Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eruv Nonsense

My husband and I have been talking about possibly selling our house and moving near the water. This has been a dream of my husband's for many years and he believes, due to many causes and conditions this might be obtainable for us at this time.

Being an entrepreneurial type, I very quickly thought if we go forward with this plan I should send information on our house to the various Orthodox synagogues near us. I live very close to one and within walking distance of another. I went on line to find out about their communities and Rabbi's etc.

Both web pages had information about my area's Eruv. I studied the map and was excited to see that my house is in the middle of the Eruv. This makes for wonderful possibilities for helping me sell my house....

But something about the Eurv map was deeply disturbing to me. It made me more than a bit angry. I attend a large egalitarian conservative synagogue. The eurv clearly leaves my synagogue out! I know nothing about the politics and or history of this but to look at the map they had to make an effort to skip us!

I guess I could bring this up with my rabbi...but again it is another one of these disturbing "them" "us" Jewish moments that leaves me sad.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mindfulness Jewish Style/Happy Thanksgiving!

Mindfulness Jewish Style brought to you by the rabbi at the Merrick Jewish Center.

Mindfulness is an interesting tool/philosophy/life style/practice...I try to live it. This week has been a lesson in mindfulness. One way to describe mindfulness is as awareness without judgment of what is, via direct and immediate experience. Basically not privileging experiences...or not subcategorizing things presumptively as good and bad.

My daughter has recently moved across the country and due to this, and other causes and conditions including the death of my mother in law with in this year we were going host a very small thanksgiving for my brother in law and his partner. I was not happy with this. Thanksgiving is supposed to be for large families etc. so my brain and emotions kept telling me. I then tried to rally others to come and join us and my sister and possibly my brother and his girlfriend said yes. I had been feeling the loss of late and getting melancholy about not being able to have a large family with whom I can share holidays and was letting folks know this. Not so mindful of me, but I continued to try to manufacture this Thanksgiving. Then fate kicked in. First my brother and his girlfriend cancel...then the worst part...I got the flu...I have been sick since Sunday and today is the first day I can read and write (Wed.)....thanksgiving, or at least the thanksgiving of my projections/attachments is cancelled.

But then something happened between rolling in pain, and being hot and cold with fever...I remembered mindfulness...as the hours have very slowly ticked by, too sick to do anything I am concentrating on the present moment. Not what is missing, what is lost or wanted.
And now I smile as I truly give thanks that I can read today....and that gastric and respiratory distress is lessening. I am grateful for my non toothache!
I am grateful for the wonderful man I call my husband who has taken care of me despite a high degree of whining and moaning...I am grateful for the two dogs who both stayed with me when I needed them and got lost when I needed them to.
I am grateful for so much.

I hope you find your grace despite or in-spite of what your thanksgiving holds for you!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Complicated III or My Daughter on the Oregon Trail

My daughter and her boyfriend left for Oregon today. They have
been living with my husband and I since the Summer. It has been a complicated time. I love my daughter and want her to be happy. We all know it is best for her and happier for her to be on her own, yet Oregon is sooooo far away!

My daughter and I have been through a lot together...and now she embarks on a phase of her life that I hope is full of the promise she anticipates. I have changed and I must accept that she gets to change too!

Anyone out there know about Jewish Portland?...I will be visiting her often.......

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

4:22 PM

"We'd like to remind you that this evening's candle lighting time is 4:22 in Merrick, NY.Saturday 5:22 Havdalah."

Thusly the weekly shabbat email reminder began.....

Yikes!....4:22 pm!

The reminder went on to mention pre-planning so one could lite candles in the meditative sereneness required by this ritual act. Yet 4:22 for someone in the secular world of work is a tough one. I am lucky I work for myself and set my own schedule but it still can be difficult even with that great advantage. I am sure I will be home in time with some sort of dinner ready made, more than likely bought if I am being totally truthful!

But with the encroaching winter light signaled by the early candles, the very early chunakah this year, the pending move across country of my only daughter and her boyfriend, the recent death of my former mother-in-law, the death within the year of my current mother-in-law, my own mother's medical issues, my sister's cancer diagnosis and treatment...well I guess you get the picture....I am having some struggles.

The other day I was feeling grateful, and I still am, but I am also feeling a bit melancholy, wishing I could patch together some sort of holiday gathering. I missed out on family Jewish celebrations being a convert and all, but I still want to experience it!

I am going to get the nerve up and try to put together a party...it tends to be a time of year for families but I just may be able to find enough loose souls to come and light candles and sing songs with me!....Please wish me luck!

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Today's Fact brought to you by National Jewish Outreach Program

(I just love these emails...daily little bits of Jewish factoids to brighten my day!)

Rachel: The Great Romance
The story of Jacob and Rachel is as close to true romance as one finds in Biblical literature.

Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebecca, went to the home of Laban (Rebecca’s brother) to find a bride. (In those days, marrying first cousins was not uncommon.) Jacob arrived at a well that was covered by a large stone. When Jacob asked the gathered shepherds if they knew his uncle, they pointed to a young shepherdess approaching the well and announced that this was Laban’s daughter Rachel. They also explained to him that they were waiting until all of the local shepherds arrived at the well to roll back the rock and distribute the water. Jacob immediately rolled the rock away himself and gave water to Rachel’s sheep. Laban agreed to let the smitten Jacob marry Rachel, if Jacob first worked for him for seven years.

When the wedding day finally arrived, however, Laban decided that it would be very embarrassing if his younger daughter, Rachel, were to marry before her older sister, Leah. Therefore, without any warning, he ordered Leah to don her sister’s wedding veil secretly and be wed to Jacob without his knowledge.

Rachel now faced a great dilemma. She could fight for her right to wed Jacob as promised, or she could expose the plot, humiliate her sister in public and bring great shame to the entire family. Putting her sister’s honor before her own, Rachel gave Leah the secret signs that she and Jacob had prepared in case of just such a likelihood, so that Leah could marry the man Rachel loved. When the festivities of Jacob and Leah’s wedding were completed a week later, Rachel and Jacob were wed and Rachel became his second, but more beloved, wife.
Ok love that story....!
I picked the name Rachael in one of those unconscious wonderful monuments...(see the very first post on this blog for the details) Yet despite not having put much thought into the name...it so fits my new wonderful life!
I spent much of the past weekend sunk into the past...the death of my former mother-in-law sent me on a personal history tour that was filled with many emotions. But today I am experiencing my grateful energy....the energy of mindfulness and gratitude for my current life.
Dare I say, despite much to be concerned about...(I will spare you the agony list!) I am more or less pleased with my life and the people who populate it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

To Anonymous

To Anonymous

I am not orthodox...but I try to hold the line on writing on shabbat...but I do read my computer on shabbat...when I saw your comment...which you will see , that I did post...I took a few moments to think about it....
You must know me I am sure..or why would you be anonymous and why would you be so condemning of me. Who ever you are, I want to say I am sorry for any pain I may have caused you.

no pain was intended...these were my feelings.....feelings and perspective can be problematic...and I am sorry

I had shared the post with my former husband for his review.....we talked about it...he had no issue with what I said about him....he did not mention any feelings about what I wrote about his mom...I have reviewed what I wrote and made changes to make it clearer.

when you see me at the funeral please try to remember I use this blog to work out my experiences and feelings. Hopefully you read some of the other things here to get an idea.

Life is complicated, relationships are complicated and divorce is very complicated...please consider all the shades of grey in terms of relationships, feelings and emotions. Of course I am sad about Dorothy...that is why I needed to write.

as for you...whoever you are, once again...I'm sorry

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's Complicated II Dorothy

Baruch dayan emet

My former Husband's mother died.

I was married for 20 years and was introduced to her a year or two before my marriage. Dorothy and I always had an interesting relationship...oh did I remind y'all my first husband was Jewish...and at that time I wasn't.

I married a secular Jewish man who one might use the label of "self hating Jew" to describe him. He has disdain for all things Jewish but to be fair he has disdain for most things religious. He would say he was biologically and or culturally Jewish but would call most ritual mumbo jumbo or voodoo.I carried the "Jewishness" of the family from a ritual standpoint for my daughter... I made sure she had connections to it and made my own attempts at home based events such as Hanukkah.

as I was saying, my relationship with Dorothy was complicated. I believe Dorothy was a product of her age and generation. In her time I think she was an ambitious woman who had dreams and aspirations that were slightly out of her reach, of course not due to her. She was smart, almost sassy and always had an opinion on any topic that might manifest. In some ways she was admirable for having carved and cobbled a life together out of the strands she was given...in other ways I found her difficult to get to know, at times she appeared to be not the most warm individual,but that could just be my perception. To me, she always felt as if there was a distance that could never be transversed.This could be due to the many difficulties she had encountered in her life.

Yet over my tenure as daughter-in-Law...the first daughter-in-law...(there is another, daughter-in law...I experienced this as complicated as it can be in most families) I did much care taking. Yet no matter how long I was in the family I think in a mostly unconscious way, I felt I was labeled as the "other". Even at times when it was clear she was having much difficulty with my Jew from birth daughter-in-law counterpart (this in the beginning of her entry into the family...). I was still the non-Jew.(of course this could have been my own "stuff"!)

