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

I believe in God.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sabbath Lamp

This nifty little contraption is a Sabbath lamp, designed for those who do not change the state of electronics on the Sabbath, but still wish to have the convenience of a light.  It is a system of two cylinders, one inside the other, with a fluorescent light bulb in the center of all that.  Each cylinder has a window, as shown.  Match up the windows, and the light shines through; twist the top so the windows do not match up, and the lamp goes dark.

 This lamp alone does not make it bright enough in my room for me to read on my bed--I need a bigger light on a timer for that--but it does ensure that I can get ready for bed with ease at whatever hour I choose. 

This adorable lamp (I feel like an advertisement) comes in about a dozen different colors--I have a blue one for my room at school--and costs around forty five dollars.  The price did make me cringe a little, but seeing this in person, I can honestly say it may be one of the best Judaica purchases I have ever made.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Penitnetial Season

Last night kicked off the "Penitential Season," as one of my prayer books calls it: The Hebrew month of Elul leading up to the New Year and Day of Atonement.  It is at this time of year that we as Jews really contemplate life: our deeds and our relationship with God, where we were this year and where we'd like to be next year, and the changes we must make in order to get there.

This is also the only time of year when I allow myself to play my favorite Youtube recording of U'n'taneh Tokef.  U'n'taneh Tokef is my favorite part of the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) liturgy.  It talks about how we are nothing but dust and ashes, how we never really know our fate, and how on this day we all pass before God so God can decide what will happen to us--perhaps even how we will die--in the coming year.  No one is exempt from God's judgement; but repentance, prayer, and charity can mitigate the evil decree.

This part of the service is so special to me that I save my favorite recording of it for this time of year, but for these few weeks, it becomes the background music to my life.  I have already played it once last night and three or four times today.

Somewhere in my house is a book about the New Year and Yom Kippur called "This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared."  I want to read it at some point.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Building my Jewish Home

I have recently decided to use every opportunity to acquire the things I need for my own Jewish home, which I just might have starting next year.  For Hannukah this year, I am getting my own fancy-but-usable (it's made of metal) menorah, and for my birthday I am probably getting full-size candlesticks.

Maybe I should explain about the candlesticks.  You see, for years now, whenever I light Sabbath or holiday candles, I have used little candlesticks, as befits a girl in her mother's home.  However, as my mother pointed out to me, in the societies where that is the norm, I would be married and in my own home, perhaps with children, by now.  I would definitely be lighting using full-size candlesticks.  I will be 22 this coming birthday; I'm fairly certain that that makes me an adult.  It is time for tall candlesticks.

The pair I want comes from the Emanuel Judaica site.  (Are you surprised?) They are made of metal, six-and-a-half inches tall, and they are pink! They cost $39.00 for the pair, which I think is a pretty good deal! Then, if I get money from my grandparents, which I usually do, I will buy a pretty hand washing cup and towel for when I do ritual hand washing in the morning.

So excited!

And posting "Jacob's" picture again, just in case:

Jacob sm

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Magical Sabbath

Without using electricity, I really felt that this past Sabbath was...magical is the best word, I think.  I truly felt as if I were floating in midair, with zero cares, concerns, or worries.  Time truly seemed to stop, if only for a day, and the result was...fantastic.

Things like a Sabbath lamp (http://www.kosherimage.com/kosherlampMAX.html; I have a blue one already for my dorm room and will be getting one in the cherry wood color for my room at home), a timer for another light (is what it sounds like; any old timer will do, and I might even have one somewhere if I search), and a Sabbath alarm clock (http://www.kosherimage.com/kosherclock3.html) will make all of this much easier, but what I did this Sabbath is doable even without these fancy gadgets.

Now, of course, I had to laugh when I realized when the holidays are this year.  The Jewish holidays all fall Thursday-Friday this year, and from there we go straight into the Sabbath.  I will be doing this no electricity gig, while I'm still fairly new at it, for THREE. STRAIGHT. DAYS.

Oh well.  As sacrifices go, this one is fairly minor.  I can do it.  I can do it.  I can do it.


Friday, August 22, 2014

A Big Jewish Step

There is a raging debate in the Jewish world over whether or not electricity equals fire as relates to use on the Sabbath.  In short, if it does, then I can't use it; if it doesn't, then I can.

