Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
But what is it?
Today I'm guest-blogging over at a beautiful blog: popchassid.com.
It’s so many things.
It’s the belief that each one of us possesses a holy soul that has a unique mission to fulfill on this earth.
It’s the philosophy that our primary path to becoming spiritual beings is the process of refining our character traits.
It’s studying, in depth, the inner workings of envy, greed, stinginess, kindness, ego, generosity, fake flattery, laziness, modesty, joy and serenity.
It’s identifying where our work lies, in perfecting ourselves, whenever we are in an altercation with another.
It’s the serenity and inner joy that comes from accepting responsibility for our own reactions, perceptions, and relationships.Continue reading...
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Why? you may say.
The Yiddish word: shuckle.
Is there a Hebrew equivalent?
It's how I saw people praying growing up.
I don't know another way.
I've tried to stop.
It happens by itself.
Sometimes, the emotion of my words gets into my body and takes over.
Or, I'm thinking about my grocery list (oy!).
Then, the sway/pray wakes me up.
Think about where you are. (Not Heinen's.)
Are you not ashamed
to be swaying
like a saint
when your mind
Close your eyes.
Sway. Be silent. Let your body remind your heart.
Be on the same page.
Words. Mind. Heart. Body.
Sway, and pray.
Or: pray, and sway.
Monday, June 18, 2012
One of the things that continually impresses me about my community is the incredible plethora of organizations that have been founded for the primary purpose of helping people. One local one is close to my heart as my mother-in-law is very involved, and it's staffed by some unbelievable people. But instead of telling you all about it in my own words, I've interviewed a friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous for professional reasons - we'll call her "G."
Me: Where are you from, and what religious affiliation did you grow up with?
G: I grew up Orthodox in Riverdale, New York.
Me: How did you first encounter Cleveland's Bikur Cholim?
G: My family first encountered Bikur Cholim of Cleveland when we came from New York, with our infant twins, for my husband's liver transplant in 2005. Bikur Cholim has a house for out-of-town patients coming to Cleveland for medical care. We stayed in their house for 3 months. They brought us dinner every night and made sure we had everything we needed for the kids. Bikur Cholim even arranged for a Succah to be built for our family.
Me: What do the words "Bikur Cholim" mean?
G: "Bikur Cholim" literally means "visiting the sick" in Hebrew.
Me: Describe the person/people that make this organization special.
G: Bikur Cholim is special because it has an entire community of incredible volunteers. These people all find great meaning and purpose in helping others in their times of need. These volunteers try to anticipate the families' needs because they are so eager to do a mitzvah!
Me: What would people do if there were no organization like this in town? What would their options be?
G: Without an organization like Bikur Cholim, people may become entirely dependent on their inner circle in times of crisis. The sense of feeling embraced by the larger Jewish community would be lost. Extended stays in a hotel would be the alternative for those patients coming from out of town, if the Bikur Cholim house didn't exist.
Me: What are the various services that Bikur Cholim offers?
G: Aside from the Bikur Cholim house, Bikur Cholim offers services including kosher meal preparation and delivery, hospital visits, a kosher pantry at most of the local hospitals, rides to doctor's appointments, a lending video library for bedridden patients, and more.
Me: Was there one encounter/incident that really stood out for you that you'd like to share?
G: I spent a Shabbat in the hotel close to the hospital following my husband's surgery.One incredible memory I have of Bikur Cholim was of their volunteers delivering a beautiful Shabbat meal to the hotel complete with a silver kiddush cup, challah, a thermos with hot soup and cholent. There was no detail spared. Bikur Cholim helped make a challenging time as wonderful as possible!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Of course ending with "please send this to all mums that you know!!!!!!"A woman, renewing her driver's licence ,
was asked by the woman at Registry to state her occupation.
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
'What I mean is, ' explained the woman at Registry,
'do you have a job or are you just a .....?'
'Of course I have a job,' snapped the woman.
'I'm a Mum.'
