Posted in Lost, Overwhelmed

Being Back (Part 3)

Only three days left before I head back to New York.

Yesterday I took a mini day off. I was exhausted. For two weeks I was seeing people all day everyday. It was coffee then a meal, then coffee, another meal, coffee or ice cream…and then it would already be 10pm. I was so excited to see everyone, but seeing that many people crammed into that amount of time is exhausting, I think mostly because I am not happy where I am. It is one thing to hear everyone else’s life from the past year- that was actually interesting. But for me to go over and over again it was really hard.

Not everyone heard every detail. But some questions were always the same. When do you finish? What is next? How do you like New York? Will you be able to find work in Israel? What title do you want? Can’t you just work in a Conservative shul? What if you just did something else? Couldn’t you do chaplaincy in a different city? What will do you after?

I find that when I am overwhelmed I just pull away. I get frustrated that my feelings are sometimes put down. That when I say I feel alone (both in New York and in my life’s work) or that I want to be in a relationship, that the response is “well, you can feel lonely in a relationship too” or “being in a relationship isn’t everything” or “why don’t you go out to events more” or “why didn’t you reach out to me to reach out to my friends”. I know there is nothing real than anyone can do. I am very thankful to my friends who on the spot sent Facebook messages to their friends, and now I just have to reach out when I get back. By asking me over and over why I didn’t reach out, how many times can I say, it’s been a really hard three months and I didn’t have the mental capacity to think about who to reach out to; or that I’m tired and sad and not in a place to meet new people; or that meeting new people and having to try and fit in is exhausting (and in addition to that I am in school, figuring out a new city/country, applying for jobs/figuring out what is happening next in my life).

So I find it easier to just pull away and go into my head (or I guess share here). That way I can still be polite and not get angry. That way I won’t start crying in front of them because then they will just pity me, and that is not what I am looking for. That way I can be quiet and they can continue thinking whatever they want because there will be no obligation of actually listening.

So all I wanted was a beach day. I both wanted to go completely alone, but also know that would be bad for me (I am aware that lots of alone time is actually bad for me, even if it is what I want). And so I saw friends when I got in, which was nice, until I was ready to go to the beach and they were really slow. And then I was meeting another friend who I said could join me, but only if he let me relax and didn’t talk too much (he has a tendency of talking a lot and very loudly). For the most part he was ok. It was useful to have another person, that way I could go into the water or to the bathroom without worrying about my stuff.

And then I met up with A (yes, my ex). I reached out the other day because too many people asked me about him, and I figured I have 4 days, if I see him great and if not, also great. It just so happened that he was in Tel Aviv, so we agreed to meet and sit and watch the sun set together. I have to say that the hour I had alone was the best part of the day. Just sitting watching the sun and the water, not worrying about being mean that I left for too long. And then he arrived. The last time I was in TLV at the beach it was with him, last Pesach. And here we were sitting together watching the sun set. It really wasn’t romantic though. There was a lot of space between us, as there should be. I think I was pining more for him before I saw him. But sitting with him, I knew that it would not have gone farther than it did. Part of me is still hurt, as he is dating a woman in New York, and he talks about how our relationship was good because it had an end date (I guess it did in his head…) But I realized how little he listened to me (or maybe it’s because of who we are now). That even though we sat on the bus back to Jerusalem together, we barely talked, and if we did it was about him. That when we were going to the bus he didn’t trust I knew where it was. Or didn’t wait for me when I was giving someone instructions. There is still a part of me that misses him (I guess the physical part), but mostly I am over him.

Today I am back to meeting people. I have a meeting with a chaplaincy organization in Israel to find out if it is possible to do anything here. When I spoke to one person she basically said I would be greatly qualified, but there are no jobs. Maybe meeting with someone else about roles of female rabbis here. Going to Pardes, my home away from home (or at least it was) but there will be lots of catching up to do. And then it is just getting ready to leave and go back to my real life.

Shabbat I decided I don’t want to spend with lots of people. I don’t have the energy for it. I am a bit upset with myself that I did not get the keys from my friend and go spend Shabbat in Tel Aviv- although if I did that I really would be alone, and at least here, even in the small meals I will be around people who do love and care for me.

So here’s to the last few days, I hope it will be fun and relaxing and that I start to feel more whole with what I will be doing next.

Posted in Life, Lost, Overwhelmed

Trying to Climb Out

Once again it has been an intense week. So much has happened and I have too many thoughts and feelings.

I really have been feeling lonely. I miss my friends and my support system. I want to be able to do things with other people. A few weeks ago, someone asked me why I haven’t started organizations or been as outgoing as I have in the past. At the time I didn’t have an answer, and then I thought it was that I was just not sure where to start. I realized early this week that it is because of not knowing what is next.

There is a lot of talk about the exhaustion and difficulty of making friends, but we don’t talk so often about the exhaustion and difficulty of saying goodbye to friends. Both sides take a lot of energy, which I do not feel like I have right now. And because there is a good chance that I will be moving once again in June, I don’t really want to put in the investment in making friends because once again I will have to say goodbye, feel hurt, and start all over. Part of me wants to know what is next, or at least accept the fact that I might not be going back to where I want to go.

Last year when I went to therapy, I spoke about enjoying being known by strangers. I realize that I don’t have that here either. I walk the streets, take the subway, take the bus – and everyone is a stranger. No one is going to say good morning to me. In many ways I feel invisible. That no one will notice if I am missing or that my existence doesn’t really mean much. I miss speaking to people on the street. I miss being noticed. I miss feeling part of a greater world than my small bubble.