Until this weekend, I was part of the "I can use it" camp.  Then I realized the following:

At home, I mark the beginning of the Sabbath by lighting a candle.  That candle is symbolic and significant because I go on to not use fire for the rest of the Sabbath.

At school, I will be using electric Sabbath candles.  Now, either electricity is not fire, in which case I can use it, but it doesn't count for my candles; or it is fire, in which case I can't use it, and it does count for my candles; but I cannot say that it is fire for my candles and not elsewhere as well.

So.  Deep breath, big step, here I go.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Heather's" Visit

I just got done having the most fantastic visit with my friend "Heather" from school.  She came Friday, and we just dropped her off at the bus station to go home.

Friday afternoon, we hung out for a while, then joined my family for Sabbath dinner, complete with the singing of Hebrew songs and the grace after meals afterwards.  Saturday morning, we joined my parents for services; we then ate a picnic lunch in the back yard and headed off to the park.  At the park, we enjoyed the swings and slides, went on a walk, and made liberal use of the water fountains.

On Sunday afternoon, my parents drove us to a used book store, where we both found some very cool books.  Throughout the course of the visit, we played multiple games of backgammon, stratego, and blockus. 

We talked a ton, and I really enjoyed having a "prayer buddy": "Heather" wanted to do all the Jewish things I did! What a fabulous visit!

(At "Heather's" request, I took no pictures.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014


My biggest "someday" dream, apart from becoming a Rabbi and falling in love (in either order) is to adopt a hard-to-place girl.  Hard-to-place means older or disabled.  It will be challenging at times; from what I've read, it may be very challenging all the time for a while.  But I feel called to do this.  This is my dream.

Please dream it with me?

And "Jacob's" picture, of course:


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gathering Prayers for "Trudy"

Some of you may remember "Trudy," an older girl on Reece's Rainbow about whom I blogged several months ago.  Her picture is here:


"Trudy" was born in 1998, which means she will age out of the system sometime in 2014.  The end of 2014 is fast approaching; "Trudy" only has a few more months.  Because she has HIV and no other disability, if I understand correctly she will be thrown out on the streets.  She will have no access to her medication, and will likely die of AIDS.

I had always intended to be "Trudy's" Prayer Warrior once "Jacob" got adopted, but it doesn't look as if that will happen any time soon.  I have found a Prayer Warrior for "Trudy"--I recently got yet another friend hooked on Reece's Rainbow and she said she'd do it--but I am asking anyone who reads this blog, and believes in the power of prayer, to pray too.  You don't need to commit to praying for "Trudy" every day; please just think a prayer quickly as you read this.

And here are pictures of the Reece's Rainbow kids, "Neal" and "Stanley," whose Prayer Warriors are friends of mine:


Neal Photo 3 rec. Jan-2013



And of course, "my kid," "Jacob":

Jacob sm

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Last New Skirt (For Now)

Yesterday, the last of my new skirts arrived in the mail.  It is absolutely gorgeous; here are pictures.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Quilt

I am so excited to finally be sharing pictures of the quilt I am making! Twelve squares in a row, there will be 18 rows, and every stitch will be done by hand.  (I hate sewing machines.)  This first one is for me, but if I enjoy making it and it turns out OK, I may make one as a gift for someone next.  For whom, I'm not completely sure, but it will be someone very special.

Anyway, enough of that.  Pictures:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My New Skirts

They came! They came! My new skirts from myculottes.com came! They are long (mid-calf), with waistbands that fit, and SO cool! There is a deep brown one (pretty), a black one with small, multi-colored flowers (gorgeous), and a denim one (good to have the basics--I had originally wanted royal blue twill, but they were sold out).  I am having SO much fun planning outfits right now...as in which skirt, with which t-shirt, with what jewelry...

And here are pictures:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tisha B'Av 2014

So now it is officially Tisha b'Av.  One law that I forgot to mention is that the tallit and tefillin, normally worn at morning prayers, are not donned until the afternoon.  I prayed without them this morning, and honestly, it felt just as if my ties to God had been severed, and I understood on a gut, emotional level the loss that the Jewish people had suffered with the destruction of the Temples.  In other words, for the first time ever, I finally got it.  I got it.

Also, on Tisha b'Av the scroll of Lamentations is read in the synagogue.  Because of my delicate mental health, I couldn't stay for the whole service last night (had to get home and to bed), but I read myself the first three chapters in English while members of the congregation chanted about a chapter and a half in Hebrew.  I finished up the English sitting on my floor (as is customary for the Lamentations reading) in my nightgown first thing this morning.

