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

I believe in God.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

He Said YES!

No, this is not a romantic post.  This is a post to tell you  that I heard back from the Rabbi in Uganda, and he said YES!  I get to go study at his Yeshiva (Rabbinical school) post college.  There are many details left to be worked out, but for now, what is important is that he said YES!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Less Than a Month...

Less than a month until Tu b'Shevat (New Year for the trees), and I am trying to plan a celebration.  At the bare minimum, I will be buying two "new" fruits (that is, fruits that I have not eaten in the past thirty days) and eating them, with both the blessing over fruit and the blessing over something new.  I'd like to plan out a whole Tu b'Shevat seder, and if enough people around me are interested, I might, but that takes real planning and I have too much other stuff to do this break.  So...new fruits it is!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where is God?

So recently the roof of the building containing my family's synagogue--if we had one, that is; it's more complicated than I'd like to get into on a public blog--and the community day school, collapsed due to snowfall.

Read that again.  The roof of a building containing two necessary Jewish institutions collapsed due to snowfall.

My initial, gut reaction was glee.  That school did me a world of hurt; to know that it is disabled--if only for a time--felt good.

But then I thought again.

Where is God?

Where is God when a community loses one of its synagogues and its only day school? Because my hometown is very small, and we don't have multiple day schools.  That one was the only one.  And it may have been bad, but we had it.

And now we don't have a Conservative synagogue either.  And that is a problem too.  Because all Jews should have a place to worship, a place where they feel comfortable, and now something like a third of the community is out of luck.  Oh, there will be services at the local JCC and all, but it's not the same when you're not in your home.  People start to feel at home in their synagogues.

So this is all sad.  Just sad.  And hey, God, if You're reading this--where are You?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lesbianism (There, right in the title!)

In response to a conversation I had earlier with a friend (Yes, you, you are still my friend for sure! My feelings may be hurt to the point where I need to express them but YOU ARE STILL MY FRIEND!) I feel compelled to blog the following.

Lesbianism is NOT:

Lesbianism is NOT a sin, at least not in my book.

It is NOT a phase.

It does NOT diminish my value in society.

It canNOT be "fixed."

It does NOT make me who I am.

Lesbianism IS:

Lesbianism IS beautiful.

It IS natural.

It IS a PART of who I am.

And oh by the way? God DOES love me, and I love myself.  So there.

Just For Fun...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I really want to blog tonight, feeling the need to express myself, but I don't really have any big topic prepared, so I'm just going to...go!

First of all, more reflections on taharat mishpahah.  I think I am having such a hard time accepting my Rabbi's ruling that it does not apply in lesbian relationships because when I was growing up, in my home it was always "A Jewish adult does x," regardless of gender.  Both my mother and my father put on tallis and tefillin; when I as a child briefly got into lighting a Sabbath candle, my brothers did too.  It is therefore difficult for me to accept a ruling that a law only applies in heterosexual relationships because I--well, OK, almost--feel devalued as a woman.  I'm just going to say this straight up: although practically speaking it's a good thing these laws do not apply to me, a large part of me wishes that they would.

On another topic, I have decided that next year for Hannukkah I am getting my own good quality menorah, and I have picked out one that I like! (Yes I may be getting ahead of myself.)  It is by--you guessed it--Yair Emanuel.  The link is here: http://www.emanuel-judaica.com/store/hanukkah/menorahs/anodize_aluminum_hanukkah_menorah_frame_blue .  I am aware of the cost, and may talk my parents into getting it for me as a combined Hannukkah-birthday present.

Also, next year I hope to be living in the gender neutral special interest housing here at my school.  I will complete the application over winter break.  I am so excited to fully and finally be me.  Even if they won't let me light Sabbath or havdalah candles and I have to use electric ones, for that one year I think it will be worth it.  I will wear my rainbow, gay-pride kippah on move-in day.

I am in the midst of finals weeks, but I keep finishing everything early! For tomorrow, for example, I know that I am as studied as I can be or information will start leaving my head! Just wish me luck!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

And...Drumroll Please...

The laws of Taharat Mishpahah do not apply to lesbian relationships! My Rabbi actually hunted down a real, live lesbian Rabbi to ask about this, so I trust her ruling.

How I feel about the ruling is another matter.  On the one hand, it is much more practical to not have to worry about two people's impure periods (no pun intended), mikva (ritual bath) nights, etc.  On the other hand, however, I feel somehow delegitimated, as if my marriage someday will not be a real marriage without mikva.

My father, who is also a Rabbi, says that a marriage is a marriage if there is huppah (wedding canopy) and kedushin (not sure what that is, sorry!), and everything else is extra.  Good to know.

As I navigate the sticky waters of being an observant lesbian Jew, that is good to know.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taharat Mishpahah

I have recently "discovered" an area of Jewish law which I was previously perfectly happy ignoring.  Taharat Mishpahah, or Family Purity, refers to a grouping of laws governing what a man and his wife may or may not do when she is menstruating and for seven days afterward.  I am aware that I am lesbian, and that in their strictest interpretation, these laws do not apply to me and will not apply to my household one day.  And yet a deep part of me wants them to apply, as if their application legitimates me and my (future) marriage.

I am very fortunate to have a female Rabbi working for the Hillel at my school, and to have a good relationship with her.  She has taken it upon herself to investigate this for me and find out whether or not these laws apply to me.  If not, not; and if they do, I will take them on as I have taken on everything else--wholeheartedly, and trying my best.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Hannukkah!

