALL the time. I really don’t get it. There was a time that I would never ask for help for anything, and I have learned to do that. I have learned to reach out, when I need it. I have learned to let others in. But I WILL NOT play dumb or needy, just to play. That is stupid. If anyone has a problem with that, really, I don’t want to date you, because honestly, I don’t know how long I would be able to pull it off. I am not able to have a needy alter ego nor do I think I should need to have one. I pray that whoever my partner is, they will not be intimidated by me, and I will not feel like I need to dumb myself down just to appease their ego, I hope that we would be able to work together and fill in the places that need to be filled in for one another.
  6. You’re Too Desperate
    • Right, you are either not trying enough or you are trying too hard. Where is the that middle ground?!
    • “Marriage and family are eternally celebrated as one of the most important and cherished parts of life – for those who have it. But the single woman who says, ‘Yes, I’d like that too,’ is immediately dismissed as silly and sad. The fact that you want love is taken as evidence that you’re not ready for it.” (pg. 35)
    • Yes, there is a “shidduch crisis” and all the married people can talk about how people need to get married. Every so often there are articles about single women standing up in front of the shul begging people to think of her, and that is how she finds a match. But that woman is seen as sad and pathetic – she is begging in front of the entire congregation. I’m fairly certain that woman asked her friends and her friend’s friends to the think of her. She probably went on some of the websites, went to the Shabbat dinners, speed dating, singles events – you name it. It was done in an act of desperation, because only then will she be heard. But no one really wants to hear that I am single and looking for someone. If I say it, it sounds sad. They start to feel bad for me. They start to tell me that there is so much more in life than a husband. But yet there is a sidduch crisis, but I shouldn’t want it too much.
  7. You Need to Be Happy Alone
    • “…women from across the county wrote me confessing their secret shame: Although they told friends and family they loved their solo life, in truth they were lonely. It’s curious: People talk openly about their alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, and sex addictions. But who besides widows of long and happy marriages admits to being lonely? It’s the ultimate shame.” (pg. 42)
    • Being alone hurts. It is hard to see everyone else together. Yes, I am capable of doing things on my own, and many times I have a great time. But at the same time, it would be so nice to have someone else there. Someone that will go to a weird Irish thing, and at least you have someone to laugh with when it is an event for small children. Someone to sit and have Shabbat dinner with when you can’t find an invitation or people to invite. Someone to wipe away your tears. Someone to sit with you at a dinner party, just so you are not the odd one out. Yes, I can do all these things on my own, I am totally capable, but it doesn’t make it any less lonely.
  8. You’re Too Picky
    • Another topic I have written about. Sara writes that when we are vague we are told we “don’t know what we are looking for” and then if we give them the list, then we are “too picky”. So true. I also think that I deserve to be attracted to someone. If I find him gross to look at or I am just bored for the entire time I am sitting with him or he just doesn’t seem right – I should be allowed to say no. Remember, I am not supposed to be desperate…
  9. You’re Too Available
    • Again with the double standard. You are supposed to not be too busy, but you are also not supposed to be too free. Wanting to love someone, being willing to date, being willing to actually (maybe) fall in love – well, you can’t show that you are “too” into it, that is also scary.
  10. You Don’t Know How to Play the Game
    • This one might be true, I don’t know how to play the game – but I don’t want to play a game. I want to go on a date. I want to be honest and clear with the person. I shouldn’t have to think if texting him when I want to, will sound “weird”. I don’t want to be kept guessing if he wants to go out again or not. It isn’t fun.
  11. You Need to Grow Up
    • Right… so what does this mean? Does it mean that I need to know how to call handy people to fix broken things? Pay my taxes? Fill out governmental forms? But appliances? Have a job? Be financially independent?Cook? Clean? Do the grocery shopping?  I mean if that is the case, then how the hell am I not “grown up”? It’s not like I have someone else in my life that is doing all these things for me. Am I still going out at night? Well, yes, because I can. I take care of my responsibilities, and so I am able to go out at night, go to a bar, go dancing. I’m not staying up at all hours of the night, because, well I’m just tired, but that doesn’t mean I need to just stay at home and knit.
