Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day!!

The following is an email from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation:

Dear Friends,

Happy Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day!!

Today – Thursday May 25th - we celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem 39 years ago and the reunification of the eternal capital of the State of Israel. Of course, the center of all this celebration is taking place at the most significant place in the world to the Jewish nation – the Western Wall, the Kotel.

If you're here in Israel, come to Jerusalem! Join the multitudes as they march, waving Israeli flags, through the streets of Jerusalem to the Old City and to the Kotel Plaza. There, the plaza will become a blue and white blur of music and dancing; of excitement and joy. It's an experience that should not be missed!

If you're too far away to walk to the Kotel to join the dancing, special webcams will be broadcasting the sights and sounds of the Jerusalem Day Flag Dance live on this website, starting today at 8 pm Israel time. This year we're adding "floating" cameras that will hover over the dancing and capture the atmosphere even better.
Make sure to log on!

For now, have a wonderful Jerusalem Day. Whether you're dancing with us at the Kotel or planning your next trip here, we know you'll be spending time today thinking about how miraculous it is that after 2,000 years of yearning, the Jewish people are home in Jerusalem!

If you tune in right now you can see Chaim Dovid and Shlomo Katz in Concert at the Kotel Plaza. I was there 2 years ago, it was one of the greatest nights in my life. Wow I miss Israel so much right now.

Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim Tishkach Yimini!

**To hear and read english transcripts of the retaking of Jerusalem click [here]**

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Canada Was Amazing, But I'm Tired, and My Feet Hurt (From Dancing)

Quick Post, then bed. NCSY Canada is a great region. I've been to quite a few, and while it is not Har Sinai region, it's the next best thing. The kids are Awesome, the Advisers where fantastic, and the program was successful. I'm bringing back quite a few good ideas. I have a feeling I'll be seeing more of Canada before my NCSY career is over.

On a side note, I just mailed in my acceptance letter to Chovevei next year. It's all happening for real. It's kind of unbelievable how everything has just fallen together all of a sudden (seemingly), but Hashem (G-d) works in incredible ways that I'll never truly understand. All I can do is say Thanks. Hodu L'Shem Ki Tov, Ki L'Olam Chasdo (Offer Praises to the Lord for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Canada, Here I Come...

For the next few days I'll be visiting our northern neighbor while staffing a Canada Region NCSY Shabbaton. They were short staffed, YU has finals, and I get lucky and get to go for a fun four day adventure to Camp Northland to hang out with some great kids and staff that I met earlier in the year at National Convention. Admittedly, they were all a little weird and quirky, but that just means I should fit in just fine...

It's no Har Sinai, but it's going to be fun!

Monday, May 15, 2006

So.. Um.. Yeah... I'm Going to be a Rabbi...

I've been accepted, and will be starting my studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School this fall. My father is out of the hospital (B"H, though prayers are still welcome and encouraged), and I had a perfect 4.0 gpa not just for this semester, but for the year. So... I guess I got my answers. I'm no longer in limbo. Life is good, and G-d... well... he's GREAT!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Graduation's Over Rated

Since I'm missing my graduation to staff an NCSY Shabbaton, the turning in of my last undergraduate paper earlier today marked the end of my official time at the University of Rochester. I'm officially done!

But now what? Limbo, that's what, and not the kind with the arched back, the fun music, and a pole. Now I wait to see what will happen with my life. Everything is in G-d's hands. Please continue to say prayers for my father, Baruch Matan ben Miriam.

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick, Jack Go Under The Limbo Stick....

Prayers Needed

An update on my dad. For those of you who recall my post about the changing of the tides [here], you may recall that my father was in the Hospital. A few days have passed and the results of his observations are in. He's been diagnosed as having had Congestive Heart Failure. For a description of the condition check out the American Heart Associations website [here].

He needs to have surgery and a time was supposed to be set by the Surgeon today, though I haven't heard yet when it will be. I plan on making the trip down to go see him, but timing is really ruff. The most important part right now are the prayers that we can send him for a complete recovery. His name for the purpose of prayers is Baruch Matan ben Miriam. Every little bit will be appreciated.

The irony, I suppose, is that this is the same heart condition that my great-grandmother experienced years ago that led to the circumstances of events that lead to the de-facto end of a day in day out relationship with my father. Hashem (G-d) has a sense of humor that I just don't understand.

Anyway, my final college paper is due in several hours, and to finish it on time I need to type 2 pages an hour. So I need to refocus. I have a Jr. NCSY shabbaton this weekend, and I've no idea yet how I'm going to fit in seeing my father, but some things you have to make room for. I'm in G-d's hands at this point, but I know he'll pull me through.

Which reminds me of a quick story about how you can see G-d's hand in everything if you only look. Racing to my train back to Rochester today, I arrived in Penn station only to have missed it by mere seconds. I actually saw it disappear on the board. Needless to say I was pretty bummed. Bad news of my father, the continued limbo that exists around whether or not I'll be starting Rabbinical school in the fall (the result of a strong interview, but the reality of an absence of practical textual skills), and now an extra 2 hours wasted at the train station waiting for the next train while I needed to start my paper.

