Tag Archives: Jewish practice

Back to Shul Night

13239323_1043186402383629_2280513267283682438_nLast night, my husband and I and my best friend went back to shul for the first time in about four months. Our shul is a welcoming congregation, and they were holding Pride Shabbat last night, in celebration of GLBT Pride happening in our community specifically, and Pride more generally. (This month’s tzedakah box is being donated to the local LGBT center.) There was an actual dinner before the service (donation $18 per adult).

Most of the people who came to this Shabbat were straight couples and families. Many of them were older folks, too. This gives me hope that being gay and being Jewish are not mutually exclusive, at least not for our congregation.

The service was wonderful. Our cantor was hired last summer and it appears she’s made a lot of changes in the musical programs, all to the better. She was on my husband’s beit din last October, which made him very happy because she’s just an awesome person. She included not just a ton of traditional Hebrew prayers but also some modern music that spoke to both acceptance and the gay rights movement. The words were projected onto a screen at the front of the sanctuary in both English and Hebrew, and much of the music was new arrangements by our cantor and two of the other musicians who are congregation members.

At the dinner, the cantor asked all three of us to do a short reading after the Mi Kamocha.

Mine was:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

My best friend read this:

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk

The cantor gave my husband what I feel is the most moving Harvey Milk quote ever:

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” – Harvey Milk

Each of us had a small breakdown moment. My husband cried during the Sh’ma; I cried during the silent meditation after the Mi Kamocha; and my best friend had a few moments during the Hashkivenu and the Mi Shebeirach. But it did what it was supposed to do; it was an emotional service that touched and got to everyone.

Was it good to be back at shul? Yes.

Will we be back again soon? Yes.

Am I glad we went? Yes.

But like I said – emotional.

Shabbat shalom, everyone.

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The Lie I Told Myself About Being a Good Jew

So today, scrolling through Facebook, I came across this article on Kveller:

The Lie I told Myself About Good Jewish Mothers

Much of it resonated with me – not because I’m a mother, of course, but because I’m a Jew who is also struggling with what it means to be a “good Jew.”

I’ve probably said before that I’m a perfectionist and that I want to do everything “right.” It’s hard to remember that “doing Jewish” means doing it the way I can do it, the way I am equipped to do it, and the way that I am able to do it – and that may not look like the way everyone else does it.

Before conversion, and even right after conversion, I really thought that I was going to be that Torah-reading, tallit-wearing, Hebrew-studying, reaaaaaally observant Jew who went to shul weekly, attended Torah study every Saturday morning without fail, and made my Judaism the first and most important thing about my life. But the world got in the way, and, well….

Since November, less than three months after my husband and I completed our conversion processes, we have had to be – paradoxically – far less active Jews than we were hoping to be. We haven’t been able to attend a real Friday night shul service in several months, because of his work schedule (he works for an amusement park; November to March is “peak holiday time” and lots of mandatory overtime for him) and the inopportune arrival of several illnesses that kept me and him both flat on our backs and unable to function. Due to a personal conflict at our Torah study group, we stopped going for a while because it made us uncomfortable, and we still haven’t really resolved that, either.

In short, we have not been good members of our community, and although the reasons are valid, guilt’s still a real thing and I’ve been feeling it.

Here’s the thing about feeling guilt for not measuring up to some standard that you or others have set for your behavior: it makes it less likely that you’re going to try to fix it. At least, it makes it less likely that I’m going to try to fix it. Every time I’ve thought about going back to shul, the guilt has come up and hit me with “but then people would ask you where you’ve been and you know that that would really mean ‘why are you only showing up now, you half-asser?'” That’s a deterrent, not an incentive.

We missed Purim entirely, because we were sick; but was that a good enough reason? We haven’t been to Torah study in months because of illness and over-stress; is that a good enough reason? We missed a concert at our shul with a Jewish musician that I love because of stress and exhaustion; is that a good enough reason? And of course there’s also the cost, and right now we’ve had to penny-pinch, so we haven’t had the money to buy tickets to concerts or food for Purim baskets or, well, pretty much anything.

And yet…

All during that time, we still managed to have Shabbat dinner with a friend at least twice a month, and take Shabbat pretty much “off,” even if that meant catching up on missed sleep the majority of the time.

I have still worn my kippah and my Mogen David, and I haven’t backed down when someone says something anti-Semitic.

I have still said the Sh’ma every night, and meant it.