  12. You’re Too Selfish
    • Who do you think takes on extra shifts? Or is expected to go to an event? According to this book, it is actually single people that volunteer most often. It is also single people that go out most often – ie. helping the economy. Do I need to take care of myself, alone? Sure. Does that make me selfish? I really hope not (I mean, if I don’t who will…) But because I don’t have kids, I will go over to a friends house when they are sick and bring them what they need; or watch my friend’s kids so they can rest or go out; or make phone calls checking up on people.
  13. You Need to Put it Out In the Universe
    • While obviously not being too desperate…
  14. You Need an Action Plan
    • “…the classic Buddhist definition of suffering: craving something you can’t have…. You’re looking outside of yourself for happiness. You’re not okay with the present reality. The path out of suffering is to accept things as they are and to allow whatever pain those circumstances cause you – loneliness, frustration, even self-loathing – to simply be there without judging them. When you start to see these feelings as simple sensations, sensations that will pass, you realize they’re manageable. It’s the thoughts around them that get us in trouble: What am I doing in this place where no one looks old enough to drive? Where did I go wrong? That’s the salt that we invariably put in the wound.” (pg. 86)
    • Sara continues to write that you just have to do the things you are doing, and do them without shame or disgust. So swipe away, go on lots of coffee dates, go have fun dancing. If somethings happens great. If something doesn’t happen also great. Just notice the feelings, accept them, and go on (yes, that is totally easier said than done, I am SO not there yet).
  15. You’re Too Fabulous to Settle Down
    • People don’t want to hear that I am sad and lonely. They want to hear the cool adventures that I get to go on. They want to live vicariously though me – how awesome it is that I can just pick up and go somewhere. They don’t want to hear about how hard it is to find friends. Or that going into public spaces scare me, and I just have to suck it up and pray for the best, because the other option is to stay home alone. Dating on TV looks like fun…dating in real life- eh. And just because I am single doesn’t mean I have a disposable income, if anything it means I have less – whatever I make is all that there is. Nothing else. And I think about that too, the money thing. When I look at singles events in NY (at least in the Jewish community) they each cost at least $36, but usually more. As a single person we are just expected to spend lots of money, but where do they think all this money is coming from…
  16. You’re Too Sad
    • Well, from what I am learning, sad is an emotion. And well, as a human, there are times I am sad. There are times that being alone makes me feel sad. There are times that seeing the world the way it is makes me feel sad. But again, there are times that I am happy and excited and angry and overwhelmed. Mostly because I am human…
  17. You Are the Constant
    • Well, you are the one that keeps on not being asked out, so obviously there must be something wrong with you. “Gradually, you paste together all these snapshots and start to create a story. Depending on your mood, the story can be good or bad. There’s the one about how brae and independent you are, how unlike some wimps you could mention you refuse to settle – go you! Except that you want to find someone and, truth be told, actually hate being alone, so then the story becomes about why you’re repulsive to prospective partners. Even if you don’t diagnose yourself with any of the aforementioned pathologies, it’s the story of something lacking. Other people must have that special something, some secret skill, some dog whistle that makes a substantial portion of the dating pool perk up their ears to her siren song.” (pg. 102).
    • Yea, it sucks. Yes, I am the first to say that there is something wrong with me. But then again – that then leads to sadness and desperation. And no one wants to hear that.
  18. You Have to Keep Trying
    • Sometimes I feel like I do give up. And then there are times that I feel like I am doing everything. I’m on different sites. I am going to all the singles events. I tell people I want to be set up. I say yes to EVERYONE, no matter if I find them interesting/attractive or not. I go to non singles events, just to have fun. I become fun, I’m not just sitting at home reading or watching TV…but then still nothing…
    • “This isn’t about giving up. It’s about lightening up. By all means, continue to make your life as rich and interesting as possible. Learn to speak Mandarin, become a Big Sister, take that solo trip to Peru. But do them for their own sake, not as a means of polishing your life resume or reassuring yourself or the world of your worthiness. You’re already worthy. There’s nothing to prove.” (pg. 110) [Now, how do I etch that into my heart…]
