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

I believe in God.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College and Elul

I moved in at my college last Friday, and so far I am loving it! The majority of the people I have met like me very much--great confidence booster! Tonight the Hillel Jewish Student Center is having a kosher barbecue, and I am really looking forward to it. Then tonight I go to sleep at 10 pm so I can get up at six am to catch the seven am bus to my 8:10 am class. (Yes, my school is so big that we use buses.)

In other news, it is now the month of Elul, the season of the year when I let myself listen to various Youtube recordings of U'N'Taneh Tokef, the season of the year when Jews everywhere begin to soul search and figure out what we have done wrong in the past year and how we ourselves and we as a community can get past those sins. We know that the month of Tishrei is quickly approaching and that it will soon be time for God to "write" (Rosh Hashanah) and "seal" (Yom Kippur) our fate for the coming year, and we are fearful and in awe of God's power as we come before Him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Got It!

I got it! I got it! I got into my first choice course coming out of General Psych: Readings in Biblical Hebrew Prose!

I jumped through multiple hoops to get this course. First I had to get out of General Psych. Then I had to email the Dean of Jewish Studies (who also happens to teach the course) and ask for permission to take it, because the person with whom I was in contact about switching courses thought I couldn't take this one. Half an hour or so after I emailed the Dean of Jewish Studies, however, I was in the course!

This course is really important to me, not only because it looks like fun, but also because I need an anchor. College will be my first school experience without Jewish Studies and/or Hebrew automatically built in. I will have to adjust to that, and it will no doubt be hard. I prefer to adjust slowly by first taking one Jewish Studies course anyway.

On top of all that, I now have two classes on my schedule that I know I will love, one that I think I will enjoy, and one (fulfilling my science requirement) that I know I can tolerate. It's a good first semester schedule.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on my Schedule

I have now placed out of General Psych and into Infant and Child Development. I requested a Jewish Studies course number 433, but the dean thinks I have to start at 371. She said she would email the head of the Jewish Studies department, however, and if that person says no, I will go directly to the professor who teaches the course. One way or another, I will make this happen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Class Schedule

Yesterday I got my class schedule for my Fall semester! I am currently taking Religion 101, General Psych, Intro to Human Evolution, and Issues in Women's Leadership. There is, however, one problem: I tested out of General Psych. I will call advising tomorrow and see if I can change that. Other than that, college, here I come! SO EXCITED.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Last Ten Thanks

91. Interesting-looking text books

92. The bus system at my college

93. Israel

94. Hope and dreams

95. Inspiring quotes

96. "U'N'Taneh Tokef"

97. Dr. David Sherry

98. Love

99. The bright future I have ahead of me

100. Strawberries

*BONUS because I accidentally repeated one: Bubbles

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Thanks

81. Shabbat

82. Excitement

83. Sleep

84. The Jewish calendar and the way it celebrates and honors each season and feeling

85. Theater/Drama

86. Elephants

87. Tropical fish

88. My imagination and creativity

89. Various ways to escape from pain, if only for a little while (reading, praying, sleeping, etc.)

90. Feeling God's presence on an inner but definite level

Thursday, August 18, 2011


What do you do when you love someone so much that you hurt when s/he hurts, and you know s/he will most likely always be hurting, and there's not a thing you can do about it?

Is it wrong to be glad that you get to love him/her from a distance, and that you don't need to be up close, or does feeling glad about that mean you love him/her less?

Where is God in human suffering?

Thankful Yet Again

71. Quality sneakers

72. Orthotics

73. Theology

74. Philosophy

75. Good memories

76. Learning experiences and the wisdom that comes with them

77. Inner strength

78. Enough food

79. Clean water for drinking and bathing

80. My blog(s)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


61. New beginnings

62. Captivating TV shows, such as White Collar and Burn Notice

63. Rainbows

64. Cell phones

65. Customer service (any company/organization)

66. Pajamas

67. Blessings of all kinds

68. "Rabbi Corner" (I call my little area around my house "Rabbi Corner" because there are three Rabbis' families living within sight of each other.)