Happy Hannukkah everyone! Hannukkah commenced last night.  As a gift this year, I asked my parents for a Jewish book, but surprise me.  They gave me Doing Jewish Theology  by Neil Gilman.  I think it will be a great read--Gilman is great; I've read some of his other stuff--but first I have to finish my current book, Seek My Face, Speak My Name by Arthur Green, which is also excellent.

But back to Hannukkah...one of my readers asked to hear more about Hannukkah traditions, so here goes: On Hannukkah we light candles or oil lamps (usually candles these days) in a nine branch (eight for the eight days of Hannukkah, and one for the "helper candle" that lights all the others, or shamash) candelabra known colloquially as a menorah, or by its proper name, hannukiah (except no one actually calls it that). 

The candles go in right to left but we light them left to right, newest candle first.  As we light we sing two blessings, one thanking God for the commandment to light the candles, and one thanking God for working miracles "in those days and in this time."  On the first night we also add a third blessing.  It's the blessing we always make when we try something new, and it talks about God keeping us alive to arrive to this day. 

After all the blessings, we sing a hymn (to my knowledge it has seven verses, but most people, including me, are only familiar with the first) and distribute presents.  The present giving customs vary widely.  Some people give on the first night, some on the eighth.  Some people give every night.  And...get this...some people just don't do Hannukah presents at all!

On Hannukkah we make two major additions to our daily prayers.  The first is a set of praises called Hallel that we add on every holiday.  The second is catered specifically to Hannukkah.  It is an insert in the amidah, or literally "standing prayer," the core of our service, and it talks about the miraculous military victory over Antiochus IV and the Seleucids. 

Because Hannukkah is really celebrating a military victory.  Hate to break it to you, but the miracle of the oil story is a myth.  The real reason Hannukkah is eight days long is that it began as a second Sukkot, because the Jews could not celebrate Sukkot the year the Temple was in Seleucid hands, and after they rededicated it they decided to celebrate Sukkot two months late.  (The things you learn in Jewish Society and Culture class...)

If you're still reading this far down, I'm very flattered and I hope you learned something! Thank you for reading and Happy Hannukkah!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving--and Hannukkah

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the basics: family, a roof over my head, and religious freedom.  I bring up the last one because Thanksgiving this year overlaps with Hannukkah, when Jews everywhere celebrate a military victory and the regaining of the right to worship in the Temple.  (The miracle of oil story is a myth.)

But before I go any farther--and this may turn out to be a very disorganized post, fair warning--before I go any farther, I want to point out that not everybody is lucky enough to have what I have.  I feel as though I stripped my thankfulness down to the basics, and even then, not everybody has them.

Take the children on Reece's Rainbow (you knew it was coming!), for instance.  I feel that tonight is my night to get the word out.  Across the ocean, in many different countries, lie children with no families to take care of them.  They have a roof over their heads, but in some cases even their most basic needs are not provided for.

About religious freedom: I grew up, and continue to live, in a place and time in which Jews are full and equal citizens.  The magic and awesomeness of living in such a position was never lost on me, as I know enough of Jewish history to know that this is the exception to the rule.  Thank You, God, for my religious freedom, for the privilege of being able to be a Jew and an American, without anybody asking me to choose.

To close, I just want to include pictures of "my" Reece's Rainbow children, "Jacob" and "Tatiana."  "Jacob" is my official Prayer Warrior assignment; "Tatiana" is one I took upon myself because I felt something tugging at me and calling me to do so.  As I always request during a Reece's Rainbow blurb, please consider getting involved yourself.

(Top: "Tatiana"; Bottom: "Jacob")
Tatiana 2013
Jacob sm

Saturday, November 23, 2013


This past Thursday I attended a talk by Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of Uganda.  Yes, you read that correctly: a RABBI from UGANDA.  Fascinating.  Amazing.  He's incredible.  And...I have determined that I must be his student some day.  Yes, that's right: I will spend time at Rabbinical school in Uganda. 

I'm not sure yet where this fits vis a vis JTS, so after Thanksgiving I have to contact Rabbi Alter (admissions director--we're on speaking terms) and figure this all out.  After that I will contact Rabbi Sizomu and ask the important questions such as tuition rates and the language in which he conducts his classes. 

I will make this dream a reality, folks.  I'm going to Uganda.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

National Adoption Month

So apparently November is National Adoption Month.

Adoption is near and dear to my heart as, for a number of reasons, most likely the only way I will ever responsibly build a family.  A while back, I thought that "Tatiana" on Reece's Rainbow was meant to be my daughter one day.  That's an impossibility, but someone should see her!

I can't wait to meet my children.  I think about them a lot actually.  Will they be babies or teens? Girls or boys? What skin tones? How many? What will my family look like?

No matter what, I know one thing: my family will be beautiful.  I have faith that things will work themselves out, that we will all find each other, and that the picture we paint together will be exactly the one God wants us to paint.

November is National Adoption Month.  Think about it.

Letting Loose

I have decided to let my tzitziot hang loose for the world to see.  The general idea behind the commandment is to see them, and how can I see them if they are tucked in? Besides, tucking them in was getting to be a nuisance.  I don't want my beautiful mitzvah to feel like a nuisance.

I'm not afraid of the reactions I'll get.  I am aware of the fact that I will get a broad range, everything from "You go girl!" to "Take them off."  I have been "The Girl in a Kippah" since freshman year; this is just one more step.