  19. You’re Stuck
    • Ruminating is bad…ie. over thinking is bad…ie. the think I do the most often. And honestly, I know that. Honestly, that is why I write. I try to get it out of my head, hoping that it won’t take over my being. Hoping that if I write it, I will work it out. Hoping that sharing, I will find someone, somewhere who will just make me feel heard, and help me not judge myself.
  20. You Should Have Married That Guy
    • Of course there are people from my past that I think about, well what if we dated or I just stayed in the relationship. In my head, it might seem like a bad idea that we ever broke up. But every time I have thought this and then seen the guy again, I am reminded why it would never have worked out. I did make the right choice. I did not settle just to have a man by my side. My intuition is not totally off.
  21. You Don’t Really Want a Relationship
    • Because obviously relationships are a goal, and if you do x and y, then z will follow….haha. I do want a relationship, but relationships have two people. I need to find someone who wants to be in a relationship with ME, and the real me, not some fake me that I put out thinking that I will attract more people that way.
  22. You Need Practice
    • Dating is not what allows you to learn how to live with the person – living with the person does. Or living with roommates does. I know what it means to share a living space. And split the bills. And be considerate to others. And handle rejection. And hold myself when I have a bad day. Ok, so maybe I need to get used to having someone there all the time. Or get used to touch and touching. Or living with a man. But all the basics, that I know how to do pretty well.
  23. You’re Too Old
    • Well, yes, if you say one can marry old. Will my age effect the way I can receive and give love? I really hope not. Will age effect my ability to have children? Quite possibly. And yes, I do think about it. But I can’t really imagine having a child alone and I don’t have the money to freeze my eggs. And so it is just something that I am going to have to deal with. That there is a reality that I might never have children. But I don’t think that marriage is just about baby making.
  24. You Don’t Know Love
    • Yup, those who were closer to marriage (or even married before) know love more than me. They had the thing that is at the end of the tunnel, and so if someone was able to love them once then they should be able to find love again. It is a proven fact. The love that I might show (and receive) to my friends, my family, my coworkers, somehow that is fake.
  25. You Suck
    • It is really easy to be angry and mean to others when you are angry and sad and jealous. The mean things just come out so easily, because maybe if they feel bad I won’t feel as bad. But usually that is wrong. I know usually for myself, I just feel guilty after (yay more negative emotions). It isn’t easy to show love to everyone at all times. But I agree with Sara, that we should try – it will make the world a much better place.
  26. You Need to Figure out “Why”
    • “No one ever asks ‘Why are you married?’ even though the question is just as valid as ‘Why are you single?’ After all, people marry for many reasons other than pure love – fear of being alone, a desire for biological children, economic security, social status, health insurance.” (pg. 158)
    • I hate this question. I usually answer in a joking way, just to make it light. But really I want to say, I HAVE NO IDEA, F#($ You! DON’T YOU THINK IF I KNEW THEN I’D DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. But instead, I smile and joke…
  27. You’ll Spend the Rest of Your Life Alone
    • And that is my greatest fear.
    • “One of the most challenging things about being a single childless adult is that time seems more fluid and undelineated – months, years, and even decades can bleed into one another. There is less a sense of a road with distinct mileage markers – it’s more wide-open field. In this untethered state, it’s easy to feel as if you might float away if you don’t at least get some two-hundred-dollar frying pans in the cupboard.” (pg. 165)
    • This is also the most true chapter. I need to just live my life for right now. There might not be a time that I am married. If I want professional success I need to do that. If I want to live somewhere I need to go do that too. I don’t (and never have wanted) to just sit around waiting, putting my life on hold, for something that might or might not happen. It doesn’t make me happy to be single. It doesn’t make me feel less sad, hurt, or alone. But at the least, there are parts of my life that do bring me great joy. I know that I have accomplished quite a bit, and I am proud of those accomplishments. And I hope to be able to continue to accomplish and to grow (and to find a partner).
Posted in Life

