Posted in Life, Uncategorized

When You are Angry Instead of Joyous

Yesterday was exactly one year since my ordination – which I really can’t believe that is true. Last night was this year’s ordination. I went to celebrate with this year’s class.

Looking back a year ago, ordination was this very exciting, happy, somewhat overwhelming day – but I felt really great. This year, I just felt angry and agitated, and I am not really sure why.

It might be because I received an email at 4:15 telling me that if I wanted to be in pictures, I needed to be there by 5:30. Or the email that I received as I jumped into a cab to try to maybe get there somewhat on time, that lining up was at 6:20, only to find out that it was really at 7:20, and that there was a dinner reception first. Maybe it was because I was just overtired and hungry coming off a 26 hour shift.

I did get to see a good friend of mine who happened to be in from Israel. I did speak to one of the alum, who actually made me feel good about what I am doing and where I can go with it. I did see the teachers that I actually did learn with and work with, and was happy to see and be with them.

But for the most part, it was like entering into a space that I have not really been in for a while. It was having to do the small talk, the talk about how great things are, the talk about how beautiful and wonderful this institution is. It was seeing the teachers say a “hello and how are you”, but really didn’t want to hear how I am doing. It was the knowing that there is an alumni day and was a meeting that day, that I couldn’t go to because I was at work, and I should not expect there to be a day for me to join in. There was seeing the director of the program I was part of in Israel, and him coming over to speak to me with that false disgusting smile, and I had to speak nicely.

But I sat there through the ceremony, and I really didn’t feel part of it. I didn’t feel part of the excitement or happiness. Many of the alumni come back every year, and speak about how this night gives them the extra juice to continue doing what they are doing – and I honestly couldn’t relate.

I did dance at the end. I thought that if I force myself to sing and dance then maybe I will receive some of the joy. It worked a bit – I was more joyful than when I arrived in a rush. But I didn’t feel like I was floating after (as I did definitely last year, but also the previous year). I didn’t feel excited for the Jewish people. I didn’t feel like I had just left a very joyous occasion.


Posted in D'var Torah, Uncategorized


I had a very weird experience this Shabbat- while listening to the Torah and Haftorah reading, all I wanted to do was cry.

I have read Vayera many times. It is the one with Sedom getting destroyed and Lot’s daughters sleeping with him; it’s the one where Sarah get’s pregnant and has Yitzchak;  it’s the one where Hagar gets sent out this time for real because Yishmael was “playing” with Yitzchak; It’s where Avraham tells Sara to be his sister, yet again, and of course they get caught and there is confusion and anger; it is the one where Abraham both prays to not destroy Sedom and goes down the numbers; it is the one where Abraham and Yitzchak go for a “walk” and where he ties up his own son to give over to God.

So it’s pretty famous. Parts are read on Rosh Hashana. It is one of the parshiot that has all the “good” stories for when you are teaching. But this year I just sat in shul with tears forming in my eyes.

I tried to figure out why, and really I don’t even have a good answer.

I do think that it is a parsha where there are a lot of female characters and they are trying to have power, but it always seems weird. Like Lot’s daughters think that the world has ended, so they decide to get their father drunk and then sleep with him to repopulate the world. So yes, in some ways they are the ones in control – it is their decision, not their father’s to try to repopulate; they come up with a plan; for all they know they are actually the only humans left on earth, and so they will be the mothers of the new world. But then again – the world they knew was utterly destroyed; they almost were sent out to an angry mob to calm the mob down, but allowing an entire community to just rape them; and here they are and the “only” option they can think of is to have sex with their father!!

Or we can go with Sara. She finally has a child. After the years of being infertile and all the stress that means, especially is such a society, so conceives and then gives birth. She also is still married to what seems like a very important person, that still is hanging out with the greatest leaders of the time, and she gets to tag along. But what happens – well, her maidservant’s child (who she thought would be a good idea to try and repopulate their family) is doing weird things with her son that she just had – her choices are to either send that woman and boy away or to watch her son be hurt, so she has to then throw them out. Yes, there is power in that- Avraham is told to listen to everything she says. By throwing them out, she is now the woman in control of the household and her son is the only son to think about, there is no in person competition. But it will make a scene, she is throwing someone into the desert, there is no way to know if they can or will survive. And she has to throw them out because there is abuse going on in her household!

