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

I believe in God.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kippah Collection: Photo Update

It has been a long time since I posted photos of my kippah collection, so here are some I just took.  A number of new kippot have been added, and I have also changed how I organize the collection.  Now there is one stack of "business" kippot: my smaller ones, which I consider OK for work settings.  The remainder of the collection is stacked by materials: satins, velvets, silks, and other.

 





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tzitziot: The Bad and The Good

So it seems that we have entered summer weather.  (I don't care that it's still the first half of June; 90+ degrees outside is summer weather.)  This is the time of year when I question my sanity regarding my commitment to tzitziot.  They are, after all, an extra layer; and even the cotton ones (I'm not crazy enough to wear wool) get all sweaty and heavy.

And then I glance down, and I see the strings dangling right by my hip bones: two sets in front and two in back.  And I remember what a trailblazer I am at all, as a woman outwardly wearing them.  And I smile to myself, and it's all worth it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Recent Tzedakah Activity

Just last week I donated my third-ever tzedakah box full of money--$46.90--to the Lev Lalev orphanage in Israel.  I donated to their Bridal Fund, in honor of my still-new relationship with Shepard (which PS is going beautifully).  I received an email back, thanking me for my donation, with some pictures of the girls.

Next donation goes to Heifer International.  This time, my goal is forty dollars.  Last time, I donated thirty and was able to "purchase" honeybees; this time, with forty dollars, I can "purchase" two small animals, such as ducks and chickens, or a "share" or two of a larger animal.  I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Meeting the Boyfriend's Parents Tonight

Tonight, after work, Shepard is picking up his parents at their house, and the three of them are coming to my neighborhood, so that I can finally meet The Parents! We are all four going out to dinner at the only certified kosher restaurant in town.

It really is time for me to meet them.  It really is.  Shepard has met mine already, and it goes both ways.  But for various reasons I can't put my finger on, I am quite nervous.

I based an outfit around the kippah they gave me, which is pink and black.  I thought it would be nice if I wore it for them.  I am in a long skirt because that is how I feel comfortable; but I have tucked in my tzitziot because there is no good reason they should have to deal with that when meeting me for the first time.  Maybe later.

Anyway.  Wish me luck tonight!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Provocative?

I have been thinking about how very provocative it is that I, as a woman, wear a kippah and tzitziot: measured by the number of questions I get from people I know, and even people I don't.  (Sometimes I don't understand: there is no way anybody would stop a stranger on a street to ask any other question, but for this, they do.)  Sometimes I feel like answering; most of the time I don't.

It used to be different.  For years and years, I loved the attention my Judaica got me.  That's just not where I am now, though.

I do not dress the way I dress in order to field questions about Judaism.  Far from it! Most of the time these days, I hate the attention, and would do anything I could to stop it...anything except not wear my kippah and tzitziot.

For you see, I firmly believe, with the deepest depths of my heart and soul, that what I am doing is right and even mandatory.  I do believe all Jewish women should do this.  We are adults, equal to men.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Israel Connection 5777

Allow me to preface this post with the statement that 363 days of the year, I feel very little connection to Israel, if any at all.  As a good Jewish girl in a "good" Jewish day school, I grew up on the rhetoric "Israel is home, Israel is home, Israel is home."  Well, then in 2009, I went on a class trip to Israel for two months, and I found that the rhetoric on which I had grown up simply was not true.  Israel is increasingly being dominated and run--even in government--by the ultra-Orthodox.  It is also possible to carve out a place for oneself if one is completely secular.  I am neither, somewhere in the middle; according to my experience, there is no place for me.

So why am I writing this post? I am writing this post because the above only applies to 363 days of the year; that leaves two days on which I feel different.

The first is Yom HaZikaron, Israel's memorial day for fallen soldiers and terror victims.  That was yesterday.  I no longer attend Yom HaZikaron events/ceremonies because I end up with tears rolling down my face, and that is just embarrassing.  However, I do mark the day by wearing my black velvet "sad and somber days" kippah; this year I specifically wore it with blue clips.

The second day on which I feel connected to Israel, perhaps even more than in the paragraph above, is Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, today.  There is a controversy between the Conservative and Orthodox movements over whether or not to say Hallel, a set of psalms celebrating God's miracles, on this day.  Essentially, the argument is over whether or not the establishment of the modern State of Israel is a contemporary miracle.  Orthodox Jews say no; Conservative Jews say yes.  Because I am more Conservative than Orthodox, and because my Rabbinic authority is Conservative, I said Hallel today. 