When Community Makes You Feel Lonely

I am (thank God) a healthy 32 year old. I am able to walk out of my house. I am able to go to shul. I am able to cook. I am able to travel. I have a job. I have a place to live. I am living in a city with lots of young Jewish people.

Yet, I feel so separate from the community right now. For Purim this year, I did not receive any mishloach manot. I was not invited to any seduot, and was thankful to my colleague who was also in work and we decided to have a nice lunch together. Going to shul on Shabbat hurts my heart. I know that I will go, and there won’t be people to talk to.

The hardest part right now is actually that I don’t feel like I can share this with other people. I feel like when I do, people get defensive. They tell me that I am just sad and I need to do something to change that. They tell me about all of these things that are apparently going on, but there was no way for me to know about it. And when I find out about them, there is a part of me that wants to go, and there is a part of me that is terrified about going, because I am afraid that once again, I will be in a place and no one will talk to me – why should this experience be any difference than anything else.

It is a horrible double edge sword. I feel sad and lonely because I don’t feel like I have a place or that anyone wants to be with me or that I don’t belong…but then I am probably perceived as sad and lonely, so why would anyone want to have me with them. So then what is there to do?

There is something beautiful about how the Jewish holidays are so community centered. In my opinion there is nothing like walking into a place of worship and feeling part of what is going on. Or sitting around a Shabbat table, just being.

I track my year by the Jewish holidays. Every month or so, knowing what I will be celebrating or commemorating. And almost all our holidays call people together. For prayer. For food. For dancing. For just being with one another.

Lately, I have been thinking about what happens when one does not have a community. What does it mean to have to celebrate Purim, but one can’t think of anyone to give mishloach manot to? I know it’s not a mitzvah to receive mishloach manot, but how much does it hurt when one doesn’t receive any? Or that they don’t have anyone to invite (or have anyone that will invite them) to a seuda?

What does Shabbat look like, when you don’t have people to have Shabbat meals with? Is it really then supposed to be 25 hours of social isolation?

Or Peasach seder, what about all the people out there that don’t have family or friends or who are home bound? The thought of doing a seder alone, just breaks my heart…

Judaism is about being with the community, and there are so many people that aren’t there and are sitting alone. They might be home bound because they are ill or elderly. They might be stuck in the middle of nowhere because of work or a family obligation. They might just not be able to find their place, because the community that is around them, doesn’t work or isn’t welcoming or doesn’t think about it.

I don’t know what the answer is right now, but I do know that something needs to be done.





Posted in Life


Happy Post Purim!

Well this was a week. If Purim is supposed to be nehafoch hu…well, it certainly has my head spinning…

Tuesday really shook me (here is a letter to my teacher about my feelings from the day if you want to catch up). It made me question, well, everything (meaning my place/belonging in the Orthodox community and the Jewish community at large) I don’t have any answers, all I do know is that I had to move on.

Wednesday, I went to work. Honestly, I was still in a daze, and not really sure what to do, other than I had a job to do, and that was something that could be done. My supervisor responded which brought even more tears to my eyes. And the other supervisor wrote me a beautiful email. I was both touched and embarrassed, but mostly it felt nice to know that there were people there for me in this really crazy time, that I am apparently going through.

Well, Wednesday night was Purim! I was both looking forward to it and dreading it. But I have been trying to find the positive side of things. Being too angry or sad has become too much, and it is not worth that energy right now. I didn’t really know where to go to shul, and some friends told me about this minyan happening – and it was a minyan that I have liked the other times I have gone, so I figured I would go there. But then an hour before going, my friends were all changing their minds or didn’t sign up so they weren’t going. I was going to be left to my own devices. So I went.

I felt so alone. I missed my community so much. I missed having a davening that had people of all ages and martial statuses. I have never been to a megilla reading with over 200 people that had NO children.  I was again standing in a sea of people feeling like I didn’t belong or have anyone to talk to. Maybe I was more sensitive to it than usual because of everything that happened on Tuesday, but it was so blatant. I was trying to find air to breath – and so I left.

I left to go to a party with my old school. Now this was also a very big deal for me, as I have no been part of anything with them for 6 months. No one has checked in with me. No one has asked how my job is going. The administration doesn’t even get where I working correct. But my friend G convinced me to attend. If Tuesday wasn’t a shock enough, after talking about how I feel on the outside of my community and school, on Wednesday morning I had a personal email from the Rosh Yeshiva inviting me to the party – but this is the second email I have received from him (the first was to see if I was free to pack boxes). But I went.

I was scared. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have both a longing and anger towards the school, which is a very mixed feeling. I got to the door of the party and heard beautiful singing. I stopped, willing myself not to cry and tried to slow my breath. I was scared to walk in by myself. I was scared of what I would see. I was scared that I would both be welcomed with open arms and that I would be shunned. My friend was supposed to text me when she was on her way over, so that we could go together, and of course she didn’t – so I had to brave the entrance alone. I walked in, and they started singing and were surprised I showed up (they sang for everyone who walked in). It was mostly nice. It was good to be back in the world of making fun of Torah and just living, without explaining. But it was also hurtful. The jokes were too close to home – dealing with the OU or the place of women or the shock of finding out that people want to know if someone is going to “fool around” before marriage and that goes on a shidduch resume.

