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

I believe in God.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Stationery Saga

It turns out that the personalized Etsy stationery about which I was so excited is not an option because the seller cannot ship until March 13th.  By March 13th, I would have more than run out of the five-color cardstock I am currently using.

I think I'll end up getting the similarly priced stationery from Amazon.  It has a few distinct advantages, actually: it is purple, my favorite color; it comes with envelopes, for my most secret letters; and it is roughly the size (8-1/2" by 11") on which I am used to writing.  The personalizable Etsy stationery was very nice, but it was also 5" by 7", much smaller.  Additionally, I realize now, if I had paper printed with "Love from a Young Jewish Woman" I would feel confined to that side of the page; most of my letters these days bleed over at least a little bit onto the back of whatever I am writing on.

Purple flowers, purple envelopes...purple, purple, purple, here I come!

And introducing "BARRY" (my father's name!!!), aging out in DECEMBER, diagnosed with cerebral palsy,and yet again from my "Jacob's" country.  I had promised the world that I would post the next boy after "Patience," regardless of country, and he just so happens to be from "Jacob's" country anyway!

Barry (2)

What's in a Name?

I find that names have power (no idea what I mean by that...something weird and mystical), and it really matters what I call God in each letter.  To aid me in this endeavor, I have a not-so-secret list, which used to be a secret list, and is now REALLY not a secret list, of possible names for God.  (Where I keep the list is secret, however; again, names have power, and I do not want it falling into the wrong hands.)  Some of the names are Hebrew, some English; some conventional Jewish ways of referring to God, others ways I came up with myself.  Beside each name, I also wrote the gender I associate with it--masculine, feminine, or neuter.  That way, if I need God to "be" a certain gender for the duration of a letter (God is always every gender, but sometimes I need to feel God's presence as, say, feminine), I can see at a glance what my options are.

Until this morning, I had been referring to God in recent letters as מגן אבות.  (Boy do I love having a computer/keyboard that can switch languages like that!) For those who don't read Hebrew, which is probably most of my readers, that says Magen Avot, which translates to Shield/Defender of Our Forefathers/Ancestors.  To me, that is  a masculine name for God, because the word Magen is a masculine word in terms of grammatical structure.

Well, this morning I needed a non-masculine name.  If you ask me point blank how I think of God, I will honestly tell you, "feminine."  (This blog uses the masculine in the title because: I named it after my favorite psalm [#91], which uses the masculine; in 2009, when I started it, I still thought of God as masculine and now I don't know how to change it; and I don't want to alienate my Christian readers who all think of God as masculine.  Besides, as I said a couple paragraphs ago, God is really every gender, so it doesn't really matter.)  I don't mind using masculine names sometimes, but I had written three or four addressing God as Magen Avot; I needed a new name.

The name I settled on for the letter I just finished writing is הקול.  For those who can't read Hebrew, that says HaKol, which means The Voice.  This is a name I consider neuter.  I had intended to go with a feminine name, but when I was scanning my list, my eyes hit this name and I got the warm-all-over feeling that told me I should use it.

When I wrote the actual letter, I ended up spending the entire page exploring the consequences and ramifications of this name.  It is a play on words because the Hebrew for "The Voice" (הקול) and "Everything" (הכל) sound exactly alike.  Furthermore, God is a Voice for the voiceless, keeping faith with orphans, widows, those whose life is just plain dark, and anyone else who may need God.  It is my honor and privilege to call upon God when I need God, too.

And now, a Reece's Rainbow child.  Today I would like to share a girl from my "Jacob's" country, "PATIENCE," who is aging out in OCTOBER.  She is diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Patience 8

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Getting Super Excited

When I really need God to hear me (not sure exactly what I mean by that, since God doesn't literally "hear"), I write letters.  This past summer, after years of writing on plain white printer paper or looseleaf, I finally got some special paper just for my letters: 50 sheets of cardstock, ten each in five different colors (dark green, light green, dark pink, light pink, vanilla).

