Posted in Life

One Year

It’s hard to believe but it has been a year since I moved to the US.

Today was not something special. I chose not to speak about it in school, because really I had nothing to say. Since going to the mikvah the other week, things have been a bit calmer and I am less upset. I am even able to say that I am living here and what I will be doing next year, although I have not yet written anything on Facebook or anything public like that (although it was just in an announcement from school). I don’t know it was the mikvah that changed things or if it was just the timing that changed things.

But for now I am closer to ok with what I will be doing next. I’m not yet at the excited and happy point, but maybe that will happen.

It is next week that I will take my final exam and have my klaf signed. I am nervous. I am nervous that I will blank on everything on the exam. I am nervous of what it means when this is done. I have been a student basically for my entire life, and now I will not be. So much of my identity has been being a rabbinical student- it will be an interesting change being a rabbi and a chaplain.

I am also excited. I am really going to be a rabbi. This crazy dream I had is going to be real. I am no longer going to be a student. I am going to be a rabbi and a chaplain. I know that I know things, and that they are not expecting me to know everything.

I think about the things that have happened in the past 12 months:

  • Moved to the US
  • Completed a unit of CPE
  • Moved to Australia
  • Taught at an embassy
  • Saw the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach and other places
  • Worked as an assistant rabbi of a shul
  • Had an internship at a shul
  • Had explicit conversations
  • Became an aunt
  • Wrote tshuvot
  • Lived in New York City
  • Danced with Bill Nye
  • Went to Zurich
  • Felt like my heart was broken but then had it mend a bit

It was by far not an easy year. There were parts that were amazing and parts that had me crying almost daily. I hope that this upcoming year I will feel like I made the right choices. I hope that it is one of growth and feeling of calm. A year that I feel complete.


Posted in Life

Taking the Plunge

It has taken me a bit of time to write this, and I think it is because of how nervous I was before going.

I am going to be training to work in a mikvah, and part of the requirement for the training is to go into the mikvah. I signed up for this course because I work with many women (so far no men) that will go to the mikvah. This organization is one that guides people into the mikvah not only because of nida, but also because of other life situations, and I figure it would be a really great tool for me to have as I am about to finish my rabbinical studies very soon.

It took me a long time to sign up for my mikvah slot. I was really nervous. It felt like it was such a big act for me to go into the mikvah. It is not something that I have ever really thought about for myself. It is something that you do if you are married or are having sex, and I fall into neither category. It is something that some do because they are more “spiritual” than I am, marking changes in life or wanting to feel “pure” or “changed” or to mark the transition, but that is not me for the most part. I would also have to be naked with another person in the room, which also made me nervous.

I did sign up, because I needed to. In some ways, it was good because earlier this year I felt the need to go into the mikvah or go swimming naked, but I did not have an opportunity.

It was something that I thought about all day Wednesday. I was thinking about what it means that I am going into a mikvah as a non-married woman; what would other people think if they saw me; what would I say to someone if I saw someone I knew in the waiting room. I had ideas that my first time in the mikvah would be before my wedding. It would be a time that I learned and prepared for. That the next day (or upcoming days) would be when I would have my wedding.

I was also thinking about what it means that it is happening now. I was thinking about the fact that I have basically decided that I will be in NY for another year. I really am marking a change in my life. That the world and life that I had, really is not what I have right now. I am finishing school in only 53 days. I will be starting a real job, be it not my dream job, nor in the city I dreamed I would be in. I am not who I was a year ago.

I was also thinking about what it means to be naked with another person in the room. Even when going to the doctor there is a something covering parts of my body, but here I would be naked, not that the person would look. It has been an interesting year with thinking about my body and nudity. I had a relationship that was quite physical. I’ve been having a conversation with a friend that is very explicit, including pictures, which is different. I’ve been thinking more about my body than I have in years- not in a negative way. And here I would be completely naked, walking into a body of water, with someone else inside.