It felt weird to be told by people that they were wondering what I was doing and how I was doing or that they wanted to hang out. I played nice, but what I wanted to say was, well, why the hell haven’t you emailed, called, send a message via facebook – I don’t know.

So I had a step back in that world. Part of me feels even more separate, but I am trying to hold on (maybe that is also wrong). So I joined a group picture…I participated in the group costume (well, actually I came up with the idea)…I will start getting the newsletter. I am not sure if this is going to be good for me or not, but again at least I am trying.

Thursday I went to work. I was planning on this because I didn’t really have any other plans (honestly, I was not invited to a single seuda and I didn’t even get any mishloach manot this year- although one person says he has for me). And I am so happy that I did.

I actually had a really great Purim. I was happy and I had fun. I wore my Wonder Woman t-shirt with a blazer (y’know so it is business appropriate), and did my normal job. I just felt great. It was fun to talk to people all day, people wanting to know why I was dressed up or people who I had no clue were Jewish wishing me a happy Purim. The hospital I’m in, is on the East Side, it is known for being serious and somber, and it was just a lot of fun to let loose a bit – and honestly, everyone I interacted with, seemed to love it. I had seuda with the rabbi – we ordered food, she made sure to buy Purim plates and we ate together. It was really everything I wanted from Purim: to be happy, to make others happy, to connect with people, and to not feel like I don’t belong – and I really got that all.

Again (this is from Tuesday’s class), it is strange, beautiful and hurtful that the place I find myself feeling the most comfortable , loved, supported, and belonging is someplace outside my community….

Here is what I posted on Facebook:

Sometimes a really small change, makes everything seem completely different – which changes how we feel, what we see, and even how and who we interact with. Today, I went to the hospital as usual. What wasn’t usual is that I went dressed as Wonder Woman (don’t worry, it was work appropriate, I made sure to wear a blazer ). I walked around as if I was dressed normally, doing my regular chaplain stuff. Apparently word spread in the hospital, as I went to a floor and one of the staff members came over to me, and told me that she heard that a chaplain was walking around dressed as wonder woman.
I got home much later than usual today and am pretty exhausted, but I am happy. I had a really great day. I helped to hand out mishloach manot to every room in the children’s units. I read megilla with a patient on the psychiatric unit. I went around with our megilla reading volunteers to some of the patients who were unable to leave their room. I had a delicious seuda with another one of the rabbis. And really, just by walking around I was able to make people smile, laugh, become a bit curious and look around where they are, and start talking to people (both strangers and loved ones). May we all be able to find curiosity in the small changes we notice, and may those continue to bring us connectivity and joy.
Happy Purim!!! 😁🤡🎉


Posted in CPE

Disorientation: A Letter to My Supervisor

My head was still spinning on the train ride. The conclusion of class, is not something that I haven’t thought of before – but it was the first time it was said in serious manner. For months now, I have been joking about needing to leave the Orthodox community (and also the Jewish community), because usually that is where I have found a place for myself. It has been the place that I found people I like and are friendly. It is a place that I have felt the most respected and pushed to grow. It is a place that I don’t need to dumb myself down. But to have this as a serious conversation, and maybe make it into a reality is terrifying. 

There are huge repercussions if I really do act on it. Like if I start going to any  egal place (although I am not really sure that is where I belong either), I could lose my smicha.  If I marry someone not Jewish I will lose my family and my smicha.(Not that this will happen, but what if it did…) I don’t even really know what it would look like to not be connected in some way to the Orthodox world – I have always had at least a foot in the door (or usually it was just a foot).

The answer can’t be to leave…. Because where I am leaving to? (Which then goes back to being alone and without community or belonging- although I guess I would belong to the group that has left) Or has all my pushing and fighting been for nothing? Who would I be without that connection?