I have still experienced the world as a Jew, even if I’m not especially active at my synagogue right now.

And that has to count for something, doesn’t it?

As the author of the Kveller article said:

Embracing Jewish motherhood (and motherhood in general) isn’t about following every rule and winning the game. It’s about showing up and staying in the game, even when you don’t know which rules apply to you, or what it even means to win.

I’d argue that the same thing applies to Jewish identity. Recently, I have not been able to follow every rule. But I have done what I can to keep my foot in the door, even if it’s been mostly outside of the community of Jews in my area. And once I have recovered from the stress, exhaustion, and overwork, I’ll be getting back in the game in more substantial ways. For starters, we’re going to a Seder on Saturday evening, and hosting one here the following Thursday, and ideally we’ll be going back to shul after Pesach is over.

But I also think Adonai will understand if, just at the moment, I can’t quite do it all.

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About Tisha B’Av in the modern world

By Anthony Baratier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tisha B’Av is one of the holy days you don’t hear much about if you were born and raised a Gentile. We hear about Hanukkah for sure, and some of us might be aware enough to know about Passover and maybe even Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur (especially if we read Judy Blume books set in New York City). But some of the lesser-known holy days are still surprising to those of us who weren’t born and raised Jewish.

Tisha B’Av is the day commemorating a lot of different Jewish tragedies, including the destructions of the First and Second Temples. It also commemorates the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492, the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, and more recently people have connected it to Kristallnacht and even 9/11. (The Shoah is not one of the days mentioned – it has its own day, Yom Ha’Shoah, for memorials and remembrances.) For most people, it’s also focused on the loss of the Temples – and the hope that the Third Temple will someday be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Tisha B’Av is never observed on Shabbat; if the 9th of Av falls on Shabbat the fast and observances are postponed until the next day. Jews observe similar fasting and restrictions to those observed on Yom Kippur: an all-day fast from food and water, no leather shoes, sitting on low stools. People who are ill are not expected to fast, but the general expectation is that the day should not be a happy one.

The point of the day is to remember the ways in which Jews have been mistreated and harmed, in ways that have affected the entire kol Yisrael (the people Israel) over the years. Although anti-Semitism is frightening when we see it happening in a grocery store in France, this is not what we’re talking about on Tisha B’Av. Instead, we are looking at the non-Shoah tragedies that the entire Jewish people have gone through – things intended to shatter and disperse our community.

As a diabetic, I cannot fast all day, so I must find other ways to observe. I am leaning towards the same method that is outlined here: How Should Reform Jews Observe Tisha B’Av? I will fast from food and water from sundown until noon (i can do that much safely). But after that, I will be meeting with friends for a preplanned lunch because one of them is moving out of the area. When we get home, I will spend some time with the Book of Lamentations, while still being aware that the Judaism of the Temple is not the Judaism of today – because Rabbinic Judaism moved us away from a worship focused on animal sacrifice towards a worship focused on personal and community sacrifice aimed at building a better world. And that’s the Judaism that I follow.

I am ambivalent about building the Third Temple. Would it mean we’d all have to go back to living in the agrarian society of the Torah to be good Jews? How would a city dweller who works as an engineer fulfill the Temple-sacrifice mitzvot? Would we see the moneychangers return to the Temple? (Those moneychangers were largely people selling animals for the various sacrifices, and the bankers who would “moneychange” for people to have enough cash to buy those animals.) Will the ability to complete these mitzvot be based on a person’s net worth (if you have to buy your sacrifices)?

I can’t see that being a good development for modern Judaism. I also don’t see it as much in line with the ethic of tikkun olam – how would that be sustainable?

We can already see how the ultra-Orthodox treat what’s left of the Second Temple – the Western Wall (aka Kotel). They have turned it into a Haredi-only synagogue. Is that a meaningful way of addressing our need to heal the world? Is that a meaningful way of rebuilding a scattered community?

sjewindy had some pointed things to say about the meaning of Tisha B’Av for Secular Humanist Jews – and as a Reform Jew, I find a lot of wisdom in what he says. Here’s that link: Tisha B’Av and Secular Humanist Judaism – and here’s the important quote for me: it is “a holiday that can squarely address the question of our obligations to one another and the power of humans to aid one another in times of crisis.

