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

I believe in God.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Tzedakah Box--Purchased!

Well, neither of the books I wanted to sell back actually sold; the bookstore wouldn't take them.  But I needed that tzedakah box, and I was bound and determined to get it.  I thought for a while, then contacted my parents asking if I could get the tzedakah box as part of my Hannukah gift, but get it now.  Being the wonderful parents that they are, they said yes.

I am very pleased with the tzedakah box I picked out; I will describe it to you now, and show you a picture of it when it comes.  It is made out of wood, with a golden Jerusalem scene on the front and a golden lock on the lid to prevent theft.  It is rectangular, and it comes in three colors: blue, mahogany, or black.  I chose mahogany.

So excited!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

And...This is really happening.

And...this is really happening.  I am really and truly going back to school.  By this time three (or possibly four, depending on how you count) days from now, I will be on the road with my father and my luggage.  A few short hours after that, I will be standing in my new dorm room.  I will know such things as: river view or street view? How big is it? What's on my Eastern wall? Where will I put my books? Which way does my bed face, and do I have a wall on my right or my left when I'm sleeping? How deep is the windowsill? These are all important questions, and I can't wait to find out the answers.

It's been a long and boring summer.  I planned absolutely nothing for myself to do.  Always before I've had to take incompletes and finish schoolwork over the summer, and I was convinced that a summer without any responsibilities would be fun, fun, fun.  Boy, was I wrong! It might have been different if I had a job and were working a good bit of the day, but jobs are scarce and I couldn't find one.  In short, I had nothing to do all summer, which is not good for a 22-year-old!

I chose to do most of my packing today.  I can't pack on the Sabbath, for that would be work, and we are leaving too early Sunday for me to do all my packing then.  Initially, the plan was just to do my laundry today, and my packing tomorrow, but once I got into prepping-to-go-back mode I couldn't stop.  So far, I have filled my big suitcase and my medium suitcase.  I have a small suitcase I can fill, as well, and then it's cardboard box time.  I will also take a backpack, a laptop, and a purse.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Second Post of the Day: About my Taste in Music

My three favorite Youtube playlists right now, are, in no particular order: Yeshiva Boys Choir, Lev Tahor, and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Yeshiva Boys Choir is an Orthodox choir comprised of prepubescent boys.  They sing their songs with a very Ashkenazi (Jewish from Eastern Europe) pronunciation, which I find obsolete, as do most non-Orthodox Jews, but they also sing with an unrivaled spirit and passion, and this is what draws me in.

Lev Tahor is an Orthodox mens' group.  (In case you were wondering: yes, in the Orthodox world there is a problem with women singing, at least in front of men.  There is a quotation in the law codes which reads, "The voice of a woman is nakedness," and too many men take it seriously.)  They also sing and play their instruments with great passion and joy; you can tell from listening to them that they really love their Judaism.

Steven Curtis Chapman is perhaps the singer who will require the most explanation, for his songs are very Christian.  It is in his work, however, that I find a spirituality most like mine.  I do screen his songs carefully before adding them to my Youtube playlist, not so much because I care for myself as because I care what people who might overhear through walls or door think of me.  Any song containing the words "Jesus," "Christ," or "Savior" doesn't get listened to again; anything else is fair game.  At the end of the day, we all worship the same God, and that is what counts.

Look up any of these singers/groups on Youtube for a meaningful experience.  The Yeshiva Boys Choir songs I most recommend are "Adir" and "Veahavto."  For Lev Tahor, I recommend "Deaf Man in the Shteeble" and "The Ninth Man."  My favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman are "God is God" and "Moment Made for Worshiping."  Enjoy!

The 28th Kippah

This past Saturday night, I inherited this lovely kippah from the family kippah drawer.  I have wanted it for years, and in fact I forget whether I asked for it and someone said no, or rather I just never asked for it.  It is Bucharan-style (aka very large), giving me another option for Friday nights and holiday nights.  With all the holidays in the Fall, I got this just in time; I plan to debut it on Yom Kippur eve, for the Kol Nidre service (considered one of the two holiest services of the year; the other is Neilah, when the gates of Heaven close at the end of Yom Kippur).  We are supposed to wear white on Yom Kippur, and I have a white skirt and a smaller white kippah to wear during the day, but I didn't have a white kippah for the evening and that didn't sit well with me.  But now I guess I do!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tzedakah Box

I am excited.  At the beginning of the school year, I plan to sell back a couple of textbooks that are obsolete to me (hopefully they're useful to someone, or the bookstore won't take them back), and then I will have some spending money.  I had planned to buy yet another kippah, but have decided instead to buy a tzedakah box.

