The So Many Choices

summer at the lakeBeing newly single and on my own after being not single or on my own for almost 20 years has been…interesting. Many things are more settled now than they were a year or even six months ago, but I am still feeling my way through some parts of this new landscape.

The main thing I am noticing is just how many choices I have to make, all the time, each with the same underlying question: Who and how do you want to be in the world?  Continue reading

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

Stop with the Blame Game Already: Stop Finger Pointing, Start Fixing

finger-pointingIn the aftermath of the brutal attacks in Paris last week, not to mention the horrific slaughter in Nigeria, we’re hearing the same sound bytes from the same sources. Conservatives questioning where Muslim condemnation of violent, extreme Islam can be found. The answer is here, here, here and lots of other places. Moderate Muslims in anguish, using the hashtag #NotInMyName to distance themselves from and denounce the terror. Jews, afraid. Again.

On my Facebook wall, every time I post something that promotes peaceful understanding or bridge-building between Jews and Muslims, some members of my community rush to remind me that it is the Muslim world today that produces the worst oppression of women, the most violent terrorist attacks, and the most abject hatred of Jews.

I don’t know. Maybe they’re right. The news coming from some Muslim corners of the globe right now is bleak, to say the least.

When it comes to ranking social ills, though, I get a little tripped up. How exactly should we compare Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers with the fact that US demand for cheap produce results in child labor and squalor for some of the people who grow our food?

Is there a simple chart that can help me rank global oppression and systemic evil?  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

Remembering My Grandma

me and Grandma-Jan2014Before you read the brief remarks I offered at my grandmother’s memorial service, here are a few things you should know.

First, my grandfather left her for another woman in 1962. She was 36 years old, with three kids (ages 15, 14, and 8) but no marketable skills or work experience. Her second husband died of cancer. Her third husband (well… they weren’t technically married) died suddenly while we were all on family vacation together in Colorado (this explains why I’m not eager to visit hot springs anywhere). Her oldest son died about twelve years ago from complications of multiple sclerosis. She herself was a cancer survivor. Oh, and she was one of the main founders of this organization: http://samaritanhouse.org/.

The obituary says that my grandma died on Halloween, but really she died the day before. Here’s what I said at her memorial service:  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