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

I believe in God.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm in Love

I'm in love, simply in love with my Judaism.  Every moment of my day is steeped in my religion, as it should be.  These are the Jewish things I do each day:

  1. Pray morning and afternoon (I'm going to add in evening prayers starting tonight.)
  2. Put on tallis (four-cornered prayer shawl with holy fringes) and tefillin (black leather boxes with parchment scrolls of scripture inside, on leather straps that go around the head and arm) when I pray in the morning, or in the afternoon if I somehow missed the morning, but never the evening because they are a daytime commandment.
  3. Recite a special blessing after each time I use the bathroom.
  4. Recite blessings before and after eating.
  5. Put on arba kanfot/tallit katan (special undergarment with four corners and holy fringes) and kippah (skull cap) each morning when I get dressed, and leave them on all day.
  6. Learn Jewish stuff for two hours every day, ideally one hour of Talmud with my brother and one hour of something else, but lately it's  more often been two hours on my own.  Currently I am reading the Hebrew Bible cover to cover, with as much Hebrew as I can manage.
And now, a visual aid.  I don't think I have ever posted pictures of my tallis and tefillin before, and if I have, it's been a long time:


And, of course, I close with a picture of "Jacob." I will never stop fighting to find him a home.  Never!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rosh Hodesh Tammuz

Today is Rosh Hodesh Tammuz, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Tammuz.  That means that the seventeenth of Tammuz, a day of fasting in commemoration of the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem en route to the destruction of the Second Temple, is coming up in just over two weeks.  I can't wait.  (sarcasm)  No one likes to fast, but I think it is important to remember collective tragedies by doing something; in Judaism that something is fasting.

On another topic, while I was praying today the most extraordinary thing happened! I was muttering the words of the Amidah, or Standing Prayer, central to the musaf ("additional") service for Rosh Hodesh, when all of a sudden I felt the most amazing kavana.  Kavana is a word that's very hard to translate, but I think the two best attempts I've seen are "intention" and "concentration."  It's something like a mix of those two.  Anyway, I suddenly felt connected to all Jews before and after me, "back and back and back" as Jonas and the Giver say in Lois Lowry's The Giver, but forwards too.

Historically and traditionally, Rosh Hodesh is considered a women's holiday.  I don't really know the details, and I'm a little fuzzy on how it got to be that way, but I think that's very cool.

I close with some very important prayers.

 First I plead with God to bring back the kidnapped Israeli boys, using their Hebrew names, in no particular order:

Dearest God in Heaven Above and Earth Below, please move Heaven and Earth--whatever it takes--to return Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim (Gilad), Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Naftali), and Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Eyal) to their proper homes and families, whole and healthy and strong, ASAP.  You can do this, God; yes, I am begging for a miracle.

Second, I beg You, God, to find a home for "Jacob."  Little "Jacob" just turned four; it's not too late but it soon will be.  Come on, God, please find "Jacob's" parents!

And, of course...a picture of "Jacob":

Jacob sm

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Prayer Book (Siddur)

This morning I got up super early (5:00-ish am) to pray outside in the early morning.  I commemorated the occasion with these pictures of my prayer book, or siddur, which I thought you might like to see.  The siddur I used this morning is the one I received at my "siddur party" in first grade...yes, it's survived all these years!


And, unsurprisingly, I am ending with a picture of "Jacob," my precious little one! Here he is:


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Public Plea

Dear Universe,

This is a public plea to God and man for the safe and prompt return of the three captured Israeli boys: Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Naftali), Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Eyal), and Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim (Michael).  They are presumed kidnapped by Hamas, and it is assumed that their captors will attempt to smuggle them into Gaza soon.  Oh Lord God, do everything in Your power to bring them home before that happens; oh those who read this, pray, do good deeds in their names, do SOMETHING!

This is my plea, the plea of Sarah Tovah [last name censored], a fortunate, privileged, American young woman who cannot begin to imagine what these teens are facing.  Please God, hear my cry.

Hear my cry.

Your Girl

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Making Lemonade"

So I got unfairly evicted from my summer program of Jewish learning, much to my sorrow.  I decided, however, to have a summer of Jewish learning anyway, even if I'm on my own.  So, every day:

1. I pray three times.
2. I study Talmud (Jewish legal codes) with my brother for about an hour in the morning.  We are pretty much on an equal--very beginner--study level, and we learn off each other.  It's fun! Today we only managed to cover three lines in that hour, but it's fun.
3. I do some other kind of Jewish reading for an hour in the afternoon.  Right now I am reading Sacred Fragments by Neil Gillman; when I finish that I plan to start reading the whole Hebrew Bible, cover to cover, hopefully mostly in Hebrew.

Dammit, summer program people, I will learn and grow Jewishly this summer, and "make lemonade" out of your "lemons"!

And a quick prayer for my "Jacob," publicly:

Dear God, please find my "Jacob" a home.  I worry about him, God; he's so small and puny-looking.  He needs a Mommy and Daddy, God, and brothers and sisters to love! Keep him warm and safe and well-fed until his family comes.  Please, God.  Please, God! Please, God!!! Love, Your Girl

And, not surprisingly, here is "Jacob's" picture, again:

Jacob sm

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My "Jacob" Turns Four

My "Jacob" turns four this month, according to Reece's Rainbow.  I don't know the exact day, but I do know it's this month.  Poor little "Jacob's" photos have not been updated for like a year and half.  I started praying for "Jacob" shortly before his thrid birthday; now he is turning four and the pictures are the same.

I know that "Jacob's" profile does not sound attractive.  I get that.  But won't someone love him, please?

Regardless of what this year brings, Happy Birthday Sweet Boy! I love you, "Jacob"!



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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!