Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Rabbi Rocks

If my posts have taken on a distinctly Hebrew flair lately, I apologize. I have been consumed with conversion. Between the Friday night Shabbat potlucks and the writing and editing of the Personal Statement (you don't know how badly I want to re-write the song "Personal Jesus" and sing a whole chorus about my essay... Reach out, write me...), I have a whole lot of Judaism goin' on over here.

This past Friday, we attended services and were treated to a sermon by Rabbi Rosenzweig. Now, both rabbis do a nice job when delivering a sermon. Emily is always a little more political, and her jokes are always more liberally sprinkled about, so I knew I was in for a treat. As the Torah portion was Leviticus - dealing with rules and exactly how one should sacrifice what and when, etc. etc., she didn't have a lot of tantalizing material to work with. Or so I thought.

We were about 7 minutes into the sermon when she started making comparisons to the AIG honchos who cashed their checks (or rather the money in those checks) and the "treif" or ritually unclean meat which Jews are forbidden to eat. It was about a 60 second leap before the word "Sexting" left her mouth for the first time. Sexting, for those of you who may not know, involves people - usually young girls, it seems - sending sexually explicit photos of themselves over their phones via text message.

In the course of the next five minutes or so, Emily must have said the word "sexting" about 7 or 8 times from the bimah (the Jewish equivalent to the altar). General shifting in the seats and nervous laughter was heard the first time she said it. The next seven times or so, people, I think, really tried to hear her message.

Which is great, because, as it so happens, we had visitors in the congregation that night. A group of teens from Saint Mary of Cortona Church. A group of young people that likely knew exactly what Emily was talking about, even if she had to explain it to the rest of us. Emily stood there and explained to them, and to us, that the lax morals and the lowered bar of socially acceptable sexual behavior is, in a word, treif.

How refreshing to have someone think through a seemingly mundane passage of scripture and find something so thoroughly modern - even shocking - that she made us pay attention. Dude, our rabbi ROCKS.

I am sure there are folks in the congregation who would disagree. Who were possibly offended by the content of the sermon on Friday. I say, keep on preaching, sister. That is exactly what the pulpit is for. Making ancient, seemingly outdated words modern. SHE GETS IT. I cannot tell you the number of Catholic homilies I have sat through. At least once a week from first grade through 12th, a few in college - mind numbing. Not once did I ever have an "Aha! Moment." I have had several in the 5 or so years I have been attending Temple Israel. That is one of many reasons I am converting.

Another, very minor reason? Because the Rabbi Rocks. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ahava Who?

I spend a lot of time re-playing conversations in my head. For no reason, usually, than to berate myself over some stupid thing I have said. This past week, it was an interaction with another pre-school parent.

I am finding that Judaism, with all of its streams and sects and levels of observance, is a veritable minefield for someone who trips over her tongue as easily as I. Last week I congratulated a father that I thought went to the synagogue (Torah Emet) that just built a new building on a "beautiful new shul." He looked at me for a split second before he said "Oh, no. We go to Ahava Sholem." Ahava Sholem is the most Orthodox of the synagogues in town. I am now replaying and earlier faux pas from over a year ago, when I extended my hand to this same man to shake. A no no in many orthodox circles. To his credit, he shook it and didn't make me feel weird, but now I am going to think about THAT one for a week. But I digress...

We briefly discussed how beautiful the new shul looked from the outside and how we would both love to take a tour of the inside. Pleasant enough stuff. But I spent a good 30 minutes shouting down the voices in my head (no, not literally) for having assumed he went to Torah Emet. I thought I had seen an article with him in a picture of their fundraising committee or something. I guess it was Ahava Sholem. Simple mistake and I am really quite convinced that he got into his minivan and literally did not think about it again ever. (Not then, not 30 minutes from then and certainly not 48 hours from then, now blogging about it.)

So why am I still thinking about it? Other than the already-established fact that I care way too much about pleasing people, I think this picking-over must be a woman thing. I caught a friend of mine doing it the other night.

I realized she wasn't saying what she was saying to get me to disagree with her or affirm her. She really believed that what she had said was the most idiotic thing that could have come out of a person's mouth. That was a head-scratcher for me, because this is one of the most put-together, on-top-of-things, intelligent women I know.

Fascinating that even we look to as models of togetherness still have those moments. It makes me feel silly for having thought about it for so long (wait, am I now going to have to blog about THAT?! I think not).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Made a lovely meal
Hot kibble breath on legs
Steak now less tasty

Jack is friend not food
Why is shampoo so tasty?
You lick your butt, too

So much thawed dog poop
On a lovely Spring morning
Should have got a cat

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Where the wind goes whipping down the plains!