Well, I am down to 24 sheets of that cardstock, which at the rate I'm going (at least one letter a day, often two, sometimes three) means it's time to think about what to use next.  I had wanted stationery by my favorite Israeli designer, Yair Emanuel; I really prefer to get everything I can from that website.  However, they want 32 dollars to ship a five dollar item! I understand why--it would be coming all the way from Israel--but I can't afford it.

So I looked on Amazon, and I found something I liked: lavender paper with purple flowers in the corners, and purple envelopes (in which I would put my most secret letters).  I was texting with a friend at the time, and she suggested I also look on Etsy.  On Etsy, for the same price as the purple stationery, I found customizable stationery with beautiful flowers in the corners.

I am not going to customize the stationery with my name; instead, I am going to ask the seller to put my ending to all my letters to God in the space for a name.  I now sign all my letters "Love from a Young Jewish Woman" (until a few days ago it was "Love, Your Girl" but I am no longer a girl), and that is what I want in the space.

I am getting super excited!

And now, a Reece's Rainbow child, another boy from my "Jacob's" country.  I have a real heart for that country, naturally, and praying for "Jacob" is softening my heart towards boys, as well.

Also, today marks two years and nine months exactly of my being "Jacob's" Prayer Warrior. Just thought I'd mention it.  I will do a separate post just about that when we hit the three-year mark (assuming he isn't adopted by then) and another a few days later, when we hit the month of his birthday.

Now.  It is my privilege to introduce "GALAN", aging out JANUARY, 2017.  (And remember, he will only be 14 years old.)  His special needs include: anal artresia, genital malformations.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Just 'Cause

Katherine couldn't come today, and yes, I'm disappointed.  She might be coming tomorrow, or we might move her visit to next week.

So, as the title says, I am posting just because, just to share another aging out Reece's Rainbow child, a girl this time, with you all.

Here is "DAWN."  Her birth information says 2001 (and that's all it says); I recently read that Reece's Rainbow lists children on the aging out page when they have EIGHTEEN MONTHS to go.  That means that's the most she has.  "Dawn" has Down syndrome.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Letters to God, Prayer Waiting List, and Introducing Katherine

When I really need God to hear my prayers (and no, I don't know what I mean by that exactly), I write letters.  I save all the letters I write in a multiple-pocket folder, which I call my Prayer Portfolio. They are not dated, and the only organizational rule is that all the Reece's Rainbow related letters go in the front pocket, separate from the others.

Yesterday evening I discovered dramatic proof of just how long I've been doing this.  (Remember, they're not dated, so it's not as if such proof pops up every time I reread some.)  I pulled a letter out of my Reece's Rainbow pocket; in it, I mentioned to God that "Erin" ("Rheann") was turning ten years old and still didn't have a family.  Later in the evening, I was doing the blog post right below this one, and I needed to go back on Reece's Rainbow and get her pictures.  Naturally, as long as I was looking her up in the first place, I checked her birth date, too.  "Rheann" was born in January, 2002.  That makes her fourteen years old now.  (And no, as far as I know she still doesn't have a family; and yes, even though I am officially someone else's Prayer Warrior I still pray for her when I can.)  Bam. Dramatic proof that I've been writing to God for at least four years.

Now, about my prayer waiting list.  Lots of people know I pray, and they know that when I pray, I pray hard.  Naturally, that means that when they go through something difficult, they want my prayers.  I have discovered, however, that if I have more than seven people to insert in the personal prayers section of the central standing prayer, it starts to feel monotonous and I can't focus properly. Therefore, I have to keep my list down to seven.  For privacy purposes I can't share who's on that list right now or why, but suffice to say that it is full, and every single person on it really needs whatever help I can give, even if that is only a brief whispering three times a day (except on the Sabbath; God gets to rest, too).  Therefore, I have developed a waiting list.  When someone drops off my prayer list, someone from the waiting list gets put on it.  People move from the waiting list to the prayer list in the order in which I received their request.

Finally, I wish to announce that my dear friend "Charlotte's" real name, which she has given me permission to use on this blog, is Katherine.  And yes, there will be pictures of our visit; I got her consent to post those, too.