I know that I have taken myself out of certain things – like if I really wanted to be teaching I would be…but I haven’t really had a desire to push for that. I have been enjoying the just being, for a change. Over Limmud I saw a former teacher (who is also an Orthodox Rabba and now friendish) of mine, and I told her that I am not really part of the Jewish community anymore, and she was shocked and sad, and asked what she can do to help me – and I told her honestly, I don’t know, nor am I sure that I want in. She said that it was sad to lose my Torah… Sha asked me also where I go to shul, and was surprised that I go to the JC instead of DN. I don’t really like DN because it is very shticky and has lots of singing, but just last Shabbat I was thinking while in shul that maybe I don’t go there because that is the world that I feel like I don’t belong in, even though I feel like I should. At least when I am in the JC, I know that they don’t accept what I do, but I can just be (I am thinking about this now, because L said something about constant rejection – if I am in a place I know won’t accept me, then there is no rejection possibilities).

Is the reason that I haven’t found my place because I am always in the wrong place? In some ways that really doesn’t make sense, and in others, I guess the Jewish communities that I have felt the most connected to, were also the misfit communities or the communities off the beaten path.I guess, I for once want to be on the path…but maybe that path was never meant to be with the Jewish community (that feels very strange to write that).

I do think that there is a bit of the island of misfits as chaplains, I agree with that. Having spoken to many of the chaplains, I know that most of us are inside/outside of community. D spoke about it today too, that because of J, he was willing/able to push himself to go outside his community and follow his heart. And I know that most of the chaplains (at least in the hospital) have a partner of sorts – and I know this from rabbinical school, there is something drastically different of being “outside”, when there is someone that makes you feel part of something or is pushing you or could be there for you when it feel like no one else is(it is also a criticism I have for a lot of the “inspirational” books I was reading – even Brene Brown wrote about going and being “alone” and on the “outside”, but what gave her strength is that she had her husband at home). And I think that there is something scarier to be a misfit and join the outsiders, while alone – because (at least for me) there is a fear that I am too much of a misfit or my choices make me too much of a misfit, and that is what makes me be alone. [Although, I am not really sure if there is anything to do about this..]

I think I am more disoriented and unsure now than I was before we started (definitely before I shared). I did not think that this is where the conversation was going to go today, honestly I thought it would be more about me sharing in group.

So now what? (Both practically – what are my goals now? But I guess also existentially…)

Happy Purim (yes, I guess disorientation is a form of v’nehafoch hu…not really liking it so much).

Posted in Life

Torah-Teaching-Loneliness-Community: Some Disjointed Thoughts about the Past Two Weeks

Last week was a big week, but I was just too tired to really think about it. And I have other thoughts since then too…one’s that I am not 100% sure what to do with yet. There is something that has been stopping me – I don’t really have the energy to share. I don’t want to allow myself to go into my emotions (I am realizing this in process group and in supervision…)…

Anyways- last week I went to Limmud NY. It was mostly really good. It was different than the other Limmud’s I’ve gone to. Everyone knew each other, I knew most of the teachers, I knew a lot of the participants and the organizations represented.

It was the first time since August that I went to a Jewish event. I haven’t seen many of these people in months. I haven’t gone to classes or events that had to do with Jewish learning. So there was a bit of me that felt weird. It is not only that I didn’t reach out to them, but no one has reached out to me. Even at Limmud, I saw an administrator from my school, and she didn’t even try to see me to say more than hello.

I had interesting conversations with people. People expected that I would be teaching, and I had mixed responses to the fact that I wasn’t teaching. Some were confused as to why I wasn’t a teacher, and told me that it is important to share my Torah. But some thought that it was a good thing that I was taking a “break” from teaching. I didn’t really know how to respond to people. There was a part of me that just agreed with people, that the break has been good. There was a part of me that questioned if I really was just doing too much, and that is why people were happy for me. There was a part that wanted to answer in anger, that yes, I am outside of the community and no one reaches out, and I am really miserable. There was something also really nice about being told that people miss my Torah and my teaching, which made me think about ways to start trying to share again.

On Shabbat I did give a dvar Torah (I shared it here). People really liked it, it spoke to them, and they came over to tell me.