Also, my life has been majorly affected by demons recently.  Monday night I actually fought a couple of little ones who wanted to attach to me.  For two or three days following, there was something wrong with the boundary between us and them.  I didn't pay much attention to it; it was a fact kind of like the sky's blueness. 

Lastly, I think I may have caught a glimpse of their king, unless I was imagining things at the time, which that time I might have been.  Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Beautiful New Mitzvah

I have taken on a beautiful new mitzvah (commandment): that of arba kanfot.  "Arba kanfot" literally translates to "four corners" and refers to a four-cornered undergarment with tzitziot (holy fringes) hanging at the corners.  Traditionally, it is only worn by men, but as you may have gathered by now, I don't do the "gender thing" when it comes to Judaism.

Most men who wear arba kanfot wear them with the fringes hanging out.  I am wearing mine tucked in to avoid unwanted attention.  As a woman, if I walked down the street in visible tzitziot I would inevitably get stares, questions, and worse.  That's not why I'm doing this.  I am not wearing arba kanfot to attract attention; I am wearing arba kanfot because I believe that they will help me connect to God.

And here is a picture of a set of arba kanfot, from Google Images.  (This set actually looks almost exactly like mine.):

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I am facing real hostility from what I have always considered "my Jewish community" at my college, I think over my decision to become a Rabbi.  Yesterday I was walking down the street and I passed a Jewish guy I sort of know, so I smiled and greeted him.  To his credit, he did say the word "hello" back to me, but it was in this very "you are beneath my notice" kind of fashion.  I was left mentally spinning, thinking: Is he one of the ones shunning me due to the major bipolar episode? (Yes there are some.)  Is he one of the ones shunning me over my decision to become a Rabbi? (Yes there are a whole lot more.)  Have I committed some heinous third offense of which I cannot think off the top of my head?  As you can imagine, the whole incident was very upsetting.

I also got real flak from one of my roommates about my dream job.  (She brought it up.)  She literally said, and this is a direct quote, "You wanna go be a speechmaker be a speechmaker; I mean, that's what it sounds like."  I have never expressed a desire to make speeches, and certainly not to her! I'm not even particularly good at making speeches.  I know I'll have to as part of my job, and so I'll learn, but by no means is it the part of being a Rabbi to which I am most looking forward.

Also I know, I can just tell, that people are talking about me behind my back.  Every Tuesday night, the Chabad House at my college serves food and people show up to eat it.  It used to be the case that I would go and be really popular and have three groups of friends to greet.  Now I go and, most weeks, no one sits with me.  Granted last night one of my roommates did, but I'm not quite sure what to make of that; I really think she was just being nice because she was my roommate.

So I guess what I'll have to do is find myself a new community.  Jewish, non-Jewish, I will build them--slowly.  But I will only let in people who are good to me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Jealousy is an ugly emotion, all-consuming and miserable and the like.  But it's what I'm feeling right now.

The other day I had a *perfectly friendly-sounding, mind you* conversation with someone, the upshot of which was, "Yes, you are more than welcome to put on tallis and tefillin in your room every day if you desire, but please never join our minyan."  So I am horribly jealous of my guy friends, who can just go...join a minyan, any day they choose, and put on tallis and tefillin, and it isn't an issue.

It's sexist, that's what it is.

That is all.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Where have I been? Well, unfortunately, I have not been doing very well in ways that cannot be shared publicly, but that is a thing of the past.  I am on to bigger and better things now, namely trying to salvage my semester (that's not going very well haha) and dreaming of Rabbinical school.

I was actually just on the phone today with the Director of Admissions at the Jewish Theological Seminary and...I think...he likes me! He urged me to get involved with text study one on one while still in college, and my father tells me this can knock a year off my time in Rabbinical school, so I am trying to get that arranged.

The best news of all is my new friend "Katie".  She is sort of my Roman Catholic doppelganger (goodness I love that word now!) in  that she wanted to be a priest when she was younger and had a whole inner struggle with the whole "women can't be priests in the catholic church" thing.  Anyway, point is, a month and a half ago we didn't even know each other, and now we are close and share quite a lot.  Heaven only knows I love that girl!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I pray, and then I advocate.

This morning I am praying.

Today I pray that someone will step up to adopt "Tatiana"--and her siblings.  "Tatiana" has an older brother, "Tristan," and and older sister, "Trudy."  I pray that someone step up to adopt all three.

It won't be easy, and I never said it would.  "Trudy" is already fifteen, and all three children have special needs.  ("Trudy" is HIV positive; "Tristan" has some global developmental delays.)  But please, someone feel called to adopt them!

Were I significantly older, I would seriously consider adopting all three in order to keep them together, but I'm not.  These children, especially "Trudy," are more of age to be my siblings, not my son and daughters.  Still, someone out there see them, please!

And, to help with that, here are their pictures:




Tatiana 2013

And, if you care to, you can visit Reece's Rainbow at reecesrainbow.com to find out more about this family and many other children needing homes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dashed Hopes, Smashed Dreams...Someone else step up!

So it turns out that I can never be "Tatiana's"  mother.  In the country she's from (I found that out privately; I'm not at liberty to share), one must be fifteen years older than the child one is adopting.  It's a good rule; it makes sense, and probably averts problems.  But I am only thirteen years older than "Tatiana." 