Finally, today's Reece's Rainbow child.  This time I am choosing to post a boy (because I alternate genders), and not from "Jacob's" country (because the last three were).  I would like you to meet "DAVIAN," aging out in AUGUST.  "Davian" has Down syndrome.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Walk Through my Reece's Rainbow Experience (with Pictures)

I didn't want to just blog about pain today because I never like to end communication with someone (and yes, blog readers count) focused on that.  I decided to do a walk-through of my experience as a Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warrior.

I first signed up to be a Prayer Warrior midway through high school.  I was assigned to a two-year-old boy called "Grady," from Eastern Europe.  (You can choose your child, but I don't believe in telling God where my prayers should go, and have therefore elected to ask for a random assignment every time.)  He found a home a few months later, shortly before his third birthday.  This is "Grady":

After "Grady," I was assigned a girl in Russia.  The website called her "Erin," then changed it to "Rheann."  I have access to two pictures of her.  This is the first picture I saw...

...and this is a recent picture.  "Rheann" turned fourteen last month.


When Russia outlawed American adoptions, and Reece's Rainbow reallocated the grant funds (money donated specifically for the adoption of an individual child) of their Russian children, I asked for a new Prayer Warrior assignment, as well.  I was given "Isabella," a six-year-old with Down syndrome.  She found a home in a matter of weeks after I started praying for her.  Here she is:


And after "Isabella" came my "Jacob," for whom I have been praying for two years, eight months, and 27 days exactly.  You all know what he looks like, but here's his picture anyway.  "Jacob" will be six years old in June.

Jacob sm

And here is this post's picture of an aging-out child.  Please meet "EMMALINE," aging out in JUNE, diagnosed with Down syndrome.  I really have a weakness right now for children from my "Jacob's" country!


The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Beast

My chronic pain syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (henceforth referred to as RSD) is back again, full force.  Right now the areas bothering me the most are my hands and my right eyelid, but I can hurt anywhere, any time, for any reason or for no reason at all.

I understand why my hands are hurting.  I wrote a long letter to God this morning (writing always bothers me, even when I'm feeling "good"), and I've been typing a lot (graduate school application for Hunter College, and now this entry on my blog).  However, the eyelid thing is beyond me, since I'm not really "using" that body part.  Pain in my eyelids was the last symptom I developed before my big Ketamine treatment in January, and it was the first symptom to go away once I started the treatment...and now it's back.

I don't know if you, my random reader, can fully appreciate how hard it is to live with chronic pain.  My pain cuts into everything I do; even when I'm acting happy, even when I'm talking about something else, it's there, I'm hurting, and life is difficult.

The good news is that I don't have to hold on too much longer; I'm scheduled for a Ketamine booster March 7th-8th.  That's only 11 days away.  Also, as I mentioned last night, my dearest friend "Charlotte" is coming this weekend.  That's good news too.  I would like to "un-code name" her, but I would never do that to someone without asking their permission, and she wasn't picking up her phone last night.  I do plan to take pictures of our visit, so you all can "meet" her afterwards.

Also also, I finished the whole entire Hebrew Bible last night.  Just thought I'd mention it.  In approximately a year and a half (it should have taken much less time, but there were months when I didn't read at all) I read all the way from Genesis 1 through 2 Chronicles 36.  I did it in English, but I still think it's impressive.

Now, enough about me.  This is "CHARLES," aging out in JUNE, diagnosed with congenital ichthyosis, a skin condition.  He also is from my "Jacob's" birth country.

Charles (1)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I did it! I did it! I made my first tzedakah donation, for $43.01, to the mental health care fund of the Lev Lalev girls' orphanage in Netanya, Israel.

It was really funny when I was at the bank.  I told the guy behind the counter what I wanted, and he started unrolling and counting my change.  There was so much money there that he had to call someone else over to help him.  Halfway through, one of them looked up and asked me if I knew how much was there.  I said that I thought there was $42.38, but that I was open to margin of error either way.  When they finished counting, one of them looked up and said, totally awestruck, "We have...$43.01."  It was as if they couldn't believe someone would come in with that much change to deposit.  Naturally, then, I had to tell them the whole story: how it accumulated, how long it took, and when to expect me back to do it again.