Tzedakah is a difficult word to translate.  It is most often rendered "charity," but that doesn't quite do it, somehow.  Charity is something done purely voluntarily; tzedakah carries a sense of obligation.  I have also seen the word translated "justice" and "righteousness," but somehow those don't really quite get it, either.  A tzedakah box is a special place to save money to donate.  Up till now I have been using an old medicine box; hopefully that will soon change.

Tzedakah boxes come in all sizes, materials, and prices.  I bookmarked some as low as five or ten dollars because I really don't know how much money I'll have to spend.  The ones I bookmarked only went up to thirty dollars, for I know I won't have more than that to spend, but I saw some handmade works of art selling for several thousand dollars.  It's unclear to me what the point is of spending so much on a tzedakah box when you could be donating the same money to tzedakah, but I don't know; maybe that's just me.

I have also changed my plans about where to donate when the box is full.  Until yesterday, I thought I was going to make a donation to Reece's Rainbow, every time.  Now I have decided to change the organization to which I donate each time I donate, and I know where I am donating first.  I am very excited about it.

While Googling "tzedakah box" yesterday, I came across a girls' orphanage in Israel, Lev Lalev (Heart to Heart).  It is an Orthodox organization--I can tell by  how modestly the girls in the photos are dressed, and the fact that there is a separate fund set up for weddings (traditionally it is a HUGE Jewish value to help poor and disadvantaged brides have a wonderful wedding and a successful first home)--but.  But but but.  They also have a separate fund for the psychiatric and therapeutic needs of their girls with PTSD and other mental health needs.  Given my own health history, I cannot ignore this.  My first tzedakah boxful of money will go to the Lev Lalev mental health fund.

You might be wondering where I am getting all this money.  It is true that, as a college student, it is difficult to find money to give to others, but this became very important to me around the middle of last year, so I devised a clever system: every Friday evening, and on the eve of a holiday, I empty the change in my wallet--be it one cent or three dollars--into my tzedakah box.  When the box is full, I take it to the bank, deposit the money, and make a donation for that amount.

Giving tzedakah becomes especially important during the Aseret Y'mei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  After all, as we say in U'N'Taneh Tokef, "But repentance, prayer, and deeds of kindness can avert the severity of the decree."  The Hebrew word used for "deeds of kindness" is--you guessed it--tzedakah.  (I told you it was hard to translate!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Straight Out of my Journal

PLEASE NOTE: I very rarely blog straight out of my journal.  It's usually much too private for that.  This time, however, I knew it would work.  Enjoy!

When I look at it with a clear and analytical eye, it is astounding to me how much of my day is taken up by Judaism.  My day does not feel right unless it is punctuated with the fulfillment of mitzvot (commandments) at the proper times.

I start my day with ritual hand washing immediately after I get out of bed, using a beautiful cup and towel that I spent real money (eight dollars for the towel and 37 for the cup, plus shipping from Israel) on, specially for this purpose.  Even as I get dressed, I am doing Jewish things, donning a tallit katan (undergarment with holy fringes) over my bra and skirt and a kippah atop my ponytail.

My day would not feel right if it were not punctuated by prayer--hopefully, usually all three times, but certainly at least once.  When I pray in the mornings, which is the time I am most likely to make, I wear a tallit gadol (prayer shawl, with the same holy fringes as the tallit katan) and, during normal weekdays, tefillin (phylacteries: square boxes of black leather, with scripture inside, on long black leather straps).

Now that we have entered the Penitential Season, which runs from Rosh Hodesh Elul (start of the month of Elul) through Hoshanah Rabah (last day of the week-long festival of Sukkot), there are extra Jewish things to do, as well.  There is a special psalm (Psalm 27) to be recited at the end of morning and evening prayers, and I have my precious U'N'Taneh Tokef Youtube recording by the Israeli group Gevatron, which I allow myself to listen to from Rosh Hodesh Elul through Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

And here are my own photographs of the objects that focus in my daily ritual life, in the order in which they were mentioned here:

This is my hand washing cup.  It is made of brushed metal that shines in the light, and it is purple.

And here is the towel, draped over the cup.  The Hebrew reads "...on the lifting of the hands;" these words end the blessing that goes with hand washing.

Tallitot k'tanot come in two different styles now.  This first one is the same kind that men and boys wear.  I wear this kind, in size extra small, under my t-shirts and polos and such.

