Rosh Hashanah Post Assessment

There are a few things in life I love. The sport of rowing my dog, my boyfriend, and Judaism.  The latter two are where things get tricky.

I myself am the product of an interfaith marriage. My family, obviously, could not care less whether I marry a Jew because, as religious beliefs go, we’re a mixed bag. For whatever reason, even with extremely unobservant parents, Judaism has always resonated with me. The thing is, I always felt like a hanger-on. Like an outsider. A lot of my Jewish friends didn’t consider me to be “really Jewish” but I felt too Jewish to not be authentic.  With my hair, and the last name Rosenberg it seems like a ridiculous question.

What this has led to in my twenties, is me spending a lot of time devoted to trying to get find a religious community in the Boston, where I’ve lived since college. This isn’t easy. I spend a lot of time playing catch-up, since what a lot of kids learned as kindergarteners, I’m just starting to learn now.  See, I want to embrace Judaism as much as I can in my adult life.  I want to follow the Torah and raise my (future) kids in the kind of religious tradition and community that I was always hanging around the outside of as a kid, too afraid to actually walk into a temple. But now I have a different road block.  Many more observant folks seem to think that these goals are incompatible with a serious relationship with a non-Jew.  Coming from the background that I do, questioning my commitment or “credentials” really gets my Jewish/Sicilian temper going.  But when faced with a choice of inclusion in a traditional Jewish community and commitment to my relationship, I’m unable to err on the side of the Rabbis.  As much as I want my future children to have everything I didn’t (isn’t that the definition of parenthood?) I could never leave my boyfriend for his religious beliefs.  G-d tells us to be kind and just to all, not just other Jews. It feels very unjust to leave someone over that. The second option, of course, is conversion. But I could never ask someone to convert.  If he decided he wanted to, truly wanted to, because he believed and felt that it was the right thing to do, that would be one thing. It would make me the happiest girl in the world. But I don’t see that happening and I would never want him to feel he had to do something he didn’t believe in.  Frankly, I don’t feel like either of those options are very Jewish.  We don’t force our beliefs on anyone and we don’t, or at least shouldn’t, consider non-Jews unworthy of our time, compassion, and yes, love. With Rosh Hashanah just concluded, I’m praying and hoping in spite of 26 years of evidence to the contrary,that this year, 5779, will be the year that the religion I love stops breaking my heart.

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Things that Scare Me

I consider myself a fairly brave person.

 

Let me restate that.  I’m not brave in a “let’s go jump out of a plane for fun way” .I’m brave in a “rock climbing sounds fun” sort of way.  I’m brave in a “talking to people scares me so I should do it more often” sort of way.  See what I’m saying?  I’m brave with in certain limits.  Also, I firmly believe that humans were never meant to sky dive/hang glide/ parasail/ or do anything involving roller coasters. I’m fearless when it comes to the ocean, more than most people I know.

When I started this blog, I used to think I was afraid of the alt-right.  But now, I realize that I’m not.  As an outspoken Jewish girl, you might think I’m crazy not to be.  Maybe I just feel safe because I live in super-liberal Massachusetts.  Maybe I’m lulled into a false sense of security by my friends and family.

Or maybe not.

See, I’ve realized that the alt-right is nothing new for this country.  We’ve had racists and anti-semites as long as we’ve been around.  What scares me is anti-semitism on the left.

 

Like a lot of American Jews, my views lean hard left.  Like a lot of American Jews (or at least some) I really don’t feel qualified to speak on behalf or in opposition to Israel.  Like a lot of American Jews I DO NOT want to be asked about it.

Maybe I’m late getting to the party but this Woman’s March stuff scares me.  It scares me to feel like the world is turning against us.  It scares me to feel  that every time a Weinstein or a Kushner does something wrong its taken by most as a sign or confirmation that Jews can’t be trusted.  It scares me that people have started using “social justice” as a way to decry Judaism.  As if Judaism weren’t concerned with justice!

It makes me wonder if theres any place left on earth where it’s safe to be a Jew.

