Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jerusalem Weeps

I left work at about 1 p.m or so today. I got home at about 4:30; about 2 1/2 hrs later than I should have been home.

The increased length of my trip was courtesy of those protesting the arrest of the Charedi parents who refused to return their children to the school of their non-choice. I hoofed it, from Bar Ilan back to the Tachne Merkazit (Central Bus station...go ahead, laugh at my transliteration skills).

Being as I home-school my children I am really can't say I'm against anyone else educating their child in the manner they think is best. I am even in favor of a voucher program. Parents get X amount of dollars for their children (based on age and special needs if any) and mom and dad get to decide where the money gets spent--as long as it gets spent on their children's education.

In terms of this argument, who is right, who is wrong? I think it is a bit of everyone being wrong; and I think what is happening is a big Chilul Hashem.

I find it difficult, near impossible to believe that grown people could not have worked this out in a more quiet,  dignified manner and loving manner.. Scratch that; I find it SAD, incredibly sad that grown people could not have worked this out in a more quiet, dignified and loving manner.

How is it that we think we can defeat our enemies if we can't even reach across the table to each other and, disagree though we may on a variety of issues, say "you are my friend...."

Beit Hillel and beit Shammai as vigorously and as vociferously as they fought about halachic issues, never-the-less, married their children to each other, exchanged pots and pans, in short, treated each other as family. Which they were.

Which we all are.

We all come from the same tree; Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Misnagdim, Charedim, Modern Orthodox, the non-religious...we are from one family. One People, One Nation, One G-d.

So it is okay to fight. It is not okay to make our "mother" weep. It is okay to think that skirts much reach a certain length or that television is okay. It is not okay to say "my kids can't play with your kids..." It is certainly not okay to demean someone because of their race, ethnic background, or level of frumkeit.

We have a duty to each other EVERY SINGLE DAY. We are suppose to "love our neighbor as ourselves..."

The Moshiach (Messiah) will have a hard enough job as it is, uniting the Jewish people, vanquishing (I believe spiritually) our enemies, rebuilding the Temple and restoring Israel to malchut. Must we really make it harder for him?

Another post on this same topic by a friend.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why Do I Do The Things That I Do?

Why do I work at Yad Ezra V'Shulamit? I think sometimes we all need to ask ourselves why we have entered a specific job path. 

To understand why this path is right for me at this time I need you to play "Let's Pretend". 

Let's pretend you the mother of two  young children. You love your children with all your heart and soul and you work hard every day to try and provide for them. But it isn't enough; food, shelter, the basics are not even being met. The rent must come first, and then the food. Every night when you go to sleep you pray:

"Tomorrow G-d please...Tomorrow let me find a way to nourish my children, to keep hunger away. Tomorrow my children will not fall asleep in class because their bellies are empty. They will not make do on a slice of bread. They will have a warm and nourishing meal. They will come home and find a meal on the table. They will not be cold. Their shoes will fit them and they will not be falling apart.
Tomorrow G-d please, let my children have a normal life..."

When I know such stories exist, in varied forms, when I try and picture myself as that mother, well how can I NOT work for Yad Ezra V'Shulamit? How can I not want to help? To make things right for just one family or child?

To me the purpose of our lives is to leave the world a better place than we found it. For me, right now, that means working towards ending poverty in Israel... I know I can't do it alone, I know I am not doing it alone. When those of you who are out there respond to my pleas to help Yad Ezra V'Shulamits clients tears literally come to my eyes. I am so grateful...I can not express how my heart fills with joy.

Every child deserves a chance...Yad Ezra V'Shulamit helps children and families get that chance; and the real angels are the donors who give of themselves to those they will never see.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Life Learning

So I did my Shabbat assignment. My list of "teachers" those who taught me by both good and bad example, are too long to list them all. Such an exercise would require me to write, and write and write again as I remember and recall the different people in my life who have and are helping me along my path.

I am not going to mention at all those who taught me by poor behavior, showing me what NOT to emulate. Why  pull up the negative? I've learned and I'll move on.

Neither am I going to mention the "usual suspects", family and my Rabbis, because I'm constantly learning from them.

Instead I will mention three people, all women, one from my childhood, another from one I was an adult, but still in the past, and a third from today.

The first was a teacher in the Cincinnati Day School. She was a Quaker woman, with shoulder length, snow white hair. She was "old" to me then, but probably not more than 50 or so. I don't remember what grade I was in, I do not remember what she taught normally...I think she may have been a substitute...but I do remember the day she took us "claying".

Out back of the school, and odd shaped saucer building, down a hill through a copse of trees was a creek. This was normally "FORBIDDEN TERRITORY". We were not allowed past the trees let alone down the path.and into the creek, yet that is where this wonderful woman took us. An icy cold creek and the clay squishy firm beneath our hands. We pulled it out by chunks...I never knew there was such wondrous stuff there! I remember the stones beneath our feet, the cool green of the trees going up and down the path, the smell of mulch and mold of the leaves along the path. I remember the wonder of learning.

