Posted in Dating, Life

Title – One Year – Virgin Embarrassment – Seeing Ex’s

Title

I think I want to change my title. I go back and forth between Rabbi  and Rabba, but I know in my heart I want to be rabbi. I just assumed that politically it is easier for others for me to be Rabba, but I do like Rabbi much better, at least in the US. As I am teaching less, and doing hospital stuff more, it seems like the right choice.

There were also new women ordained this year, and some of them are now going by Rabbi, and so I won’t be alone in my choice.


One Year

It was approximately a year ago (give or take a few days) that I received my signed klaf and I became a Rabbi.

It has been a year with a lot of change – but unlike the past three years, these were personal changes rather than physical changes. I feel so separate from that place that I was in, while at the same time, I can remember exactly what it was like to stand there as the rabbis signed this parchment with my name on it. How it was at that moment I felt all my breath leave me in disbelief that such a thing was really happening. That the day of the signing was more intense for me than the day of the test.


Women & Power

This past week I was on a panel to discuss women and power. I think that the phone conversation we had in private was more interesting than what we said in public. It was clear that there was an intention when we got onto the stage, and even more clear that there is a lot riding on what we say and how we say it.

It was an event to promote our rabbinical school, and so it would not have been appropriate to actually discuss the difficulties that we face, although I do think that would have been more fruitful. It would not have been ok to answer honestly about the struggles that we feel and felt, in our past internships, jobs, and even in our education. We were sitting on the stage to inspire people. To have them believe what we are doing can change the world – and is changing the world. We had to show them, that yes there are difficulties that we are facing, but we are doing ok, we are not breaking, we are not crying, we are not questioning if we made the right choice.

I learned in this panel, that with my job, I am actually in an interesting position to just speak my mind. The hospital doesn’t really care so much what I say, especially within the Jewish world. I can speak up and share my anger, frustration and disgust without fear of getting fired or worse. I can voice that I think the Jewish world is doing a disservice, without being shunned (and honestly, I already feel that, so it can’t be worse).

One of the things that I was most upset about, it was not answered – was I was asked to write an article. I wrote it. It was edited, which in general means just for grammar, and I am very thankful for someone to do that. But instead, it was cut and changed. It was not written in my voice. And when I said something, I was completely ignored. There was nothing I could do about it. I am angry that someone thought they had the right to change my words that much. If they wanted it to be shorter they could have told me. If they didn’t like my message, that also could have been said. But it was ok – because well, she too was a woman, and how could a woman take away another woman’s power.

People liked that article a lot, and I am happy about that. I will smile and nod when someone will bring it up, but it is not my words. To make it worse, is that she actually completely erased my words. She didn’t make a new document, or ask for my opinion on the changes, they are just gone.

So with women and power – I think that we do have power. We can have power. We have a lot to say, and I should say things more. But there is always going to be that little political voice in the background, holding us back, shutting us up, making us look and act in a certain way – so that we do our jobs, but with as few waves as possible.


Virgin Embarrassment

A good friend of mine is desperately trying to find a guy to touch her. There is a part of me that is worried about her, and I have told her. She comes from a community where she was told that men and women don’t touch, and if they do they are sinning. She also thought she would be married by now (she is 27). She is slowly having open conversations with men from Jewish dating sites, and talking about what she is willing to do and not willing to do. And talks about the shame and awkwardness of telling someone, well, no I have not yet had sex, I don’t think I want to have sex with you right now.

I know I have shame around the fact that I have not had sex. That i am pretty inexperienced when it comes to anything sexual. Just last night I was talking to a guy on OK Cupid. When he found out I was a Jewish chaplain, his first question was “so does that mean no touching men and no sex?” I was annoyed at the question, but at the same time, the question makes sense. He wants to know what he is getting involved in – and if all he wants is to have a random hookup, I will not be the right person. I told him I touch men, and he then asked about sex, and I said no.

I don’t know if I mean no forever, but I do know that I mean no until we are in a relationship. But I am embarrassed by this. I am 32 years old, if I am not dating, I might as well have sex, or at least be open to it – it might make internet dating more open for me.

I realized how much I dread that conversation. I dread having to tell someone that I have no idea what I am doing. I am afraid that he will think less of me or think that I have some problem or think that I am some really sad case.