One of the questions that most shocked me, was when two women asked me to talk to them about spontaneous prayer. It is something that I do in my job as a chaplain, and it is not really something we are taught to do as Orthodox Jews. It is kinda out of what we do. We pray with words that are organized for us, in a very specific order. There are Psalms that can be said in times of distress. Every so often a prayer is written – but it is for everyone, and then everyone follows that. We don’t sit and hear what is going on, and then create a prayer — even though I do feel like prayer is just speaking to God. But I realized that yes I do know how to create prayer for someone. That I am willing to allow someone to see me as “closer to God”, which is why they want me to speak and not them. I am willing to put together words, and perhaps my words are not bad, they are the right words for that time, even if they are simple. I also realized that I do pray a lot – that while I am walking in the hospital, I pray to God that I should know what to do and how to do it well. Or that I find myself singing throughout my work at the hospital. There are specific songs that get stuck in my head, but not just stuck, they need to leave my head- and maybe that too is prayer. They are all praises of God.

My supervisor and I have been speaking about loneliness, and how I feel shame with my loneliness. He asks me what would loneliness look like if I did not also feel shame with it. I had a number of conversations about loneliness with people over that weekend, and people who were really experiencing it and also I didn’t feel ashamed by it. I think that if I can find a way to speak about it and share with others, it can actually be a place of connectivity rather than shame. It is one thing to have a one-on-one conversation, but I think that what I want to do, although it terrifies me, is to hold a class or write an article (actually with my name). I do think that it is an important conversation, but I also don’t want to be known as the lonely one or the single one (also why I don’t write publicly with my name about being single). But I think that in order to create change, I need to allow myself to be vulnerable – and know that it won’t probably hurt me too much.

This past Shabbat I was in shul and had a few thoughts. One was, are there Christian services just for singles? And if there are not, why is it that around the world we have Jewish services for singles? Why is it that both the community at large and those who are single don’t want to join one another? What does it say about being single and Jewish? I do really want to think about this more – and maybe with it do something, just not sure what.

Also this Shabbat, the rabbi spoke about community and how we need to notice the people on the outside, but also a call to those who feel like they are on the outside to volunteer and get involved. I think that was a valiant effort – I do agree with him, even though it is scary. But it really did speak to me, I do know that I need to get involved if I want to be part.

Ok, I think this is enough rambling for now. Maybe that is it – I have too much going on and to think about. I still need to deal with what is happening next. I still have to deal with right now. I need to renew a passport and call the bank. I also should try to go to the dentist… Oh and it’s Purim this week.

So here is to Purim. May hidden things come out of hiding and provide more clarity.




Posted in D'var Torah

Positive Emotions Make Us More Exploratory

The other week, I was reading “The Blue Zone of Happiness” by Dan Buettner.  I came across this paragraph, and was like “WOW – That’s what Adar is!”

“Positive emotions make us more exploratory,” Fredrickson said. They’ve also been shown to make us more creative, more open to new relationships, more sympathetic to people from other cultures, and more flexible in solving problems, such as making management decisions, diagnosing medical conditions, or conducting negotiations. People who experience happy emotions – even ones as fleeting as imaging a joyful memory or receiving a small kindness – tend to be more optimistic, resilient, accepting, and purpose-driven, as super-dose of happiness resilience when practiced over time. In one study, subjects who completed a three-month course in which they meditated about 90 minutes a week later described life as measurably more satisfying and fulfilling, she said. (pg. 224)

Adar is a weird month, it is the month we are told to be happy and increase our joy. As we all know that is really not easy to do, and really, what is the point. But here he says that it is through experiencing positive emotions we are able to explore, we are able to be creative, we are able to learn and grow.

Oh how true it is. I know that when I am really sad or angry, I just sink into myself. It become so much harder to push myself to try new things, to talk to people, to think outside the box – it’s almost like a jar of cement is falling on me, and I’m kinda ok with that happening. But if I am even in a small positive mood, I’m ok to go somewhere where I don’t know anyone, or I will have the patients to deal with people, or I will have a drive to think and believe that things don’t need to be the way they always were.

So what does that have to do with Adar? Well, Adar comes right before Nissan – the month of spring, or renewal, of our Exodus. We need to be prepared to get to that place. If we are unable to explore or be creative, how would we ever even dream of leaving Egypt? How could we fathom that flowers could bloom again? It wouldn’t come to our mind that we have changed over the winter, and we still have the ability to change as the spring and summer start to come to us.

So here is to increasing our joy in Adar, so that we should be able to explore, create and join with other, so the rest of the year can be filled with growth, renewal, and strength.