I have a number of memories but one of the most lasting was our Passover ritual. It was difficult to get the family to decide when we would gather. I most often would insist on the appropriate nights, first or second... but the difficulties would mean sometime yes and sometimes no. She had hagadhs from the 50's or 60's they had Elsie the cow on them!...and every year she would precede to ask/tell me what was happening at the Seder table. may I add not in the most affectionate way!...not mean mind you, just very practical...20 years of this...as my daughter got older it became a game between us as to when Grandma would educate me on all things Jewish. In fact I was the one who wanted to "do" Passover fully with some spirituality....clearly I was not supported in this endeavor.

Once the divorce word crossed our collective lips (my husband and me)I never saw her or his family again.It is important to note that I hold the land speed record for divorce. Having uttered the word in January, entered mediation in February we had a completed agreement by the beginning of May. That part of my life was disappeared they all were gone not to be seen again....that is until Dorthy became sick.

Over the past year the lung issues she had been dealing with for many years had finely been labeled Lung Cancer. as she and her family struggled with choosing the right directions, I had a far off sideline seat. My former husband and I now have a respectable amiable relationship. We are not sharing holidays and hanging out together, but we can talk, share in events that are important to our daughter and in general be ok with one another. Then as it became clear to me, (I used to work as a social worker in an oncology department) that Dorothy would not find her way to a remission, closing this chapter of my life seemed important.

I ended up seeing her during one of her last hospitalizations. It was somewhat awkward. My new found Jewishness was a major part of the conversation. One thing she said did make me smile. she said "you were always more Jewish than all of us."

so now Dorothy is of blessed memory...
Hamakom y'nachem etchem b'toch sh'ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim

Woman of the Wall in the Post


400 world rabbis ask police to protect Women of the Wall

Kotel’s rabbi: I call on them to behave according to the customs of the area and not to insult the sensitivities of the other people praying.

More than 400 rabbis from around the world have signed a letter asking Jerusalem police to protect women at the Western Wall who want to pray and read the Torah together, one year after nursing student Nofrat Frenkel was arrested for taking out a Torah in the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza.

Frenkel is a member of the Women of the Wall organization, which advocates for women’s rights to perform religious actions, such as wearing prayer shawls and reading from the Torah, at the Western Wall.

The letter, organized by Los Angeles Rabbi Pamela Frydman, asked the mayor and police chief of Jerusalem to “immediately institute and enforce a zero-tolerance policy against attacking women in any way whatsoever, including throwing chairs and feces-filled diapers and other objects at women who pray together.”

The letter, co-authored by 28 rabbis, has also been signed by close to 500 other individuals and organizations from various Jewish denominations across the world, bringing the total to over 900 signatories. It was also sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, along with other prominent politicians.

“It is extremely important to us that there always be a place for haredi men and women in a way that is comfortable for them and in accordance with their understanding of Halacha,” said Frydman, who is the director of the Holocaust Education Project at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, and was ordained through the Jewish Renewal movement.

“But it is equally important for us that those of us who are Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal that we have a place where we can pray in accordance with our understanding.”

Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said that the police would respond directly to the authors of the letter.

“The Women of the Wall are welcome, like every Jewish woman, to come to the Western Wall,” Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, chief rabbi of the Western Wall, told The Jerusalem Post. “It is forbidden for anyone to harm them, as violence is totally forbidden at the Western Wall. Together with this… I call on them to behave according to the customs of the area and not to insult the sensitivities of the other people praying.”

Another police source pointed out that the women were arrested after engaging in activities that were forbidden by Supreme Court decisions.

“On the one hand, they’re breaking the law, and on the other hand, they’re asking for expanded protection in order to break the law,” said the police source.

On Monday, when the women mark the new Hebrew month of Kislev, Nofrat Frenkel will lead services to mark the one-year anniversary of her arrest. She was arrested after attempting to bring out the Torah in the main women’s section, which is against the law.

“It was the global support we received that put the wind in our sails,” said Frenkel in a statement. “After my arrest, Jews in both Israel and the Diaspora understood that we have to win this battle by foot.

Men and women, from all sects of Judaism, have arrived monthly to pray with WOW at the Kotel and insist on their right for freedom of worship.”

The Women of the Wall has also started a campaign asking women around the world to send photos of them reading and holding Torahs, in order to illustrate that this is a worldwide movement. They have collected more than 4,000 photos.

“Israelis have given up on the Wall,” said Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, who was also arrested at a Women of the Wall event six months ago. “They feel uncomfortable there... People have made them feel as if they’re not coming home, but trampling on someone else’s place. There are territorial behaviors, saying, ‘Wear something different,’ ‘Move from here,’ ‘Move from there.’” Frydman is currently leading a delegation to Israel of around 20 people, both men and women, to support Women of the Wall and attend Monday’s Rosh Hodesh service.

“There’s a saying, ‘Respect comes even before Torah,’” Frydman said. “We believe it’s important to respect the haredi way of worship, and our way of worship as well.”

Dunking Rachael

Love, Faith and Life