I'm sorry, Dearheart! I'd come for you if I could! But I will strain and push and do everything I can to get you a family somewhere else.  Come on, Family! Go get "Tatiana"! (And her brother and sister, "Tristan" and "Trudy", if you can.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm in Love.

I'm in love with "Tatiana", and she's teaching me so much just by existing.  How to fight for a cause, for instance; or how true love and commitment, and the total joy they bring, feel.  Never will I forget the gut-wrenching "That's my daughter" feeling I had when I first saw her picture.  I probably cannot go get her, but she taught me the feeling; I won't go after anyone else unless I feel that feeling about him or her, too.

Please someone go get "Tatiana!" Rescue my little girl!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Oddest Experience

As I may or may not have mentioned previously on this blog, I have felt called by God to adopt for a long time.  For a while now, I have been aware that if one does the math, my children might already be living in the world somewhere.  It's better for them if they aren't, because I won't be ready to adopt for a good ten years at least yet, but they could be.

A couple days ago, I was browsing Reece's Rainbow when I came across the most beautiful girl.  Her name on the website is "Tatiana" and she is on this page: http://reecesrainbow.org/category/waiting-children/hiv-6 .  Part of me feels like SHE IS MY CHILD.  It makes no sense; the math does not work out. 

"Tatiana" will age out, onto the streets, in eight years.  Eight years from now, I will be just barely finishing Rabbinical school, with enormous debt, struggling to establish a career and scrambling to pay it off.  My time to adopt will come when I am an established professor and can take a semester or year off to stay home with my new child/ren.

So I guess what I'm saying is that if God wills it, "Tatiana" could hypothetically be mine when she is fifteen and I am 27.  But better for her, and for me, much better, if someone else gets there first.

All the best to "Tatiana"! Someone go get her, please!

"My" beautiful girl:

Tatiana 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Humbling Experience

Yesterday, I got an email from my summer course professor saying that she wanted me to call so we could talk about my papers.  We settled on a time, and I did just that.

It turns out that she wants me to be doing something totally different than what I had been doing for her class or than I have ever done before.  Of course I can do it, because she wants me to and therefore I don't have a choice, but I'm really not sure how.  Anyway, it's humbling to have a professor tell you you're basically doing it all wrong.  Very nice to have one who cares enough to warn you before you turn in the final paper, but humbling nonetheless.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Comfort with God?

I was sitting in the car with my father yesterday, and we were talking about this and that Jewish.  We were discussing God's role in the Holocaust, and I suddenly turned to him and said, "Forget mainstream Conservative Jews who just don't care.  Take serious Conservative Jews.  Are serious Conservative Jews more comfortable with emotional problems than Orthodox Jews?" and he said yes, absolutely; that in fact, that was what made the difference.

I am slowly taking on more and more Jewish practice right now.  Two days ago I prayed once; yesterday I prayed twice; today I hope to pray three times and I also said the blessing after eating when I got done with breakfast.  I am loving my Judaism and doing Jewish things.  My metaphor of God as river and people as rocks is serving me well, though I do plan to go back to reading and seeking for a new one.  I believe we should always be growing and stretching our relationship with God.  Comfort feels nice, and is OK for a while, but we musn't just fall into it and forget to grow.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rosh Hodesh Elul

Today is Rosh Hodesh Elul, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, the last month of the year.  It is a time to reflect on our actions and choices of the previous year and figure out how to make better ones in the future.  Most of all, it is a time to analyze our relationships with God.

I have to say that, all things considered, I am fairly happy with my relationship with God at the moment.  I just recently got back into praying every day with tallis and tefillin; God and I are reunited and it feels so good.  I know I have work to do on my God-relationship--doesn't everyone?--but I can live with it where it is for now.  In my mind, that's progress.

In just one short month I will be sitting in the synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, the New Year, praying like crazy and listening to the Shofar (ram's horn) being blown.  Ten days later, I will be fasting and praying even more crazily on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Five days after that comes Sukkot; we will eat outside in booths and wave the Four Species: the palm branch (lulav), the myrtles (hadasim), the willows (aravot), and the citron (etrog).  Lastly, a week after that, we will celebrate the end and the beginning of the Torah reading cycle with the holiday of Simchat Torah, by dancing in the streets with the sacred Torah scrolls.  Expect lots of updates!

My Future

I know where I am going after college.

The Jewish Theological Seminary (henceforth referred to as JTS)'s Rabbinical school is calling my name.  Their courseload looks interesting and I like the product they turn out.  Best of all, if their website is an accurate reflection of their student population, I would finally be middle-of-the-road Jewishly.  I have never, but never, been middle-of-the-road Jewishly.

I have no desire to be a pulpit Rabbi.  Too much politics  in exchange for too little spirituality.  What I want is a Ph.D. in something Jewish (through JTS), and then I will teach.

Oh, I'm so excited...I can't wait!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Oh yes I am.  I seem to be almost completely over my bipolar episode.  Just in time to enjoy the end of summer! Hooray! Life is nice.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I have been trying to find the right words for this post for a long time.  My current bipolar episode has been going on for weeks now, and that is a long time--a nice opportunity to come up with the "perfect" post.

I am beginning to feel trapped, yes, even imprisoned.  The bipolar symptoms are making me act in weird ways, when the "real" me knows that I'm being ridiculous and strange.  I cry easily, I laugh easily, I get scared easily: too easily.  It's hard to live this way.