Holy hell, people. I live in Ohio, but for all the the air moving through my neighborhood at alarming speeds lately, you'd think I'd either landed in Tornado Alley or in Kansas, as Dorothy Gale's kooky next door neighbor.

We have had ca-razy weather here recently. As an example, I offer this: It was 77 degrees yesterday. Tonight, the low is forecast to be 25. My barometric head has been in an invisible vice for most of the last 24 hours.

You don't get a 50 degree drop in temperature without some atmospheric disturbances. While mom and dad got raging thunderstorms two hours south in Cincinnati, we got the wind. The sweet, dulcet tones of my wind chimes, tuned to Pachabel's Canon in D, turned into AC/DC's "Back in Black" at about 2 a.m.

So what is going on with the weather this year? A year ago last weekend (and, last weekend we again had temps in the 70s) we got almost 3 feet of snow here. I'm used to snow in March in Ohio. It's what we do. In February, we'll usually get a few 70 degree days where the nutballs bust out the shorts and tank tops and then Mother Natures laughs her ass off by dumping several inches of snow on us Easter weekend. Ha ha. We get it. We live in Ohio.

This year has seemed like a never ending game of weather double-dutch. You've got your spring/summer wardrobe right there - looking at it longingly. And like that game of double-dutch you keep trying to time your entrance right. I'm jumping into the t-shirts. No, wait. Maybe next weekend. No, wait. I missed it. Crap. OK, here it comes. I'm ready! Nope. Before you know it, it's June and you have a closet full of turtlenecks and Land's End sweaters that don't go so great with your newly-purchased flip-flops.

On the upside, it looks like next week we'll be starting our warm-up for real. Our slow ascent into the 50s, where we'll remain, happily for awhile, because the words "wind chill" are absent from our forecast. By Passover, we will be in the upper 60s, and sleeveless tops will be en vogue - way too early, if you ask me. My thought is, if you are wearing shorts in April, what is there left to wear in August, when it is 102?

Ah, Ohio. You have to love a place with 100 degree fluctuations in temperatures in any given year and a population still large enough to boast three major cities. I think it's the weather that makes us crazy, actually.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seeking Shabbat

In Hebrew, the only day of the week with an actual name is Saturday - Shabbat. Every other day is simply "One day towards Shabbat" or "Three days toward Shabbat..." etc. This is how much Jews are supposed to love, honor and anticipate the celebration of their Sabbath. It is a fantastic concept.

In Judaism, days start on the previous evening. So the Sabbath starts Friday evening. since we've begun "making Shabbos" at home, I have begun looking forward to Friday nights. We wanted to make sure Jack understood the significance of the Friday night ritual of lighting candles, saying the blessings and taking time out to be extra-special thankful. He has finally started wearing his kippah - yarmulke - just like Daddy and takes special pride in his job of placing the candles in their holders. It's nice to know that he is "getting it" in some small ways.

We've recently begun what I hope becomes a very long-standing tradition. We have started a Shabbat pot-luck with a group of close friends that, for the most part, we consider like family. Everyone goes to services beforehand and e all convene at the hosts' home for dinner afterward. The hosts provide the main dish and everyone else takes care of sides, desserts, etc. We all make it a priority to get to services and it takes the burden of making a huge meal every Friday off of a lot of working moms, who now only have to do a crock-pot dish once a month.

My bigger point is this. I have now started to look at Shabbat the way God intended. I look at Sunday as "One day towards the next Shabbat!" or, more like "Oh man! Six more days until the next Shabbat!"

At our inaugural Shabbat gathering, not only did we have some laughs, but we discussed the history of the Holocaust and the future of synagogue auxiliary groups. So there are so fairly serious Jewish-themed discussions going on as well.

One of the things I have been struggling most with during my conversion is a sense of family, a sense of roots. Since my husband's family really won't view me a Jewish even after my conversion, (much as they don;t view Jack as Jewish) they can, or won't offer any help in forming any solid ground in which to plant my Jewish roots.

These people, though, my Friday night Shabbat Friends/Family - They are my home. If I am seeking an authentic Shabbat experience, where I think God is present and looking in on Jews and thinking "This is Good," I have found it. Here is where I think we can all plant roots and continue to bear the fruit of friendship and faith.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ode to Mucinex Full Force

Oh Mucinex Full Force, Drano of the Nose
How mine nasal membranes doth shink in horror when thou doth appear.
Oh blast of freedom from congestion
How doth does free me from another endless night staring into the abyss; mouth breathing.
I know not where the nasal yuckiness goes, nor do I care.
Oh cool gust of inhalation
I thank thee for the use of my probiscus once again.