The lunch I’ll be going to is the last one we’ll be having with this friend, who is moving to the northern part of California to attend college. We won’t see her much after this. She’s a part of my community, and reaching out to her is a good thing for us to do on Tisha B’Av. Finding ways to help people on Tisha B’Av, whether it’s donating to a charity or a fundraiser for people in need, or working in a soup kitchen, or calling a friend who is depressed, also seem to be appropriate ways to observe the day. Taking some time to think about what obligations we have to others is also a good idea on this day.

In addition to commemoration of the horrid things that have happened to our community, creating connection and acknowledging our obligations to one another should be at least one focus of the modern Tisha B’Av.

So that is how I plan to spend the day on Sunday.

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A comment to a post on Kveller: Coming Late to the Party, But Glad That I’m Here

When I saw the blurb for this post at Kveller.com on Facebook, I did a double-take. I, too, grew up Catholic and dabbled in paganism and Wicca (and atheism) before finding Judaism just last year.

And although I came to Judaism for different reasons than the writer did, I identify specifically with this:

“Somewhere along the line, I became Jewish. It wasn’t at the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), it wasn’t at the formal meeting with my Beit Din (rabbinical court) during my conversion process, and it wasn’t during a year’s worth of discussions every month with the rabbi.”

I have yet to stand before the Beit Din or go to the mikveh – that’s next summer. But I have been a part of the Jewish community at my synagogue for nearly a year now, waiting to take the formal classes that will allow me to go to the Beit Din and the mikveh. And somewhere along the line, I became Jewish too. I attended High Holy Days services and prayed with everyone else. I attend Shabbat services at least once a month, and more if my husband’s work schedule permits it. I have Shabbat dinners for friends and family at least twice a month. I’ve already paid for my Introduction to Judaism classes that start next month.

I pray the brachot every time I eat. I pray the Sh’ma morning and night and find comfort in it. My home is a Jewish home – it has a hanukkiah on the bookcase, a siddur and a Torah commentary on the coffee table, a hand-painted besamim box and havdalah candle holder on a shelf near the dining table, Shabbat candlesticks in the dining room, a box of Shabbat candles in a kitchen cabinet… I find myself humming Jewish and Israeli songs pretty much constantly. I wear a kippah and a Mogen David openly, and I dream of the tallit that I’ve picked out and the day that I finally get to put it on. I found my faith and my people.

My rabbi told me that conversion happens “along the way.” It’s not about the moment at the Beit Din or the mikveh. It’s about the point at which “us” comes to my lips much more easily than ‘they”. When my first response is “I’m Jewish.” When I know that I’m a Jew so deeply that I don’t even have to question it.

I’ve passed that point. The rest, as was once said about the Torah, is commentary. It’s a commentary I’ll be learning for the rest of my life, but it’s okay that I, too, came late to this party. The point is that I came to the party, no matter when it happened.

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Meditation for the First Day of the Days of Awe

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Getting Jewish things…

14 Elul 5774

Sometimes you just want to exult about small milestones that seem huge to you.

Two days ago, my fiancé and I hit Michaels and bought crafty things. I am now in the process of painting a spice box for Havdalah purposes. I have also glued together bits and bobs of wood to make a Havdalah candle holder, which is drying overnight, which will also be painted. And I’m searching for a kiddush-appropriate wooden cup, and food-safe clear-coat, so I can make my own miniature self-made version of a Yair Emanuel Havdalah set. My father painted and created most of my family’s holiday things, so I am now following in his tradition.

It’s kind of neat. I’ll show pictures when I’m done.

I have plans for a hanukkiah, next.

And my hardbound copy of the Torah arrived yesterday.

I think that calls for a Shehecheyanu.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam,

Shehecheyanu, viki’imanu, vihig’ianu, lazman ha’zeh. 

I am very happy right now.

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The Spirit of the Law and the Value of NOT Doing It All

"Sunrise Los Angeles" by Bryan Frank on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

“Sunrise Los Angeles” by Bryan Frank on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Things looked better on Shabbat morning. And fortunately, that continued for the rest of the day into our afternoon at home and our evening with friends. 

Things usually do look better in the morning, did you ever notice that? Something about sleeping on it really does help fix most of the problems of low spoons, lack of energy, and general overwhelm.