Honestly, I would say that my biggest challenge right now is living with my roommates: figuring out how much to tell them without scaring them, how much to ask of them (I actually talk about it less with them than I do with other friends because my roommates are living it with me, so there's nothing to talk about), etc.  I try to be a contributing member of the household; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

Yesterday, for example, our landlord texted me saying he was coming by in less than an hour to do housing inspections.  "Julie" and I were the only two home, so I woke her up and we started cleaning like crazy.  I tried to help, but needed  her to tell me what to do because I could not think straight.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

You'll Never Guess...

Guess what?!

You'll never guess...

ALLY has a FAMILY!!!

Ally, that big girl about whom I posted, has a family! A family! YAY, ALLY!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Attempt

Ally (1)

And this is Ally; she also ages out next month.  Unlike Iggy, she will not go to a mental institution; Ally's fate is the life of a reject on the streets.  Please someone see her!

An Attempt

This is Iggy.  Iggy has one more month--just one--to find an American family before he ages out of the system into a permanent mental institution.  I know my blog post is not likely to find him a family.  But please, won't you spread the word as well? Or even consider making Iggy your son?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When It's Difficult to Be Me

I am exhausted.  It's been a difficult day: three times manic and three times depressed.  Yes, I honestly do cycle that rapidly.

I am embarrassed.  I have had to go to a professor (summer course) and tell her I can't.  That no, I'm sorry, but I can't turn it in on time.  In that respect I am fortunate: I have the paperwork to back me up.  But I know how sharp and efficient my brain is when it works--so it's frustrating when it doesn't.

And speaking of things not working, for reasons unrelated to bipolar disorder I threw up all over my carpet (right next to my mattress) last night--and I was too bipolar to go out and buy carpet cleaner today.  So tonight I get to sleep next to vomit.  Oh, joy.

This is one of those times when it's difficult to be me.  And I feel so ashamed of being self-centered and needing so much the support of family and friends--but I do need them, because this is just hard.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not Good and a Good

So last night I finally crawled into bed around 11:30, after delaying it for as long as possible because I really didn't feel like going to bed (mania).  Then this morning, I woke up around five-ish, feeling that BED WAS NOT THE PLACE TO BE.  (Yes the caps are necessary; they indicate the power if my emotion.)  This combination is not good because I can only recover if I get enough sleep.

My professor for my summer course is one of the most awesome professors I have ever met! I gave her the paperwork from Disability Services at the beginning of class, and at the end of class she called me over to discuss it.  I explained that, among other things, I wasn't sure if I could satisfactorily complete an upcoming assignment due to its nature, and she said she'd change the assignment for me!

And now I must go pace somewhere.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Bipolar Brain

I have been up since 5:36 am, because that is when I woke up and my stupid bipolar brain decided that the thing to do would be to go on Facebook.  I have to read at least one article today so I can write about it and the other one on Friday, but the reading keeps sort of not happening and not happening, if you know what I mean.  Between the exhaustion from waking up so early, the lure of supportive friends via Facebook, and sheer inability to focus, it's just not getting done; in terms of whether or not it will, your guess is as good as mine.  Somehow or other I will make it to class tonight; I have to, or I will lose five points off my average.  This is really messing with my life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When it rains, it pours...

So due to lack of sleep because of the pain, I have now entered a bipolar episode, or at least a tiny one.  My doctor does not want to treat the episode directly because I'm on so much medication already; and I take that seriously because she's big on medication.  What she did was prescribe a pain med that aids in slow-wave sleep, just to take at nighttime.

Last night, despite the new med (Lyrica, if that means anything to you), was hell.  I went to bed at 10:30-ish, got up at 11:30-ish, hung out with my roommates until midnight or so, fooled around on Facebook until 12:30-ish, and finally fell asleep around 1:00-ish.  Then I was up with my alarm around 7:00-ish.  I dealt with manic jitters this morning by taking my emergency low-dose Seroquel (I knew the Xanax would put me right to sleep again, and I have too much to do for that to be practical today), which made me way sleepy.  So I took extra caffeine, which I think is just starting to kick in as we speak.

Shout out to my roommates "Julie" and "Jessica" for handling me when I'm like this.  I felt really bad for them last night.  When "Julie" said something that wasn't even really amusing--more like mildly witty--and I was just sitting at the table losing control and laughing and laughing.  "Julie" was trying to calm me down, which was rather a lost cause at that point, and "Jessica" (a new roommate who has never lived with anyone who is bipolar before) was trying to take her cues from "Julie", which obviously wasn't working, and, well...not fun for any of us.  Anyway, thanks, girls, for putting up with me!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Life is tough.

I am hurting--a lot--and that makes life very, very hard.  I have to actually fight to walk from here to there.  I am hypersensitive to vibrations, such as someone tapping his foot on the floor at least four feet away, as well.  Moreover, I am trying to be stoic and not let the whole world know I am hurting.  It's tough.

But I will not let it master me.  This situation may be tough, but I am tougher.  I can fight back with everything I've got--gym, home exercises, desensitization, running up and down stairs--and I will.  If it doesn't get better in a month I will contact my doctor and ask for advice, but I'm tough and I am going to try to fix this on my own first.

Life is tough.  I an tougher.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Would you please pray for me?

My RND (chronic pain syndrome) has kicked back up again.  Virtually overnight it went from "I can pretend I'm OK; look at me, I'm OK." to "Oh crap."  I am really, really hurting and the pain just does not stop.