I hated school. I hated every minute of it. I was a "genius" who never made the grade. I found school boring, and annoying. I disliked having to sit and listen. I wanted something more.

This teacher taught me something more, much more than she ever knew. My senses were alive that day like they had never been in school. I was engaged, I was active, I was THERE...not lost in some mind world where only a shout and a reprimand could bring me back. I learned that life was out there for me! The world was a mystery to be solved, studied and worked with. Not taught but learned! inside my heart and my mind.
School was and will never be for me. But learning in joy is. I love to learn...from books and life. This was the woman's teaching.

The second was a mentally retarded woman...perhaps 18 or 19...very high end but definitely mentally retarded. I would see her nearly everyday as I walked my daughter to her bus stop; we would say hello, and smile and exchange some pleasantries. Not more than that.

One morning she passed by in an odd outfit. There was something in the outfit that told me "she is dressing up.." but I reserved comment because the outfit was "silly" and "strange." But she called me out... "don't you notice something different? I'm all dressed up!!! It is my birthday!" Immediately of course I stopped, congratulated her, complimented her on the outfit. "How silly of me not to have noticed..." but what I really felt was shame. Here this young woman was seeking something everyone be considered. To be important...and I had blown a chance to give a gift because I judged her outfit on the basis of society and not through her eyes. As foolish as the dress may have been she was proud of her dress, and I had acted as a judge rather than a friend.

She taught me to see the other person from where they stand and to judge them from where they stand, and to try and see beauty based not on the outside view, but the inner, soul view.

The third teacher has just entered my life, less than a year ago. She is an extraordinary woman, smart, kind and loving. And she writes a terrific blog! But what I learned was from her latest article from the Breslev site.

It wasn't even the main part of her article, but it was something that struck me to the heart. It was these words.
When one repents, does teshuva, and becomes a ‘new person’, it is best not to talk about the past. Putting old and negative vibes into the atmosphere is not good for the universe and especially not conducive to purifying one’s soul. The worst thing we can do for ourselves is to remind the accusing angels of the sins we chalked up many years ago, giving them so much more ammunition to use against us in the Heavenly Courts, come Judgment Day.

You see, I have a tendency to do just that. I flail at myself for past sins which I have cried to heaven about, and done tseuvah for. In fact I was going through a bout of past recriminations at that time...going over and over in my head sins that I have done. Though others have discussed the futility and harm of this action with me in the past, it was her words that struck me to the core and made me realize how much harm was being done to myself, and how by these actions I was keeping myself from moving forward in life.

So I want to give thanks to the above for all their help.

There are so many more people who have helped me along the way, but these three stand out for me right now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Who is Wise?

I'm reading a new book, Ethics From Sinai volume 2. I don't know where 1 and 3 are. Perhaps we never had them or they got lost in one of our moves.

But I started reading and became absorbed in the thoughts and decided this is the next step for myself. To go through the book, bit and try and apply it to my life.

The first chapter deals these four questions posed by Ben Zoma:

Who is wise? Who is strong? Who is rich? and Who is honorable?

The answer to the first question is the one I will occupy myself with this Shabbat:

Who is wise?- he who learns from every man, as it is said: From all my teachers have I acquired wisdom. (Tehillim 119:99)
Who have I learned from and what is it I have learned? Why have I learned that?  Could I have learned more? Learned differently? And also important, what have I learned from myself?

And this all answers the question of: Who am I now? Who might I become if I learn as I have been learning? Who might I be if I learn differently? And who do I WANT to become?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who Ya Gonna Please?

Warning, for anyone who reads. This isn't going to be a well thought out post. It is going to be a rant. I'm not going to try and make things nice and pretty...ok?

I'm tired, I'm sick and tired of Israel being criticized all the time. No matter what went down with the flotilla Israel would have been screwed. The media was waiting, with baited breath, for something to happen, and they didn't care what, the people in Gaza don't really matter to them. The INhumanitarians on the ship sure as heck didn't care what happens to the people of Gaza... shipping out of date medicine and equipment. The leaders of Gaza don't give a you know what, what happens to their people. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO GOT THE GAZANS INTO THIS MESS. The only one's who really care are the Israelis (who send aid, and give care in their hospitals to the Gazan population.)

So who of course gets the blame when their soldiers are attacked? ISRAEL.

The only one who cares.

So for me the thing is to stop caring what the world thinks about us. No matter what we do we get blamed. And then we try and defend ourselves from the blame.

Lets stop. We should go on giving basic care to the Gazans, and we should go on defending ourselves against physical attack. But why do we need to please the world? If the like our actions TOUGH.

Who should we please?