Dejected I sat on the side trying to figure out how to best spend my time when I notice a friend of mine looking around like she was lost and flustered. Approaching her, I found out that she was in a bit of a bind. Her cell phone had died, and she had no way of contacting her fiance to find out if he was even still at the station. Even borrowing a phone wasn't going to help, because, in the age of cell phones, no one remembers anyone's phone number any more. Luckily, her fiance just happens to be someone who is currently attending the school where I'd just interviewed, which meant I even had the schools number in my phone, where she was able to call the office and get her fiance's number, then call and reconnect with her fiance.

Now, I don't mean to make myself out to be a hero, or anything of that sort. I'm sure had I not been there, nothing bad would have happened to either of them. However, for whatever reason G-d might have had, it was clear to me that he wanted me to be there to assist them, and therefore I missed my train. Things like this make it clear to me that G-d is playing an active role in my life, and I know he'll look out for me. I only just hope that what he KNOWS is best for me can jive well with what I THINK is best for me.

Anyway, the take away message. Please Pray for Baruch Matan ben Miriam. It's going to be a ruff few days. Thanks.

**Drew Kaplan's Blog has been added to the Links. I met him at Chovevei, and he's a really great guy.**

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An Old Joke Re-Drawn

A Disclaimer, I saw this without audio, so bear with me if the audio isn't good, but the Joke is a classic. (At least if it is the Joke I think it is.) Guess I'll find out when I get back to my own computer.)

As Some of you may have figured out... I'm a bit too busy to actually come up with my own content currently. I'll be back soon...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Unorthodox Orthodoxy - Female Rabbinic Ordination

As a person who hopes to be starting my own Smicha (Rabbinic Ordination) process in the fall, developments in ordination practice already interest me. As someone who intends to get Orthodox Smicha, Orthodox ordination engrosses me even more. And as someone who plans on attending an Orthodox Yeshiva/Rabbinic School (YCT) that often gets criticized for its left leaning tendencies and is slandered by individuals saying that the school is paving the way toward ordaining female Rabbis, a news story about a women being ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi certainly caught my eye.

The very notion of a women being ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi is grating for me, not because of any anti-feminist feelings, but precisely because it has been the tool of attack against Open Orthodoxy for a long time now. This, despite clear statements from the movement that they carried no intentions to upset the fabric of Orthodoxy and Halacha and certainly carried no plans to ordain women. Now that it has "happened", and I put that in quotes because the verdict is still out, and depending on who you ask, her ordination is anything but Orthodox, I fear a backlash against Modern Orthodoxy in general, and certainly against Open Orthodox and other liberal orthodox spheres. Once again though, I find that I'm inadequately prepared to rule on the issue at hand, because the reality is, as one yet to actually start his studies for Smicha, I really don't know the issues at hand and the relevant Halacha (Jewish Legal Code) that is affected.

To that end, all I can say is that my first reaction to this story is not positive. I applaud advancement of women to the fullest extent within Halacha. I encourage there study as well as their input. However, at the same time, I believe that equality is not only achieved through sameness, and that in fact, we loose a lot when we fail to delineate in our society. Women have a lot to contribute within their roles as women, equally so to men. I just wonder what price we pay when we start demanding that sameness be applied to create equality.However, this can only be my first reaction until I truly know what is involved. I applaud her desire and motivation to learn, to teach, and be involved in the Jewish community, just question the approach. I reserve judgment on the Halachic issues for now until I know more, and rely instead on my teachers and on traditions.

A Hat Tip to Esther over at Jewlicious for bringing this story to my attention. (I know you like to be known as "from Urban Kvetch" or one of your other personal blogs more, but I read it at Jewlicious this time.) The Jewlicious thread can be found [here].

View the Story as it appeared in the Jerusalem Post[here].
View what seems to be the source for much of the article at this JVL Page [here].

Other Articles and Blogs that comment on the issue and provide perspective can be found below: Article - Quiet Revolution in the Synagogue
In Context Blog - They Call Her 'Rabbi'
Am Echad Blog - Mazel Tov Dr. Rabbi Ner-David
Some may remember AmEchad's early supportive comments to this blog, much appreciated.
Emes Ve-Emunah Blog - Orthodox Feminist Haviva Ner-David: Rabbi
Emes Ve-Emunah Blog - Female Rabbis in Orthodoxy
Hirhurim Blog - So-Called-Orthodox Women Rabbi
Hirhurim Blog - The Ordination of Women

**An UPDATE: With the passage of time, a few other worthwhile articles have appeared in the blog world. I'm not about to list everything that's come out, but I wanted to link to a few other sources that offer some interesting perspectives and side notes that havn't been covered yet. They are below:
Drew Kaplan's Blog - On the Grammatical Question of Women Rabbis
From NY to London - Female Rabbis
From NY to London - On Women and Judaism
I put up the second source from Alexis (From NY to London) because I found myself nodding my head in agreement to just about everything she expressed. **

One of the things I noticed from a lot of the comments on other blogs is that both sides seem to be responding immediately from an emotional gut type perspective. I really encourage and desire feedback and comments, but I would prefer that they were thought out, insightful comments, not emotionally explosive, incite-ful comments.