And at the same time as wanting this – there is a voice that says, well, you are a rabbi, you can’t have it even if you want it. When I went out with friends on Wednesday night, we were talking about men asking about sex on dating apps. Y said, that it was a gross idea if a guy asked for sex if he knows you are a rabbi, of course you are going to say no, and he just has a weird fetish. I answered,  that well, actually I would love someone to have that assumption, and maybe there are things I am willing to do, even though I am a rabbi. To this answer I was just glared at, as if I said something heretical (which I guess it was). But I do think that Judaism needs to discuss this issue. We can’t pretend that it is not real feeling, that there is sexual desire even with the title, and that intimacy is a real important thing.

But until then, it is just another thing that needs to be hidden away.


Seeing Ex’s

A (the guy I was dating in Israel before I left) recently got in touch with me. He told me he was going to be in Pittsburgh for Memorial Day Weekend for a wedding…and randomly, so am I. It turns out HE IS GOING TO THAT WEDDING! Which is really random, and I have been thinking about what it will be like to see him. He asked me if we can go out when we are both there, and I said maybe. I have been thinking about saying yes and seeing if I would want to try again. I think, even though I am/was mad at him for things he has said, there is a part of me that is still desperate. He is the only person in two years that has actually been interested in me. There is something comfortable with him (or at least there was), but also I will not have to have the sex conversation in the same way – he already knows where I stand. I’m not really sure what to do with that, but it will be interesting to see him. I do know, that I just want to look amazing when I do see him.

 

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Posted in Life

10 Years

I went to my 10 year college reunion this past weekend.

10 YEARS!!!! How did 10 years pass?!

It was weird to be back. As I walked around campus I had flashbacks to being a student. The buildings looked the same. The smells were the same. Feeling the wind blowing, made me think about what it was to be a student. The students looked the same, except I didn’t know any of them, and some how I was older than them.

I sat on the academic quad, right next to the theatre building – looking at the path that diverged connecting all the academic buildings to each other. I thought about what it was to be able to just learn. To be told to explore and change the world. I was a bit sad, that it was the last time I really felt like I could do anything in the world. I was so hopeful and full of dreams – and I don’t fully feel that way any more. I wish I was back in the world where all I had to do was learn.

The people I keep the most in touch with were not at the reunion. But there were a number of people from my class there, and it was all the people I haven’t seen in 10 years, many of which I haven’t spoken to since graduating. I was happy to see some of them. It was nice to remember why I like them. How I was accepted for being me, and that was it. It was crazy to see where we all are. What are the things we are doing. How we are really people, after living in the college bubble.

I spoke to the chaplain there, and she still believes that I am doing great things, and I have the ability to continue to do so. We spoke about what I liked at my job in the hospital, and how I am having a difficult time finding a religious community. She understood where I was coming from and how important a religious community is. She asked if I could come back to Maryland and also gave the suggestion of looking into working as a university chaplain. It felt nice to get back in touch with someone who knew me and is able to see me now.

It was also difficult. I did feel alone. It seemed like everyone came with a friend or a partner, and I was just meandering alone until I bumped into someone. I took no pictures and wasn’t asked to be in any. I know that is a silly thing – but it feels to me that some times people want to be with me at the time, but not to remember me or keep in touch. Almost everyone I met was in a relationship – be it married, engaged or in a serious relationship. Some were pregnant or already had children. But there I was, alone.

I spoke at the memorial service on Sunday morning. It was mostly women from the class of 1958. They sat on one side of the chapel. I looked over at the white haired women, still connected by their times in the college. Still connected over 50 YEARS. But sitting there, reading off the names of their friends and classmates who have died in the past five years (since the last reunion).

I still say that my time at college was formative to who I am today. I do want to be connected. I still am friends with people from college, and they are very important to me in my life. I am not where I thought I would be, but I am doing good things. It is hard to remember being so young, impressionable, hopeful. When did I start to get old? What will I accomplish in the next 10 years? Who will I be in 10 years time?

Posted in CPE, Life

The Gentle Combing of Hair

I pray that when it is time for me to die, that I am very old and grey, and that I should be surrounded by family and friends. Please let it be those who love and care for me, not just someone who is paid to sit by my side.

I pray that I am able to find a person who will love me across time. I recognize that there are very few people in my life that I will probably get to say I have known for 60 years, but may there be some, who have known me through all the different versions of myself, and through it all chose to still be around me.