This second kind was designed and made by women, for women.  The company that makes them, Netzitzot, is very new.  The women who make these start with an H & M undershirt, slit it to make corners (a tallit must have corners, that is the whole point) and then tie the fringes.  I wear this kind when I am dressing up for the Sabbath, holidays, or other fancy occasions; it looks prettier under a dress or blouse, and allows me to feel graceful while still fulfilling this important commandment.

I couldn't photograph the kippah atop my head, obviously, so I did the next best thing: photographed the one I plan to wear tomorrow.  Kippot come in all different sizes, materials, and styles; earlier this summer I did a post showing off my whole collection (I have 27) one by one.  This one here is hand embroidered silk, by designer Yair Emanuel.  It is one of my favorites in my whole collection.

This is my tallit gadol, in its bag.  This is the one I have had since my Bat Mitzvah, ten and a half years ago.

Here it is out of the bag...

...and here it is partially unfolded.  I didn't want to unfold it all the way when I wasn't going to use it, but I did want to show you some of the important details.  In the upper left, you can see a portion of the atarah, or neckband.  The stripes running vertically actually run horizontally across the sides when the tallit is unfolded.  In the upper right, you can see a corner square (the corners of my tallit have the names of the Four Matriarchs--Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah--embroidered in Hebrew; not sure which corner that is) and the all-important fringes.

Here is my tefillin bag.  I wanted a pink one, but not enough girls and women wear tefillin for there to be pink bags on the market.  This was the closest my parents could get.  The bag is velvet; the embroidery is of a crown, some branches, and the word "tefillin" in Hebrew.

And here are the tefillin themselves, in their cases.  Again, getting them out just didn't seem right, somehow.  On the left is the headpiece; the Hebrew lettering says "tefillin for the head."  On the right is the armpiece; the Hebrew lettering says "tefillin for the hand/arm."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rosh Hodesh Elul and U'N'Taneh Tokef

Today (and yesterday) is Rosh Hodesh Elul, the start of the new Hebrew month of Elul.  Because Rosh Hodesh is traditionally a women's holiday, I have sought ways beyond just the extra prayers to make it extra special.  Here is what I have come up with, so far:

  1. I wear jewelry, not just the plain Jewish star brooch I wear every day, but special jewelry like that which I wear for the Sabbath and holidays.
  2. I use my fancy, Sabbath-holiday-and-special-occasion bobby pins to keep my kippah attached to my hair.  (On normal days I wear plain black hair barrettes or bobby pins.)
  3. I spritz one small spritz of cologne on.
  4. This is my newest one, that I just figured out yesterday: On Rosh Hodesh, regardless of what day of the week it falls out on, I wear my ladies' tallit katan in order to feel graceful and pretty while fulfilling a commandment.  It doesn't get much better than that.
Now, because it is now Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays, I am listening (through headphones, so I don't wake up my brother) to--what else?--U'N'Taneh Tokef.  To me, U'N'Taneh Tokef is the most beautiful piece of liturgy there is, possibly (though I'm not sure on this one) even more beautiful than Kol Nidre, which begins the Day of Atonement.  (U'N'Taneh Tokef comes during the daytime part of the Day of Atonement.)

Because this is at least my second time talking about U'N'Taneh Tokef on this blog, I thought I had better explain it a bit more.  Here is a link to the Youtube recording I love so dearly:


And here is a translation, so you can see why this piece is so important to me.  This translation is taken from Mahzor Hadash, "The New Mahzor," a High Holiday prayer book put together most recently in 2009.  Even that translation is out of date, but it's the one I grew up on, so it's the one I'll put here.  Here I go.

U'N'Taneh Tokef
"We proclaim the great sanctity of this day,
A day filled with awe and trembling.
On this day, O Lord, we sense your dominion,
As we envision You on the throne of judgment,
Judging us in truth, but with compassion.
You, indeed judge and admonish,
Discerning our motives, and witnessing our actions.
You record and seal, count and measure;
You remember even what we have forgotten.

"You open the Book of Remembrance,
And the record speaks for itself;
For each of us has signed it with deeds.

"The great Shofar is sounded, and a still small voice is heard.
Even the angels are dismayed; in fear and trembling they cry out:
"The Day of Judgment has arrived!"
For even the "heavenly hosts" sense that they are judged,
And know that they are not without fault.

"On this day all of us pass before You,
One by one, like a flock of sheep.
As a shepherd counts sheep, making each of them pass under the staff,
So You review every living being,
Measuring the years
And decreeing the destiny of every creature.

