Friday, December 24, 2010

My First Christmas Free Christmas!

Clearly I am a Jew By Choice...A Covert....

I have detailed many times my personal struggles and the complicated nature of this type of choice. Today is December 24th, and all is well, well for the most part. The main sticking point currently is in how to manage honoring one's parents/family and following one's heart, aka Judaism. This is clearly summed up in today and tomorrow.

Shabbat, December 25th 2010. I have decided that we (my husband and myself) will go to services and then drive to my parents home to honor them and be with them on their holiday. I can not figure out any other way that can hold both desires.

It is an odd feeling...this is basically my first almost totally Jewish Christmas. With the exception of visiting my parents, there has been no Christian/Christmas type activities on my part. The past three years had been difficult because of my daughter, who with my conversion lost Christmas, but now that she has gone on her own adventure, moving across the country, I have no pressure to have a tree etc.

Yet this odd feeling continues....I'm not regretting anything about my choice, it is just that old conundrum of very few Jewish memories and many many childhood christian ones. I keep asking my husband about his life experiences...his memories of December from his childhood... but then I kind-of feel like a memory vampire, taking his memories because I have none.

The energy about Christmas is all around me, despite living in a fairly Jewish area. You just can't hide from it. I work with children and families and Christmas talk has been happening for weeks. The music in my building has been Christmas themed for the entire month. My husband says he like Christmas carols, that they don't bother him. For me once again it is complicated, they are connected to memories, and childhood times of excitement and wonder waiting for Christmas and Santa. It is almost like I have to block the songs to keep from feeling odd at this time of year.

For those of you born Jewish this might be hard to understand. I just want to "feel Jewish." I want to not even have a thought about Christmas...yet right now it doesn't appear that I am close to that!

sooo Shabbat Shalom...and take a moment to consider the Jews By Choice you might know. Reach out to them at services, because they may need Jewish memories too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Saturday December 25th 2010

If you are reading this blog, you more than likely know I am a Jew by Choice. So much has changed since I started down the path of "let me take a closer look at Judaism." A lot has happened! My third anniversary of my conversion will occur on April 1st 2011...God willing.

I am happy that I have managed to continue to evolve in my observance and practices. I have also managed to diplomatically deal with my family of origin, my Catholic, Italian/Irish family of origin. The main difficulty has been my daughter who lost Christmas with my conversion (her father, my former husband is Jewish but rejects all religion) Yet even before she moved to Portland Oregon this fall, that had started getting better with her move, I have no Christmas tree dilemma!

As I put away my Hanuka decorations last Sunday, It dawned on me that this year will be the first one in my life where I have absolutely no trace of Christmas in my home. I have been trying to understand my feelings about this. I don't think I am missing it, but there is some issue of my memories. This time of year is intrinsically linked to that holiday. The songs, the traditions the religion of it all. Don't get me wrong I feel at home being Jewish, but it just seems a bit odd.

The next revelation for me is when I saw that Christmas falls on Shabbat this year. For those of you born Jewish with no mixed marriage issues , this is not a problem but for me this is BIG. One way I have kept the family quite is by attending gatherings in their homes for their celebrations. That way I am there but generally don't have to compromise much. (I will write about food wars at another time!...)

Ok I am not Shomer Shabbat but I am not secular about it either...I use the lights, shower with hot water etc...but my husband and I walk to our conservative synagogue and I don't work, shop etc..
The problem is my parents live two hours away from me.

I have envisioned the phone conversation..."hello mom,... no not coming, it is shabbat"......dead silence....the extremist word might get used...the c word...cult....and a bunch of others. There also could be some serious guilt thrown my way.

My parents are very old, they have accepted so much from me...I don't think I have the strength to hold my ground on this, this year....Does anyone know the next year this will happen?...maybe I will be on vacation for that!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sharing a Belief...

On November 23, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York joined with Rabbi Klein in a dialogue that took place at the Merrick Jewish Centre in Merrick NY. It was an important evening as a conjoint effort to begin to build bridges of understanding between the Jewish and Islamic communities began in our little place in the world. The discussion touched on many important issues. Please check out the follow link for other clips from this meeting.