And then there is the time that she is going along with Avraham, and once again says yes to go along with his plan to “be his sister” when they go to Canaan. Ok, so maybe it would save him – but they did this plan already and it did not go the way they wanted it to. And why would it be better, to once again be brought to the kings palace and try to push off his seductions – really, because what I have learned is if you say no to the king, it’s basically off with your head. So better her head than her husband?

And then there is Avraham. He seems like he is fighting for the good of the people. He doesn’t think that a nation should just be destroyed. He believes that there MUST be some good, there can’t be complete evil in the world. Well, he learns the hard way that there were not even 10 good and decent people in Sedom (what does that say about our world today?!) and so he had to watch a nation get destroyed. In some ways he prayers failed, all of his fighting and thinking were just pushed away and thought of as nothing.

And then there is the end of the Parsha, where he is asked to go and sacrifice his son. The one that he was praying for and begging for, he now has to be the hand that will kill him. Again it seems like God is taking away the gifts that He has given, but Avraham must be a witness to the loss and destruction. It seems clear that Avraham didn’t kill Yitzchak (ok, maybe he did but then Yitzchak was revived), but he still lost him. Yitzchak goes away. They have no more conversations. They have no more in person interactions. So he might have not killed his person, but he did kill his relationship.

And then the Haftorah, was a woman who had no children – Elisha performed a miricle and she had oil (so she could then sell it for money) and she conceived. But soon after the son was born, he fell sick and died, and so she calls out to Elisha to help her once again. He is able to bring him back from the dead, but there was still that bit where her life was given and then taken away. She had to go through that craziness twice.

I am not sure what my actual conclusion is – but I do know that this Parsha made me think a lot about loss. Loss of blessings, loss of power, loss of independence, loss of control, loss of connection…

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

I Am NOT Ready

Rosh Hashana starts in about 2.5 hours, and I’m sitting here and am completely not ready (Ok, so I showered, but that’s about it).

I’m supposed to speak and I HAVE NO CLUE what I will be saying. None. I haven’t prepared anything. I haven’t had the time (or taken the time or had energy for the time) to prepare both myself for this day and for looking into something to say. My first year out of yeshiva and as a Rabbi, I feel like I know nothing for the holiday.

This year has been so topsy turvy for me just on a personal note (not to mention the world at large). It started in Australia and ended in Colombia. I was in New York. I received smicha. I moved apartments. I started a job. I applied for a job. And now just as I am starting to settle into things, the job I applied to, that I thought didn’t want me, might want me- and that scares me, a lot…

I started a job in the hospital. I know that I know what to do. I know that I am capable to doing it, otherwise they would not have hired me. But there are times that I feel over my head and just not ready. I am knowingly putting myself in a position to open up and be vulnerable (yes, I know that is probably a great thing for me – but still is scary and makes my heart beat fast). There are things that I know I will see more of, and to be honest I’m not really sure if I know the right things to do, how to be comforting, how to be present, how to help families grieve. Just the other day I was in a room with a family as their loved on was gasping for air, even though she had an oxygen mask on. I stood there with the family. Praying, holding them, just being present for 45 minutes. As they watched their wife/sister/daughter gasp for her last breaths. I left the room because I didn’t think I had anything more to say. I look back and in some ways I think it was the right thing, and in other ways, I think of all the things I could have offered. Ways I could have been more forward. Prayers that could have been said more loudly.

Starting next week I will be on call on my own. ME- the ONLY chaplain in the entire hospital for a few hours. And only a week later THE ONLY CHAPLAIN in the ENTIRE HOSPITAL ALL NIGHT!!! Am I really able to do the right thing? Am I the right person? Am I old enough for this… (I guess that is a different reflection)

And then I think about the world. I think about the hurricanes that passed through and the one that is currently passing through. I think of the earthquake in Mexico. I think about all of those who have lost many friends, family and community members. I think of all of those whose house and worldly belongings have been destroyed. I think of those who are sitting in shelters or have no electricity while the storm is happening. It is here that I CRY OUT to God, and ask WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!

