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

I believe in God.

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.):


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!