"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


OK, this involves a little learning of Hebrew grammar. Stick with me.

In Hebrew, verbs come in seven forms, called buildings: Pa'al, Pi'el, Nif'al, Hif'il, Poo'al, Hitpa'el, and hoof'al.

The Hebrew word for "to pray" is "l'hitpallel." This is a hitpa'el verb.

A hitpa'el verb always indicates an exchange between two parties. For example, "lch'tov" means "to write," and "l'hitkatev" means "to correspond." It follows that "l'hitpallel" also implies an exchange: an exchange between people and God.

Prayer is a two-way street.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, of Cabbages and Kings..."

My swirling thoughts have begun to settle down, and I feel that writing them down will help make them clearer. This post is likely to be long; stick with me, please.

My Identity--a Gift?

I firmly believe that my identity, all of it, every aspect, is a gift from God. I know for a fact that I was made "B'Tzelem Elohim," in God's image, with a "lev tahor," a pure heart. As much as I struggle with accepting my sexual orientation, I know that this struggle will ultimately make me a more beautiful and stronger person. The ability to love, regardless of which gender one loves, is a gift. I am Jewish, I am homosexual or maybe bisexual, and I am proud.

The Jewish View of Our Relationship with God

According to Judaism, people are God's partners in fixing the world and continuing creation. Yes, there is a time to cry out to God for forgiveness, but we have only one day for that: Yom Kippur. Although there is also a short paragraph in the main weekday prayer, recited three times a day, asking God for forgiveness, it is sandwiched between praise and more important requests (health, rain for Israel, the coming of the Messiah, etc.) and is almost over before it starts.

Judaism teaches that we are God's witnesses, and some believe that without people, there would be no God. To put it in my own words, we (all people) are God's fingers, completing the work that could not be done without us. The main point of the Torah is to help us with this work and give us a way to approach God through the following of the commandments.

God's Gender?

Most people call God by a masculine name and pronoun. In all Hebrew prayers, God is portrayed as male. There is, however, a speculation that the sacred, unpronouncable name, Y-H-V-H, used once a year by one person in private during Temple times, was in fact God's feminine aspect, and we lost it when we lost the Temple.

I know that in my personal visions etc., when God appears to have a gender that gender is female, usually a mother. Because I believe that visions are real but their content is what we expect to see, I wonder whether the way I perceive God has to do with my lesbianism.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Tonight we are 28 days, that is four weeks, into the Omer. Three more weeks until Shavuot!

Also, I have lots on my mind tonight about trials and struggles that are really gifts, acceptance of self and others, and the relationship between people and God according to Judaism, but for tonight I think this song says it all. "V'ahavta l'rei'acha kamocha": Love your neighbor as yourself.


Sunday, May 15, 2011


NOTICE: This post does not go in a logical order; please read the whole thing before forming opinions and/or commenting. You may be surprised by what you read.

You, readers, may notice the comments on one of my previous entries. Although I disagree with them, I have chosen to allow their publication because I do not intend to censor politely expressed opinions, however much they differ from mine.

That being said...

Before I go any farther with this blog, I MUST CLARIFY one point regarding my religious life:


There. I said it. I'm sorry if you're disappointed. I believe the Torah is divinely inspired; I believe there was and continues to be a moment or state of being called Sinai in which special, unbelievable, miraculous religious experiences happen. I also believe religion is at least in part a man made system and can evolve, and that the evolution of religion is inevitable if Sinai is a potentially continuous state of being, as I believe it to be.

Even if you do believe that the entire system (of whatever religion) was created and written by God (and feel free to do so), in Judaism there is another body of literature, separate from the Written Torah, known as the Oral Torah. This traditional body of literature, compiled about 2000 years ago, allows for homosexual acts via a number of interpretations of the verse prohibiting them.

I am going to get somewhat explicit, if you catch my drift, in a moment. You have been warned.

The Torah's prohibition of homosexuality goes something like "Man, with a man, shall not lie as he lies with a woman." One Talmudic (Oral Torah) drash (explanation) on this verse is that, using a pun, the Hebrew words for "a man" can be translated as "he-she," therefore only prohibiting sex with an androgynous being. Conservative Rabbis today interpret this verse as only prohibiting anal sex. These are only two possible explanations that allow for inclusion of all sexual orientations within Judaism.

Finally, I close with a story by Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox Rabbi who broke from the Chabad movement because they did not like his acceptance of gay Jews: a story that I encountered this past Shabbat. He says that homosexual couples come to him feeling guilty of two sins: violating the prohibition of homosexuality and not fulfilling the commandment to reproduce.

And he says that when they come to him, he tells them that those are only two out of the 613 commandments, and that fulfilling the other 611 should keep them busy.

For tonight, I will close with that thought.


I am slowly recovering from the explosion of emotions I felt this past Shabbat. My parents have been very helpful with that, and together with them I have come up with the following:

1. It is OK to be religious and enthusiastic about your religion and still question God and/or God's role in certain things.