In other news, Israel saved Abbas from a Hamas assassination attempt today. Read the brief article [here].

Friday, May 05, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom Everyone, may this shabbos bring true Shalem and comfort to everyone.

**Articles of Interest:**
Part 1, Part 2 - I'd love to hear what you guys think about this story and the governments response...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Friends Rock!

My friends are awesome! Between the practical advice, the love sent over voicemail, and the offers of help, I just want to say thanks to all of you. You're going to really be what helps me through all this. Thanks!

A Change of Tides

Before I start, please pray for my father, Baruch Matan ben Miriam, to have a compete Refuah Shlema, a complete recovery. (Story will follow.)

But one short week ago I was on a crazy high. Life was fantastic,manageable, and optimism was running rampant that it was only going to get better. My Undergraduate career had only two weeks left, and only two assignments. I'd applied to ROI120 and had dreams of going to Israel. Rabbinic School seemed like such a certain reality that I was looking at housing. Everything just seemed like it was in place and that G-d was taking care of everything.

Then everything started falling apart. It was a gradual process over the last week, but my optimism has been swept aside in the change of tides and a melancholy and pessimism has replaced it.

It started one week ago, Thursday night, when I lapsed in my personal observance. I was no Purim Hero that night. I'm not going to go into details (everyone's battle is there own, and for each of us our challenges are different), but my Yetzer Horah (Evil Inclination) won a relatively major battle in its ongoing war against me. Slips and slides have been relatively consistent throughout my T'Shuva process (The process of becoming Torah observant), but as bumps in the road go, this one was a duzey. Divine Retribution, it would seem to me at least, was quick to execute its punishment as waking up that next morning I would find out that I was not accepted to ROI120. Good ol' Jewish Guilt in overdrive, I'd felt that I paid my price, and laid blame immediately upon myself. Israel was no longer a reality for me this summer. The tide change had begun, but it was far from over.

The Yetzer Horah is like a Bull. The more you back it into a corner the harder and angrier it charges. It would not be content to win just its last battle, and as guilt crushed it in the early stages into a point of near submission, once truly backed up it unleashed with a passion as of yet unseen. Things started to spiral out of control and the rationalization process started to kick in. (Possibly the worst thing ever for a Bal T'Shuva. After years of working so hard to achieve the place I had in my path to Hashem, it seemed like I could loose my footing all at once and end up undoing everything I'd worked so hard for. I started to doubt myself and my ability to be a future Rabbi. Who am I that I think I can provide guidance and insight for others when my own life is out of control.

Time was not on my side in this regard. My in person interview is rapidly approaching. (I have it on Monday.) What previously seemed like it was only going to be a formality, now seems like it may be a nail in the coffin of my future aspirations. Confidence has been replaced by uncertainty and feelings of inadequacy. And fears that previously were irrational lay siege on my conscience teasing me that I will be denied admission and be left without a plan and without a future. It's a combination, I think, of being denied ROI120, which I allowed myself to get prematurely excited about, and actual feelings of inadequacy and non-deservedness after my latest encounters and losses to my Yetzer Hara.

It doesn't stop there though, of course not. My final assignment, a 20 page research paper due on Wednesday, puts continual pressure on the back of my mind. Because of travel arraignments, I don't return from NYC until late on the night right before it is due. This leaves me with only tonight, tomorrow, and a few hours before it is due, to finish.While that should be completely doable, my current state of melancholy has been accompanied by sloth and apathy. If I can't rouse myself again, I won't be able to finish. Simultaneous preparations for the Rabbinic school interview and skills assessment test don't help in dealing with the time crunch.

To top it all off, about an hour ago I got a call from my mother informing that my father is in the hospital. (This is why there's the davening plea.) I knew something was up the moment she called. (As some of you who've been following know, I've been independent for a longtime, and don't really have an active relationship with either of my parents.) More over, I knew it wasn't good when she was informing me about my father, as the two are not exactly on speaking terms.Thankfully, it doesn't seem too serious. He's in the hospital mostly for observation at this point, but he has been having difficulty breathing as of late. (Something I didn't know about until this phone call.) Of course, my first reaction was to again lay the fault for this upon myself and my recent loses to my evil inclination. I actually broke out into tears and asked G-d not to punish those around me for my sins. I realize it's foolish and even a bit of personal sabotage to think like that, and yet I can't shake that reaction. Please pray for him. (Baruch Matan Ben Miriam.)

This next week is the crux of the rest of my life. It determines everything, and I'm not sure I'm in shape to deal with it. The solutions are obvious, and if I were advising another it would seem so simple. Yet all I can seem to do is beg G-d to forgive me and help me through it. I just hope it's not too late to change the tides again.

**As an aside, this is what I was going to blog about, guess you should just read the article. [Here] It's about AMI - Artists and Musicians for Israel and seems to be a good thing.**