69. The smell of freshly cut grass

70. My "sort of friends" from college orientation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Giving Thanks

51. The ability to contribute to a household

52. Tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (no English equivalent; I can find a picture if anyone wants)

53. My college: a match made in Heaven!

54. (Almost) fluency in Hebrew

55. My internship and the opportunities it provided

56. Modern medicine

57. My brothers

58. My challenges in life and what they have taught me

59. AP Biology, which I feel really prepared me for college

60. My cat

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thank You (Mostly Music Groups)

41. Strawberries

42. Blue Fringe (Jewish rock)

43. Lev Tahor (Jewish/Religious)

44. Rascal Flatts

45. Tim McGraw

46. Simple Plan

47. My intelligence and charm

48. The State of Israel

49. The United States of America

50. My (true) friends

Sunday, August 14, 2011

So Grateful

31. The Beatles

32. A body with working systems (mostly)

33. Prayer, for me and by me

34. Writing talent: poetry, prayers, flash fiction

35. The great courses at my college on subjects of interest to me

36. Diversity--I can't wait to meet all kinds of people!

37. realclearpolitics.com

38. Qualifying for a single room in college

39. Hillel

40. My journey through life

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More Thanks

21. Loved ones home safe and sound

22. Debbie Friedman music

23. My beautiful book of tehillim (psalms)

24. Shabbat

25. Cell phones

26. Reece's Rainbow

27. Jewish books

28. Rainbows

29. Thunderstorms

30. Facebook

Friday, August 12, 2011

So Tired...

I am so tired, and my heart is heavy. During physical therapy today, I literally felt as though I was being consumed by fire. I actually winced and whimpered more than once, and let the therapist know, unprompted, that I was not OK.

I have decided to stop being "brave" and answering "yes," and just tell them the truth when I am not feeling OK. This was a hard decision to make because I want them to think of me as brave and strong, but I know they already do because I never quit in the middle of my exercise routine. Therefore, with that to prove my bravery and strength, I can go ahead and tell the truth about how much I hurt. Am I making sense? I certainly hope so.

I don't like to ask people to pray for me but I am asking now. A particular Jewish (but anyone else could do it too) practice I like is reciting psalms in someone's merit, with that person in mind. I like psalm 20 (I recite it for the boy from my high school graduating class who has leukemia) and psalm 23 (I recite it for myself) best.

Thankful Round Two

11. Rice cakes.

12. A nice warm bed.

13. Freedom to practice my religion in safety.

14. My tender heart and soul that lead me to care for and about others.

15. My high school, where I learned so much more than academics and which helped prepare me for the wider world.

16. Equal rights for all, regardless of religion, "race", gender, etc.

17. Hot young women on TV.

18. My collection of kippot: I have twelve, each one with sentimental value as well as beauty and artistry.

19. My father, who serves as my rabbinic authority, making it easy for me to check various legal (Jewish) things with my Rabbi.

20. The blogs I read and the way they inspire me with their religious passion.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100 Things

On another blog I read, the woman who blogs is listing ten things each day for which to be thankful. I thought I would try it. No doubt it will help me focus off my pain, and maybe I'll even see the good that has/will no doubt come out of it! Here we go:

1. Physical therapists who genuinely care about me and are willing to try anything to make me better.

2. Cherries. Need I say more?

3. Clean water to drink, as much as I want.

4. God. My religion keeps me going, and everything I do comes out of it.

5. The fact that I qualified for a single room in college.

6. My mother. Again, need I say more?

7. Computers, so I can blog.

8. The medications that keep me sane.

9. Good books that I am reading: Memoirs of a Geisha and Doing Jewish Theology.

10. My blog followers: I am flattered to have them.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blogging for the Sake of It

I should be in bed right now, and I know it's OK to go a day without a blog post. Still, I feel like posting anyway. I have no idea what I am going to say, or on what subject; we shall see.