Of course, I was trying too hard. I was trying to live by every rule, everywhere, to be a perfect Jew, even as I had admitted that it’s okay not to be perfect. There’s a definite difference between saying it and practicing it, and G-d called me on it on Friday, I think. I was at the end of my rope, frazzled, tired, worn out, overwhelmed, and still thinking I could somehow put together the equivalent of a holiday dinner AND bake challah for the next day’s temple Kiddush service when I was almost completely out of cope and energy. I was convinced that I could still follow all the rules and make things somehow come out perfectly even though I was scraping the bottom of the energy barrel.

Reality. It hits you in the strangest ways. Obviously none of those things happened. I’m just glad that the fallout was a few pieces of dough hitting the coffeemaker and the carpet, and nothing worse than that (like a cut hand due to a knife accident, or a concussion because I slipped and hit my head on a wet floor). 

It occurred to me this morning that one of the things I find so healing about Judaism is that Reform Judaism is not a rule-bound system. I grew up with a strong and frightening sense that if I didn’t follow every rule perfectly, all the time, to the letter, then I was in big trouble. Yesterday’s experience at temple in the morning, where I participated in the mid-service Torah study, and where I was reassured that everyone has had kitchen disasters and not to worry – we’ll love to try your challah next week, showed me it’s the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law, that we’re trying to get at here. People (and G-d) don’t expect perfection. They expect an honest effort. They don’t expect me to do it all correctly the first time. They expect me to focus on doing my best to do a little bit better next time.

It’s not about perfect adherence to the rules. If that was all it was, any religion would do. 

My life before Judaism didn’t allow a lot of time for contemplation or doing things deliberately. Due to some disabilities I have, for example, getting dressed in the morning can be a very complicated process. If I put on my jeans before I put on my socks, it’s harder to reach my feet, for example, because that restricts motion enough that bending my knees far enough to reach my feet becomes almost impossible. But there have been times when I’ve been rushing because I feel like I’m late (I rarely am) and then I have to undress and start all over again, usually berating myself for not paying attention well enough. Eating deliberately? What’s that? I have still caught myself being halfway through the meal before I realized I haven’t really tasted it (and that I haven’t said the brachot yet), and then kicked myself for it. I wasn’t raised with the habits of deliberation or contemplation. I was raised with the habits of rushing, doing it quickly, getting it done, and getting on to the next thing. While going to church was calming, it was only one hour a week. That’s not enough to get used to being calm and quiet (and for me it was always upset in the middle by the angry sermons I had to sit through). 

But with Judaism (at least as I’m practice it), it’s not about rushing out of bed and running around like a headless chicken trying to get six things done before breakfast so that things are always perfect. It’s about staying in bed when I wake long enough to remember to say the Modeh Ani before I get out of bed. It’s about taking the time to remember to say the brachot over my morning coffee. It’s about remembering to slow down and take time so that those become things I remember before I need to do them, not after. It’s about taking an entire 24-hour period every week to NOT rush, to NOT hurry, and to let that peacefulness carry over into the rest of the week. It’s the complete opposite of what I was raised with – reflection, rather than rushing.

The rushing seemed to me to be required. If you aren’t running around “looking busy,” you’re lazy, aren’t you? But then I wonder how many people would call a Buddhist monk “lazy” for his meditation practices. I know a few Westerners who probably would, but that’s not the point here. The Type-A personality should not be setting the standard for what reasonable effort looks like – they’re at one end of a very long spectrum. It is possible to be unrushed and not be automatically lazy. It is possible to take time to think and contemplate and not be lazy. 

And it is all right to take a day where rest, contemplation, consideration and thought take precedence over running around trying to do everything all at once. It is all right to live by the spirit of the rules as much as, if not more than, their letter. A blogger I follow on Facebook calls this “living hands-free” – to stop worrying so much about what everyone will think and start focusing on the moment, the process, rather than the goal. 

This is still very hard for me to grasp. We live in a culture that values speed and efficiency and the goal over reflection and deliberation and the process. But living a hands-free kind of life – which for me, more and more, means a Jewish life – demands adherence to the spirit of the rules over the letter of the rules, more often than not. It’s also about bringing that sense of reflection and consideration into the rest of the week, not just leaving it on Shabbat. I had had an entire week of no reflection or consideration, of feeling rushed, of trying to do too much at once, and I paid for it on Friday evening when things finally fell apart because I couldn’t keep all those balls in the air and the plates all spinning at the same time. 

This week, I will forgive myself for dropping the ball. This week, I will not punish myself for taking time to reflect and consider. This week, I will work on reducing my need to live up to every rule and stress myself out by rushing through every process. This week I will make room for contemplation. 