I am also celebrating the day with the outfit I am wearing.  Except for my ladies' tallit katan, I am dressed casually; however, I made sure to wear blue and white (Israel colors).  My skirt looks denim, but is not, and flows more gently; it has a ruffle around the bottom.  It is mostly blue, and in fact would be all blue except for a purple flowered patch over a hole I made roller blading.  I have had it since middle school.  My t-shirt is one I almost never wear; however, all my blue ones are dirty, so I got this one out.  It is white, with turquoise and blue writing; I got it on my class Israel trip all those years ago.  In terms of accessories, I am wearing my fanciest blue kippah--embroidered silk, and the only blue one I purchased, rather than receiving free--with the blue flowered clips, as well as my blue glass Jewish star pendant.

So there you have it! My long winded post on my connection to Israel.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fresh Opportunities

I took the Reece's Rainbow children for whom I had been praying off my prayer list yesterday.  (See post below for reasons.)  This might seem really rough, and it was, but actually, there was good in it too.

I never give up praying for a person; they are in my prayers until whatever issue they are having clear up, or something worse happens.  I had been praying for "Jacob" for almost four years, and "Rheann" for about five, but basically I was banging my head against the wall trying to effect change for them. Their stories were pretty much hopeless.

Now I have two extra spots on my list, that could be filled with anybody.  It is exhilarating, and I am waiting for God to call.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

In Support No Longer

I needed to write about this tonight because it is such a major change to this blog.  As of now, I am done supporting Reece's Rainbow, and you will never see another post about them.  I have been reading a message board against large-family, Christian, international adoption.  On that board are allegations such as:

  • Reece's Rainbow has photo listings for kids from countries who do not allow them.  In Ukraine, one is not even allowed to plan to adopt a specific child--yet people do, through Reece's Rainbow.
  • Many of the donations given to help specific children or families never reach those children or families.
  • Many, many failed adoptions--disruptions and even deaths--happened on Reece's Rainbow's watch.  Reece's Rainbow removed all evidence.
I didn't want to believe this information.  I truly didn't.  As I continued over the message board, however, I realized: many people were saying these things, and the good I have heard about Reece's Rainbow has pretty much only come from the organization itself.

I feel grossly naive when I think about all of the efforts I put into helping Reece's Rainbow.  Here's the thing, though: when I first found out about Reece's Rainbow, I was, in fact, naive.  I was also a teenager.  Teenagers have a right to their naivety. 

I am, however, a teenager no longer.  I owe it to myself and to the world to act on the truth.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mixed Up and Sad

Recently I have been feeling mixed up and sad about never having children.  It isn't Shepard's fault, and I still want him in my life; last night, he thought I was hinting that I no longer wanted to be with him, and I absolutely do not mean that.

Because here's the thing.  First of all, Shepard is in my life right now, obviously before any children.  He came first.  Secondly, if I told him to leave, I have no evidence I would find someone with whom to have children, or even another life partner.  Shepard's perfect, except for the children thing.

Also, I would need a partner who could 300% parent with me, not 100%.  I couldn't be up in the middle of the night with a child.  A child could physically hurt me very easily.  It's all too much...I would need protection from the other parent, who would essentially have to parent both the child and me.  I don't see that happening.

I definitely do need something to take care of.  There's a reason I plan to teach kindergarten, and I have told Shepard that one day, we are getting a cat: no ifs, ands, or buts.

Still, even having all that settled, I am grieving.  This isn't what I pictured for my life.

Yom HaShoah 5777 / Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I am NOT going to be telling stories of my family here, because I have already told them too many times.  Instead, I will be telling you how I am observing the day this year.

First of all, I am dressed head to toe to remember.  Except for my kippah clips and hair tie (I'll get to those in a second), all my clothes are gray: gray striped shirt, gray skort, gray tights.  I am wearing my somber, black velvet kippah I set aside especially for these occasions. 

Both my kippah clips and my hair tie are yellow, a subtle tribute to my relatives and what they experienced, a reminder of the yellow star badges they were forced to wear.  Originally I was going to wear black clips to match the kippah, along with whatever hair tie I happened to be using at the time I brushed my hair today.  (I think it was navy blue.)  Then I got this yellow accessories idea, and I think they have meaning.