I pray that my siblings will still want to sit with me, even after all those years, and that we still have a closeness and bond that could never be broken. I pray that when I die, that they are able to tell the stranger who might come to sit with them beautiful memories of when we were kids and even later in life.

I pray that I will find someone who will want to marry me, will pursue me, and want to be with me for me, and love me for it. I pray that with that person I should be able to have children, and be able to see grandchildren.

I pray that there is someone who will weep while he combs my hair, with such gentleness and love,  to make me look put together, even though my soul has left my body. I pray hat he should never have to dream about doing such an act, but if and when the time comes, that he is around to do it.

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Doubting

The other day I started to have doubts. I was sitting and thinking. Do I really like my job? Do I really want to stay another year? Do I really think that this is the right choice? What if I am just telling people that I like my job, but inside I don’t?

I was offered a second year chaplain residency in palliative care, in the hospital that I have been working in all year – which is actually really exciting and great. But if I take it, it really does mean that I am actively choosing to not go back to Israel this year. I have been enjoying work (although at times it is hard), I know that is true. I like the other chaplains. I feel like I am part of the teams on the units I am working on. I have connection to staff in other units around the hospital. I really do feel like I have a place. So it would make sense that I would want to stay.

But on the other hand, New York has been really hard for me outside of the hospital. I don’t feel like I have a nice community. I don’t have a shul that I really feel part of. I don’t really think that anyone would notice or miss me if I leave. And so I am wondering, if I like work so much, because outside of work is just so awful.

There is a part of me that does believe that God puts us in the places that we are meant to be in. When I go to that part, it seems fine. But I am finding it hard to stay there. I want to yell out and ask – why here? Why in this city that causes me so much pain and isolation? Why am I doing this? What is the greater goal? What should I be striving for?!

I fear that I no longer have a set dream, and because of that, I don’t really know what I want or who I want to be or what I want to be doing. I worry that I am doing this because it sounds good, or because it is safe or because for the first time in 4 years I won’t be changing every aspect of my life again (and doing that all alone).

I wonder who my authentic self is now? Now after having gone through rabbinical school. After living and working in different countries. Now after being forced to actually speak about my feelings and have people point things out to me. Now after having outsiders tell me that they are sad for me and that I should just leave my community (and yes, that is something I have started to think of and it doesn’t feel good).

I am just trying to figure out (again) who I am and where I am supposed to me. And I pray that this choice I make is an authentic one, and not just one that is the “easy” thing to do.

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

Posted in CPE, Life

Go Back to the Cave

Shabbat 33b

 For R. Judah, R. Jose, and R. Simeon were sitting, and Judah, a son of proselytes, was sitting near them. R. Judah commenced [the discussion] by observing, ‘How fine are the works of this people!They have made streets, they have built bridges, they have erected baths.’ R. Jose was silent. R. Simeon b. Yohai answered and said, ‘All that they made they made for themselves; they built market-places, to set harlots in them; baths, to rejuvenate themselves; bridges, to levy tolls for them.’ Now, Judah the son of proselytes went and related their talk, which reached the government. They decreed: Judah, who exalted [us], shall be exalted, Jose, who was silent, shall be exiled to Sepphoris; Simeon, who censured, let him be executed. He and his son went and hid themselves in the Beth Hamidrash, [and] his wife brought him bread and a mug of water and they dined. [But] when the decree became more severe he said to his son, Women are of unstable temperament: she may be put to the torture and expose us.’ So they went and hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob-tree and a water well were created for them. They would strip their garments and sit up to their necks in sand. The whole day they studied; when it was time for prayers they robed, covered themselves, prayed, and then put off their garments again, so that they should not wear out. Thus they dwelt twelve years in the cave. Then Elijah came and stood at the entrance to the cave and exclaimed, Who will inform the son of Yohai that the emperor is dead and his decree annulled? So they emerged. Seeing a man ploughing and sowing, they exclaimed, ‘They forsake life eternal and engage in life temporal!’ Whatever they cast their eyes upon was immediately burnt up. Thereupon a Heavenly Echo came forth and cried out, ‘Have ye emerged to destroy My world: Return to your cave!’ So they returned and dwelt there twelve months, saying, ‘The punishment of the wicked in Gehenna is [limited to] twelve months.’ A Heavenly Echo then came forth and said, ‘Go forth from your cave!’ Thus.’; they issued: wherever R. Eleazar wounded, R. Simeon healed. Said he to him, ‘My son! You and I are sufficient for the world.’ On the eve of the Sabbath before sunset they saw an old man holding two bundles of myrtle and running at twilight. What are these for?’ they asked him. ‘They are in honour of the Sabbath,’ he replied. ‘But one should suffice you’? — One is for ‘Remember-‘ and one for ‘Observe.’ Said he to his son, ‘See how precious are the commandments to Israel.’ Thereat their minds were tranquilized.