"On Rosh Hashanaah it is written,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed:

"How many shall leave this world, and how many shall be born; who shall live and who shall die, who in the fullness of years and who before; who shall perish by fire and who by water, who by sword and who by a wild beast; who by famine and who by thirst, who by earthquake and who by plague; who by strangling and who by stoning, who shall rest and who shall wander; who shall be serene and who disturbed, who shall be at ease and who afflicted; who shall be impoverished and who enriched, who shall be humbled and who exalted.


"We offer praises to You, for You are slow to anger, ready to forgive.
You do not wish that the sinner die;
You would have the sinner repent and live.

"You wait for us to return to You, even until our final day.
You welcome us, O our creator, whenever we repent, 
Knowing the weaknesses of Your creatures;
For we are mere flesh and blood.

"Our origin is dust and our end is dust.
At the hazard of our lives do we earn our bread.
We are like a fragile vessel, like the grass that withers,
The flower that fades, the shadow that passes.
The cloud that vanishes, the wind that blows,
The dust that floats, the dream that flies away.


Friday, August 14, 2015


For the first time, I may be starting school in a flare-up of one of my chronic conditions (in this case, RND).  To prepare for that circumstance, today I drafted a letter to my instructors (not all of them are professors; actually, I think only one is!) about my disability and what it looks like in the classroom.  I will not send the letter until the 25th.  I hope to be better by then, but I don't think I will be, and now I have the letter ready to go.  I would like to share it here, as well; here it is.

                           Dear Professor _____________,
             My name is Sarah ____________, and I am in your ____________ class for Fall semester 2015.  You may recognize me by my yarmulke atop my brunette hair (usually pulled back, but not always) and my skirts long enough to cover my knees: I am certain that I am the one and only _____________ student who wears both those things to class each day.
             I am writing to alert you to my two disabilities.  I do have paperwork for everything and I will naturally present it to you at the first opportunity.  This will not, however, be until after the first class session.  You will therefore meet me before you receive any paperwork, and I wanted you to be prepared.  Additionally, the paperwork does not reveal diagnoses; I think it should, and I am going to tell you mine.
            I have the bad luck of being diagnosed with two chronic conditions: Bipolar Disorder and Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy (henceforth referred to as RND).  Bipolar Disorder is common enough that I will assume you have encountered it before and understand it, and I will therefore not go into it here.  RND, however, is sufficiently rare (striking two to four in 1000) that I will presume you would like an explanation.
           As the word "neurovascular" suggests, RND strikes the nerves that control the blood vessels.  The blood vessels in the affected area then constrict, causing lactic acid build-up, which causes burning pain.
           Because RND is a condition affecting the nervous system, I can hurt any time, anywhere, for any reason or for no reason at all.  At present, I am in a "no reason at all" flare-up; this past Friday marked six weeks and there is no telling how long the pain will last.
          You need not fear that I'll disrupt class; I never do.  I do take notes on a laptop when my hands are hurting, and I stay out of school when things get really bad, though in my entire ____________ career (this is my ninth semester) I have missed four days for Bipolar Disorder and one day for pain.  I simply wanted you to be aware of and alert to my needs and situation.
          Once again, I do have paperwork that covers all this, and I will present it to you at the earliest opportunity, most likely immediately after the first class session.
           If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly at: [email address]
           You can also get in touch with my Disability Services coordinator, Mr. ____________ ______________, at: [email address]

                              Very Truly Yours,
                 Sarah ______________

P.S. (FOR FIRST YEAR RUSSIAN ONLY) Is there a TA for this class, or something similar, and does that person need to read and sign the paperwork, too?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Change

I have completely changed around my Jewish reading schedule.  I realized that I was not consistently reading for an hour a day because I was not enjoying what I was reading.  Since the whole point of this project was to prevent boredom, it seemed silly to fight my way through boring texts.

For now, I have returned to old favorites.  At present I am rereading Kushner's River of Light; hopefully I'll understand it this time, but even if I don't, I know I'll glean some valuable new insight. After that I want to reread both my Gillman books, then possibly Hartman, or I might take my mother up on her offer to let me borrow This Is Real, and You Are Completely Unprepared in time for the High Holidays: Rosh HaShanah, our New Year, and Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.  Rosh HaShanah, which kicks off our holiday season, falls in mid-September this year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Gathering of Prayers (Not for Me)

Today is a "pray for 'Jacob'" day.  I know it, I can feel it in my bones.  Today is a day to provide all the details I can about my "Jacob," the Reece's Rainbow child for whom I am Prayer Warrior, in the hopes that someone somewhere will see, hear, and care.  Today is a day to try again.

