Monday, February 26, 2007

Studying Hebrew with Mom

I'm sitting on the phone with my mother right now, and she is proudly studying her Biblical Hebrew. I am so happy for her - she has worked so hard towards becoming a certified Cantor in the Reform Movement. She only has 7 more topics to pass before she completes this extensive and challenging program.

After working as a cantor in our home synagogue for over 20 years, she longs so desperately to have the TITLE to go along with the holy work she has done for so many years. She is such an inspiration to me - I really credit her with much of my decision to become a rabbi. Because of her, I grew up feeling like the synagogue was my second home, and my family was always there. There were so many times, while I was growing up, that I would be at the temple every single day of the week.

Which leads me to so many of the things that, together, culminated in my becoming a rabbi.

1) Celebrating Shabbat together as a family every Friday night.
2) Attending synagogue, as a family, frequently
3) Attending religious school from pre-school age until High School Graduation.
4) Participation in youth group, both TYG and CFTY
5) Summers at OSRUI
6) Lots of Jewish friends

And then there are all the interests that come together in my career -
1) Education
2) Psychology
3) Theatre
4) Music
5) Judaism (of course)

Guess I'm in the right place! Now we just have to get my mom to finish up her certification program and finally be able to call herself a CANTOR.

Let's wish her luck!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Art of Losing...

A poem by Elizabeth Bishop for today - this one tears at my heart and permeates my every cell when I read it. It gets inside me in way that I cannot explain. Especially the last line, with the parenthetical "Write it!" - oy.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something everyday. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these things will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bereshit - Beginning a new blog

A brand new blog - where to begin?

I feel compelled to begin a site that will contain many of the poems, quotes, readings, and general musings that are meaningful to me. With luck, these texts might just be meaningful to others, as well. I also figured that I might just find some like-minded souls, searching for answers, wrestling with faith and divinity (which is our birthright as Jews), and just trying to understand why it is that we are here.

I called this Blog "Spirituality and Stuff" because, I should warn you, I do indeed have the tendency to move seamlessly between sacred and profane, holy discussions and pop culture references. Just wanted to get that out in the open from the start.

I sit here at my desk, getting ready for Shabbat, and I am currently reading The Law of Attraction, by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I am a bit skeptical about the method which they use to hear from "Abraham," the group of higher beings that deliver the teachings included in the book (various ways of communicating, like using a typewriter, following Esther's bouncing nose, and then simple channeling through speech).

However, once I got past the details of how the messages were received, I reached the pearls of wisdom. The book is incredibly inspirational - it focuses on how to draw exactly what you want towards yourself. Thinking deliberately, focusing on all the goodness, blessings, and wishes that you want for this life, enables these things to actually occur in your life. And, I have to tell you, it's already working. Strange coincidences (or, at least, what seem like coincidences) keep happening. Weird, eh? I'll tell you more about those another time.

For now, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Debbie Perlman, in her book Flames to Heaven: New Psalms for Healing and Praise:

From "Thirty-Two - A Song of Endings and Beginnings"

...Let us sing of our completions.
Your hand hovers, blesses,
Bids us move to new beginnings.
Your hand moves us forward,
Toward unimagined completions.