I was told to go back to the cave.

My first response was “I’m not Rashbi (Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai). I don’t want to be him. I’m not ruining things. I don’t want to have to go back to calm down a bit.”

But then I was thinking – maybe I am Rashbi.

I ran away. I ran to a place that was different and hidden from the world I was part of. In some ways I think I felt like that world was trying to get me. But where I ran, the Jewish world was no longer there, or at least it wasn’t the Jewish community that I was part of. I found a place where I could just be, I did not have to prove the validity of my existence. I did not have to have arguments about why I could be doing what I am doing. I found a cave, where it felt like my community and school from before totally forgot about me, and let me just be.

And while in the cave, I was naked except for the sand, unless I was praying, just like Rashbi and his sons. While in class, many times I felt as if I was without clothing, there was nothing protecting me, just the sand that I was covered in for modesty reasons. But the nakedness was done to preserve my clothing, so that when I would go out  to be with patients and staff, I would be fully covered, dressed in a way that I felt comfortable. But then I would be called back, and it would be time to shed those clothing.

I want to leave the cave, but in leaving all I can feel is anger. I am so angry at the Jewish world right now. I am so angry at the Orthodox Jewish world right now. Reading Jewish news papers just makes my blood boil, so I don’t do it. I can’t bring myself to go to classes in shuls or centers, just the thought of it makes me mad and disgusted. I am angry that there isn’t more being done. I am angry that I feel outside something that is actually important to me. I am angry that people are praising people that I feel are causing a lot of harm. I am angry that the Jewish community is functioning in the way it is.

Yes, I find what is going on abhorrent and stupid. It just makes me angry and disgusted. I find it difficult to have conversations about what is going on in the Jewish community, all I want to do is show the bad stuff. I want to burn it not with my eyes, but with my voice. Even though I know that it is just what needs to be done, just like the plowing, I am not able to see that just yet. I can’t understand how people are finding joy, meaning or spirit in what is happening?

And then I was told to go back into the cave. This year in the cave, I was allowed to explore my anger. To feel  frustrated and hurt and sad and mad. But maybe I need another year so I can learn what good things there are and can be. To be able to find the softness and the joy and love that can come from Judaism. Maybe I need this time to find “how precious are the commandments to Israel” and find a way for my mind to feel tranquil.

Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

Be Careful What You Wish For

One who seeks to embark on a journey and wishes to know if he will return and come to his home or if he will not, let him go to a dark [daḥavara] house. If he sees the shadow of a shadow he shall know that he will return and come home. The Sages reject this: This omen is not a significant matter. Perhaps he will be disheartened if the omen fails to appear, and his fortune will suffer and it is this that causes him to fail. – Horayot 12a

For a while now, I have been wanting to find a home.  I have been wanting a place that wants me. I have been wanting a reason to settle down. I have been wanting some form of permanency. I said that I would be willing to move to where the job is, if the job is right, no matter where that might be.

And now I have been offered it. The hospital I am working at offered me a second year residency.

On the one hand it is really great. I actually really like what I am doing there. I like the people there.

On the other hand, this has been a hard year still. I still don’t feel at home. I am growing more and more angry and distant from the Jewish community. I won’t be going back to Israel anytime soon.

But then again, it is a good job. And I know that I will learn a lot. And there is permanency to it (at least for the upcoming year). For the first time in three years, I’m not moving apartments AND moving countries AND starting a new job AND starting a new school. There is a change that the only thing that will be new is my role – that is crazy!

A friend asked me, well, if you do go back to Israel without a job, what would you want to do. And honestly, I have no idea.

But do I want to settle here in NY? Am I giving up on myself, that I don’t think I can create something if/when I go back to Israel? Am I just settling? Am I just scared to try something new again? What part of me am I losing by staying, but also what am I going to gain?

I wonder often, if I want to go back to Israel because I really feel like that is where I belong, or if it is because there were times that I was happy there and I haven’t really found something here yet. Or the thing I found, actually is the thing that scares me, because it is outside the world I thought I was part of.