I got to the mikvah early, and so I took a walk around the block, just trying to calm my nerves. I walked trying to accept NY as a place that has beauty, that can be a place that will give me happiness and fulfillment, that I am making the right choice. As it became closer to the time, I got the Mikvah, but I could not bring myself to walk in. The guide I was meeting said that she would meet me outside or I can wait inside, and I just couldn’t bring myself to walk in. As I finally walked to the door, she was there to greet me.

She was really sweet and patient. I felt silly that I was so nervous but I was. There were so many options as to what I would do in the mikvah, and making the choice was just too over whelming. I felt weird about saying a bracha, because I wasn’t doing this for something other than myself. I didn’t want to say shehechiyanu because I didn’t want this to be real. At first I did tell her I wanted her to watch me go down once. I was unsure if I wanted time alone in the water.

And then it was time to prepare. The bathroom is beautiful with everything that one could need. In a bathroom full of mirrors, I slowly took off my glasses, my necklace, and finally all of my clothing. I was trying to breath through all of this. I got into the shower and showered as usual. I was trying to slow down a bit because I was so nervous, but at the same time I didn’t want her to have to wait for too long. I did not know the time frame that I should be taking. After finishing my shower I went through the check list of things to do – I brushed my teeth, I cleaned out my ears and belly button, I brushed my hair, and took out my nose ring. I then put on the slippers and my robe and walked down the hall.

I was naked under my robe, and I would be taking it off soon. I would be walking into a body of water and everything of me will be touched with the water. I was nervous, and scared, and sad, and excited…

I walked into the mikvah and the guide told me what would happen. In the last minute I did not want her to say anything or check that I went under. Being in the water felt different. It was warm. It was a bit overwhelming. She was standing at the top the stairs with the robe over her eyes. I dunked once, and then immediately felt the need to dunk two more times. I wanted to just stay under the water for as long as I could – to feel the pressure, to feel the warmth, to take in the experience – but I kept bobbing up, it was pushing me out. I thought about staying in the water, but I was too overwhelmed in it. I was unsure of what to do. I both felt calmed and that I couldn’t breath. And so I just walked back up the stairs, put my robe back on and went to get dressed.

It was when I got back into the bathroom that I started crying. There was just so much, and I’m still not even sure what it was. I cried because I felt calmer. I cried because I hope that this is not the only time that I would go to the mikvah. I cried because I am afraid that I will never go to the mikvah for my wedding. I cried because I felt like I wanted to do more, but it just felt like too much.

I was too nervous this time to have a kavanah for going in. I was too overwhelmed to think about what I really wanted or what I wanted to feel.

I do know that after leaving the water, I was warm, in some ways too hot. I was tired. I was calm. I got dressed and brushed my hair. I went upstairs, and luckily no one was there so I didn’t have to see anyone, paid the fee. And walked out into the cold NY air slightly sad, slightly floaty, slightly in thought, and all together calmer than I was when I walked in.

Posted in Israel, Life

The First One Away

It’s Yom Ha’azmaut and I did not go to a Tefilla chagigit last night. I didn’t go out and dance and drink all night long in Jerusalem. I’m not going BBQ hopping and seeing everyone outside in the park, with everyone enjoying the sun and air and not caring that the entire country smells like a BBQ.

I’m in New York. Actually I’m in bed because I’m not feeling so well. I’m not sure if it is because I am sad or exhausted or allergies or in the process of getting sick or a mixture of all three. Yesterday on Yom Hazikaron I did not have a moment of silence (actually the night before I was at a wedding…). I went home early from school, but being in school did not even feel like the day. It was just a day like any other, just my heart knew that my friends were sitting at the graves of their loved ones.

Last night I went out for burgers with a friend instead of going to a tefilla. This is her third year not in Israel and couldn’t bring herself to go to shul. She warned me that it would be really difficult, and I just followed her and had a burger. It had to be burgers so at least we fulfilled the obligation of having burgers on the day (there aren’t many obligations, but this sounds like a good one).