Aside from clothes, I am also doing something more major, borrowed from Tisha B'Av: today I am not engaging in pleasurable Torah study.  I have interpreted this in an extended way, to mean Bible, Psalms, and theology.  This practice is meaningful to me because originally, I had wanted to fast on Yom HaShoah, as we do on Tisha B'Av.  Then I found out that Yom HaShoah is in the one month on the Jewish calendar when we are forbidden to fast.  Therefore, I am appropriating other practices, such as this Torah study one.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

IT CAME!!!

Finally, finally, finally, my college graduation gift of which I have been dreaming for almost a year is here! The main part, the candelabrum, arrived just in time for me to light my Sabbath candles in it Friday night.  I can never take a picture of it with candles lit, because photography is not allowed on the Sabbath/holidays, but I did snap this photo Saturday night, after the Sabbath, before I took down my candle set up.  You can see that this week, I used my new, pink-and-yellow runner.


I must admit that as I stared at this arrangement Saturday, I felt a twinge of sadness and longing for the children I will never have and raise.  Giving up on having children is the right decision for a number of reasons: it is not just that Shepard doesn't want them and I'm giving in to him.  However, I have dreamed of being a mother since forever.  As sad as I was over not having biological kids, that's how sad I am now over not having kids at all.  I'll adjust eventually, but right now I'm sad.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Much Recent Judaica

Below you will see pictures of my recent Judaica.  My graduation gift is finally in the process of happening.  (I had to reject that Israeli company, because they never shipped my order, refunded me, or gave me store credit--and it's been almost a year.  That said, I now get kippot from Etsy, and I found the exact same candelabrum on an American site.)  I have the kippah, but not the candelabrum just yet.  However, I also have another kippah--that means I am at FIFTY KIPPOT--and I made two table runners for Shabbat/holidays.




Friday, April 7, 2017

So much to catch you up on!

I have so much to catch you up on, faithful readers of my blog.  Many things of great importance have recently happened in my life.

The biggest piece of news is that my boyfriend is MOVING IN WITH ME, towards the end of next month! Yes, you read that correctly; really.  We are going to make one person's space work for two. We are very excited, and happy together.

Also, I no longer plan to have any children: birth, adoption, ever.  Shepard doesn't want them, and I want any child I have to be loved and wanted by both parents.  Besides, as people have pointed out over the years, with my disabilities, I'm really not suited to parent.

Passover is coming up in just a few days.  This year, I did not have to clean my apartment at all, because I will be visiting my parents for the whole holiday.  If you're not going to be somewhere, you don't have to clean.  My Grandma will be visiting us for the whole holiday, and towards the end, Shepard is coming up to meet my family.

After Passover come three small holidays: Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), April 24th; Yom HaZikaron (Israel's Memorial Day), May 1st; and Yom HaAtzma'ut (Israel's Independence Day), May 2nd.  I no longer go to services for the first two, because they make me cry, and as an adult I choose not to cry if I have the choice.  The third is on a school day, so I don't know if I'll get anywhere for that, either.  Regardless, I have a special black kippah that I wear on days of mourning for tragedies, to wear on the first two; and for the third, I will dress in blue and white, the colors of Israel's flag.

Finally, a note about my academics: due to my five-week bipolar episode, I am taking incompletes in all three classes, and working into the summer.  This will also allow me to do things like sleep enough, not work when stressed, etc, going forward.  It's not the optimal solution--for instance, now I can't take summer courses--but it is the best I can do, and that's what matters.

So that's all the news in my life!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rosh Hodesh Nissan 5777

Today is Rosh Hodesh Nissan, the start of the new Hebrew month of Nissan, in the Hebrew year 5777.  Passover starts this month; today is the day I start praying for "Passover miracles," as I call them, for my Reece's Rainbow babies, "Jacob" and "Rheann."

However, in this post I would like to focus more on what is done to celebrate Rosh Hodesh. Primarily, Rosh Hodesh is celebrated with extra prayers.  This makes me very excited; my dear friend Katherine (probably my best friend in the world) once told me that I was the only person she knew who would be excited by extra prayers.  There are three, listed below.

