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 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 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? 



Posted in Life

Shabbat: The Day of Stress

Over the past couple of weeks I have come to feel like Shabbat is not the day of rest, but rather the day of stress.

Only a few weeks ago the rabbi at shul spoke about how we need to not worry about who we are having Shabbat meals with, that we should just enjoy the day for what it is.

And today, my roommate got annoyed when I said that Shabbat stresses me out, telling me that it is just not what people do. People aren’t getting invited for meals. As we are getting older, there are just fewer meals going on, and I shouldn’t feel bad for myself or feel alone.

Well, I have to say that I do feel alone. Shabbat is a weekly reminder for me that I don’t have friends. It is a weekly reminder that I am single. It is a weekly reminder that I still feel like an outsider and that I am doing something wrong. It is a weekly pie in the face of stress, anger and shame.

I am tired of not getting invited anywhere. Of the places that I do get invited to are usually through one of my roommates taking pity on me, that once again I am alone and have no where to go. It is hurtful that a year in, I still don’t feel like I am part of a community.

I am tired of trying to find people to come eat at my table. I don’t mind hosting every week if I have to, but I want to have people come to my meals. The stress of the potential of no one willing to join me, hurts my heart. Or what might be worse is me doing all the cooking, all the guests are my roommates and they won’t talk to me. They will sit on the other side of the table and just ignore me.

I decided to stay in NYC because everyone told me that it was the “hub of young single Jewish life.” So how is it that no one is having Shabbat meals? When I was in Canberra, sitting alone was hard, but it was also expected. There were only two places that I could go to for a meal, that I know. But here, there are hundreds of Jews my age – both married and single. So how is it that I am alone?

How is it that I go to shul and still don’t feel like I have people to talk to? How is it that I can’t think of people to invite to my shabbos table even if I did cook every week? How is it that I still don’t have a close friend or two that will do Shabbat with me when we don’t have plans? How is it that I feel completely alone and then feel shame with my lonesomeness?

I wonder about this so-called phenomenon of people not really doing Shabbat meals as we get older. What is stopping us from getting together and having a meal? What is disconnecting us from doing this very basic weekly ritual? Is it because others too feel alone? Hurt? Shame? That Judaism no longer has a place for them? Are they too, just too tired to try and scramble together every week, to do the same thing, and just feel alone and sad? What are we doing wrong that is kicking us out of what the essence of Shabbat is?

I long for the days where I can once again feel oneg Shabbat- a shabbat where I am with people, where my home feels like Shabbat, where I end Shabbat feeling rested and happy.

Posted in Life

The Evil Eye

There might be an evil eye following me – or at least that is what I was told.

There is a chance that it actually didn’t come from me, but from something that someone has against one of my parents. Something I would have no clue what it is. As it was put, I am naive and going about my business – but it is there.

Maybe the bracha that was given to me will be enough to help me go against it. But maybe not.

For now, I was told, to just go about my business as usual. Do the things I normally do. But if that doesn’t work out, they will call, they will invite me for tea, and they will do a Tikkun, a fixing.

At the same time I was told to be open to things (ie. dates) in places I don’t expect them. It was hinted to me that maybe if I am visiting somewhere, and I meet someone, I should just go with it.

I was also told that God likes to listen to prayers. But they should be clear, and not in a screaming form. To write down my prayer. To talk to God.

I was told that I should not despair. I should not go down into the sadness. That there is still hope and that all is not lost.

I was told that I should allow myself to use my instinct as my compass. That if I do that, I will be going in the right direction. That my compass is good. That I am smart and kind, and I just need to be willing to listen to my instinct and follow it.

I was told that it is through happiness and through the “good spirit” that I should encounter the world.

At the end of this encounter, I tried to say “I’ll try”, but I was told no – you must say “I’ll do and I will succeed”. Amen v’amen.

Posted in Life

It’s a Start

So I’ve been kinda down over the past couple of weeks. A bit is because of dealing with difficult things at work, but a large bit is just feeling lonely. (Yes, I actually had a real conversation during supervision about everything).

So after just feeling bad about myself I did some stuff this weekend, and I feel a bit lighter:

  1. Read a book, “Loveable: Embracing What is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life” by Kelly Flanaegan (I will write more about that later)
  2. Signed up for TWO mixers this week. One is drinks run by the JCC and one is a cooking and dinner thing by Saw You at Sinai.
  3. I’ve decided that I want to do modern dance, and started looking around. It might be that I have to do something else, but I think that I will resign up for Classpass and just go out and try new things and new places.
  4. I tried to go to a dance performance last night, even though I had no one to go with, and it was a bit more than I wanted to spend (when I got there tickets were sold out – new lesson to actually start living by again: if I want to do something, do it, stop waiting around to see if there is something better). I should spend money on things I want, not only on singles events.

So here is to trying new things.

Shavuah Tov & almost Chodesh Tov!