I am almost done with my summer internship at the local office of my congressman. I have just two more sessions, ending next Wednesday.

Unless I miss my guess (and I hope I do), physical therapy tomorrow is going to be horrific. I simply haven't moved around and exercised enough this week, and missing a day of exercising because of Tisha B'Av certainly didn't help. My name was finally at the top of Dr. Sherry's list, but I couldn't take the spot because I have to start college, something to which I am certainly looking forward!

There. Good night. I'm going to bed.

Not sure what the point of this is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spreading the Word...

Yes, I am aware that this is my third blog post today, but this is so important, I think I need to share it.

Judaism teaches "save a life and you have saved the world." Here is one more way to save lives:
Spread the word!

Tisha B'Av Again

Tisha B'Av is almost over. The mood has changed from one of sorrow and mourning to one of...not joy, not excitement, but meaning and purpose.

In one "short" (Ha ha!) hour we will be breaking our fasts. We will be sitting down to big dinners eagerly awaited. I can taste the water and pasta and fruit already...

But that could hardly be farther from the point. As Tisha B'Av ends, we must think not only of satiating our hunger but also of the Tisha B'Av message and what we will do with it.

The Tisha B'Av message, at least to me, is that we live in a broken world. Something--I'm not sure what exactly, but I know there was something--went wrong when the first Temple was destroyed. Something went wrong again with the destruction of the second Temple. It is up to us to fix our broken world.

How do we go about fixing the world? In my mind, there are two answers, the easier one and the harder one.

The easier answer is that we must perform mitzvot, fulfilling the holy commandments to the best of our abilities. We must keep kosher, pray three times a day, observe Shabbat...etc.

It is the harder answer, however, that is more compelling and in my mind ultimately more important. It is taught that the second Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred, and that that same sin keeps the Temple from being rebuilt. What is the solution? We must LOVE. With all of our power, we must care for our fellow men. We must help satisfy their material needs, but more than that, we must ACCEPT. We must not merely tolerate but CELEBRATE the differences between us and the diversity of humanity.

That is how I will rebuild the world. I challenge you to do it your way.

Thoughts on Tisha B'Av

My Tisha B'Av this year got off to a rather irreverent start. All I could focus on was my hunger and thirst; I felt no grief for the Temple, or any other tragedy, at all.

Then I was praying this morning without tallit and tefillin (on Tisha B'Av, they are donned in the afternoon, rather than the morning, to symbolize our state of mourning) and all of a sudden it hit me: we are missing something.

Like it or not, almost all of Jewish ritual is based around the Temple. The holidays match Israel's agricultural cycle, which mattered in Temple times because people brought offerings at specific times of the year. In our prayers, we ask for the Messiah and a return to Temple times. We even have an extra set of prayers on special occasions, designed to substitute for the extra sacrifice that would have been offered in the Temple on that day.

I do not like the idea of a return to animal sacrifices and stratification by social class, gender, or anything else. I do not believe that the third Temple will take up these practices. Rather, I choose to believe in a Temple that will grant equal rights for all; the messianic "magic" thereof will be that every Jew has a place to practice as s/he chooses and still feel welcome.

No matter what your exact beliefs are, however, Judaism lacks something without the Temple. We lack a God-centered world, and this makes it harder to live a God-centered life. May we see the Temple rebuilt "bimherah, bimherah, b'yameinu b'karov;" speedily, speedily, soon in our days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good News but Not Really

So...the good news is that a spot opened up for me in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia rehab program (for my RND).

The "but not really" is because I am not going to take it.

I won't say "can't" because I guess I could. I could miss the beginning of college, but I won't for two reasons. Number one, I want a real chance to develop a social life when everyone else is developing his or hers. Number two, it is possible to take a medical leave in the middle of the year. How in the world is one supposed to take a medical leave before the year starts?