  1. First comes an extra paragraph in the Amidah, or central standing prayer.  The paragraph is called "Ya'aleh V'Yavo."  I just skimmed it really quickly, because I always say it in Hebrew and my Hebrew isn't good enough to remember what it means.  Basically, "Ya'aleh V'Yavo" is about remembering the Jewish people and our ancestors with goodness and merit; as well as the coming of the Messiah, descended from King David.
  2. After normal morning prayers comes a collection of Psalms called "Hallel."  Hallel is all about praising God for various miracles, and most of the selections have pretty tunes.  In fact, I nearly always do Hallel out loud just so I can sing through it.
  3. Finally, an extra Amidah is added.  It is called the "Musaf" Amidah, literally "additional." Those of us who wear tefillin take them off before reciting this part of the service.
Also, I celebrate Rosh Hodesh by dressing up a little in three ways: ladies' tallit katan, spritz of perfume, and jewelry.  Today's jewelry is my pink/gold/white/magnetic coil bracelet; and yes, there are reasons I am wearing bracelet only.  I cannot tolerate rings in this kind of pain, and the neckline of the blouse I am wearing does not allow for necklaces.  I used to also wear my fancy bobby pins on Rosh Hodesh; but since Shepard gave me the set of pretty, flowered clips for Valentine's Day, the fancy bobby pins have been retired.

So there you have it! Rosh Hodesh Nissan.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Over-the-Moon

In my own terminology, I am over-the-moon excited and happy right now, despite feeling mentally ill.

Why? Because at the end of the week, stretching into next, I am going back to work with Joseph Antoine Alston (real name used with permission).

Joseph is the only person, on God's Earth, who can consistently, drastically help my pain.

He heals by touch.  I'm sorry, I know, people have asked, but I know of no other way to describe or explain what he does.  You either get it or you don't.

True, it would be nice if he could heal me once and for all, but he comes closer than anybody else. Besides, needing him regularly means I get to see him regularly.

In the end, that's what I am over-the-moon about.  Joseph and I connect as "kindred spirits," as Anne of Green Gables would say.  I am not over-the-moon about the medical stuff.  I am over-the-moon about seeing Joseph and connecting again, person to person.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sweetly Bitter Adaptation

Over my years of dealing with various disabling medical conditions (Bipolar Disorder and RSD, mainly), I have come to learn something: usually, adaptation is better than fighting.

I have the perfect example.

I try to do ritual prayers every day, but God's and my main, direct form of communication is the letters I write.  I can come to God with any issue, and sometimes, just often enough that I know it is real, I get an answer back.

For months now, or at the very least weeks, I hadn't been writing.  This was because I couldn't hold a pen and write long enough to fill a page, and I felt as though I couldn't write "enough of" a letter.

Then it occurred to me: any communication is better than no communication at all, so now I write half-page letters.

Perfect solution? No.  Do I long to be able to write "enough?" Yes.  But I adapted to the pain rather than fighting it, and came out further ahead.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

God will fix it; God will fix it; God will fix it; GOD WILL FIX IT.

*My apologies if this post is random and disorganized.  Please trust me, I'm doing the best I can do.*

In the midst of cycling through a bipolar episode, I have discovered that Judaism soothes me like nothing else in the world.  I do aim for the most intellectual Jewish activity I can absorb and process. Prayer--ritual if it is time for that and I haven't done it yet (I always do it as soon as possible in case I can't later), letters to God at other times--tops the list.  If I can't deal with outputting prayer, next on the list is reading my Bible or Psalms.

There are times, however, when even the ancient religious texts that have brought comfort to so many are unbearable.  Those are the times when I turn to the simplest mantra I could think up--"God will fix it"--repeated over and over.  It is true, because God is the Great Healer.  Whether in a way of which I approve and/or that I can understand, or in a different way, God will fix this situation.

"I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah.  And even though [s/]he be delayed, with all this, I will wait for him[/her], every day, that [s/]he will come."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Down Syndrome Day 2017

Today, March 21st, is World Down Syndrome Day.  (Because 03/21 for Trisomy 21.)  I am not very eloquent on this topic, and I have to dive into homework right after this post.  I thought I would walk you all through my experiences praying for kids with Down syndrome.

Every Reece's Rainbow child for whom I have been Prayer Warrior, except the first, have/had Down syndrome.  That's three out of four: "Rheann," "Isabella," and "Jacob."

This is "Rheann."  I have literally watched this girl grow up in pictures, from her baby picture that showed when she was first listed, to the beautifully graceful young woman she is now.  This is her most recent picture:
b8jn5-165jf Rheann 2016

This is "Isabella."  She found a family, as Reece's Rainbow says, really quickly after I started praying for her: so quickly, in fact, that she is only mentioned two or three times in my letters to God.  I do not say my prayers caused miracles because I am not that arrogant, but it is still really cool that this happened that way.
Isabella-smiling

And finally, this precious child is my "Jacob."  I have been praying for him for almost four years, and will continue until he finds a home or ages out.
Jacob

I am dedicated to helping disabled children in general, and especially those with Down syndrome, any way I can.  I will donate money when I have it, and I will pray.  If anybody can think of anything else for me to do, please let me know.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Prayers for O

I have just enough time before I leave for vision therapy to write this post!