I'll start from the beginning, with an explanation of Reece's Rainbow and their mission.  Reece's Rainbow is an organization devoted to finding homes for disabled orphans around the world.  They started out working with children with Down Syndrome from Eastern Europe, but in the intervening years they have branched out.  They now work in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as in Eastern Europe; likewise, they try to help every disabled orphan they can.  I have seen children listed with everything from Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and paralysis to HIV, albinism, and the simple presence of an extra digit.

Reece's Rainbow also runs a program called Prayer Warriors, which is where I come in.  In this program, you sign up to "pray a child home," as Reece's Rainbow calls it.  All this means is that every day, for as long as it takes, you pray for your assigned child to "find a family," or for a family to find him or her.  You can choose a child from Reece's Rainbow's endless listings, or you can ask for a random assignment.  I am on my fourth child, and I have gone random every time, because I don't think it is my business to tell God where to send my prayers.

My first "prayer child," as I call them, was a two-year-old boy from Eastern Europe.  The website called him "Grady" (all the children listed have code names for security reasons).  "Grady's" disability was arthrogryposis, a condition affecting the muscles and joints.  I prayed for "Grady" for two months or so; just weeks before his third birthday, a family came for him.

My second "prayer child" was a girl from Russia whom the website first called "Erin," then changed it to "Rheann."  I am not sure how old she was.  "Rheann" had Down Syndrome.  I prayed for her for about a year and a half, until December 2012 when Putin shut down American adoptions from Russia.  Still I kept praying, until Reece's Rainbow reallocated the money in the Russian kids' grant funds (each child on the website has a sort of bank account where money can be donated to help with his or her adoption), because I like to go where my "rocks in the river" have a chance of hitting water and making a difference.

After "Rheann," I was assigned to another sweet girl with Down Syndrome, "Isabella" in Asia.  "Isabella" was six years old when I started praying for her, and she was living in a foster home, not an orphanage.  Within weeks of my being assigned to her, a family came for "Isabella;" I posted about it on this blog in a post entitled "Only the Best News Ever."

Now, as I said above, I am on my fourth "prayer child."  I am praying for a little boy called "Jacob," for whom I have been praying for exactly two years, two months, and seven days.  "Jacob" is in Asia, and he turned five in June.  (I do not know the exact day.)

"Jacob" is a difficult child to pray for.  He has heart problems, and probable Down Syndrome, but it is not certain.  He is described as restless and stubborn; the description also says that he does not like to be held.  Additionally, in all the time I have been praying for him, "Jacob" has not had new pictures, and the ones he has are not exactly flattering.

Even so, I am asking for your help.  I am asking you to offer up a prayer for "Jacob," or even better, to sign up to be a Prayer Warrior with a "prayer child" of your own.  I am asking for monetary donations to cover adoption costs if you feel you can possibly make them.  I am asking, I am crying, I am begging.

And here are "Jacob's" pictures, so you can put a face to a name:

 Jacob smJacob

Monday, August 3, 2015

Faith and Strength in Hard Times

I am still hurting a ton, but I am coping marvelously by leaning on my religious faith and practice.  (I figure God, unlike my friends and family, has the endless love, caring, and strength to take whatever I dish out.)  I had an epiphany about a week ago when I realized that I cannot say my religious faith carries me through hard times if I am not acting religious during those times.


I have gone back to praying at least twice a day, and really trying for that third time.  (This means ritual prayer, not spontaneous made-up-on-the-spot stuff; yes, I do that too.  Also, the Yiddish word for praying, and the one I use in daily speech, is "davening;" that is the word you will see here from now on.)

I have upped my "required" daily Bible reading from a minimum of two chapters to a minimum of four chapters, to distract myself and give myself strength for the day.  Currently I am in the book of Proverbs.  I am almost a third of the way through (the Bible goes by fast when you read four chapters a day), but I am not sure what I think of it yet.  Proverbs was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, as was Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes).  On the one hand, Proverbs is written in a beautifully poetic fashion that sings to my soul and might just cause it to work its way into my heart and replace Jeremiah as my favorite Biblical book; on the other, right left and center, Proverbs is disparaging towards women, outright calling them evil, wicked, cunning, etc.  That's hard to take.