I am doing everything I can to actively fight back: exercising aerobically for half an hour every day the gym is open, going through my home exercises, desensitizing the affected areas.  So far, things are only getting worse.  I am reminding myself that this always gets worse before it gets better, but I am downright scared.

I am going to give this a month--no more, no less--of my best efforts before I contact my doctor's people.  During that time, could I ask for prayers, please?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Negative Answer, a Vestige of Hope

My mother has always told me that "God always answers, but sometimes the answer is no."  That's what happened in the case of "Sandra's" mother.

I am sad to announce that "Sandra's" mother passed away two days ago from liver cancer.  Here's the thing, though: I know for a fact that God heard our prayers because I could literally feel them being listened to.  There was a special connection between my prayers and God's ear--and therefore, I'm assuming, everyone else's prayers and God's ear--this time around.  I know that God listened, and I know that we were heard.  The fact that God's answer was "no" does not contradict this.

Prayers are always worth the effort, because God is always listening, and we never know when a "no" will become a "yes".  In this case, however, even though God said "no", we can take comfort in the fact that God exists, is really real, and is aware of the situation.

Please continue to pray for "Sandra" and family in their grief.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sh'va Asar B'Tammuz

Today is Sh'va Asar B'Tammuz, the seventeenth day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a day of fasting in memory of the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem and the beginning of the three weeks of traditional mourning before Tisha B'Av, another fast day commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temples.  This is one example of my Jewish practice being more traditional than that of my family: I am the only one in my family who fasts on Sh'va Asar B'Tammuz OR Tisha B'Av.

And I have nothing in particular left to say.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Prayers Needed Urgently

I have a friend, whom I will here call "Sandra."  (She's the friend I mentioned in my last post.)  "Sandra" has a brother called "Mark," a mother called "Jane," and a Grandmother.  Her Grandfather passed away this past year.

Nine years ago, "Jane" was diagnosed with breast cancer and given a three-to-six-month prognosis.  Following a double mastectomy, she defied the odds and lived on.  Now, however, the cancer has spread to her liver; the doctors say there is nothing else they can do.

"Mark" is getting married on May 25, 2014.  "Sandra" requests prayers that her mother live, and especially that she survive until the wedding.

In Judaism, it is traditional to say psalms in the name of one who is ill as a way to pray for their healing.  I have taken up psalm 90.  Please join me in my prayers.  Thank you.

A Jewish Adult

I am a Jewish adult.  Period, end of story.  I am a woman, but before all that, I am an adult.

So I wear a kippah, tallis, and tefillin.  So I (attempt to) pray three times a day.  So I revel in and grow my relationship with God.  This is not the Orthodox way, but it is my way, and I will not let anyone take it away from me.

Also, I have a new and very critical prayer need.  I cannot share because it involves a friend and I want her permission first, but this one is huge and serious.

Thank you to all those who read this blog, the public journal of one young lesbian Jew.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Emily's" Wedding

This past weekend I went to my former roommate "Emily's" wedding.  I stayed with a couple who were generosity itself--except that they were very Orthodox (Jewishly) and kept criticizing my kippah, tallit, tefillin, desire to be a Rabbi one day, etc. etc. etc.

The wedding itself was beautiful, if one could get past the Orthodoxy, but that was a big if.  At a Jewish wedding, there is a document called the ketubah that details the responsibilities that the couple has towards one another.  I know for a fact that at my parents' wedding, both were in the room while the ketubah was being signed.  Not so at "Emily's" wedding the other day.  At "Emily's" wedding, her groom was in the room watching the ketubah get signed; "Emily" was in a separate room greeting guests and looking pretty.

When I mentioned to people that the above scenario bothered me, I got the following sexist responses:

"It tells his responsibilities to her; it has nothing to do with her anyway, so why should she have to be in the room?"

"What does it matter? He gives it to her under the chuppah (wedding canopy); she'll get to see it later."

"...she has her job to do and he has his." (As someone to whom I told this story asked, since when is sitting there looking pretty a job?)

So I am pretty pissed off right now.  Orthodox Judaism pisses me off.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Only the Most Awesome News Ever

I have what is only the most awesome news ever to share...

"Isabella" has a family!

So I am introducing "my" new child, "Jacob."  Here he is:

Jacob sm

I am not arrogant enough to say that my prayers caused "Isabella's" family to find her and that without me they wouldn't have, but I do believe that my prayers had some influence.  Correlation does not imply causation, I know, but I will keep on doing what I do because in the end, one simply never knows.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Beauty from the Ashes": A New Prayer Warrior Assignment

I believe that God and the fate of the world are like a river flowing along, and our prayers and actions are rocks we throw in to change the direction and force of the current.  A while back, Russia banned most American adoptions from their country, which is where "Rheann" is living.  Still, I prayed for "Rheann" to make it out.  Yesterday, however, I read that they had tightened restrictions still further and that Reece's Rainbow was reallocating the grant funds from their Russian children to others who had a better chance of finding families.

I knew that if Reece's Rainbow was reallocating funds, the "river" in Russia had really dried up.  It doesn't do any good to throw stones at dry land.  With a heavy heart, I "gave up" on "Rheann."  She will always be in my heart--how could she not be?--and I will pray for her when I have strength for multiple people, but I requested a new "prayer warrior assignment."

