Wonders: Hearing a Heartbeat, Fifteen Years Later

Zeke sonogramToday, I sat in a doctor’s office and heard my son’s heartbeat through an ultrasound machine for the first time in almost 15 years. Fifteen years ago, I was the one lying on a table having the sonogram, feeling both excited and somewhat terrified at impending parenthood.

This morning, my 14 ½ year old didn’t quite fit on the exam table; his legs and feet hung over the side. I don’t know how he felt as he watched his heart from every possible angle on a tiny screen, hearing that rhythmic swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. But as for me, I felt…  Continue reading

My Year: Divorce and Everything after, through the Lens of Jewish Holidays

circle for year2First, know this: I was married for almost 17 years, but we’d been together since I was 19. That’s almost 20 years, folks. 

************************

One day, I turned a corner. Or the corner turned me; I’m not sure which. On the other side of that corner was the terrible realization that I couldn’t stay in my marriage anymore.  Continue reading

Love Sustains: How My Everyday Practices Make My Everyday Activism Possible

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.” —Sandra Cisneros

heartWe do this — the work of tikkun olam

Because the world we live in is a house on fire: Racism. Hunger. Economic Justice. Climate. Education. Domestic Violence. Poverty. More.

And the people we love are: Oppressed. Attacked. Desperately poor. Sick. Afraid. Hungry. Vulnerable. Suffering.

Burning. The people we love and the world we live in are burning.

Sometimes, this is how it feels — like the world is on fire — and in the face of systemic racism, climate change, or the widening gap between rich and poor, it’s difficult to see what difference my individual actions could possibly make. Continue reading

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

Enoughness

Goodwill shopping-Bob JagendorfWe have entered the last month of the Jewish year, Elul—a month of preparation, reflection, and expectation. Elul, when God is said to go walking in the fields; when we seek to lovingly reconnect our ordinary lives to the holy—ani ledodi vedodi li—“I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine;” when we add Psalm 27 to our prayers twice a day; and we carefully examine our lives, considering how we might choose to bring our actions more fully into alignment with our values, hopes, and aspirations.  Continue reading

Me and My Shmita

ReleaseWhen I first learned how some Jewish social justice and environmental activists are re-imagining the Sabbatical Year, my mind and heart started racing with the beauty of this ancient teaching. In teachings about the Sabbatical Year, God’s concern for land overlaps and is entwined with God’s concern for animals, which overlaps and is entwined with God’s concern for people. Here, there is no dichotomy between social justice issues and environmental issues; no “jobs vs. the environment” mantra that I hear so often in political and activist discourse here in the U.S. Land and animal and human are connected to each other, and to God. Beautiful!  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