This Friday afternoon I have the privilege of starting to collect all over again.  I'm fairly certain that this time I am going to give the money to the grant account of my Reece's Rainbow kid, "Jacob."  He has quite a bit of money already, but no one besides me ever gives him anything, so I think it's time.

In other news, my dearest friend ever--the one who taught me how to be a friend in the first place--is coming to visit this weekend.  She is arriving Saturday afternoon (she's not Jewish), and Saturday night we are going to make my favorite recipe ever: African Pineapple Peanut Stew.  Sunday we are going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in this kind of pain, I will use a wheelchair; yes, it's back again), and then out to lunch and bubble tea.  The bubble tea will be her birthday gift to me, because that is our tradition.  It's a little late this year, but better late than never.

To close, I share with you two children listed on Reece's Rainbow.  First, from the "At-Risk of Aging Out" page, is "KYLIE," who ages out in APRIL.  She is from my "Jacob's" birth-country.

And the second,  naturally, is my "JACOB."  He is turning SIX in JUNE, and after that he will have eight more years before he ages out, as well.

Jacob sm

Today's Child

I couldn't wait until later; I had to blog now just to continue my new project.  If I blog again later, I will share another child then, too.

Meanwhile, this is "DEAN," aging out in MARCH.  That's NEXT MONTH, people.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My New Reece's Rainbow Project

No, "Jacob" has not been adopted yet, but I thought of a way to help more kids at the same time.

From now on, every time I blog, I will include a picture of one child from the "At-Risk of Aging Out" page on Reece's Rainbow, because they are the group who needs exposure the most.  This does not obligate me to blog every day, a commitment I would be sure to break; this is only a commitment to take two or three extra seconds when I am blogging anyway.  That I can do.

So tonight's child is "VERONICA," aging out in MAY, diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy.


Monday, February 22, 2016

My New Blog Badge

Today I have changed the Reece's Rainbow "advertisement" at the top of my blog.  They have several new designs now, and I decided to change both just for the sake of variety and to acknowledge their tenth anniversary (June 9th, 2016).  The little boy pictured is John Nalle, ten years old, newly home from Ukraine.  I read his mother's blog regularly.  Her name is Julia; you can find her blog at covenantbuilders.blogspot.com.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Twists and Turns in Life's Road

For years I have dreamed of going to Rabbinical school, specifically at Hebrew College in Boston. On Friday, however, I found out that they had rejected me, so I prepared to apply to my back-up school, Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) in Yonkers.

You never just apply in one place, however, so I came up with a Plan C (because AJR was already Plan B): a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from either Hunter College or Brooklyn College.  I will apply to Hunter first because their deadline is a month sooner, but it really doesn't matter to me where I go.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I AM NO LONGER HEADED TO RABBINICAL SCHOOL IN THE FALL.  If God really wants me at AJR (and I did feel "the feeling"), then of course that's where I'll ultimately end up; however, there are all kinds of conscious reasons I don't like the place.  Here is a list:

  1. I would be the youngest student by 20 or 30 years.
  2. Their library is smaller.
  3. Their partner learning is weaker.
  4. Their classroom learning is watered down.
  5. Sleepy and still in college, I could follow their classroom learning.  That means it's way too simple.
Looking at that list, how can I go there? Besides, they want about 300 dollars with the application, to cover an application fee and a psychological evaluation.  Ridiculous.

I don't know yet whether I'll be a Rabbi one day (I would reapply at Hebrew College) or whether I'm letting that dream go, too.  I can do all the religious things that are important to me (prayer three times daily, kippah, tallit katan) and have a secular career.  I have always loved little children; perhaps a career with them will help console me over the fact that it would be entirely irresponsible to have "my own."