I am not wearing my arba kanfot right now because I figured that if a tallit (whose whole point is the tzitziot, or holy fringes) was not to be worn, I also should not wear my arba kanfot (whose whole point is also tzitziot).  I am fully dressed--t-shirt, skirt (a NEW skirt), etc. right down to a kippah/yarmulke (black velvet today, from my younger brother's Bar Mitzvah), though of course no jewelry--but I feel naked.  Arba kanfot are such an integral part of my wardrobe that it really does feel as though I am skirtless, or not wearing underwear, or something of that nature.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Erev Tisha B'Av 2014

Today is erev Tisha b'Av, the day before the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, and tomorrow is the day when Jews everywhere will alter their behavior in specific, prescribed ways to demonstrate their grief as they mourn the loss of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.  The Temples were both destroyed on the ninth of Av, one in 586 BCE and the other in 70 CE, and to this day we mourn.  This is the post I had planned for tomorrow, but I want to post it now. 

I could write a lot about Tisha b'Av.  I have a lot of feelings about this day.  I have decided that this post will be a bit of a "how to," descriptive post, along with some notes about what I personally plan to do tomorrow, and tomorrow's post will be more reflective, moody, and mournful.  Tisha b'Av begins around 8:20 pm tonight, and will end around 8:50 pm tomorrow night.

Here is a list of the ways we mourn our missing Temple, a piece of the Jewish people that is no longer here, and which we pray will one day be here again.

  1. Fasting: From start to end of Tisha b'Av, we do not partake of any food or drink, yes, including water.  I am actually not fasting this year for medical reasons.  For me this is actually the hardest part of this day; even though I have the "go ahead" to drink and eat from both my doctor and my Rabbi, I feel as if I am...cheating, somehow.
  2. Abstaining from Sexual Intercourse: Well, this one is pretty much self-explanatory!
  3. Wearing No Leather Shoes: Leather, and especially leather shoes, is considered a sign of comfort and luxury.  On Tisha b'Av we wish to humble ourselves, even to the point of discomfort, so we do not wear leather shoes.  Footwear at the synagogue takes every form imaginable! I will be wearing a pair of old sandals.
  4. Refraining from Bathing, Washing, or Anointing: On Tisha b'Av, as we mourn, we do not take a bath, wash with soap, put on lotion or even deodorant.  We do not wear perfume.  We do not brush our teeth.  Naturally, I will be doing all of the above (except the perfume) shortly before 8:20 pm tonight.
  5. Abstaining from the Wearing of Jewelry: Again, no luxury, no comfort.  This one will be hard for me this year because I just recently fell in love with jewelry and am rediscovering my jewelry box.
  6. Sitting on Low Chairs or the Floor Until Midday: Sitting on low chairs or the floor is a mourning practice in Judaism. and because Tisha b'Av is a day of mourning, many people observe this custom.  I myself will be sleeping in my bed tonight, but maybe (not sure yet) I will observe this custom tomorrow morning.
That's it, I think! More tomorrow.  Tonight I will be attending part of the Tisha b'Av service at my local Orthodox synagogue, because they have the only one in town.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

And Little "Jacob's" Picture

It's been ten days (four entries) since I posted anything about my "Jacob," so I thought I'd give him an entry all his own.  Here is his picture:

Jacob sm

His other picture:


And his Reece's Rainbow profile says that he is available to single moms! Just throwing that out there...

Giving Thanks to...Whom Else...GOD!

I thought it would be fun to thank God for as many specific blessings as possible, thereby giving you all a window into my current life.  Ready...Steady...GO!

  1. My good mental health, just recently regained and very fragile
  2. My friend "Charlotte" who has seen me through every episode and "blip" I've had since starting college, and our almost-daily phone conversations
  3. My friend "Heather" and our visit this coming weekend (I will try to take pictures!)
  4. The selling/donating/general ridding myself of the vast majority of my childhood dolls, as I move on to a new phase of life
  5. The quilt I am making
  6. The residential community in which I will be living this coming year...I can finally shout it from the rooftops...I will be living in a community specially designed for LGBT folks, and I am super excited!
  7. My Jewish faith, always, even when it is hard (Watch for a "hard" post on Tuesday.)
  8. My nightgowns...I'm sorry...but they're pretty!
OK...I think that's it...short list.


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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!