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!!! 😁🤡🎉