It may never be the ideal time for me to enter that program, but now is the wrong time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Revealing God, Special Feelings, Venting, and Psalm 23

Revealing God
Last night, as I sat around the dinner table with my family singing Shabbat songs, I had a thought I really liked and wanted to share. I realized that it is not up to God to reveal God's self; it is instead up to us to reveal God.

Take my experiences with "Erin" as an example. When I could no longer be her prayer warrior, I could have prayed--and in fact I did pray--for someone to come take over. Fine. All well and good. God could do that.

But God didn't. I worked to find "Erin" a new prayer warrior. And Julia's proposed solution (pairing up) was a result of that. It was the perfect solution; one could argue that it was made in Heaven. But I had to find it.

Special Feelings
Recently, during the majority of my prayer times, I get a special feeling inside, as if I am very excited but extremely at peace all at the same time. You might think these two feelings are opposites, and I would, too. But somehow, when I pray, they coexist.

Also, today while I was lying in bed trying to take a nap, I had a thought that I don't really think came from me and might have come from God. It was just a sentence fragment: "...someone lighter than you..." I will not try to interpret it, because my interpretations have been wrong at least as often as they have been right. But I am excited to find out what it means.

I have been in a lot of pain recently. Every day is bad; I am only taking one at a time because that's all I, or anyone really, can do. People who think they can take life all at once are fooling themselves. Anyway, I have discovered that what ever level pain is at in the worst hurting body part, it can be perceived as about two numbers higher on the scale of one to ten if other parts are hurting as well.

Psalm 23
I have a little secret to how I survive horrible pain, how I continue doing exercises that hurt and hurt and hurt. My little secret is psalm 23, the Artscroll translation of which is reproduced below.

A psalm by David: HASHEM is my shepherd, I shall not lack. In lush meadows He lays me down, beside tranquil waters He leads me. He restores my soul. He leads me on paths of justice for His Name's sake. Though I walk in the valley overshadowed by death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in view of my tormentors. You anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows. May only goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of HASHEM for long days.

Friday, August 5, 2011

God and I Together

God and I together came up with the Sweet Solution about which I blogged yesterday. I prayed for ideas and opened myself up to them. In return, three or four ideas flooded my head faster and harder than any other ideas I've ever had. I acted on them, plain and simple, and a solution was found. Neither God nor I could have done this without the other.

What a powerful lesson! I may be carried in God's hands, but in the end I am also Her hands. God needs people in order to work His miracles.

Oh my Heart is Soaring

Julia at covenantbuilders.blogspot.com has posted her usual Friday post advocating for Reece's Rainbow children. Today, one of the children about whom she has posted is "my" little girl,"Erin." My heart is celebrating because "Erin's" chance of finding a family is now that much greater. I am going to be rather juvenile here and give my big excited noise: Wheeeeeeee!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hard Day

(NOTE: Because I am merging three of my blogs into one [this one], making this a blog about my life in general, you will from now on see some posts here that are not about religion. Many will not be inspirational, either.)

Today was a really hard day physically. (For those who do not know, I have Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy.) During physical therapy, I turned to my therapist and said, "I am trying really hard not to scream." And I was, because waves of pain were washing over my face, neck, and back and then not really leaving. My feet hurt like h*ll during the appointment and for hours afterward. I am not sure whether or not I slept through the night last night; if I did, that would be the first night of that sort since last Thursday. I am worn out, exhausted, enervated.

It's enough. I shouldn't have to struggle to find meaning.

A Sweet Solution

Remember my posts about not being able to be "Erin's" prayer warrior anymore, and how sad that made me? Remember how committed I was to finding someone to take my place? Well, I have found something even better.

As one way to spread awareness, I asked Julia at covenantbuilders.blogspot.com to post about "Erin." She emailed me to ask why I could no longer be a prayer warrior. After a brief email conversation, she offered to partner with me, leaving me the official prayer warrior with her to cover for me when I forgot.

Honestly, my initial gut reaction was that this was a solution for a baby who didn't understand what was really going on. I soon realized, however, that this was in fact a very dignifying solution, allowing me to keep the job I hold so dear.

