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

I believe in God.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"OCD" and the Making of a Tallit Katan


Yesterday I began tying the sacred fringes on my purple flowered tallit katan.  Very quickly, a problem occurred: I thought I had tied an invalid knot! I laid the project aside and checked with my father today.  Turns out any double knot is valid.

I also had the following thoughts:

  1. Judaism is made for the obsessive-compulsive.
  2. I am not going to enjoy this project if I let myself be too obsessive-compulsive.
  3. I refuse to not enjoy this project, which, after all, is my Hannukah gift.
So there you go.  I will enjoy this project, even if it means--and it does--letting go of familiar thought processes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I have finished all the sewing on my tallit katan.  I draped it over my bed for pictures; I don't want to actually put it on--certainly not under my shirt--until I'm ready to wear it properly, with the blessing and everything.  Here are pictures:

Next project: tie the holy fringes, known as tzitziot (singular: tzitzit).  I see no reason to rush; Hannukah's not until December, and that's when I want this ready by.  I think I will tie one corner per day.  Yes, that seems like a good plan.  And now, back to my homework.

Monday, October 26, 2015


I have finally finished hemming the beged (body; literally "garment") of my homemade tallit katan! This was the longest, most arduous step.  Next up is cutting and hemming the head-hole, then cutting and whip-stitching the holes for the holy fringes, and finally tying those fringes (on which I need to do a bit of "how-to" research).

And here is a photo of that properly hemmed beged.  Do note the sharp, pointed corners.


I am feeling sick (dizziness when moving, throwing up, etc.) today, but I got up to post this news...


I must have ordered them after all, because as a total surprise, they showed up in the mail.  Those are they up above, lying on top of the beged, or body, of the tallit katan.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Can't Even Begin to Have Words

Friday afternoon, actually probably right around the time that I was blogging, a beautiful old synagogue downtown near my college caught fire.  No one was injured, and that is always absolutely the most important thing; however (at least this is what I hear) out of twenty Torah scrolls, they were only able to save four.

A Torah scroll is next thing to a human life.  It is written by hand, and can take up to a year and roughly thirty thousand dollars to produce.  The Torah is so close to being a life that there are those who will count it as the tenth person in a prayer quorum.

Still, even knowing all that didn't really bring the tragedy of the day home to me.  What really brought it home was when I was leaving Chabad after dinner, and saw city police carefully watching the building.  It was the second time that night that I had noticed them, and all of a sudden it clicked that the city was carefully protecting its Jews because no one was sure how this fire had started.

I'm very glad the city in which I spend most of my time cares enough to send personnel to make sure its people are all safe, but I wish to God it didn't have to!

I can't even begin to have words.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Miscellaneous Updates

1. I changed my mind about taking my sewing on my "adventure" today.  I found that while I could not sew on the train, I could and did sew in the doctor's waiting room.  Therefore, I have turned a second corner and am close to turning a third.  I am being very careful to make my corners sharp and pointy; you may recall that a tallit--katan (literally "little", that we wear under our clothes), or gadol ( literally "big", that we wear around our shoulders while praying)--must have four distinct corners from which to hang the holy fringes.  I decided I am not going to post a photo with every update on the project--I want to save the photos for truly special milestones.

2. I had sushi for lunch today.  I found my doctor's appointment to be rather stressful, and my new-ish tradition after stressful doctor's appointments is to eat sushi.  What did I have? I had miso soup, an oshinko roll, and two yellowtail rolls.

3.  The doctor's appointment: This doctor's appointment finally brought home to me just how serious a case of RSD I really have.  I mean, I knew and know it intellectually all the time, but most of the time, I like to forget it emotionally, and I can do so quite successfully, if I do say so myself.  However, hearing phrases like "the severity of your symptoms" and watching how gentle and careful the doctor was while examining me changed all that.  What does she want to do about it? She wants to give me a ketamine infusion.  Ketamine is a powerful painkiller, given intravenously over the course of ten days, with a weekend to rest in between.  It does cause hallucinations (in most people, forget those who, like me, are separately psychiatrically ill); along with the ketamine, I would receive a drug of a type I can't spell to counteract that.  I obviously can't miss that much school, so we are looking to do this after I graduate.  That's in less than two months...I can make it.