Yom Ha’azmaut last year turned into the day that I broke up with A. It was the marker to the time that I had left in Israel, as I flew out only a few days later. It is the marker that it is almost a year since I left, and coming even more in my mind after coming back to NY and knowing that it looks like I will not be there for a while still…


Posted in Daily Prompt

Walking Like a Zombie

This week has been exhausting and will only continue as such. All I dream of is being able to stay in bed late and not having to move…maybe that will happen next Friday.

On Saturday my heart broke to say goodbye to everyone. It was a day full of tears and confusion.

Saturday night not only was I figuring out how to pack, but when I opened my emails after Shabbat I saw that my friend’s daughter had died- at that point I didn’t know any details.

Without sleeping on Saturday, on Sunday I got onto my first flight at 5am and arrived in New York at noon. I then had to go food shopping and readjust to being back.

On Monday I got to school to have process group. To find out that my friend’s daughter took her own life. My friend was in class that morning and only found her in the afternoon. My teachers and friends had gone out for the funeral, and throughout the week people were flying out to pay a shiva call.

In addition to holding other people’s pain, I was broken in my own way. Saying goodbye, trying to figure out what is next, trying to figure out how to find happiness. And so then on Tuesday in process group I spoke, well cried and spoke about my pain and loneliness and inability to figure out what is next. It took a lot out of me, but I spoke, and then it was done, and I was left in my head, only to have to travel to Philadelphia to teach a class.

On Wednesday I woke up in pain and exhaustion. But I decided to go to school because my head was still whirling with thoughts of Tuesday. In some ways there were no more tears, but the pain in my heart was still present. I made it through the day and even had a very interesting and different conversation with a friend…but then I didn’t go to sleep till 1.

On Thursday I was still tired and still alone and in some ways felt it even more. Only to end the day hearing my friend and colleague crying because every avenue that she has tried for next year has almost worked and then failed. Her husband doesn’t have a job in a place he likes, and her daughter needs to go to a special school. I went home will intention of writing a sermon, packing, cleaning and going to sleep, but I was unable to fall asleep till 3.

And then I come to today. After four hours of sleep I woke up and knew that I had to get on a plane. I got to the plane and immediately passed out and slept for the entire trip. Upon arrival I hopped into an uber and went to my friend. To see her sitting was painful. It was obvious that she was grateful that myself and others were able to come be with her this week, but still it was a loss. During Mincha, I almost starting crying. Looking up the stairwell and seeing photos of her family and of her late daughter, knowing that there will never be any more of her. Wondering to myself what will they do with her room. What will this time of year look like for the rest of their lives. What will next week be like when they are supposed to go back to “normal”.

It was from there that I hopped another Uber to where I am for Shabbat. I spoke at length with a man who started a community health program in Chicago. He now works around the world and teaches public health. And I got to where I am staying, and they immediately offered me a  beer and some food, and told me to go to the room I’m staying in, “go rest a bit” they said.

So here I am, drinking beer, knackered, trying to unwind from the day, but trying to find energy to teach this weekend, as well as be a good guest. Hopefully I will get some sleep and it will be a Shabbat of peace, to start next week off with something positive.

via Daily Prompt: Knackered


Posted in Decisions, Life, Lost

Bubbling Over with Tears

There is too much that I am unsure of right now. I feel shaken. I feel vulnerable. I feel cracked. I feel pulled. I feel tired.

I can’t decide what is best me to do next. I feel like I don’t know the direction I am supposed to be following. I am unable to listen to my heart- or I think I know what my heart is telling me, but my head is very much fighting against it.

I can’t decide what I should do this summer. But I guess what I do over the summer is based on what I do next year.

