Reengaging

sukkah-RonAlmog

Photo courtesy of RonAlmog via Flickr Creative Commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronalmog/1447847411

The month or so leading up to Rosh Hashanah left me fraying at the edges—something I wrote about here.

I’m feeling much better now. Things are feeling manageable. It helps that we’re in the house, getting settled in bit-by-bit, and that most of the major effort involved in the purchase and move is behind me now.  Continue reading

Worn Thin

houseThe last six and a half months have included the most difficult moments, decisions, and weeks/months of my life. While I don’t regret anything, I wouldn’t volunteer to go through these months again. Once was more than enough, thank you.

Two days ago, I bought a house. It’s a cute little house. Three bedrooms (so the boys will each have their own rooms); two bathrooms (so we won’t have hallway traffic jams on weekday mornings); and perhaps most importantly, in the kids’ school district.

It’s a good little house. Built in 2008, it’s still pretty new. The inspection report came back clean—there are a few things I should do sometime soon, like add gutters, but nothing major. It should be fairly easy to maintain; it has stained concrete floors inside and Hardiplank outside, along with a level yard so it’ll be easy to mow.

This house should provide a good place for my boys and me to be for the foreseeable future. I am pleased. I am proud of myself. I am hopeful about new beginnings in new spaces.

I’m also exhausted. Maybe even fraying at the edges.  Continue reading

Here I Am

Almost two months ago, I was in Budapest for a conference with other Jewish young adults from around the world, each of us professionals engaged in some way in the work of tikkun olam, of repairing the world.

There was a doctor from Australia who offered medical services in areas devastated by a tsunami; an environmental educator who focuses on welcoming young, unaffiliated American Jews; a Talmud teacher who leads text study sessions for social change activists in Jerusalem; and a Jewish community professional who struggles to bridge still-gaping racial divides in her home country of South Africa. Those were just four of us. We were seventy total, from all around the world.

While at the conference, I learned about Jewish responses to global human trafficking; about challenges facing Jewish community life in Mexico; about the enduring effects of the Holocaust, Communism, and still-existing anti-Semitism on today’s Eastern European Jews; about the persecution of the Roma people throughout Europe; about social change organizations in Israel….

So many people, in so many places, doing such important work on so many pressing social, environmental, and community issues. Thank goodness, because it all needs doing and no one person can do it all!

And that’s the thing. I do care about interfaith efforts in Hungary, and Jewish farming in Connecticut, and the struggle to make the land and people of Israel the dream that it could and should be. I am so thankful to be connected to these people, and to continue to learn from them. And yet…

My work and my community are right here in Texas.

There’s a tremendous amount of repair work that needs doing in this world. This here? This is my patch. My piece of earth. My work. My life. boys at beach

Three Holidays and a Bar Mitzvah

zeke-studying-for-bar-mitzvahAs I write this, the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah, is less than two days away—and (to paraphrase Rabbi Alan Lew), I am completely unprepared.

The month of Elul, now rapidly coming to a close, is meant to be a time of preparation. During this month, we sound the shofar every day—its blast meant to rouse us from the slumber of our lives, to shake us into awareness and cause us to reflect: How am I living in the world? What relationships need attention and repair? Am I on the right path? How can I make better, more conscious choices in the new year?  Continue reading

A Choosing Judaism Holiday Dilemma: What Do We Do with Santa?

santa-chanukiah“But Mom, we can’t celebrate Hanukkah—because then Santa won’t come, right?”

This was the question from my clearly worried 7-year old last December as we prepared to celebrate our first Hanukkah. And just like that, all of the confusing family issues surrounding my conversion to Judaism were distilled into one simple, innocent wondering. In that moment, standing there in the kitchen with my youngest son, there was really only one answer: “No, sweetie… Santa loves Hanukkah!”  Continue reading