It is therefore with joyful heart and open arms that I welcome "my" new child, "Isabella." "Isabella" is a six-year-old girl with Down Syndrome living in Asia.  See picture below:


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This past weekend I attended an NUJLS (National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Students) conference held at my university.  What can I say? It was awesome.  Great people, good food, intense learning sessions.

Though no one there was quite doing Judaism the way I do it (some did "more", some "less"), seeing other LGBTQ Jews being both Jewish and Queer reassured me that it can be done, that I needn't shut the door on either part of my identity. I can be a proud Jew, and a proud lesbian, and a proud Jewish lesbian.

The coolest moment of the conference was when someone stopped me to double check my gender identity.  I was wearing a pink polo, dress pants, red flowered clogs and a pink kippah.  I was talking about being a Jewish adult woman, and someone stopped me to ask, "Wait, you identify as female, right?" I just said yes and the conversation kept going.  I didn't think anything of it at the time, but looking back, it was infinitely cool, both that it happened and how it happened.  I felt very validated, both because someone thought to ask and because the other answer would have been OK with her.

I also recently came out to a friend to whom I was in, hiding because I was afraid of her reaction.  She was accepting, however, and now I don't have to worry about that relationship anymore!

I am a lesbian Jew, and a Jewish lesbian, and I am proud.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another One

So we all know about the explosions in Boston yesterday.  I wish I could care, but I mostly really can't.

Also, yesterday was Israel's independence day.  I wish I could care, but I mostly really can't.

Why can't I care about the world? Because I am having another bipolar episode.  Yes, another one.  No, I don't know why.  And it sucks and I'm mad and I refuse to feel guilty for not caring about the world when I am going through so much myself.  Sometimes we get to be selfish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rosh Hodesh Iyyar

Today and tomorrow mark rosh hodesh Iyyar, the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Iyyar.  Israel's independence day is coming up, and we are two weeks into the Omer.

 I have ordered a rainbow kippah (for gay pride) and I have decided that no matter where I plan to be that day, I will wear it the day after it arrives.  I have also purchased a new kippah by Israeli artist Yair Emauel because his work is beautiful.

I am changing my major to Jewish studies.  Judaism is my passion, my obsession, and my joy; everything I do that's unrelated simply feels like a waste of time.  So happy rosh hodesh, everyone; here's to new beginnings!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Yom Hashoah

Today (or possibly yesterday, someone's calendar is off) is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Though previous Yom Hashoah posts of mine have been rather short, I have swirling feelings this year, so this one may be rather long.

Firstly, there is a severe dearth of proper Yom Hashoah reactions within the Jewish community.  It is customary to burn a yellow 24-hour candle (similar to the white ones burned in memory of relatives on the anniversaries of their deaths), and some synagogues put together a memorial program, but that is all.  One author I was reading a few years ago (it might have been David Hartman) claimed that the lack of rituals reflects the lack of understanding of how to react.  We are still in such turmoil from the catastrophe that we have yet to get back on our feet, look back, and figure out how to deal.

As a lesbian Jew I would have been doubly abhorrent to the Nazis, and I know that there are people today (some still Nazis) to whom I am doubly abhorrent.  More concerning to me, however, is the lack of full acceptance that I would face if I came out to the Jewish community.  I want to ask what the H*ll these people think they are doing, judging in the way that they were judged.  Can they not see that judgment leads to separation, which leads to apathy, which leads to death?

To quote Eli Wiesel, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  We must not be indifferent to the plight of those around us.  We must fight to be accepted and to help others gain acceptance.  The message that I want to get across to you this Yom Hashoah is the importance of the fight for acceptance, for all people everywhere.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

They Exist.

Monday and Tuesday this week were a holiday, and Rutgers Hillel's conservative Jewish community organized a walking group into town to join one of the local synagogues for services and lunch.  And I discovered something truly special: a synagogue where I felt like I belonged.

In this synagogue, everyone sits together, and most of the women cover their heads.  The service alternates weeks men-only and women-inclusive, and the congregation splits for Torah reading.  The prayers following the Torah reading are led by the official leader (not the Rabbi), who happens to be a man.  (I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not.)  In short, this is a synagogue calling itself conservative, with an orthodox-style service that includes women.  Perfect!

Oh, and there is a national union of LGBT Jews, and they are holding their annual conference at my college this year! I am so going. 

Also, I got myself a new book called Torah Queeries, with commentary by queer Jewish authors on the weekly Torah portions.  I am going to make reading the weekly commentary part of my getting ready for the sabbath routine.

I refuse to choose between my lesbianism and my Judaism.  I am learning and growing in both.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Damned Hard

I travel back to school today, to pick up classes again tomorrow.  As well as taking classes and doing the homework, I must also apply for summer jobs and internships, as well as considering summer courses as a way to make up the credits I dropped for my medical leave last fall.  It's going to be a big job.

On top of that, I have again realized on a deep, emotional level that I am a homosexual Jew, and that is hard.  As a matter of fact, it is damned hard to be a homosexual Jew.  I am a minority in two ways, and also a minority within a minority, and the minority within which I am a minority doesn't fully accept me.  That's a hard truth to handle.

Moreover, I can talk about God deliberately creating me the way I am until I am blue in the face, but it's hard to keep that faith alive when I have no evidence.  I am aware that by definition faith implies a lack of evidence, but I guess I got spoiled by my visions and other supernatural experiences I let myself have before we knew they were dangerous: I like evidence.