God and I plan my future together.  God pulled me to my high school; I obeyed, and wonderful things happened to me there.  When it came time to pick a college, I couldn't find God at all, so I chose as best I could on my own; once I got there, however, I could see God's hand all over everything.  I honestly don't know where God wants me next.  I feel God's pull towards AJR, but for the reasons listed above, I really don't think it's the place for me, at least not yet.  I'm excited to  partner with God on my new path in life.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mission Accomplished

I did it! I did it! You're never going to guess what I did, so I'll just tell you: I FILLED MY TZEDAKAH BOX.  The grand total comes to 42 dollars and 38 cents.  I'm going to deposit the money on Wednesday, when I have to go downtown anyway (thereby saving subway fare), and then I will most proudly make my first tzedakah donation.  This time, the money is going to the Lev Lalev girls' orphanage in Netanya, Israel--specifically to their fund to pay for treatment for their girls with PTSD.  Given my own mental health history, that is not something I can ignore.

In other, less exciting news, the Rabbinical school I wanted to go to just rejected me.  I am devastated, but not despairing, because I really did feel God pulling me to the other one.  I don't know how to explain that feeling; it's just a feeling I get sometimes, but I've never gone wrong obeying it.  Without rhyme or reason for said feeling, I always ignore it, just in case I'm wrong about feeling it.  But God and I plan my future together; I can trust that God is carrying me in His hands, and everything will work out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sabbath in my New Apartment (Warning: LONG Post, 18 Paragraphs)

Sabbath/Shabbos/Shabbat: No matter what you call it, the day is special.  I start looking forward to it, believe it or not, the day after: Sunday, the first day of the week.  I suppose it helps that there are special psalms to say at the end of morning prayers each day that tell you how far out you are ("Today is the first day out from Shabbat," "Today is the second day out from Shabbat," etc.) but really it's just such a special day--a 25-hour holiday each week--how could I not?!

To make the Sabbath special, I do massive prep work.  On Friday morning, or Thursday afternoon if I have other responsibilities Friday morning, I go shopping.  I buy whatever few things I need for the house (this week it's milk and laundry detergent), and fresh vegetables for Friday night (usually brussel sprouts, my favorite).  In two weeks, I will also have to buy more chicken (I buy two-pound leg quarter packages, separate them into four pieces, then freeze them, and defrost and cook one each week) and challah rolls (I need two for ritual purposes, but I only defrost and eat one per week; a package therefore lasts me four weeks).

That same day--Thursday afternoon or Friday morning--I clean the house top to bottom.  I wipe down everything in the bathroom: sink, toilet, tub, mirrors; and everything in the kitchen: sink, counter, stove; put away any loose items, and clean the dining table and chairs.  This week I am also going to vacuum.  I have a hardwood floor, and I haven't vacuumed yet, but this will be my third Sabbath in this apartment, and it's time.  I had planned to mop, but I have more of a "vacuum mess" than a "mop mess" and I suspect that vacuuming is simpler anyway.

After I shop and clean, I have a break until 2:00 pm on Friday.  At that point I say my afternoon prayers--my last ordinary weekday prayers for the week--and lay out my dress clothes.  This Friday night I am wearing a long black velour skirt, black tights, and my pink jacket-and-lacy-blouse combo, with turquoise jewelry (pendant from Afghanistan; ring from Southwestern US; both gifts from my father from Army trips) and my "birds in color" Yair Emanuel hat-size kippah.

On Saturday, I am wearing the same skirt and tights, with a pinkish-purple top with three-dimensional roses near the collar, a magnetic wraparound bracelet featuring purple beads overlaid with metal roses, and my pearlescent ring with a crystal-like bead at the center (very cheap, probably plastic, from Old Navy).  Now that I am going to "real synagogue" Friday night and Saturday morning, I like to wear the same skirt both times so I only use one skirt a week (after all, I only have three winter dress skirts); with a different shirt each time, however, I manage to get very different  looks.