Today I would like to talk about the people who are slot number nine on my prayer list: O and her family. Being slot number nine (out of ten) means nothing at all; when I include others in my prayers, I do the whole list.  There are ten slots, all filled right now; as my prayers are answered "yes," people come and go.

"O" is the only name by which I know this young woman, but I firmly believe God knows and understands the subjects of our prayers, no matter what names we use.  "O's" mother blogs at mamaporuski.wordpress.com.

"O" is roughly my age, in fact I believe we were born the same year.  She was adopted from Ukraine as a teenager.  She has limb differences, mental disabilities, and autism.  That's a lot to deal with, and a lot for me to pray for.

When I pray for "O", I never pray for her disabilities to go away because I don't believe God does that.  Rather, I pray for comfort and the ability to handle what life throws at her; for healing from any medical procedures she has recently undergone; and for the ability to tolerate any new medical things.

I also pray for "O's" family to be able to help her and heal her.

My usual prayer for "O" and family is for God to remain present in their lives, no matter what they are going through.

And now, this second, I must post this and leave for vision therapy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XVII

And, finally, here is the last round of this type for this game! It has been amazing to help the world in this way.  Here are Down Syndrome, Girls, 0-2.

This is "Charlotte."  She is two years old and in country PRC.
evelyn2

This is "Mona."  She is one year old and in country EE-4.
mona-feb-2017

This is "Meilani."  She is one or two years old and in country PRC.
meilani

This is "Harriet."  She is two years old and in country PRC.
harper

This is "Mari Rose."  She is one year old--or possibly younger--and in country EE-1.
marina-rose1

The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XVI

I am totally exhausted, and cannot do any more school work today.  I thought how wonderful it would be if I finished showing Reece's Rainbow children.  So here are the Down Syndrome, Boys, 0-2.

This is "Braxton."  As well as Down syndrome, he is diagnosed with "specific mixed developmental disorder;" bronchial asthma; and an open arterial duct.  He is two years old and in country EE-7.
Braxton2

This is "Rafferty."  He is two years old and in country PRC.
Rafferty 2016

This is "Adley."  As well as Down syndrome, he has been diagnosed with tetralogy of fallot.  He is one year old--or possibly even younger--and in country EE-1.
adleyb

This is "Archer."  He is one year old and in country EE-4.
archer-jan-2017

This is "Tyler."  He is two years old and in country EE-4.
tyler-jan-2017

The :"Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XV

I am having major problems focusing and concentrating today.  I am very nervous that I am getting sick again, but feeling the nervousness will NOT help.  What will help is pulling out my coping strategies, a major one of which is this game.  I am up to the Down Syndrome, Girls, 3-5 page on Reece's Rainbow; please see below.

This is "Rosalia."  She is five years old and in country PRC.
Rosie-Adoptable-4yo-DS

This is "Faith Ann."  As well as Down syndrome, she is diagnosed with congenital heart disease and esotropia.  She is either just turned five or nearly five (her birthday is this month), and she is in country PRC.
Faith RK

This is "Bonnie."  As well as Down syndrome, she is diagnosed with congenital heart disease. She is four or five years old and in country PRC.
Bonnie

This is "Bella."  As well as Down syndrome, she has a congenital heart defect.  She is four or five years old and in country EE-4.
bella-update-2016

This is "Shaena."  She is five years old and in country PRC.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XIV

I have been tossing and turning for half an hour, my time limit before I get up, engage in an activity, and then try to sleep again.  I could not come up with anything I had done to repair the world today.  I thought a round of this game might be just the thing to solve both problems.  I believe I am up to Down Syndrome, Boys, 3-5.

This is "Beauregard."  He is four years old and in country PRC.
Beau (1)

This is "Larry."  He is four or five years old.  I cannot find a country code.
Larry collage

This is "Sean."  He is three or four years old.  He is in country EE-1.