Having finished Halakhic Man by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (I didn't like it after all), I am now patiently working my way through the 120-or-so page introduction to Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed.  I am almost done; I have fewer than five pages left, and then I can begin on the text itself.  I'm still shooting for an hour a day, though oftener it's half an hour and sometimes I don't read at all.  It's the summer; I picked this project up solely to keep myself from getting bored; I'm not being too strict about it.  If I don't finish this work by the time I go back to school, I will borrow both volumes (yes, it's that long!) to read in the early morning before I get to schoolwork or class, right before bed, and on Sabbath afternoons.  I don't know if I'll also bring back Heschel's God in Search of Man or not; for one thing, I don't know if my parents will let me (though we do have two copies, so maybe...), and for another, I don't know if I'll want to.

By the way, I noticed yesterday or the day before that I am the proud owner of seven, count them seven, works of Jewish philosophy/theology that I have aquired over the years.  They are:

  1. Theological-Political Treatise by Baruch de Spinoza, first published in the 1600s.  (I can't find an exact publication date,  but Spinoza lived from 1632 to 1677.)  This one is not exactly Jewish given that Spinoza was the first Jew to be excommunicated and not come back or become Christian, but we read it in my Jewish Philosophy class last semester, and the professor told us that all Jewish philosophy ever after was in response to this work, so I am counting it.
  2. The River of Light: Spirituality, Judaism, Consciousness by Lawrence Kushner, first published in 1981.  I love, love, LOVE this book! It might be my favorite Jewish book ever, although anything by Neil Gillman (I'll list his books later) runs a close second.  I first read this book early in my high school career, when I was undeniably way too young for it.  I read it again when I was a high school upperclassman, and again in college; I plan to read it again soon.  This book is so complex that I get something new out of it every time I read it, and it is beautifully written.  That is why I love it so.
  3. Halakhic Man by Joseph Soloveitchik.  The edition I have was published in 1983, but the first translation to English was done in 1979, and Soloveitchik wrote the book in Hebrew, under the title Ish ha-Halakhah, in 1944.  I put this book on my summer reading list for two reasons.  First, I had skimmed it (I was supposed to actually read it, but I didn't have time...you know how that goes ;-) ) for class and thought I liked it.  Secondly, whenever an Orthodox Jew hears that I'm reading Jewish philosophy/theology, they tell me to start with Soloveitchik.  I thought I had better read something by him and see what all the fuss was about.  The end result? I didn't like it.  Soloveitchik sounds like your typical Orthodox Rabbi; his basic premise is that "Halakhic man" is different from your typical "homo religiosus" purely by virtue of being Jewish.  That "Jewish superiority" complex is not an idea I buy into.  Additionally, Soloveitchik is supposedly a Modern Orthodox Rabbi, but because of the time period in which he was writing, I find his work dated and stilted.
  4. The Way Into Encountering God in Judaism, by Neil Gillman (who taught my father in Rabbinical school), published in 2000.  This is the first work of Jewish theology that I ever read, and the one that got me hooked on the topic.  It is quite possibly part of the reason why I want to become a Rabbi.  This book is divided by topic.  The topics include things like "God is Power," "God is Nice (Sometimes)," "God is Not Nice (Sometimes)," "God Can Change," etc.  It's a little too basic for where I am now, but I still turn back to it on occasion, and I used it (along with Lawrence Kushner [see number 2]) in my Rabbinical school application essays.
  5. Doing Jewish Theology, by Neil Gillman, published 2008.  This book was my Hannukah gift a year and a half ago.  I asked for a Jewish book; my parents knew I had read this one and loved it, so they decided it was a safe bet and they bought me my own copy.  The book is divided into three sections: "God," "Torah," and "Israel."  It's a harder read than my other Gillman book (see number 4), more suited to my level now.
  6. Radical Judaism, by Arthur Green, published in 2010.  This is another book that I bought for my Jewish Philosophy class.  It was OK.  I did not like it as much as Green's other book, Seek My Face, Speak My Name.  That is a book I voluntarily picked up on my own two or three times, though I never finished it.  Also, I never can get into Green as I can Gillman (see numebrs 4 and 5) or Kushner (see numebr 2).  Still, I rate Radical Judaism as a decent read.
  7. And last but not least...The God Who Hates Lies: Confronting and Rethinking Jewish Tradition, by David Hartman, published in 2011.  This book was a Jewish Life Award from my high school; as such, it will always be precious to me.  As a work of Jewish theology, it's all right, nothing special.  I rate it about the same as Radical Judaism (see number 6), though it is very different in tone and content.  Hartman considers himself a Modern Orthodox Rabbi; Green is much more liberal, I think Reconstructionist, though I am not 100 percent sure.


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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!