And then I think about those who are fleeing their country because of fear of being killed. And I think about all of those who were masqueraded this year. All of those who died by the hand of another person…I think about the governments threatening to create a war that will murder millions upon millions of people- just because. I think about the government wanting to take away health care, in ways that seem like they want to do it, just because they are able. I think about all of those people who are afraid that they will be killed or hurt because of their skin color, their religion, their ethnicity. For those who are afraid that they will have to make the choice between having a home and getting healthy. For those who will start dying in a 1rst world country of diseases we have cures for or things we are working on. It is here THAT I SCREAM TO GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!

I am not ready for Rosh Hashana. I am not ready to stand before the King of Kings. I am not ready to stand there and be reminded that it is the day of judgment. I am not ready to think about what should happen next. I am not ready to read the Unetana Tokef- the prayer that reminds us that this is the day that is decided how the world will look in the upcoming year.

So this ends in a prayer- may this year be a year of peace and tranquility. May You guide the leaders of this world to do good instead of create harm. May all those who have felt loss, find comfort. May those who feel lost, find their way. May those who are ill, find a full healing. May our world return to a time of beauty and hope. May this year be a happy and sweet new year!

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed, Uncategorized

Blank Page- Blank Mind

I don’t know how to start. I was looking at a blank word document and instead I am writing here on my blog.

I just found out that a dream job has an opening, and I was told that I should apply- by the job itself.

And here I am and I am not sure how to start the application. I have no clue how to start the cover letter or how to contact my references.

I am not sure that I have the right words. I don’t know what it is that they want to hear. I don’t know what the implications are if I would get such a job.

If I get this position everything will be changing. I will be moving to another country (again). I have spent the past 6 months getting used to the idea that I will be working in a hospital in NY, but that might be changing. I have finally found a new place in NY, and there is a chance I might have to move. I will be moving to a smaller community, and I have to have the strength to know I am doing this big move alone.

Thinking about the job I am excited. It is something I would be excited to talk about. When I got the job at the hospital, I felt like I couldn’t breathe- almost like someone punched me in the stomach. When I found out about this opening, I also couldn’t breathe, but it was that of excitement and a bit of fear.

I am afraid of doing it alone. I am afraid that it might mean that I won’t get married. I am afraid that I won’t be able to do the job well. I am questioning if I really do know enough and am qualified enough (even though I know people that are equally or less qualified do this job all the time). I am afraid of what it means to actually get the job that I have been dreaming about….

Everyone I have spoken to has told me I should apply. Here is a message from my friend, may her words be true. I hope I do actually have the strength and power for this. Here is to getting this application out.

You are never sequestered to aloneness. You never know. There’s a door in you that begs you to open it. It’s in you – Not in the World…You are a Brave bitch! Get into your amazing heart, And ride it hard! The world and your sex life are waiting


Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Feeling Whole

I want to feel whole again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

An Onion Dip and Tater Tot Day

Today was an intense day- but I’m not really sure why.

I woke up and got to school and there was just too much of something in the air. It was a space that was hard to breath in, but that early in the day there was nothing really to place it on. If anything I was productive. I sent out three emails that I had to send, all dealing with the horrible word — the future. But I did it.

I don’t know why but I was on edge. Everything was too loud. And people were too close. And I had to figure out a scheduling thing. And I had to figure out a title for a class that I will be teaching this Shabbat.

I was talking to a friend today about validation, and how I am so tired of validating people who are searching for validation. I know that it is mean to say, but all I want to do is shake them a bit and tell them to have some confidence. And her comment was, well that is because you are someone who doesn’t need it. I told her of course I need it, I just don’t get it. There aren’t people around me to validate me. I don’t have a luxury of relying on other people for those things, because they aren’t there or might not be. So yes, I need it – but I also push myself on my own.