It feels like every decision is THE descision. I know that is not true. I know that things can change and move and I should go with the flow. But I feel like everything is going off course. I feel like the decision will change everything and I really just don’t know what is the best thing for me. I can’t figure out what country I should be in. What career path I should choose. What does it mean for me to no longer be a student? What does it mean when my indenties are all in a mix. For so long my identity has been American/Israeli/student/theatre/old people/nomad….but that is all up in the air. I don’t know where I belong or what I should be doing…

Today I broke down in process group. I felt bad that we ended a half hour late. I felt bad to just burst out with everything. I felt weird to be the center of attention and to be a blubbering mess. It felt weird to be so vulnerable and open and to share all of this. I both want people to care, but at the same time I don’t want pity. I don’t want people to treat me differently. I don’t want people to worry about me.

In some ways I think it was a good thing. The tears that have been bubbling over are not any more. I don’t have as intense of an urge to burst into tears. It was hard to say outloud that I feel lonely and alone. And hwo hard it is to feel like when people have been trying to be so open. I guess it is good that people know what I am going through. That I am not so excited about the next steps. That I am not put together. THat I feel lost and sad and alone.

I was told by many that I need to allow myself to be open to others coming in and coming close to me. That I need to trust that people won’t necessarily hurt me, that there are people who will not fail me, that there are people who have the ability to do what I need them to.

I was asked when I started feeling like I was alone and there is no one that will be able to help me. I was told that this was something that helped me up to this point, that it protected me and it is what made me stronger and able to do what I did, but it is not the only way to be. I don’t have an answer as to when I first started thinking this. But I guess for a long time I have felt that I am not understood. That it is up to me to accompish things. I guess in some ways I have always been the outsider tryign to get in, but not managing, so I would just do me, and made myself be ok being alone and doing alone. But I can think of the times that I have asked for people to be there for me and they were not able – either they did no comfort/help me in the way I needed or wanted, because they didn’t understand or I was unable to verbalize. Or the times (especially over one summer program) that I was told regularly by my staff that they would hear me asking for help and decide not to because they knew that I would be able to figure it out on my own, and they had what to do. Or when I reach out and it’s only because I reach out that someone is there for me.

I have gotten to a point where the feeling of being alone hurts and I don’t feel capable of creating something else to help me not feel that void. Or maybe I have reached a point where the void is too big, so not matter what I do there is no way to make it feel full. I am aware that I need to let people in. I know that it is my nature to pull away, so then my aloneness feels like my choice and not because someone else decided that I am not worth caring for/hanging out with. I know that being vulnerable terrifies me, the feeling that I won’t be held, that I won’t be understood, that nothing with come out of it.

I feel like I need to be the strong one. I need to be the fighter. I need to accompish and be accomplished. I need to do the things that no one else does. I need to be the one that is happy and excited and gets other people involved. I need to be able to do it on my own and not need anyone. The problem is- what if I do need others? What if I don’t feel like I have strength? What if I am sad?

I didn’t get any answers today. It was a mix of people telling me to just go back and I will create and do things the way I know how. And there were people who were telling me I should stay, that there is much to be learned and gained from CPE. That doing something will be good for me.

I think that there is a part of me that wants to just go back to Israel. I will go back to the routine that I know. I won’t be pushed too much. I won’t have to share my feelings with everyone. I will get to once again just create, but maybe I will just be coasting…

My heart is torn as to where I should be living. My friends, the people who have become my support system are all in Israel right now. But my parents, grandparents, and half my siblings are in the US. I have never lived this close to any of them, and yet I still don’t see or speak to them that often. I want to get close, but at the same time that is scary and hard. We are all used to me being somewhere else, doing on my own, knowing they are there but not using them. If I go will I lose that opportunity to be around forever? What if I go back to Israel and then move again, will I be able to do that? If I am already around, and have a reason to be, should I not try and stay, just for the year, just to make them happy or try to be closer? My friends will still be there (yes of course tragedy could occur), but the truth is my parents and grandparents are only getting older, and that only means one thing, isn’t it up to me as their child and grandchild to be around?