Posted in Life

What is My Subconscious Trying to Tell Me

The strange and intense dreams of the week:

Sunday: So honestly I don’t remember them…but I do remember waking up every other hour and being confused that it was still night time. Although, I did wake up refreshed.

Monday: There were two parts that stood out to me. One was that this person called me very early in the morning. She is someone who speaks to me often, but only when she is in distress, and I have tried to distance myself from her, because I don’t feel like I have the capacity to hold her, and it is a VERY one sided relationship. Anyways, in my dream she calls me and I answer the phone, but my voice is all scratchy because it is first thing in the morning. She notices that, and does ask if everything is ok, but as soon as I say that it is just really early in the morning, she starts talking about something. Now the really strange part of this part of the dream, is that as soon as my alarm went off, a chat bubble appeared on my phone from her…. But part two of my dream was more intense. Part two was that I went with some people on a trip, and to get to some boat we needed to take some drug, and then go through something and we would get to the boat. So we got onto the boat, and things were good. It was pretty. But soon we had to leave the boat. But the way that would happen, is one person would take this drug, we would go parasailing, and the drugged person would jump. It was a debate of who would be the person to jump first. I really didn’t want to, I was terrified. But somehow, it was decided that I had to be the one to do it. And so I started to prepare: I took off my glasses, and packed a bag, and was getting ready to do this thing. I was slightly waking up, but I wanted to be able to jump – it was clear that I needed to jump. So I got up there, and as I was about to jump, I woke up. As I woke up the only thought in my head was “I need to take a giant jump for something…but what?”

Tuesday: I was at some camp for Shabbat, and there was a lecture going on. I was listening in the back, but he was being offensive to women, and the guys around me were making fun. They also were asking if I was dating this person there. This woman walks in, she is a hippy type, and wants to know where to sit, so I show her a seat in the front. I decide to go to a room, where they ask me to bring the saplings (in the dream I knew what type it was) to the green house area, where we would be planting them in the ground. I got there and a guy walked in and asked if I knew what I was doing, because he has done this lots before. But he asks me, can we use tools or do we have to use our fingers because it is Shabbat. I said that we need to use our fingers. He shows me a wrinkled blooming sapling and talks about how delicate they are. We go to start planting them, and I start to  dig with my fingers. I start to feel weird, because it is actually prohibited to pant on Shabbat, but I want to stay. The blond hippy woman comes though, and I decide to leave. When I leave that tent lots of people are looking at me as if I did something wrong. I walk though and see a friend sitting with a friend, and one gets up as I get there, but the other is there with her dog, which is fluffy and brown, and wearing a track suit. I pet the dog…and then wake up.

Also at some point in my sleep, I am trying to figure out where to take my friends to megillah reading, and am like “Oh duh, Yedidya, why did I reply that I can’t go to that, that is stupid”…but then I remembered that is in Israel, and I am in New York, and so it is not an option…but it made me sad.

Also at some point, I was siting with my friend Bracha, and we were talking about the difficulties of our work and being respected. And we sat there crying with one another, trying to give each other strength, and recognizing how much this is breaking us as people. I told her that I don’t feel connected, but for me to reach out and that others don’t reach out to me.

Wednesday: This one I woke up a bit fuzzy and not remembering all of the details. I do remember my CPE group being there – but they were starting a cafe based on sex. I was helping to come up with foods. But they wanted to use some foods that for some reason are illegal, and we were discussing how to hide what we were doing so we don’t get arrested, but are still able to have the cafe, as it would be really special.

Thursday: Once again I was bouncing around to different places, and there were lots of weird people in it – like there was the guy and his wife and kid, but it is not someone I speak to at all, I’m Facebook friends with him, that is my relationship. Anyways, I was in a hospital, trying to help them raise money for some special fancy bed – which we did receive. And the creators came to present the bed – it was special for pediatrics, and had special lights. While this was going on, I was also walking about and visiting people. I saw this guy that I knew, whose son was sick in the hospital, and he was telling me how hard it is for them to be there. I told him that I would be back later to check in on him and his wife, and son (who had a fever). The hospital was not in the US, although I am not sure what country it was in. I was able to speak though, but I don’t think that I was speaking in Hebrew.

There was also a part where I went to visit someone, but then realized that it was a bad choice because there were no job opportunities. More than that I don’t remember.

So- any ideas?