After I lay out my clothes on Friday, I take a nice, long, hot shower.  During the week I am all about efficiency; my pre-Sabbath shower, however, is designed to be luxurious.  When I am done in the shower, I take out a piece of chicken, and put it on a cutting board (I can't put food directly on the counter because there is only one counter, so I can't separate meat and dairy) to defrost.  Then I am free till 4:00 pm.  Usually during this time I call home.  I call home most evenings during the week, too; however, I am especially conscious to make a pre-Sabbath phone call, especially to talk to my mother.

At 4:00 pm, I spring into action again.  I peal the foil off the chicken and lay it on a fresh piece of foil, and I sprinkle on ginger, paprika, dill weed, and curry powder (though not too much of anything, especially the curry powder; I don't like very spicy chicken).  This is the way my father, the main Sabbath food cooker in our house, has always done it; and I like it, so naturally I just asked for his "recipe" when I left home, and now I copy him.  I then put the chicken in the top part of my toaster oven (I most unfortunately do not have a full-size oven in this apartment), turning the three knobs to "broil," "broil," and "stay on."

Once the spices on the chicken turn black, usually about twenty minutes to half an hour after I put it in, I flip it over and leave it till the other side turns brown, usually about ten minutes.  Then I turn the knobs to "350," "bake," and "stay on," where I leave them until just before candle lighting.

Twenty five minutes or so before candle lighting (last week that was 4:45 pm), I jump up again.  I turn the knobs on my toaster oven to "200," "warm," and "stay on," which is where I'll leave them for the entire Sabbath.  This way I can have warm food even though I don't use electricity; and yes, the toaster oven is on a fireproof, granite counter top.  I steam the brussel sprouts (or whatever vegetable) in the microwave (three and a half minutes), transfer them to a piece of foil, and insert them into the lower half of the toaster oven; this way, they'll roast just a little and be nice and hot when I get back from the synagogue.  I also defrost one challah roll (three minutes in the microwave).

After all the cooking is done, I go around the apartment with my special fancy Sabbath duct tape, which looks like it has a galaxy on it.  (I only use it for this purpose, so it will last as long as possible.)  I use two big pieces of tape, criss-crossed, to tape the fridge light shut so I can open and close the fridge on the Sabbath.  (There is no light in my freezer, or I'd do the same thing there.)  Then I go around the apartment, switching on lights that should be on for the whole Sabbath, and switching off lights that should be off for the whole Sabbath, and putting a small piece of "reminder tape" over each one so I don't accidentally mess myself up.

After I finish taping, I mess with my "Sabbath gadgets," as I call them.  I set my timer to go off at 9:30 pm and on at 7:00 am, turn it so it's at the right time, and plug in the lamp that plugs into it.  It's a big lamp that's actually two-in-one; I turn the smaller one on, and the larger one to its brightest setting (that one has a three-way bulb).  This way I get almost as much light as I would via the main light fixture, but it goes off when I need to go to sleep.  I turn my Sabbath lamp on (which I've posted about before) and make sure my Sabbath alarm clock is on, too.  It will ring at 7:00 am and 8:00 am on Saturday morning; it doesn't always wake me but I do like to try.

Finally, this is the point where I make sure I've given tzedakah (loosely translated as charity, but that's not the complete meaning of the word, which is untranslatable).  I actually like to give at the beginning of getting ready, but regardless, I always give on Fridays.  This is my favorite part of getting ready for the Sabbath.  All I do is empty my change from the week into my tzedakah box; it's usually between one and two dollars, though last week I think it was a little more.  Lest you think I'm endlessly and foolishly generous, that's all the charity I ever give.  I've been saving for a while now; after last week's addition, my box has over forty dollars in it! When the box is full--which should be just a couple weeks from now--I will deposit the money, and then make a donation somewhere.  I think this time I'm going to donate to the Lev Lalev (girls' orphanage in Israel) mental health fund, to help their girls with PTSD.  Given my own mental health history, I can't ignore a fund for that.

Right before I light candles, I turn off and move to the side my phone and computer.  At the right time (It was 5:08 pm last week; this week should be a little later), I light candles (Real candles, not electric ones, now that I'm in an apartment!), ushering in the Sabbath.  I also recite a short prayer, which translates to "Blessed are You, my Master, our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to light the Sabbath candles."  (And that actually is a direct, accurate translation.)