This is not to say that I didn’t feel loneliness in Israel – I did, but it didn’t feel the same. This feels much deeper, where really I am unsure of how to change it. I don’t really know where to find friends or how to start a community. I also am so unsure of what I want…

And then there is the really big news that I got today. I got into the CPE residency that I applied for. When I read the email acceptance my body went numb and all I wanted to do was cry – I think that is what shock is.

On the one hand it is great. It means that I really am finishing school and will have a job. It is a really well respected program and difficult to get into. I think that I am good at being a chaplain. I think that the skills I will learn will serve me well, no matter if I work in a shul, hospital or nursing home. It means that I have a job for at least a year. It means that I won’t have to move to a new city and start over, again. It means that I will not have to prove the legitamcy to my existance . I don’t need to worry about what the RCA, the OU, the Rabbanut or any other body says, because all the hospital cares about is if I can do the work.

On the other hand I’m really sad and terrified. It means that I really am finishing school and will have a job. It means that I am still far from my dream of becoming a pulpit rabbi. It might mean that I am giving up some of the fight for female clergy, as I will be taking the “easy” way out. It means that the past 7 years of studying halacha are for nothing, because my role is to provide pastoral care, not rabbinic knowledge. It means that I will be in New York for another year. It means that I really will not be moving to Israel.

And then on top of that, Friday would be my 7th Aliyahversary. It would be 7 years since I moved to Israel. Talking about Israel and moving to Israel are things that are constantly spoken about and celebrated. Making aliyah was so much part of my identity. But here I am, back in the US. I now am part of conversations talking about dreaming about living in Israel – I had it and gave it up. I was praised and had a party when I moved to Israel, it was something I constantly spoke about – and I did it, but now I am back. In Israel there is a lot of talk about those who move, and then move back to their home country because they couldn’t make it – and now that is me, even though I was feeling settled. I moved and made it my home, and then I had to leave. Normally, I would be celebrating on Friday…but this year, the date hurts. It feels like a reminder of what I had, but also a reminder of failure.

I need something to happen to make things make sense and bring me out of this dark and confusing space.

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

No Hate, No Fear, Everyone is Welcome Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

Keep it In

Keep your feelings in because they will hurt others.

We are just trying to help you. We are doing things to make it easier for you. You don’t appreciate anything.

Others can feel. Others have good ideas. Others can make stupid suggestions that are the core of the pain.

Just sit there and accept them with a smile. It doesn’t matter if you feel lonely or suffocated or that you have no power. You just need to accept that everyone else knows what to do.

If you tell us how you are feeling you are going to make us upset. We are only trying.

You are selfish and care about no one else but yourself. You are not showing respect. You are talking down. You are treating us like shit.

I don’t want to hear you complain. You have everything. We are giving you a place to sleep and food to eat. We are giving you rides to wherever you want to go and whenever you want to go. You are coming to US to ask for advice.  We just ask how your day was and details to make conversation – we aren’t prying.

You should be thankful. You shouldn’t be upset. You shouldn’t feel claustrophobic. You shouldn’t feel dependent. You shouldn’t feel like you lost your autonomy. You shouldn’t feel locked up and alone.

Don’t you dare say how you are feeling, you will just hurt everyone around you.

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

Apartment Hunting: What Should I Do?

I don’t know what to do. I am moving to NYC in two weeks (AHHHHH) and I need to find a place to live. I am torn between two apartments.

One is on the UWS. A place that I have friends. I liked much more when I visited. The roommates seems my speed/my age. The apartment is really nice and bedroom is a nice size. The lease if for exactly the time that I want. But the rent is EXPENSIVE.

One is in Washington Heights. It is MUCH cheaper. The bedroom is HUGE. The roommates seem decent. The apartment looks nice. But the lease doesn’t start till January (I get to the US at the end of November) and will go through September (I finish school in June). The roommate seemed really young. And the last time I lived in Washington Heights I HATED it. I found it really cold. I felt really old. I did not feel like I fit in.

Now, thinking about this all, I realize that I will not be in my apartment all that often. I will be in school most days of the week, and at least one weekend a month I will be away.

But then, I want to be happy where I am living. I have just spent 4 months, basically in isolation. I am usually very good at doing things for my professional life, but less so for my social life. But then there is the savings I will have if I chose to live in Washington Heights (the rent is about half of what it is in the UWS).

I need to figure this out- well, in about a day or two. But I really just don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

Posted in Decisions, Life, Lost, Overwhelmed

Power from the Outside #2

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
—Louisa May Alcott

“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”
—Susan B. Anthony

“For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.”
—Elizabeth Blackwell

(The first woman in the U.S. to become a physician)

“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one “less traveled by”—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
— Rachel Carson

“Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.”
Constance Baker Motley
(First Black Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge)

First of all, change is like a house: you can’t build it from the top down, only from the bottom up. Whatever small change we make will be like a pebble in a pond. It will reverberate outward, and also it will be fun… We’re meant to be active and contribute to the world. What’s the alternative? Just sitting there and wondering, “Oh, if I had just done this, maybe…” I’ve learned only one thing: no matter how hard it is to do it, it’s harder not to do it. Then you’re stuck with wondering, “What if I had said…? What if I had done…?”
–Gloria Steinem

We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat so that we can know who we are. So that we can see, “Oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away; I rose right where I’d been knocked down.” That’s how you get to know yourself.
–Maya Angelou



Posted in Decisions, Life, Lost, Overwhelmed, Women in Judaism

How to Choose

How do you know when to fight and how to do you know when to give up?

If I continue to do what I am doing, but somewhere else, have I given up or am I still fighting?

What does it mean to be an inspireation to someone– if I change am I no longer?

I am finding things that are proving to me that I am on the right path. I need to find things that show me where I need to be to get to the end…

How can I seem so strong to others when I feel so weak to myself…