'We don't list 'Mum' as an occupation,
'housewife' covers it,'
Said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myselfin the same situation.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
'Official Interrogator' or 'City Registrar.'
'What is your occupation?' she probed.
What made me say it? I do not know.
The words simply popped out
'I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.'
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right.
I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words..
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
'Might I ask,' said the clerk with new interest,
'just what you do in your field?'
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
'I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn't)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).
I'm working for my Masters, (the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careersand the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.'
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern..
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone moredistinguished and indispensable to mankind than 'just another Mum.'Motherhood!
What a glorious career!
Variations on this theme are ubiquitous (I'm thinking of the one where someone figures out how much money motherhood would be worth on the job market). But have a big bone to pick with it all. Motherhood is not and never will be comparable to a job where people pay you. It's. Just. Not. In fact, the two have nothing in common.
See, according to Judaism, working is neither a right, an honor, or a privilege. It's a... ready?
Curse. Given to... ready?
And pregnancy, labor, and the difficulty in child-rearing is a... (you already knew this) curse!
Given to (you already knew this)...
For what? For the sin of eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
Now for the disclaimers:
1. For some, working is an outlet, a way to feel useful, to give to society. I refer to needing to work in order to eat. (The source states: "by the sweat of your brow will you [be able to] eat bread." Far cry from part-timing it to deal with empty-nest syndrome.)
2. In some families, women help out with the bread-winning, and men help out with the child-raising. This is good. We help each other deal with our mutual curses. That's called "being kind" and is a pleasant character trait. Keep it up. Even, sometimes, women are primary bread-winners, and men are primary child-raisers. This is OK too. Nothing forbidden about that.
3. Equal pay for equal work is unrelated to this teaching.
4. We should still be grateful to the members of each gender for their hard work in their respective curses. Just because they're cursed doesn't mean we have it lord it over them. But to envy someone else's curse seems rather unseemly.
Do you think?
For those of you that are into sources, check out Genesis/Bereishit/s 3:17 and 19.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
yet I'm not an environmentalist.
I care about animals
but I'm not an activist.
I feel that women are strong, wise, and capable, and have an incredibly important contribution to offer the world
but I'm not a feminist.
I believe that humans have values and concerns that are deeply important
but I wouldn't be called a humanist.
It is vitally important to me to understand things rationally
but I don't want you to call me a rationalist.
My observance may seem extreme to some
but I don't think you'd call me an extremist.
I believe that God has a masterplan
but I'm definitely not a fatalist.
I'm a Jew.
It's my highest calling.
I wouldn't dilute it, hyphenate it, or share it with any other identity.
All my other callings fall under its umbrella.
I'm a Jew-ist.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Here's what I've learned:
1. People will, of their own accord, follow up on their commitments without reminders approximately 10% of the time.
BUT lots of the 90% think they're the 10% so good luck with that.
2. You never need to buy anything at full price. There's always a smarter way.
BUT consciously indulge every once in a awhile. It's fun.
3. Phrases like "I need some me-time"; "It's the principle of the matter"; and "I just need to vent/rant" are usually rationalizations for selfish behavior camouflaged as mental health directives.
BUT don't tell that to your spouse.
4. When life feels overwhelming, it's usually because I need a nap.
BUT maybe that's because I don't drink coffee.
5. Potty training is worse than adolescence.
BUT adolescence lasts a lot longer.
6. Every person has free will to accept or reject a life of faith. There will always be compelling factors on both sides.
BUT most people in this world have never taken the time to embark on a serious educational quest on the issue.
7. My parents were way more in the know than I thought when I was a teen.
BUT it might take my kids another 20 years to figure out that so am I.
8. Baby food is a scam. Applesauce is applesauce and oatmeal is oatmeal.
BUT it took me 5 kids to stop buying it.
9. Secrets are almost always more damaging in than out.
BUT if you make me a surprise party, I'll forgive you.
10. You can say pretty much anything - even tough truths - to the people you love.
BUT plan your words very wisely.
What truths have you learned since graduation?