I think there is a part of me that wants CPE so I can be pushed to feel and to share those feelings. I think that there is a part of me that feels like I can’t do it in school because I do feel very much like an outsider, but in CPE we are all going to be starting off together. There is a part of me that is scared of going out into the big world alone, and what it means not to be a student, so I am giving myself one more year. In CPE there is a start and an end; there are clear goals; there are people that I can turn to for support. If I go back to Israel right now, I am on my own. I need to be building and working. I need to turn to people who might care about me, but don’t understand what I am doing. I will be the creator of my goals. I will be the creator of what my position is and what it should look like. The end will only be when I decide that I want to move onto the next thing. And I guess that scares me…

Posted in Life

I’m Always Back Somewhere

I’m back in NY.  Once again I was going back. Back to where I came from. Back to where I am currently living. I went back to go back, because I guess in many ways they are both where I live. And in a weird way I feel back. I landed and went to the place that has all of my belongings, and then went food shopping. And today I went to school, I went back into my New York routine.

Leaving was really hard. Saturday was a day full of tears. I had to say goodbye to everyone once again. It hurt my heart that I had to go and I don’t know when or if I will be back- and if I do go back will it be for vacation or to live. It hurt my heart to have to go back to a place where I am not happy and feel alone. It hurt my heart to leave my friends, my support system, people I love. It hurt my heart to know that I will have to be away for at least another year…

It was so nice to be back in Israel. I remembered what it was like to be happy; to have friends; to go out at night. Towards the end of my trip a friend asked me if there was anything I was excited about with returning to NY, and my answer was nothing. He then asked even living in my own space, and even that was not something I was especially looking forward to. Yes, it was hard to be a guest for so long, but the good out weighed the bad.

It really makes me think about what I should do next year. I have the option of taking a job running activities in a nursing home; a job that has nothing to do with the rabbinate, nothing to do with what I have been fighting for over the past five years; a job that I could have done 5 years ago. Yes, I could try and build up and do what I do best and make the job work for me. But I want this job to be something more than a year job. I want to have something a bit more stable. I want something that will connect me. I want something that I am not going to feel like I am just waiting for the next best thing to happen. This job is no longer a filler to just make money while I learn full time, it is what I will be doing with myself.

At the same time I have this really great opportunity to do CPE residency. I know how great the program is and all that I can learn from it. I know that it opens up opportunities in the US and other countries. I know that it will challenge me in positive ways. I know that I will be helping people. I know that it will help me become a better rabbi. I know that it will help me be able to sit with people in difficult times. But I also know that I will have to be in NY. I will have to be away from my friends. I will have to be away from people who I love and care for, and they do me. (Although at the same time by being in NY I am near my parents, grandmother, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephew…)

I really don’t know what to do and feel really torn. When I think about having left all I want to do is cry. I also know that my time in NY has not been so great thus far and part of that is because of me. I am not sure if my unhappiness is because NY makes me unhappy or because I don’t feel settled, I feel alone, and I feel like I am wasting time while I’m in school (which should change once I am doing something).

I know that I want to be happy again. I want to feel light and excited. I want to enjoy doing things. I want to do things. Even though it is hard to do, especially on my own (which I am just tired of doing), I know that I need to start pushing myself; start giving myself a real chance to be happy here. Some things that I have thought of:

  • Get in touch with my friend’s friends. Messaging them all and going out for coffee or anything they invite me to
  • Take a Spanish class. If I really am going to be working in a NY hospital, knowing even a bit of Spanish will be really useful.
  • Do some form of music class.
  • Look online for events that look cool or interesting. See if anyone wants to go, but decide that I will go no matter what.
  • Go to the theatre, museums and other cultural places that New York is know for.

Yes, this might have to be done alone. Yes, I might not want to do it alone, but for right now I don’t have an option. Yes, it will take energy and effort to go out and put myself out there. But I know myself- I have done this before and I can do it again.

As ordination day comes closer, I hope to figure out what I should do next. I need to figure out which option is best for me, which makes me happy, which makes me feel fulfilled. So even though I really just want to break down crying because I am back, I want to try and make it bearable, because if it’s not, even doing the most useful thing will be useless.



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.