I am questioning a lot – and I feel like I am questioning my soul and my identity. Each of these choices, I feel (and maybe I am thinking too much) makes me define who I am and defines who I am – and I guess I just don’t know who that is anymore nor who I want to be.

As one of my supervisors said to me the other day – you just need to be open. Allow yourself to be open – open to share, open to receive, open to new possibilities….

 

 

Posted in Life

Pesach with the Family & Realizations

So I had seder with my family for the first time since 2009 – and boy did I miss my friends. I had gotten used to the smell of the city when everything is burning, the oven cleaner, and hearing the hiss of the giant pots of water to kasher things. I got used to the feeling that the entire city is rushing and cleaning, and everything just feels different. I got used to cleaning my apartment and cooking. I got used to preparing for seder, being with my friends. Having only one seder. Having a seder that was full of laughter, talking, joking, Torah, and singing.

Instead, well I had my family. Which I guess is nice, and something I know I take for granted. I should be thankful that I am able to be with my siblings and parents. But being with them was just so boring. The first seder was just blah… there was almost no singing. Most people had not been to a seder before, so everything was read in English. There were no questions. My parents sat awkwardly on the side, my father just looking annoyed at things. My brother reading in a weird voice, only in Hebrew, even though no one else would understand him – he now talks in a weird Yeshivish way.

The second seder, was even less guests, but in some ways less  awkward. I think my parents resigned to the fact that the seder was not in their way – well, my dad did try to lead some of the stuff. I get how it is hard for him. This is the first seder in 30ish years that he is NOT leading, so it must be hard to give that up, to recognize that it is now in his children’s hands – as they are now old enough to do these things.

I took note during the second seder, that none of the women, besides for myself were singing or really participating. They were running to the kitchen to finish preparing. They were just staring off into space. They were falling asleep in their seats. What is it about liturgy that I still feel connected to? Why do I feel the need to sing and partake?

The afternoons of chag were really brutal though. My parents got to my brother early, and just sat in silence for two hours – everyone else was asleep. And then at lunch they had nothing to say AT ALL. I was very thankful that two of my friends were in from Israel, so I went to their house in the afternoon both days. It was very bittersweet. I was really happy to see them, as I haven’t seen them in about 2 years, and I like them a lot. I was really sad, because it made me miss them and all my other friends in Israel. It made me realize even more, that I really might not be going back, and what that means.

And then we drove back from MD to NY on Sunday night, because it was supposed to snow. During the drive I was thinking a lot about love and about my parents. The other day in supervision, the idea that I am not ok with people “joining” me came up. And yes, it is true, I don’t really trust it. I don’t want to feel confined. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the other person. Over chag, I was talking to my brother about our parents and love. And how they tend to take the thing we like and only talk about that, and get lots of stuff in relation to that, and kind of smother it, until, really we start to hate it and want to have nothing to do with it. And I know that I try really hard to keep them away from what I am doing – because if they know what is going on, they will just do too much. They will be so close that I can’t breath (a feeling I got a LOT over the weekend).

But then again, I know that they will be there no matter what. That if I need anything, they will be there as quickly as they can. They show their love with objects or with doing actions. So they are closer to my siblings, because they need things that my parents are able to provide – I don’t, and so they don’t really know what to do with me.

So there I was, sitting in the car with my dad, my mom, my brother and I (for I think probably the last time, at least with my brother not being married) driving in the dark in silence from MD to NY. There was something really nostalgic and nice about it, so much of my childhood was driving in the car somewhere. That even though I am 32, I’m still taking car rides with my parents. And if there is nothing else I am asking for, at least I am still asking for rides to places.

This weekend, I am planning on being at my parent’s house (it is too much to prepare for chag, and I actually have no dishes to cook with, and no one to invite). I am not really excited for it, I am actually quite nervous. It will be me, my parents, my brother and his fiance – in the two bedroom apartment, for two days. It will be something, I’m sure.


I had a few realizations earlier today:

  1. I haven’t had a song in my head in weeks.
  2. I haven’t felt like I had any energy to feel anything – which has lead me not to write for a few weeks or even to draw or anything like that.
  3. I’m really undecided about the future, and I really need to start deciding thing. And thinking about anything for the future (even a few weeks from now) makes me really nervous and overwhelmed.