4. Now it is time to get ready for the Sabbath in a whirlwind of activity, and then rest and delight in it.  I do have friends I only see on the Sabbath whom I will be updating on my medical status, and reading assignments I can't afford to skip, but I will rest and delight as much as possible.  Here's what my schedule looks like for the rest of the afternoon:

  • Put on spiritual music, not necessarily Jewish (Steven Curtis Chapman comes to mind) and clean my room.  That consists of putting books back on shelves, miscellaneous things back in drawers, making the bed, clearing off my desk, and putting out my battery-powered candles on their special cloth.
  • Give tzedakah.  Actually, I usually do this after I put on the music and before I clean.
  • Take a shower and dress up.  This week I am wearing a long black velour skirt, burgundy tights, and a pink blouse and jacket combo.  On Friday evening, I always wear a hat-size kippah; this week I will wear my embroidered, maroon velour.  I will also wear a ladies' tallit katan, perfume, and jewelry.
  • Call home.  I call home almost every day (I know, I know, most 22-year-olds don't...), but I especially make sure to before the Sabbath to wish everyone back home a "Shabbat Shalom" (literally "Peaceful Sabbath"; this is our conventional Sabbath greeting).
  • Go back to doing homework, if there's still time, until half an hour before services.  Today, that's 5 pm.
  • Set up all my electronics, turning on things I want on throughout the Sabbath and turning things off I want off throughout the Sabbath.
  • Leave for services and dinner.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hannukah Project Update

No picture today because nothing much happened...just worked a long time on hemming the first long side.  It should be exciting to see it all come together, but right now would be drop dead boring if I didn't love sewing so much.

I discovered last night that I had never ordered a set of those all-important corner strings.  I don't know how I thought I had, but I never received an email at either email address with receipt or tracking information, and the transaction is not on my bank account.  As soon as I have a working debit card, I will try again.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with doctor number ten for my pain syndrome.  She's a train ride away, and I'm of two minds as to whether to bring my sewing.  One "mind" says yes, it will be something to do on the train; the other says no, it's too important to do this neatly, and trains are not good for that.  Also, when I get to the end of the side I'm hemming now, I will have to measure for folding down the next side, and you can't really do that on a train.  OK, I just decided: I am not bringing my sewing tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Milestone Moment

I had no classes today, and in between this-that-and-the-other-thing got a lot done on my Hannukah project.  A major milestone reached today is that I turned the first corner on the hem, being sure to make it properly sharp and pointy.  Here is a picture:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hannukah Project

Today my material and thread for my Hannukah project arrived in the mail, and I settled down to my ten-minutes-an-evening crafting stretches.  Here are pictures from today:

This is a picture of the material as it came, uncut, with the matching thread lying on top.

And this is after tonight's crafting session.  The broad borders of the garment are cut, and the hem on one end is pinned.  In this picture you can see the ruler, and obviously some pins, as well as the fabric.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Yesterday's outfit and accessories were really more for myself than for anybody else...which turned out to be a good thing, because I don't think anyone else noticed!

Today is also Rosh Hodesh, and I go back to my Rosh Hodesh plans.  That means I am free to wear any jewelry I want...I think I'll wear the large cameo inteiited from mygrandmotherl

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rosh Hodesh Heshvan and Embracing my Incides

Today is Rosh Hodesh Heshvan, the start of the new Hebrew month of Heshvan.  Therefore, as per protocol for myself, I am wearing:

  • A ladies' tallit katan
  • Jewelry (in this case, a bracelet I made, with pink, purple, and black beads)
  • A spritz of perfume
  • my fancy bobby pins
Today is also a big--make that huge--day for me because I am deliberately going out into the world saying "I am Jewish, and female, and queer, and it is all OK."  I am doing that by wearing:

  • A gay pride button in place of my usual star of David
  • A gay pride kippah (which has double meaning: gay pride because it is rainbow and Jewish pride because it is a kippah)
  • a pink skirt with purple shirt and tights
So I am acknowledging my femininity, my gay pride, and my Judaism.  I will let you know how today goes.