2. As evidenced by the psalms, Judaism has a long history of arguing with God; what we do not have is a history of silent acceptance of God and "God's will."

3. To put one's religious system--not what one knows about God, but the system itself--first is idolizing the system.

4. Jews are called the Children of Israel. According to the Torah, Israel means "He has wrestled with God and won." That's what I'm doing: wrestling with my beliefs about God and Judaism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Identity Crisis

OK, I don't know if I even have words for this, so pardon my clumsy attempts.

This past Shabbat here at school was hosted by the Gay Straight Alliance. Up until last night, I had maintained a fragile self-acceptance by alternately ignoring my homosexuality or my Judaism as I engaged with the other.

Last night it was Shabbat, and I was sitting there being not-straight, and it all blew up in my face. I felt my Judaism slipping through my fingers faster than it has ever slipped away before.

I fought tooth and nail last night and today to get my Judaism back. I continued doing Jewish things; I remembered that we all, myself included, are created in the image of God; and I remembered yesterday's blog post.

I did not commit to be a Jew only when it was easy. I committed to being a Jew, period. I can be lonely and scared and confused with God, or I can be lonely and scared and confused without God. I choose to be with God.

Come what may, whatever happens, I will not lose my Judaism.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I am a Jew.

I know this appears to be really, really obvious; but it's not, at least not in the way I mean it: I am a Jew.

Please read that again: I AM A JEW. I cannot emphasize that enough. Far and away, I am Jewish above and beyond anything else. As I sit typing this, having taken the time to pray this afternoon, I am listening to Jewish music as I anticipate the arrival of Shabbat. Every school day, I engage in Jewish studies. I plan to be a Jewish studies minor in college (religion major).

I am a Jew, and I am especially cognizant of that when presenting myself to the world. I may be someone's first Jew; I may have to overturn someone's negative opinion of Jews. Everything I do when out in public may become associated with Judaism in someone's mind.

I am a Jew in everything I do, always looking for ways to praise God and His world. I am a Jew, God's partner in fixing the world.

I am a Jew. I am a Jew. I am a Jew. My people have fought for centuries for the freedom to say this, and fully aware of that blessed, hard won freedom, I proudly proclaim: I AM A JEW!

Thank you for reading this.

God's Presence

Today, when I finished up my afternoon prayers, I was in God's presence in a new way. I couldn't exactly feel it, but I didn't know what to say. I ended up chatting a bit anyway, but really I think the moment would have lasted longer in silence. Then again, there's always next time!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut

Today is Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, Israel's independence day. The mood has changed from one of tears to one of joy. To be honest, I began the day ruminating on the fact that, as always, there might not even be an Israel next year.

Then the festivities started. After a half day of classes, we began our school's celebration. We ate Israeli foood; we danced Israeli dances; we sang Israeli songs; we made Jewish/Israel themed craft projects and learned about the modern State of Israel.

Celebrate we will, doubtful status or no. Celebrate we will, because we must. Because at least for this year, we have a safe haven and potential home. For this year, we remain a free people.

Celebrate we will.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yom HaZikaron

Today is Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. When Americans think of Memorial Day, we think of parties and barbeques. Not so in Israel.

In Israel, Memorial Day is serious business. Just about every Israeli (certainly every Israeli I know) knows someone currently in the army or knew someone who died fighting. Four students who graduated from my high school, three of whom I know personally, are in the Israeli army right now, as we speak. More are planning to join them.

In Israel on Yom HaZikaron, there is a moment when a siren sounds. People everywhere (including in cars on the highway) stop and stand for a moment of silence to remember those who fell in battle to protect our land. The day is one of missing those who are gone and wishing for peace.

Please say an extra prayer for the Israeli soldiers and their families today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rosh Hodesh Iyyar

Yesterday and today are Rosh Hodesh Iyyar. Iyyar is a month without much in it. We have Yom HaZikaron (Israel's memorial day) and Yom Ha'Atzma'ut (Israel's independence day), and I will blog about both of them at the time. Other than that, however, Iyyar is a pretty quiet month. We continue to count the Omer in anticipation of Shavuot.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Today I found out I did not get into an honors program at my college for next year. After doing some thinking and talking with my parents, however, I have come up with the following:

God deals you a hand of cards. You do your best to play the hand you're dealt. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, those cards land you somewhere you don't wish to be, or perhaps even somewhere you downright hate. You absolutely should get up, dust yourself off, and find a way out, but before all that...

Sit back, look up, and remember Who dealt you the hand in the first place.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yom HaShoah

Tonight is Yom HaShoah, the day to remember the Holocaust, to mourn for the victims, to swear not to forget.

What exactly does that commitment not to forget actually mean? In every Jewish school, children learn about the Holocaust; in some, it is almost shoved down their throats. Memorials to the Holocaust exist everywhere.

Why? What are we doing? What are we honoring? Shouldn't we be more concerned with stopping current genocides?

My answer is yes. Yes, we should care. Yes, we should act. Yes, memorials should be built, but memories should be used for a purpose.


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About Me

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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!