After I light candles, I have about 45 minutes before I leave for the synagogue.  (Services start at 6:30 pm;  it takes me about half an hour to get there.)  Usually the very first thing I do is set the table, laying out a meat plate (slightly fancier than my dairy dishes), meat knife and fork, fancy napkin, drinking goblet (though I don't fill it till I come back from the synagogue or the ice would melt), fancier goblet with grape juice, and challah on fancy platter covered with homemade challah cover.

After synagogue, I will say a few more short prayers (one over grape juice, one over handwashing, one over challah), eat, say grace, and generally enjoy the Sabbath.  The next day I will go to synagogue again (I go even if I wake up late; I just catch up on whatever I missed once I'm there and then enjoy however much of the service is left).  I usually eat lunch there, and I'm even starting to make friends to enjoy it with! Then I come home, say afternoon prayers, and read for the rest of the day.

You may be wondering why I don't use electricity.  The answer is somewhat complex.  As a non-Orthodox Jew, I don't believe it is forbidden; I was never convinced by any of the Orthodox arguments.  I don't believe it's like fire because it makes light and heat, because the process is entirely different.  Nor do I believe that flipping on a light completes a circuit, which counts as building, which is forbidden on the Sabbath.  (There IS a forbidden work category called "building"; I just don't believe that's a good example of it.)  Rather, I have found that the lack of electronics serves to further separate my Sabbath from my week, and make it all the more peaceful.

So that's my Sabbath, described! Hope you enjoyed, and I hope this post was not too long! Please comment!

PS: I usually like to listen to Steven Curtis Chapman music while I am getting ready for the Sabbath.  I have a Youtube playlist of songs I picked that do not include the words "Jesus," "Christ," or "Savior."  I've found that most anything else is fine: most of the religious concepts he mentions also appear in Judaism; it's just that we say them in Hebrew, not English, and when said in English, they sound Christian.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In It for the Long Haul: The Qualls Family

I began to pray for the Qualls family when God moved in my heart and told me to do so.  (I cannot give a specific time; I am horrible at remembering things like that.)  More specifically, I was praying for one of their girls, Kalkidan Ella.  She had been adopted from Ethiopia a number of years before, and she was really struggling in many ways.  I believe that at the time when I started praying, she was at a special boarding school to help her in these areas, with the goal to move her home as soon as possible.  I had many things for which to pray: Kalkidan's health, safety, and well-being; the family's health, safety, and well-being; strength and faith for the parents.

The Qualls family lost Kalkidan in a tragic car accident, I think a little more than a year ago.

Since that day, I have been praying for the family as a whole, rather than just Kalkidan.  I pray that they have the strength needed to even turn to God in the first place.  I pray that when they turn to God, they find strength and solace through their faith.

They are Christian.  I am Jewish.  It does not matter; it truly does not.  They are in this for the long haul, and I am right there with them.

I am right there with them, every day.  They have a permanent spot on my prayer list, or at least permanent for as long as they need.

Please join me in praying for them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rosh Hodesh Adar I

Today (and tomorrow) is Rosh Hodesh Adar I, the start of the new Hebrew month of First Adar.  There are two Adars this year because it is a Jewish leap year, when we add an extra month to make our calendars go back to normal.  This ensures that our holidays stay within the same season each year.  The holiday of Purim, which is celebrated in Adar, is celebrated during Second Adar this year, which will be next month.

As usual, I am marking the day with the relevant special prayers, and also by wearing a ladies' tallit katan, jewelry, and my special Sabbath-holiday-and-Rosh-Hodesh bobby pins for my kippah.

In other news, I am enjoying settling in to New York; I have gotten three job leads.  Three!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Graduation Gift

When my parents have the money, which will be when they finish paying off my college tuition (sometime in the next month), they have promised me a college graduation gift.  I have picked out a special pair of Sabbath and holiday candlesticks from...you guessed it...the Yair Emanuel site (emanuel-judaica.com).

