Thursday, August 28, 2008


Not a very eloquent and or verbose post...just a news brief to inform anyone who might wander by this blog that I have been added to the Jews By Choice community this point I have not posted there...but I will soon....why don't you stop by and see what a dynamic and diverse community that is represented there......

Sunday, August 24, 2008

World Record Shattered!

Well maybe not a world record, but at least a personal best...This week it only took me 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete my grocery shopping!
I often contemplate the long line of history, and the women who shopped there! While I am standing examining a box for one of the many elusive symbols indicting kosher, I long for simpler times when a chicken was a chicken and pre-packaged food was a novelty!
Not to turn this into a diatribe on consumerism and the gluttony of the western world, but when you actually have to review every single item that goes into the does cause one to pause.
This all has heightened my awareness that in many places in the world one is lucky to have something clean and fresh to eat, and on the kosher front there are many that have very limited if any options. I can not imagine what it must be like to try and keep kosher in Alaska or Mississippi.
I know I am lucky to live in an area where kosher options are abundant, from full size markets and stores which only carry kosher items to butcher shops and bakeries. Yet this abundance does carry a price, and a responsibility. I believe that Kosher is more than just the symbol on the package (see my post on the meat packing plant controversy.)
I also believe that being mindful of the totality of Kashrut is a responsibility and a privilege that we perform for ourselves, our community/planet and our relationship to the divine. I am still climbing that ladder, and I am clearly not totally observant at this point, but I do see this practice as a very deep meditation that transcends food labels.
But hey, if they could just make those labels and symbols just a little simpler that wouldn't be so bad either!
Web sites with lists of kosher symbols

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's In A Name?... Redux

When I remarried I decided to change my last name...including in my professional life. This is a much more complicated issue than it may appear. As a Social Worker/Psychotherapist changing my name opens up my personal life to my patients, which in many ways can be challenging.

In fact this name change has led to a challenge and another first in this auspicious year of firsts...

My first personal experience with antisemitism.

Does one say a Shehecheyanu for this?

Without divulging any confidential information, a patient has clearly reacted strongly to my new name, this new last name which is traditionally Jewish. The comments have been unmistakeably antisemitic. This is occurring in therapy, so how I proceed is dictated by theory and professional standards, yet it still has been an emotional experience.

After dealing with my initial reaction of confusion and anger I grew to see this experience as a gift. The gift of testing my chosen faith, giving me the experience of being seen as Jewish, if even in a negative way and ultimately heightening my connection with the Jewish people.

So I guess maybe a Shehecheyanu is in order...

Monday, August 11, 2008

When is Kosher Not...Ethics and Kashrut

Fasting for a day has a way of focusing the mind. As my day continued I found myself considering the recent shanda/shame of the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville Iowa.
I have read much about Iowa situation, illegal immigrants, deplorable working conditions, child labor and other crimes.
I had been a vegetarian for many years. Due to causes and conditions, health,life style etc, I have return to eating meat over the past few years. The Postville situation makes me reconsider the larger implications of what I place on my plate.
I have been somewhat buoyed by the conservative ( I practice as a Conservative) attempts at addressing such dilemmas in the world of Kashrut, yet I am not sure if this is enough.
USCJ site

read a recent Houston Chronicle take on the story:

or the Desmoines Register's latest offering:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Crocs and Other Things Never Considered

This will be my first Tisha B'Av as a Jew. I must admit some trepidation about it. I remember the last Yizkor service, how the tears filled my eyes and threatened to drown me. I often become emotional during holiday services. Everything is new and I experience it with such an intensity it is difficult to describe to someone who has had grown up in the emotional stew of it all.
So being the mindfulness queen that I am, I have noticed that my mind is avoiding the preemptive intensity of this period in the Jewish calendar and instead continues to focus on footwear. No leather......but some how I wonder if Crocs are metaphorically the right thing to wear. I noticed last Yom Kippur they were the shoe of choice of the repenting crowd.

Seeing that I am a "Payless" type of gal....and many of my shoes carry the ambiguous "All man made materials" label, from a strictly custom/Jewish law place they would work....but then I wouldn't be showing an outward manifestation of the suffering and sorrow....or maybe I just wouldn't be in the "in Crowd."
perhaps wooden shoes would work best..... hummmmm

Monday, August 4, 2008

Choosing the Chosen (Part 1)

so a little background...

I was married for over 20 years and to borrow a phrase from my Buddhist experience, causes and conditions did not manifest to keep me married. In the tradition of not engaging in Lashon Hara, or using the Buddhist language, in honor of Right Speech, I will spare you all and won’t go into the details.

Yet the end of my marriage after such a long time ushered in a period of personal deconstruction the intensity of which I could never had predicted. The reexamining of every aspect of my life, the exile from my home town, (due to complicated financial reasons, and emotional distress I ended up being the one who moved…..) and an extreme change in my standard of living caused for many a personal earthquake.

As all the dust began to settle, I tried to date….(at some point I may write about my E-Harmony experiences and dating gone wrong, but not now….) but changed my mind and decided to just get to know the reemerging me. I decided to go to a divorce group. I wanted to meet some divorced women to hang with. Although my married friends were still there, I had so much more free time than they could ever imagine, and bluntly I was just not the same person I had been before.

Where to find a divorce group became the goal….I have experiencing finding help for others…being a social worker by profession. Yet when I tried to find help for me it became clear that there were three types of groups.

1) Born Again Christian Groups
2) Private Psychotherapy Groups
2) JCC Groups

Well the first two types were unacceptable to me. I didn't need psychotherapy, I had engaged in seeking help during this time period, and was psychologically healing, and no comment on the Born Again option! So the JCC was it. This was not as bizarre a choice for me the Buddhist –UU as it may first appear because my ex-husband is Jewish. A non-practicing Jew, but Jewish non-the less. I experienced holidays with his family and feebly attempted to provide a nominal Jewish understanding for my now grown child while I was married.

So there I was at the JCC the only non-Jew in a group of many women and two men. It was while in this group that I realized not only was I mourning all the losses I experienced, I also was deeply feeling the loss of my "Jewish family." I expressed this often in the group.I was "de-Jewed!" I lost the cycle of the year, and a sense of continuity. This was the sprouting of the seeds of my eventual conversion.

for more background see the side bar...Question #22...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's In A Name?

So the Rabbi asked “and what will be your name?”

I thought Ruth would be the perfect name but seeing that it was also the name of the ex-wife of my husband to be, I quickly banished the thought.

But now what to say?

Rachel sunk into my mind…and with no time left…Rachel it would be…
“Lets dunk Rachel” said the FiancĂ©….”not yet” said the Rabbi….and so the story began…….

Dunking Rachael

Love, Faith and Life