With no evidence for acceptability or decency of who I am, I sometimes just feel malformed.  It is damned hard to be a homosexual Jew.  Damned hard.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Erev Pesach

Today is erev Pesach, the day before Passover.  Tonight, Jews everywhere will hold Passover seders (big ritual meals) in celebration of freedom and remembrance of the exodus from Egypt.  I will have so much to think about this year.

In the first place, this year the Gregorian and Hebrew dates both line up as the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.  I don't know what to make of this, but I decided that it's certainly worth mentioning.

Then, of course, there is all the stuff that has been swirling around in my head the past couple of days, and my new-found freedom from self-imposed restrictions.  I celebrate my recognition of myself as fully human, and my determination to have equal religious rights despite--or perhaps because of--the way God made me.

And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I cannot forget Reece's Rainbow and the children literally tied to their cribs in Eastern European orphanages.  I cannot forget "Rheann" nor stop wondering what is happening to her.  I pray for her personal "exodus" this Passover as well.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Growth and Struggle

If I were a heterosexual man, I would be an Orthodox Jew.  I would have easy access to a community of committed Jews, both spiritually and practically.  I'd never have to explain myself in the Jewish world; I would have peers and a place.

I am not a heterosexual man.  I am a homosexual woman.  Whenever an Orthodox Jew asks me why I am not Orthodox, I usually start with, "I can read Torah as well as the next guy over, and you won't let me."

I believe that I was made the way I am, deliberately by God, so that I could struggle and grow.  I don't believe my soul was meant to have an easy life this time around.  I believe I was meant to learn life lessons that can only be learned by living life, and I can't wait to find out what they are.

Side note: I believe that this is the same reason Reece's Rainbow assigned me a child in Russia for whom to pray.  I do not believe that God moved the Russians or that Russia banning American adoptions was God's work.  I do not believe that Reece's Rainbow taking down its listings of Russian children so that it could focus its efforts on children more likely to get homes was God's work.  I do believe that God knew all this would happen and, knowing I could handle the challenge, gave me "Rheann."

Growth and struggle, always.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A New Place

I am in a new place religiously.

Up until now, despite the fact that I am very open about my lesbianism, I was against homosexual religious marriages and even more so against homosexual Rabbis.  And then!

I was in the shower one evening when I realized that the main reason I am a Conservative (aka not an Orthodox) Jew has little to do with beliefs about the origins of the Torah and even less to do with dietary or sabbath laws.  The issue over which I break with the Orthodox movement is women's rights.  As a woman, I simply cannot stomach a Judaism that denies me certain rights in the synangogue because of part of who I am.

And then that little voice inside me whispered, "Being lesbian is also part of who you are."

So.  If I am to demand equal rights as a woman, I must also demand them as a lesbian.  I am a FEMALE, LESBIAN JEW.  I demand equal opportunities and rights for all parts of me, all at once.  Pure and simple.

Done.  My journey has taken a new turn.  I am excited.

Friday, March 22, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day (sorry a day late)

Yesterday was World Down Syndrome Day, and I feel that I should post about it.  Honestly, however, I'm not sure what to say.  Ask you all to do something? But what? 

The only thing that I can do is remind you of "Rheann," for whom I continue to pray.  I do not see her picture on the Reece's Rainbow site anymore; unless she found a family and I missed it (please, God!) she is literally lost in the system.  "Rheann" has Down Syndrome, but she should be remembered, not forgotten...found, not lost.

And no, I feel no shame in tying a public event like World Down Syndrome Day to "personal" matters like "Rheann."  She needs all the help she can get.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


So it seems as if I am overdue for a blog post, but truthfully I am not sure what to write.  I have just recently emerged from the month-long, dark tunnel of the worst bipolar episode I have ever experienced.  Were this a year or so ago, I would probably post all the gory details, but that just doesn't feel right anymore.

I no longer want to post every little detail of my life to this blog.  I have real-life friends now--very good, dear, precious ones--and that may be part of it, but I also believe that as we grow up we come to have more of a need for privacy.  Or not.  Could be that I just don't know what I'm talking about.

School is going as well as I could ask for given current circumstances.  I cannot say I am doing what I consider well, but I am pulling low As and Bs instead of Bs and Cs, so that is something.  I have three really good school friends, my roommates, and three more friends, so I consider myself well set in that department.

About chronic pain: Prior to the aforementioned bipolar episode, I was completing a pain management routine that took approximately an hour and a half almost every day.  For a variety of reasons, the episode made that so difficult that I just stopped.  I do plan to get back into that over Spring break--pray for me that I can!

If you so happen to want the gory details (and fair warning: they are not pleasant) of my episode, let me know, and I can tell you privately via email or something like that.

In sum total, coming out of last month, I am glad to be alive.  That is all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Rheann's" Birthday

Sweet "Rheann" will be turning eleven this month. (I don't know the day.) This month will mark eleven years of languishing, unwanted, behind dark walls, with no source of comfort. And the recent ban on American adoptions from "Rheann's" home country only deepens my sorrow and the weight on my heart for her.

I wish that I could say pulling together and praying is enough, but it isn't. I wish I could say donating money is enough, but it isn't. I wish we could find a way to storm the desks of both our president and "Rheann's" country's president with letters demanding that the relevant decision be reversed. I wish...

In the end, we must do all of the above and then some. We must do what we can to save "Rheann" and the others. Maybe we can even find "Rheann" a home for her birthday.

Whichever day it is, happy birthday, sweetheart.


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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!