The (surprisingly complicated) invitation list

So, I found this woman:

The (surprisingly complicated) invitation list.

While I was looking for design ideas for my own bat mitzvah invitations. I think I’m going to keep reading her blog, because she seems to be articulating well my own reasons for having a bat mitzvah.

It’s April, 2013 – my own Bat Mitzvah is set for August 10th, 2013. I met with my trope tutor yesterday, and we’re going to start working together next week.

I’m 30 years old. When I was 12, I didn’t feel I had the right kavanah towards having a bat mitzvah. Now, at 30, and wanting to have kids sometime over the next couple of years, I want to undertake this rite.

I like the above blogger’s image of, “I wanted to know that, if I were the only adult Jew left standing after some Holocaust-like disaster, I could lead a Shabbat service. I wanted to feel like I had earned my tallit.”

I haven’t talked about the tallit much, but it’s very common in my shul for both men and women to wear talliot and kippot. While I’ve covered my hair from the start, I sat down and had a think about the tallit. I came to the decision that I would not wear one until I have had my bat mitvah. Traditionally, the tallit is conferred to a person during their bat/bar mitvah.

Part of the process of preparing for a bat mitzvah, is learning what it is to be a Jew. To take responsibility for one’s own religion, and one’s own religious knowledge, culture, and history.

I want to be able to pass that down to my own kids, but to do that effectively I need to understand it more intrinsically myself.

Long term, I hope my bat mitzvah will be the first step on a journey towards a Master’s in comparative theology and eventually ordination into the rabbinate. But that’s a long way off – I’ve got two thirds of a lifetime left to accomplish those goals.

In the meantime, I get to design some invitations, and prepare to lead my first Shabbos service. Hopefully, the first of many.

Water, Water Everywhere…

My father lay in bed reading from his kindle by the light of the bedside lamp. I came in to say good night. I was thirsty, and borrowed the glass from the bedside. I walked into the en suite bathroom, poured myself a glass of water and drank it. It seemed to have no effect on my thirst, so I filled another glass and drank that, too. Still no effect. I looked carefully at the tap as I filled another one, and verified that there was water going from the tap to the glass, and the glass into me. I peered carefully at the water through the transparent glass. There seemed to be little spores floating in it. Concerned I looked around, and saw my mother had placed a large vase of orchids near the sink, some plant detritus must be falling into the glass.

I drank the water. Still thirsty. I drank more. Still thirsty…I woke with the realization that I would never be able to slake a real thirst with dream water. That if I stayed in the dream, continuing to drink in a way that lacked context, or meaning—intention, kavanah, I would eventually die. That abortion is what results from sex without kavanah. Death, whether literal or soul death, results from action without meaning. (Or, in the case of murder, from flawed intention) Both mother and child die of thirst.

There’s more, Freud would have a field day. My father (not naked), in bed but on my mother’s side. The orchids (vaginas), the spores (sperm that flow into and through me but do not germinate), and water—always life source, wellspring…and Miriam’s well which kept us all alive in the desert.

I am conflicted. I am pro-choice, but the strength of Graham’s convictions confuse me and make me uncomfortable. This tension between strong personalities is being played out in my dreams. I am not really sure what Shekhinah is trying to tell me here.

I also don’t want to have this debate in this forum, but I did want to share the dream.

Unconditional Love

Response to, “Spirituality in a Love Relationship” Philosopher’s Cafe at Or Shalom

When I was a kid, I once tried to express to my best friend that I loved her unconditionally. I told her that she was a wonderful person, that she had a strong intellect, a beautiful mind. She shot back at me, “What would you do if I lost my mind?” Initially I was stumped, but after I saw, “What Dreams May Come?” with her, I had an answer: “I’d do whatever it took to help you regain it.”

That conversation turned out to be prophetic. In high school she developed both anorexia nervosa and bulimia (she was indiscriminate – if it was easier to not eat, she wouldn’t eat. If it was easier to pretend to eat, and throw up afterwards, she’d do that.). For several years I watched the disease take over, degrade and defile her body, suppress her intellect, disguise her wit, bury her beautiful mind. I watched the disease lie to me about the progress she was making, about when she had and hadn’t eaten. I watched her hoard and consume food, and caught her throwing it up afterwards. I watched her, somehow, miraculously, come back from three suicide attempts – none of which she told me about until after the fact. I gave her all the help I knew how to give – I bought her food, I enrolled her in welfare, I helped her find jobs she never stayed in for long.

Gradually, I came to realize that I couldn’t help her, that I needed to let her find her own way back. I began to see that my childhood pledge to help her regain her own mind was naive. That unconditional love is as much about self-care as it is about caring for the other. To preserve my own mind, to heal and nurture my own strength and soul, I had to let her go.

She met a boy. He has his own troubles and is sick a lot, but they depend on each other. They live together now, and they’re both slowly finishing their education and getting back into the job market while living on disability.

Unconditional love doesn’t have much to do with the blind adoration of puppies, “We’re going for a walk – my favourite thing!” “You gave me kibbles – my favourite thing!” “I’m going to eat your slipper now – my favourite thing!” It has the same problems as the word, ‘equality’. Equality doesn’t mean treating everyone equally, it means ensuring each person has their needs addressed and supported. Unconditional love means knowing when to step in, and when to let go. When to give of your own resources, and when to take time for yourself. That goes for every love relationship as well – sometimes the people we love the most, are the people we’re least suited to live with. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we find the ones we can live with, and with them create a family and a home.


Strange random thought of the day:

Yesterday, I extended my Or Shalom membership out for another year – 2013, and today I booked my next blood donation appointment. In about an hour I’m going to go help take down part of my shul’s Sukkah. In this past week, I helped sell KoC raffle tickets. A couple of weeks ago, I donated Tzdakah and food for the food bank on Yom Kippur. (and more, which I’m not going to list to keep it anonymous. I’m only listing what you already know about)

Yet, while I was booking my blood donation appointment, an ad on another website is imploring me to sponsor a child.

One can’t do everything for everyone, for every cause, and yet at times it seems prejudiced or selfish to support one cause over another. Maybe that’s what the perspective shift on tikkum olam (heal the world) is supposed to be about – no one person can heal the whole world, each person has to pick which of the four corners to work on, and be reconciled to never touching the others, and trust to Him that someone else will take care of them.

Still, it is hard not to focus on what we’re neglecting, and work on what we can.

Another Friend’s Thoughts on Yom Kippur

Learning to Return to myself

“So this is my Yom Kippur prayer this year. May I learn to accept and embrace the person I am, even if I do not know who she is yet. May I have the strength and the courage to forgive myself for the wrongdoings that I have committed against myself in the past, or will commit against myself in the future. May my teshuvah be sincere, and may it bring me closer to knowledge of my own truth. May I learn to recognize and to listen to the kol d’mamah dakah within me, and may I write my own Book of Life in that voice this year. May I love myself, may I remember that I am loved, and may I be at peace. Kein yehi ratzon—may this be so.”

Learning to return to myself.