 

 

 

Rough Week

I had a rough week last week and didn’t end up hitting any of my “goals”.  I was planning shabbat with my boyfriend and it was going to be a big deal.  I mean, for me, it was going to be a big deal. We weren’t going to do anything extravagant, I was just happy he was willing to participate in my expression of faith even if it is totally different than his.  I took it as a good sign (see my last post: re children) that he would be supportive of my need to practice and pass on.

Unfortunately we never managed to meet because of a death in the family (on his end).  I’m much more familiar with Jewish funerals although I’ve been to other religious ones, I’ve never been to a Catholic funeral.  Fortunately I was prepared for an open casket because, as I said, I’ve been to other funerals from my non-Jewish side of the family.  Still, there’s protocol I don’t know and he hasn’t told me.  I realize he’s very busy.  I’m just trying to tell myself not to get upset, that it’s not about me and I just need to show my support.  The actual funeral service is tomorrow.  Hopefully I can make it through without any missteps.

That’s all for now. I need to try to take my mind off of things.

-E

 

I’m Back!

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written.  While I was gone I’ve been facing a challenging search for a job to work during daytime hours to supplement my coaching.  I’ve also had some health issues, nothing too serious though and I’m recovering nicely.  I’m going to try to get more serious about making better choices now that I’m (gasp) twenty-six.  And most excitingly, I’ve moved!  I have a lovely little apartment with my dog and am 100% in love with having my own space.  It’s a little out of my price range now, so I’m dipping into my savings but if the job prospect turns out I will be at the very least breaking even. (Boston is expensive, there’s no two ways about it).

The day before my birthday I sat down and wrote some goals in my notebook.  I wasn’t trying to commemorate growing any older at the time, I just wanted to use a new multi-colored pack of sharpies to do something.  My goals were financial, job-based, and fitness but also a large chunk of them were faith-based.  Naturally, those are the ones I want to talk about here.  My Faith-based goals were, in no particular order, as follows:

1: Attend Services more often

2: Build a relationship with a Rabbi

3:Learn how to make some traditional dishes (confession: I really can’t cook very well!)

4: Take Hebrew classes

5: Save $ for trip to Israel ( I missed the age window to be eligible for birthright!  I’ve intended to go for the past five years but I’ve always had some commitment that I couldn’t miss)

6: Learn about raising Jewish children.

These are all pretty self-explanatory, except for number six which, for me at least, requires a lot of explanation.  No, I’m not pregnant nor do I intend to be in the near future.  Actually, I’ve never had any desire to have biological children.  Since I was a small child myself I wanted to be an adoptive parent.  I guess it’s sort of a weird quirk of mine.  Nevertheless, I want my children to be raised Jewish.  It’s absolutely the most important thing to me. I’m going about it in a way that seems far from traditional.  For instance, if I had children of my own they would be Jewish just from their inheritance.  I guess I don’t feel like a child has to physically come out of you to be your child.  I know people definitely have differing opinions on this and all I can say is live and let live.  That said I had a very… unconventional upbringing and I don’t feel prepared at all to raise a child in the traditions of my faith.  If I was in a relationship with a Jewish man than by all means I would share the burden but the fact is that I am not.  While I cannot tell you that I will marry my boyfriend one day I could see us having a long future together and I would never in a million years ask him to convert. He is supportive of me and accepts, if not understands, my deep connection to my faith and that is really all that I need. Parenthood is definitely something that is far off for me but I want to be prepared.  I feel that the greatest gift I could give my future children is bringing them up in a strong faith and a community anchored by common values and beliefs.  So I begin my journey of learning how to become a Jewish mother.

 

Well, I’m certainly long winded today.

More on this later …

 

-E

 

I Did Something Really Scary…

So for a long time I’ve been wanting to try Krav Maga.

Honestly, I don’t have any “noble” reasons for wanting to try it.  I’m not really trying to live a healthier lifestyle or defend myself or anything.  My reason is pretty silly actually.  I just want to feel more hardcore.  I used to be quite the athlete but since becoming a coxswain in college I haven’t (and I know this is an excuse) had the time to workout.  I know anyone can have time if they make it, but that’s just my problem.  The time that could be put aside for working out, I’m already putting aside for playing a sport! It’s just that I don’t actually get any fitness benefits out of playing my sport except for the odd occasion when I have the opportunity to erg with the team.

