Friday, June 27, 2008

My Aura is Blue!!!

(Thanks, Zilla, for sharing this!!!)

Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.

You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A week in the life of a rabbi....

Wow - this has been a crazy, busy week for me. I have barely had a chance to slow down, and I am really looking forward to some free time this weekend.

Since last weekend, I have officiated at just about every Jewish lifecycle event possible. What did I do?

Last Saturday - I officiated at a baby naming ceremony. We held this ritual during our usual Shabbat morning service. I invited the parents up for an aliyah, the honor of blessing the reading of the Torah portion. They recited the blessings before and after my short reading from the week's Torah portion, and then we transitioned into the baby naming ritual. I began with a short introductory reading, then the parents read a list of attributes that they wish for their one year old daughter. I then announced her new Hebrew name in front of the congregation. Everyone wished the family a BIG mazel tov!!

Sunday - I officiated at an unveiling ceremony. This ritual usually takes place about a year after the death of a loved one. Judaism identifies a few stages to our mourning: Shiva, the first seven days following burial; shloshim, the first thirty days following burial; and then the unveiling. The unveiling involves literally uncovering the permanent headstone that will mark the grave. Seeing this tangible proof of a loved one's death is often difficult, but can also provide a sense of closure following the first year of mourning.

Monday - I officiated at a conversion ceremony. I had worked with this gentleman for the last year; I was his guide in his journey towards Judaism. He reached a point of feeling Jewish, inside and out, and was ready to make it official. I convened a Beit Din - a "house of justice" - which was two other Jewish clergy and me. The three of us asked him questions about his journey, encouraging him to reflect on different points of the process. Then we witnessed his immersion in the mikveh, the ritual bath that provides the purification and rebirth into a Jewish life. It was a beautiful morning - inspirational to all of us!

Tuesday - I officiated at a funeral. Luckily, it was for a 99 1/2 year old woman who had a long, full life. These are the least upsetting funerals to perform. Yes, there is certainly a sense of loss, but there is also celebration of a life well-lived. The family and friends present honored her memory with wonderful stories and remembrances. It was a very moving experience.

Wednesday - I led a lunchtime Bible Study group. This group is working its way through the Books of the Prophets in the Hebrew bible, and is currently in I Samuel. We discussed the kingship of Saul, and why he is often thought of in such a negative manner. A very exciting, lively group!

Thursday - my day off. Thank God.

Friday - time to get ready for Shabbat. I truly love Shabbat, but, as a rabbi, it is not quite the day of rest that it is for everyone else. It is more important, I believe, that I am helping to facilitate the sabbath for the congregation. I will be leading the service with our cantor and also giving a sermon. Not sure yet what I will preach about....hmmm......

Saturday - I get to sleep late this weekend (thank goodness for the summer schedule!). Yet, on Saturday night, I will be officiating at a wedding. I love seeing the love sparkle in the eyes of the bride and groom.

Well, as you can see, it has indeed been a full week. I have had almost every single lifecycle event from birth to death in just 8 days. But, boy, does it keep things in perspective! So much to live for, so much to celebrate, so much love to share with others.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I was wondering...

I've noticed that people draw energy in different ways from the seasons of the year, and preferences can be very individual.

What's YOUR favorite season of the year? Why?

I've been waiting for 2 years for Gilad Shalit

Gilad Schalit was born on August 28th,1986, in Nahariya and raised in Mitzpe Hilla in the Western Galilee by his parents Aviva and Noam with his siblings Yoel and Hadas.

At the end of July 2005 Gilad began his military service in a combat unit of the armored corps .
For the two months prior to his kidnapping, he has been on duty guarding and ensuring the security of the settlements around Gaza.

On Sunday, June 25th 2006, in a terrorist attack on an IDF post at Kerem Shalom during which his unit friends have been killed, Gilad was taken captive and has been held since in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

To this day Gilad didn’t receive any visits from an official factor, including the red cross, and there is no reliable information about his well being.

Two years have passed since his abduction. Lets remind everyone that he has yet to come home and demand his quick return.

And, as Ima on the Bima reminds us, he's not the only one. We still await the return of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser as well, both abducted at about the same time.

Oh my goodness - an award!!

I was delightfully surprised to learn that Sandy, over at I Beati, presented me with an award! She was in a particularly giving mood, and she gave many people different awards. I was blessed with the Special Scribe Award, which she said was given to those of us who have unique blogs and things to say. I am so excited to visit some of the other award winning blogs. If you happened to receive one from Sandy, mazel tov! No matter what, please be sure to visit her and see some of the other blogs that she has highlighted.

Thanks, Sandy!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Man plans, God laughs...

Well, my friends, so much for planning ahead - we never made it to the Mermaid Parade. Actually, to be more precise, we made it to where the parade was being held, but never found parking. After about 45 minutes of circling throughout the joy that is Coney Island, NY, we gave up.

During the drive, and the circling, we laughed SO HARD! We were all in "good form," coming up with hilarious comments, movie quotes, funny voices, and perfectly timed reactions. I had a good mix on my iPod, so the music was just right. Despite our disappointment at not making it to the parade, we were still having a great time.

SOOOOOOOOO, Lindsay (my sister), her boyfriend (Dan) my friend (Brooke) and I decided to drive to Williamsburg (also in Brooklyn), and go to a great seafood restaurant that Dan recommended.