This dialog, I believe was a hopeful thing. Often I have felt some discomfort when politics of religion have come up at synagogue. Often there is open hostility expressed about Islam from some, and perhaps less open but still there is strong distrust from others. In fact my husband is fond of telling me I live in an Utopian world...but that the rest of the world isn't there with me. Of course I am aware of the vast difficulties, pain and suffering that abounds in the world, and in particular in relationship to the Israeli /Arab situation. Yet I hold strongly to my beliefs that hope and peace are the only way. Hatred begets hatred, aggression begets aggression. Growing understand is a way of watering the seeds of hope.

I was happy to see the Rabbi go down this path. Often his very vocal and consistent support for Israel, an Israel right or wrong stance, can feel anti Islamic at times.....this just might be my perception. I too support Israel, but sometimes feel extremely frustrated by some of the actions taken there. This meeting of religious leaders has helped to calm my judging mind and water my seeds of hope that even more change is possible.

Hoping for hope is a good thing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Made Me Cry

I work for myself as a mental health/LCSW therapist. This time of year can be difficult for many people...yet many people because they become so depressed don't show up for their appointments. This leaves me in an awkward spot. If they actually cancel I can then plan my time, but if it is a no show, I must hang around just in case....all this to say...


so I was trolling you tube and found this amazing video. It comes from the folks at Yad Vashem. They have so much material up on the web...I believe it is a good use of my force down time.....
What brought tears was the footage of the little children singing HaTikvah. Considering this film is from the early 30's ....need I say more.

"Wedding of Frime Chaye Rivke Shapira - daughter of Grand Rebbe Eleazer Shapira of Munkatch, author of Minchas Eleazer (d. 1936), to Rabbi Rabinowitz in March 1933. She was the mother of the present Munkatcher and Dinover Rebbes. Complete version. Includes other scenes of Jewish life in Munkacs, Hungary, both of secular and religious Jews. 1. Wedding. Huge crowds of well wishers gather in the streets on the occasion of the wedding of the Munkacs Grand Rabbi's 18 year old daughter, Frime Chaye Rivke. The Munkatcher Rebbe makes a speech in Yiddish exhorting Jews in America to continue to keep Shabbos (to observe the sabbath day). The wedding party then enters the synagogue grounds, and the cantor sings blessings beneath the wedding canopy (chupah). The wedding concludes with festive hasidic music. Newspaper accounts indicate that some 20,000 people attended the celebrations. 2. Secular Jewish children singing in Munkatch. 3. Traditional Religious Jewish children studying in Orthodox Religious School in Munkatch. 4. Book peddler and weaver in Munkatch. 5. Secular Jews dancing in Munkatch."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finding Hope & Cute Boys Singing!

Last night my husband was laughing with/at me about how happy I was to light our menorah. He said "we need to get some little kids for you!"...I told him I am making my Jewish memories. We have been going through some very trying times of late; Jobe like times. Yet to engage in a joyful celebration, if only the two of us, is special to me. I embrace it and drink it in. I am determined not to give into the negative thoughts despite much serious illness in my extended family, sister, sister's partner and my mother.

I light the lights to shine into my heart, into other's hearts and to light hope in me! I find peace in the ritual and hope in the flames....

soooo now for the cute boys!.........

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rabbi Klein Video

A New Light (mp3): My Jewish Learning

A New Light (mp3): My Jewish Learning

Free Mp3 to Rock Your Hanukkah from the Jewniverse

How do you make your Hanukkah a little bit warmer? By bringing it in with some friends, of course. Three great singers--Naomi Less (who fronts the band Jewish Chicks Rock), Chana Rothman, and Sarah Aroeste (who you might remember from our video How Jews Look)--teamed up to record a great new song, "A New Light," which you can download as an mp3.The title refers to Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, but it also gives a nod to the Hebrew prayer "Or Hadash," one of the blessings before the Shema. In three languages--English, Hebrew, and Ladino--the singers belt out a song that's soulful without giving up its catchy pop. "You're the one who can ignite/Thanks for lighting up our lives," they sing on the chorus--which could be a prayer, or it could be a shout-out from each of these excellent singer/songwriters to the others.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

mmmmm donuts


Dunking Rachael

Love, Faith and Life