The other reason, and it’s probably a bigger one, is that attending fitness classes where I don’t know anyone sends my stress levels THROUGH THE ROOF.  It doesn’t have to be fitness classes, actually.  It can be anywhere. Heck, if I don’t arrive at services at Temple at the EXACT right time (not early enough so that people will want to chat but not late enough that people look at me when I walk in) I can’t go in.  This also serves to explain my rare temple attendance.  And you can forget about staying for the meal.  The idea of that is enough to make me want to hide under my bed and never come out.

So why in the name of sanity would I sign up for a Krav Maga class, especially when I could just look up videos on youtube and do them in my own living room where there are no other people?

Honestly, I am still asking myself that.

But since I already paid for it I feel like I have to go.  It’s a week from now, so hopefully I will still feel that way next Tuesday.

Until next time.

 

-Emmie

Tzniut/ But you don’t look Jewish!

So I was reading an article comparing Thanksgiving to Sukkot.  I’m going to spare us my take on that and move on to a different concept.  Instead, I’m going to skip straight to a concept that’s been weighing on my mind for years.  What the heck is a Jewish person supposed to look like anyway?

 

I’m a freckly, pale skinned redhead.  I’m short and thin.  I tend to look taller than I am because I’m long- limbed but just to be clear, I’m 5’3″.  I get a lot of Irish jokes, which is weird because I have not one drop of Irish in me.  (also a motivation not to wear green).  I do have a tendency to get offended when people tell me I don’t look Jewish. It bothers me on two counts.  First of all, I’m a very proud Jewish person so I don’t really love it on a personal level.  Second, when people tell me I don’t look Jewish they hardly ever mean it as a reflection on the beauty and diversity of the Jewish people.  They usually mean you don’t have a big nose or dark hair or insert other stereotype here.  (In rare cases, recently it’s been a “you don’t look like Natalie Portman or Gal Gadot” but obviously I don’t love being told I don’t live up to mainstream culture’s idea of a beautiful Jewish woman either!)

 

The other thing you should know is I’m a life-ling tomboy and athlete and on the religious spectrum, I fall just this side of secular.  Sure I pray from time to time and go to services and don’t get me wrong my faith is important to me but I’m not really anyone’s idea of an observant Jew.  I mean growing up my orthodox friends didn’t consider me Jewish.  Possibly leading to the weird complex I have these days about not being Jewish enough… but that’s another blog post.

Recently I’ve found myself leaving the house in floor length skirts and hoodies.  Maybe the whole combination is a little overboard in light of the “I-fall-just-this-side-of-secular” rant. The temple I attend falls just this side of conservative but the reasons I chose it have nothing to do with that and more to do with my overwhelming shyness (I’ll post more on why I chose the place I did later)

For some reason, its really been working for me. Even though I spend most of my time bumming around in yoga pants, t-shirts, and hoodies, when I go out I swap my yoga pants for a maxi skirt, and well, my hoodies are pretty modest as they are.  It’s not like I’m becoming orthodox any time soon, its just that somehow I feel more like myself.  This is a really weird concept for me and definitely not the last I’ll post on this but these are just my jumbled thoughts on dressing for now …

Shana Tova

First of all, I hate apples.

This, I realize, is irrelevant to any commentary on the larger picture of Rosh Hashanah, but honestly, an accurate portrayal of how I’ve been feeling lately.  Petty and irritable.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of job stress lately, mainly in finding one that actually pays the bills. I’m pretty consistently employed, but finding a full time job with decent benefits is more of a struggle.  I know at 25, there are a lot of people who will laugh at me for feeling burnt out and cynical and just DONE but it is what it is.

 

I’m not in the mood for making any relevant commentary or actual valuable reflections on my life tonight.

 

So

Happy new year. Here’s to hoping this one’s better than the last.

 

-E