Monday, October 12, 2015

As Promised...

Today I had a really bad day emotionally, the kind of day about which I would like to curse up a storm, only that wouldn't be productive at all.  My day was going so badly that I decided I needed to do something nice for myself.  Immediately, I knew what that "something nice for myself" would be: rather than waiting until I had the fabric for the garment of my homemade tallit katan to order the  strings, I would order the strings today.

The first thing I did when I got online, after coming to this blog to reread the post I posted yesterday, was to put on one of my Youtube playlists--Yeshiva Boys' Choir, to be exact--in the background.  Then, just as I planned, I started comparison shopping for wool tziztit, because 24 dollars seemed like a ton of money to pay if I didn't have to.'

And, as it turned out, I didn't have to! I found a set of all sixteen strings for four dollars plus shipping! Even with shipping, I was only out ten dollars! Much nicer!

So.  I don't have any pictures to show you yet, but that is where I am with making my Hannukah gift.  Thought you might like to know.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kippah Clips--In Style!

On Friday, I went shopping for kippah clips because I had lost all but one--that's one clip, not one pair.  I am always on the hunt for ways to make the "masculine" Jewish things I do a bit more "feminine," so when I went shopping for clips, I had that in mind.  Here are the results:

First of all, I did get a package of plain black clips--six pairs!--for days when I don't feel like being so feminine or for when the point is the kippah itself and I really need to draw attention to it.  With so many black clips, I will never run out.

Second of all, here are my Sabbath-holiday-Rosh Hodesh-and-other-special-occasion bobby pins.  I've had them for a while--like since last semester--but I don't believe I've ever shared a picture of them before.

And lastly, here are my every day feminine clips, minus the purple pair which are on my head right now.  I think having these will be fun!

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Hannukah Gift to Myself

This year for Hannukah I am taking a new turn: I am making my gift for myself! I would like to make myself a tallit katan, the holy undergarment with fringes.  My father is fabric shopping for me and I will use the remainder of the budget to buy the strings.

My tallit katan that I am going to make is going to be purple, and flowered.  I want to use wool strings because you are always allowed to put wool or whatever material you used for the body--but the thing is, I don't know what I sew with.

I will post pictures of every step of the process.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Indices of Me

WORD OF WARNING: In this post, I am choosing to make myself very vulnerable because I value showing readers the real me.  If I get nasty comments, not only will I not post them, I will take down this post entirely as well.  You have been warned.

I am bisexual, therefore queer.  I am also observant-Jewish, disabled, and feminine.  In my Lesbians/Gay Men and Society Class, I am fairly sure I am the only one bringing all three of those identity indices to the table of queer identity.

Has it been hard? Yes, it's been damn hard, and it continues to be hard every. single. day.

It is HARD to "tremble before God" (there's a documentary of that title about Ultra-Orthodox, homosexual Jews, and I find that's the best way to put it) knowing that Judaism as a system, if not the Jews I know in particular, disapproves of the choices I may one day make.

It is HARD to know that my two chronic conditions make me less attractive on the dating market. There are no two ways about it; they do.  People don't want to date someone who's "broken," certainly not at my age.

My femininity, on the other hand, I count as an advantage.  We've been talking a lot in class about "passing," both "passing" when/because you can and "passing" when/because you have to.  Either way, I can "pass" as straight with very little extra effort as to wardrobe, mannerisms, etc. and that is a distinct advantage--it shouldn't be, but it is.

So I guess in the end it's a mixed bag.  I have issues that make me less attractive on the dating scene, but I can "pass" as straight more easily.  And the religion thing? I can only hope it will sort itself out with time.  With God's help, and with time.


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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!