And then at mincha there was singing. I didn’t want to sing. I wanted to go into davening from the beautiful words that were spoken. To go from that silence and continue into my own personal silence. But no – we had to sing – because one person likes to sing.

And then in class we spoke about class. About ways to make it better.

And then I was in the beit midrash talking to a good friend. And she started asking me about how things are, and I was honest, and slowly tears started filling my eyes. So I went to the bathroom – I didn’t really cry so I went back in. I then asked my friend how she is doing and she proceeded to tell me that she is going to have a double mastectomy soon. It is preemptive, but still pretty scary. And then someone turned around and asked me if I was on the page of Gemara we were on, and I couldn’t answer. I mumbled something about a friend. And she said it was ok that I wasn’t. And I said ok- and then I started crying.

I again went to the bathroom, but this time someone was there. And everyone in the beit midrash saw me, and everyone in the hall saw me.

I got a ride with a teacher and a fellow student. And the student and I walked and talked a bit. And there in the middle of the street of New York I started crying, yet again.

There are just so many things. My friend is going to go through a major surgery. I feel so alone right now – which I think I am feeling most strongly because yesterday I didn’t see or talk to a single person. I have no idea what I am doing next, and it is the question that everyone wants to know. All of this fighting and talking about the situation is really getting to me and just reminding me too much of the bad times and being helpless. I just don’t have the strength to hold it all together, and I don’t have the people I rely on to lean on.

And so when I went grocery shopping (I was planning on getting eggs, lentils and butter) I saw onion dip and bought it. It was a strange, but undeniable craving. It then hit me that I must also have tater tots – so I found the last bag of those too.

And so tonight was a night for onion dip and tater tots. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit of a better day.




Posted in Life, Uncategorized

My Non-Existent Bucket List

I don’t really have a bucket list. As I am at the airport waiting to move to New York (once again), I am thinking about all the things I did while I was here. Some were things that I had always dreamed of doing, and others were things that never even crossed my mind.

  • I got to go to Australia! Something I have always wanted to do- well really, I just like traveling. And even better, when someone else pays for it. 🙂
  • I swam in the Great Barrier Reef. (So amazing to see and be part of basically another world).
  • I walked through the Daintree Rainforest (I didn’t even know that it existed…)
  • I taught at an Embassy, with an Ambassador there. He even read my bio and introduced me. (Totally never assumed that would happen)
  • I was basically the assistant rabbi of a shul!
    • So maybe this is the biggest one of all. This is what I have been training for and wanting to do for years, and here I did it. I found a shul and a rabbi that was willing to trust and believe that I have the skills and knowledge to have this role.
  • I feel whole again. Two years ago broke me. Last year I was mending. This allowed me to feel myself again. I have my confidence back. I am not angry at the world. I know and think that I can do this thing that I want to do.
  • I got to tour the restricted area of Parliament. (It’s Canberra, how can I NOT know someone that works there and will take me on a tour)
  • I was told by a MP that my sermon brought tears to his eyes. He then told me to be in touch and if I have a blog or something, I should send it to him, as he would want to read it.
  • I went to cocktail parties and VIP events, where I mingled with international governmental officials.
  • I have multiple, close friends, that work for embassies and governments.
  • I danced in the rain without clothing.
  • I got to see kangaroos, platypus, echidna, emus, and possums (not opossums- they are a different animal.)
  • I saw the Sydney Harbor and Sydney Opera House.
  • I went to Bondi beach.
  • I have lived in my third capital city.
  • I went to an event and sat only three rows away from the prime minister.
  • I sat in the front of the shul, next to the aaron, in a big green chair (they made a small mechitza for me).
  • I ran a two hour teacher training on basic Judaism.
  • I taught school kids about basic Judaism.
  • I taught 2-3 adult ed classes a week.
  • I gave weekly sermons and wrote weekly d’vrei Torah for a newsletter.
  • I lived on my own.

I’m sure there is more, but I need to go to the plane.

So, here’s to time travel and moving to NYC- take 2.