And next week will take care of itself. It always does – have you ever noticed that? 

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Shocheradam And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Erev Shabbat

Ever have one of those Shabbats that goes so fantastically wrong that you can’t imagine it ever going right again? Read on.


 

Sad

“Sad,” by Kristina Alexanderson on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

I really should know better than to write about perfection.

After I put up my post that I made just before the Friday Feature, it feels like everything just went south for me this Shabbat, or at least on erev Shabbat. I had to go to a job HR intake thing that I did not feel prepared for, for starters, having got the command, er, invitation to come in at 10 on Friday morning the previous night. I do not do well with “Surprise! Come here RIGHT NOW!” kinds of e-mails at the best of times, and this was not the best of times. It had been quite a rough week, all things considered. So, resigned to losing my entire usual erev Shabbat morning routine, I went in. The HR person was not a nice person. I felt very conspicuous in my kippah, which made me feel defensive. Probably not the best thing.

I wasn’t in the best of shape when I got out of that meeting. First there was the exhaustion that happens after I have to meet someone new under circumstances I don’t control. Then there were student emails to answer and other work to do that I normally do in the mornings, which was now pushed to the afternoon. Then there was the nap that took away most of the later afternoon. Then there was the realization that someone I’d added on Facebook was a person I had had a very bad interaction with under an IRC handle 12 years ago, and being shook up over that as I defriended them. And the issues the HR person continued to send to me in e-mail all afternoon, some of which are fires I can do nothing about until Monday. And we didn’t really have lunch as such; we just had a late breakfast, so I had a lovely low-blood-sugar episode that I didn’t realize was low blood sugar until I was far beyond the point of no return, and ended up babbling and incoherent, as well as weepy and unable to cope. The phrase that I, and most of my friends, use for this situation is “out of spoon error.” Go read this link for more on that. (Basically, when I’m that low on cope, I become a babbling idiot and I can’t even find my own feet without help.)

Long story short, we didn’t even make it to the grocery, so I started Shabbat (such as it was) without any grape juice or challah, no new flowers on the table, and a sink still full of dirty dishes (morning stuff that didn’t get done thanks to the HR intake intervention blah blah). I resigned myself to a dinner of reheated random leftovers, with no candles, kiddush, or ha-motzi. Basically, my life became a whole big world of no, after the sun went down.

And then, thinking that at least I’d make a loaf of my grain-free challah and bring it with me to Saturday morning service’s Kiddush as I had promised to last Shabbat, I managed to instead make the stand mixer lurch across the counter, flinging hardened batter everywhere and wasting ingredients that don’t exactly come cheap.

Suffice to say that it was a really bad way to go into Shabbat.

Fortunately, after sleeping on it, things seemed some better. We did go to services on Saturday morning and it was refreshing, and my stories of the demon-possessed stand mixer after services were over made people laugh (although I promised that next time I would absolutely have grain-free challah for them for morning Kiddush). Singing the service is getting easier already; I’ve been picking up the melodies. The Torah teaching session that seems to be a standard part of the services was enlightening and made me feel like I belonged, since I could contribute to it intelligently. My partner looked, well, very Jewish in the green handmade kippah I loaned him. And just being among fellow Jews was a hugely calming thing.

Last week, when praying the Birkhot Haschachar, I sang Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam with everyone else. Where our congregation then sings the rest of each prayer in English, however, I fell silent at the line “Thank you for making me a Jew.” This week, I sang it out with everyone else, with tears stinging my eyes. It was a much-needed reminder: I may still be a ways off from my entry into the mikveh and full membership in the Tribe, but my soul is a Jewish soul. And like I said on Friday afternoon, I do not have to be perfect to be a Jew. I just have to keep trying to do a little bit better each time.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, she’asani Yisra-eil.

 

 

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Friday Feature: What Are You Thankful For This Week?

It’s time for the Friday Feature again, where I ask you what good things happened to you this week. This is direct from Telushkin’s Book of Jewish Values, Day 69.

This is a regular Friday morning feature for this blog. Telushkin intended his book to provide topics for Shabbat discussions for at least a year, as each “week” is composed of six values (one per day) and then Shabbat, where he encourages us to talk about those values at our Shabbat dinners and services. I feel that the idea of gratitude is so central to Jewish practice that we should be reminded weekly of what we might be grateful for.