This is "Asher."  As well as Down syndrome, he is diagnosed with Hirschsprung's Disease.  He is four years old and in country EE-4.
asher-nov-2016

This is "Nicholas."  He is five years old and in country EE-4.
Nicholas

Friday, March 17, 2017

The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XIII

It is just about an hour until I plan to light Shabbat candles (lighting a little early to allow for prayers and dinner before my boyfriend comes over), and the very best way I can think to fill some of that time is to do one of these posts.  I am up to Down Syndrome, Girls, 6-9.

This is "Tarsha."  As well as Down syndrome, she is diagnosed with postoperative CHD (tetralogy of fallot).  She is nine years old and in country PRC.
Tara 2

This is "Hannah."  She is seven years old and in country PRC.
Hannah-sm

Special shout-out for "Angelica!" (No picture.)  As well as Down syndrome, she is diagnosed with three congenital heart defects: VSD, ASD 11, and PDA.  She is seven years old and in country EE-2.

This is "Gabi."  She is nine years old and in Latin America.
Gabi update (1)

This is "Everlynne."  She is six years old and in country PRC.
Everly

LONG Post (Three Parts!): The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game Round XII; My Chesed Collage; and Growing as a Jew

So as you can see from the title, this is going to be a long post! That is because I only have time for one real writing time today (have to do lots of homework, and cook dinner for me tonight and my boyfriend and me tomorrow night, and shower, and call home all before Shabbat), but I have a lot to say! So here we go.

The "Do Good, Feel Good" Game: Round XII

This is the most important part of my post today, because this part really helps the world.  Today I am posting five children from Reece's Rainbow's Down Syndrome, Boys, 6-9 page.  This is the group I think about most because it includes my "Jacob;" and yes, I am including him.

This is "Jacob."  As well as Down syndrome, he has several heart conditions: congenital heart disease; and an interventricular septum membrane department tumor and defect.  He is six years old and in country PRC.
Jacob

This is "Stanley."  As well as Down syndrome, he has three heart defects: VSD; ASD; and Pulmonary valve stenosis.  He is either about to turn seven or just turned seven (his birthday is this month), and he is in country PRC.
Stanley1

This is "Tomas."  As well as Down syndrome, he is diagnosed with severe mental delays and congenital cardiopathy.  He is eight or nine years old and in Latin America.


This is "Nolan."  As well as Down syndrome, he is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  He is six years old and in country EE-4.
nolan-jan-2017

This is "Heinrich."  He has MANY diagnoses besides Down syndrome: "specific mixed developmental disorder;" "features of autism;" farsightedness; atopic dermatitis; functional heart murmur; and hydrocephalus.  He was also born with pneumonia.  He is seven or eight years old and in country EE-7.



Chesed Collage
Below are pictures of my "Chesed Collage!"  "Chesed" is Hebrew for lovingkindness, and a collage is a collage.  Any time I make or receive a memento from an organization to which I donated, I add to this ongoing project, hanging above my bed.  That way I have a tangible reminder of the good I've done in the world, as well as a visible push to do more.  You'll see how it works in a minute.

This is an overview of the entire thing.  Left to Right: my newest piece, a post card from Heifer International, with a nice note on the back (the side against the wall) telling me my donation of honeybees is helping people in Honduras; printed-from-a-word-document photos of "my" Reece's Rainbow kids, the two for whom I am praying (I made this piece myself); three photos of their girls sent to me by Lev Lalev after I donated there.

And here is the first piece, the post card from Heifer.  I almost hung it flipped over, with the nice note showing; however, the picture side is sufficiently cute that I hung it this way instead, and I am satisfied.

Up top is my more important Reece's Rainbow kid, the one to whom I am officially assigned: my "Jacob," nearly seven years old, diagnosed with Down syndrome, in PRC.

And down below is the Reece's Rainbow kid from whom I asked to be reassigned when her country outlawed American adoptions--and then I found I couldn't forget her: my "Rheann," who turned 15 years old this year, also diagnosed with Down syndrome, and in Eastern Europe.

And to the far right of the collage, the three photographs of Lev Lalev girls sent to me when I donated there.  These are actually my favorite part of the collage.

Growing as a Jew

Finally, an update on my Jewish life.  Every time I go through a bipolar episode, my Jewish life crumbles; now that I am feeling better, I am working on piecing it back together.  I am finding it useful to have a mental image of my "ultimate Jew," to know which commandments I feel the need to keep and which ones I don't care about at all.  For instance, at least for now, I am working my way up to ritual prayer three times daily and ritual handwashing in the mornings; I feel absolutely no need, however, to say the long grace after meals after eating bread.

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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!