In return for Julia's kindness, I am "advertising" her blog in this post.

Julia blogs at covenantbuilders.blogspot.com . On her blog, she chronicles her life with her three sons: Ben and Elijah, her biological children; and Aaron, her son adopted from an Eastern European mental institution at the age of six. She also "yells her heart out" (her words) for the "lost boys" (again, her words): those left behind in the institution from which she adopted Aaron, the first boy EVER to be adopted from there!

Most importantly, every Friday, Julia posts pictures and descriptions of Reece's Rainbow children who need homes. Please at least check out those posts!

P.S. Recommitting to "Erin" and the others on Reece's Rainbow has given my life a purpose again despite the pain. Thank you, thank you, thank you Julia!


(This isn't exactly religion related, but since this has become my main blog, I am posting this here anyway.)

Yesterday my heart was pierced, and I nearly cried. I was watching the Reece's Rainbow "ministry video" (think 12 minute informercial) and I was seeing pictures of orphans waiting to be adopted. BREAK. MY. HEART. Then I saw the words "and the angels we didn't get to in time." BREAK. MY. HEART. all over again.

Then this morning I was on a blog with a slide show of older, disabled kids who are loved by nobody, except from afar by families in foreign countries, many of whom cannot afford to adopt or show their love to these adolescents and teens. BREAK. MY. HEART. I couldn't watch it. I know what happens to those kids when they "age out." The "lucky" ones end up on the street, where sixty percent of the girls turn to prostitution, seventy percent of the boys turn to crime, and ten percent of these teens commit suicide before their eighteenth birthday. The even more unlucky ones (disabled physically or mentally) end up in mental institutions, where they are mostly neglected or forced to sit all day with nothing to do but stare into space. BREAK. MY. HEART.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THIS is Why I Pray...and Why YOU Should Pray!


Please take a look!

Up to God Now

Yesterday I wrote a post that almost killed my heart. In it, I publicly admitted that I can no longer do something (pray for "Erin") very close to my soul. I asked--no, I begged--for someone else to take over. This morning I posted the situation as my status on facebook, once again making my request and begging for questions and/or volunteers.

I have done all I can, I think. This morning when I got to the part of the Amidah (standing prayer recited three times a day) in which personal additions may be made, I said to God, "I have done all I can. I fulfilled my part of this. It's Your turn now."

Judaism is very big on partnering with God. We are not supposed to just sit back, pray, and wait. We are on this Earth to take an active role in fixing it up and making it better.

Still, sometimes we reach our limit and then it is God's turn. May God bless me with more opportunities to tell "Erin's" story and find someone to take my place as her Prayer Warrior.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"My" Little Girl

(Please note that I am posting this on three of my blogs!)

A few of you may remember my commitment to be a prayer warrior for a sweet girl with Down Syndrome who is living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. The idea of the prayer warrior system is that each warrior is assigned a specific child for whom to pray every day. Due to life circumstances, I can no longer fulfill that commitment, but I am determined to find a new prayer warrior for "Erin." Just email laurie@reecesrainbow.org and ask to be "Erin's" prayer warrior.

You can see "Erin" by following this link and scrolling down:

Thank you so much!


Just a few minutes ago, as I was praying, I felt a great wave of peace wash over me. For the first time in a long time, I knew God was listening. At the end, I felt all excited in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to jinx myself, but I think I am close to having visions again!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rosh Hodesh Av

Today begins the Hebrew month of Av, the second to last month on the Jewish calendar. Soon it will be Elul, a month to focus on repentance and forgiveness.

On the ninth of Av is Tisha B'Av (literally translates to "the ninth of Av"), a day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the Temple. Some people lump in the Holocaust on this day also, and I fell prey to that last year, but this year I will try to really mourn for the Temple. I may have an ongoing blog post that day, updated as I feel and/or think new or even repetitive things. See you then!


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
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!