I do have candlesticks that I am using right now, but they are the ones I have been using since I was a little girl.  Here is a picture:

I want a pair that I have chosen using my adult tastes.  The pair I have picked out is brushed metal (like the purple handwashing cup I bought with babysitting money this past Summer), and they are pink.  I would have preferred purple, I think (everything should be purple!), but this candlestick style does not come in purple.

What makes this pair of candlesticks so expensive is not so much the cost of the candlesticks themselves (39 dollars), although I definitely do not have that much money to throw around right now, but the cost of shipping from Israel (where the Yair Emanuel company is based), which on a three-dimensional object (meaning not a kippah) will nearly double, if not actually double, the price.  However, for a college graduation gift, my parents have said it is OK to spend that much.

I had wanted to get the candlesticks before I moved, to sort of double as a housewarming gift, but I understand that money is money.  My family is not doing so well right now (my mother, a psychiatrist, is  making a lot; my father, however, as an Army colonel in the Reserves, is barely working) and I want them to prioritize paying off college so my official transcript can be released and sent to Rabbinical schools.  It is the last piece of my application, and it is already over two weeks late.

That's all for now! Later today I am meeting up with a friend whom I haven't seen in a while.  She works in downtown Manhattan, and I will take the subway alone for the first time ever (well, the New York subway, anyway; I've done it in Boston) to  meet up with her on her lunch hour. 

I promise to post a picture of my new candlesticks when I get them.  Perhaps I'll take the picture right before I use them the first time, so they have Sabbath candles in them, and post it after the Sabbath.  I like that idea.  Unless they get here on a Monday or something, and I don't want to wait that long.  Then I will just open them, set them up on the cloth I use under my candles (and, now that I am  lighting real candles, with a piece of aluminum foil under the candlesticks and on top of the cloth, so nothing catches fire), and take pictures.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Coming Home to Our People, Coming Home to Our Land, Coming Home from All Directions Scattered Like the Sand"

(Title is a song quote, just not sure from where.)

I have slipped easily and seamlessly back into being a fully observant Jew.  I washed my hands ritually this morning, and I have not missed an opportunity to pray since I decided to start praying three times a day again.  Tomorrow when I have lunch out with a friend, I will take along a small prayerbook and say the Grace After Meals.

I thought you all might like to see a picture of my prayer-and-religious-study area.  Here it is:

Kosher Kitchen Challenges and Wonderful Fun

Below is a picture of the teeny, tiny kitchen in my apartment.  The sink cannot be kosher because there is only one of it (and therefore no way to keep meat and dairy separate); the countertop (far right in this picture) poses a similar challenge.

What to do? You may notice two cutting boards (red and white) and two sink mats (also red and white) behind the sink.  The red ones are for meat, and the white ones are for dairy.  Every time I wish to put a dish on the counter, I first lay down a cutting board; every time I need to put a dish in the sink, I put down a sink mat.  Annoying, but there you go.

Also, I have made an official prayer-and-religious-study area of my apartment! I turned the rocking chair so that it faced East (and I am really trying to use that chair only for those purposes), laid down the rug about halfway between the bed and the chair, and put my pink lamp in line with the rug. 

 Right next to where the chair is now is a fireplace; it is boarded up, but it still has a nice, deep mantlepiece.  On this mantlepiece I put my tallitot and tefillin (in separate piles, so I can grab a tallis on the Sabbath without worrying about touching the tefillin, which are forbidden), as well as the ritual books that I hope to use every day: my Bible, my Book of Psalms, and my favorite Prayerbook. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Letting A Little More Judaism Back In

Two days ago, I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn Heights.  I'm beyond blessed that my grandparents own this building and are willing to let me live in the smallest apartment (basement studio).

Recently, what with one thing and another, my Judaism has waned a bit.  I was still keeping the Sabbath, still keeping kosher, and still donning a kippah and tallit katan each day, but that was about it.

This is the order in which I would like to add things back:

  1. Daily prayer, three times a day
  2. Morning handwashing
  3. Grace after meals
If I add all that back in, I will have a fulfilling Jewish life.


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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!