While I know that this might seem a little self-centered, I’m also doing this so that people will have some food for thought for their own Shabbat dinners about what they might be thankful for. I generally talk about the following areas of my life: work and career; family and friends; health; household; my conversion studies; miscellaneous life; and the wider world. Feel free to add or subtract as necessary for your own use.


 

10 Elul 5774

Shabbat CandlesI have a lot to be thankful for again this week, starting with my work situation. Add-drop is over as of midnight tonight, and after that I’ll have stable populations in all my classes (well, as stable as college students ever get) and we’ll be able to get into more of the meat of the classes and what I want them to do. I also got my hiring paperwork taken care of at the school I’ll be starting at mid-semester for an online class, and got as much of the paperwork as possible taken care of. I have research that I’m doing which is going well, too, so on the whole I’m pretty pleased with this past week’s work.

My partner got a story published and we finally decided that it was time to take the plunge; we’ll be getting married and we’re both really excited about it.  While I’m worried for my younger daughter, who injured her ankle pretty badly last week, I’m glad to know that it’s not as bad as it might have been. Her sister’s birthday is this weekend, and we plan to be in touch that day to just say hi on Skype at least, since it’s my ex’s weekend with them. We also have a birthday party to go to tomorrow night for my friend Eric, who turned 40 last weekend. It’s been a while since we’ve had real social time, so this is all to the good.

My health is reasonably good, and I am able to purchase my prescriptions even in a month that is somewhat money-low due to a month of unemployment. 

The apartment is so clean from my last two weeks of erev Shabbat deep-cleaning sprees that I won’t have to do much this evening beyond cook dinner and bake a couple of gluten-free challot (one of which will go to services with us tomorrow morning for use at the Kiddush afterwards). We are considering getting a cat, but that’s still kind of up in the air.

I’m almost ready to start my own independent conversion study again, working on Hebrew and transliterating Torah, mainly. This is an independent study, and I wish I had someone to study with, but perhaps that will simply have to come with time. 

I’m thankful that the cease-fire in Israel continues to hold. 

What are you thankful for this week? Maybe you could talk about it over your Shabbat table. 

In any case, I’ll be seeing you on Sunday or sometime thereafter. Shabbat shalom!


Image credit: “Shabbat Candles,” by slgckgc on Flickr. URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/slgc/13316760215/in/photolist-9d9PUP-uz1c4-62cznH-bFb8W7-4VhB5f-dXbo4N-mhKSS4-aXNxrB-99kMQA-4dPSMa-4dTXuw-4dTW2W-4dPTJH-4dPUdv-4dPW68-4dPYSr-4dTVzb-4dTUfq-4dPTfc-4dTUGm-4dPXVH-4dTYBG-4dTWww-4dTTHN-4dTZ8s-9nHiyz-8bq8Gg-9EiE-bo1Kr-j7wrA3-6RZZyi-8bqcBM-8bq8T8-8bq8Pa-A3srd-525Abj-8btq2y-bXcH8-8bqcBr-8btq11-8btq4s-6PDNQX-a4pe1X-dPuz2S-Bts1-GvC3m-5q6My2-4EzwEx-9cnnzU-9c3gQ4/ Used under Creative Commons license. 

 

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Just an update for Tisha B’Av

So I scheduled a job interview for Tuesday, not knowing that it was Tisha B’Av… but once it was scheduled, it could not be changed. Unfortunately.

However, even if I had been able to reschedule it, I can’t fast. I am a diabetic with other health problems; fasting is not part of what I’m able to do safely for any length of time. (Trust me. Me with a below-70 blood glucose = raving crazy uncontrollable hosebeast. Not a good thing.)

So then, when you cannot fast and you must meet obligations you created before you realized the significance of the day, what do you do to observe Tisha B’Av?

Well, I spent the afternoon and evening after my interview thinking a lot about the trials that the Jewish people have endured and survived. Yes, the destruction of the two Temples, but also the Shoah (of course), the expulsion from Spain and the Inquisition, and many other horrific and horrifying events over the last few millenia. I devoted some time to praying for all those who have died and who will die in Gaza, and praying for peace (as unlikely as I think that probably is). I spent some time thinking about my father, too.

In essence, I treated the day as a day of mourning once I got home. I can’t say that that’s all I did, but I did everything deliberately, not mindlessly, and focused on remembering what our people have had to go through at the hands of others.

תן לנו שלום בזמננו – Give us peace in our time.

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