Okay, right? That sounds like a good "Plan B." Let's go to some hip restaurant in some hip neighborhood and feel as if the day is still going well.

So, we find our way there, by car, using a subway map. This was definitely a demonstration of our fine skill at navigating (I can't believe it actually worked) - we made it there within a half hour.

Only to find? It was closed until dinner time.


So, at this point, I hadn't eaten since 9am, and it was after 4pm. We found a little cafe right where we had parked, figured out that they were still serving food until 4:30 pm, so we ran to our table, sat down, picked out food, and took a NICE, DEEP BREATH! Phew!!!

What an adventure!!!!!!

I promise to post some picks from the day in my next post :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Will we make it to the Mermaid Parade???

Okay, I need your help here - pray that it doesn't rain here in New York today. Why?

Because today is the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade!!

What is the Mermaid Parade, you ask?

From the website, we learn:

Founded in 1983 by Coney Island USA, the not-for-profit arts organization that also produces the Coney island Circus Sideshow, the Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island's forgotten Mardi Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954, and draws from a host of other sources resulting in a wonderful and wacky event that is unique to Coney Island.

Mermaid ParadeThe Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression. The Parade is characterized by participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed.

I have lived in New York since 2000, and yet, I am so embarrassed to admit, I have never attended a Mermaid Parade. How can this be? I have no excuses. I have missed out on so much silliness!!

Let's hope that the weather holds out. I plan to report back to you all on whether or not our adventure was a success. (And I promise to post pictures!!)

[PS - You know what's REALLY cool about this? I never would have been able to consider attending a parade when my back hurt! It is so great to be feeling so much better!]

Friday, June 20, 2008

Haiku Friday - My first try!

I've read lots of blogs
with Haiku Friday postings
and wanted to join!

If you want to try,
take a trip to this here link
to join the blog roll.

Haiku structure is
so exciting that I could
write them all day long.

However, I know
that you would probably get
quite bored if I did.

I'll stop here for now
having enjoyed the thrill of
starting something new!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I was wondering...

All kinds of things help us fall asleep. What's YOUR bedtime ritual?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Curous as a Cat's Monday Meme

I haven't had a chance to visit Curious as a Cat's wonderful Monday meme site in a while, so I thought I would indulge today. Each week, you are given a set of questions to answer, and a photo to which you can respond. Here goes!

1) In what movie is the most violent scene you've ever seen?

I tend to stay away from movies that are too graphically violent, so this is a tough one. I guess the movie that has haunted me for years since I saw it, and therefore, I haven't seen it again, is Saving Private Ryan. I can't stand all of the gunfire and loss of life in every scene. It is just too painful for me.

2) Of all the people you know, who would make the most successful TV evangelist?

As a rabbi, I find this question to be especially fun to answer. I used to want to be a Jewish televangelist, myself, especially after playing the role of "Reno Sweeney," a traveling evangelist, in my high school's production of the Cole Porter musical, Anything Goes. However, if I had to identify someone else, I would probably pick the former senior rabbi at the synagogue I work at. He has such a commanding presence at the pulpit - he is a true "preacher," and is always incredibly inspiring. I'll bet he could make lots of money if he took it on the road :)

3) Who is the person who most deserves to be rewarded for something?

As of right now, my mom! She has been the hero of the family since my dad's stroke. She is so strong and brave, and even took time out to come to NYC six months ago for my surgery. I wish I could give her some kind of "mom of the year" award - I really believe that she has tapped into an inner strength that, heretofore, she didn't even know she had. I am so proud of her.

4) When was the last time you cried and why?

This morning, as I was watching Meet the Press's tribute to Tim Russert. Within the first few minutes, I was already tearing up as the various journalists remembered this great man. I am so saddened by his death, and I send my thoughts and prayers out to his family.

5) Show and Tell. What comes to mind first when you see this picture? Or, tell a story if it reminds you of one.

This photo reminds me of trips that we used to take to old homesteads - those ones that were meant to recreate homes in the 18th or 19th centuries. We probably had a school field trip to those places every year of elementary school. I remember being both envious of the people who had to pretend to be townsfolk from that time period, while also feeling sorry for them and their job :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Aren't my parents cute? I am so proud to be the daughter of such loving, caring, dedicated, and funny people. My dad still looks at my mom with a sparkle in his eyes and says to her, "You are such a cutie!"

As some of you know, my dad suffered a stroke last fall. It could have been much worse - he had no paralysis. However, the cognitive effects have been very difficult. For a guy who has always been so witty, so quick on his feet, ready with a pun for everything you say - the stroke has been hard to stomach. He gets very frustrated when thinking of a word or phrase becomes a massive endeavor. His energy level has been minimal, and the smallest activities exhaust him. He used to only be able to talk on the phone for two or three minutes at a time.

Luckily, he is now attending an intensive rehab program three days a week. Already, the changes are obvious. He is thinking more quickly, he is making jokes again, and he just, you know, "sounds like himself" again. He is able to speak on the phone for longer amounts of time, and those connections in his brain seem to be, well, working!

It is really scary to think that we may have lost him last September. I am doubly grateful - that he is still here, and that his unique personality has also returned.

Daddy, I love you, and I am filled with gratitude for every day that I get to speak with you and learn from you. Happy Father's Day!

Best Movies with "Twist Endings"

22 "You Got Swerved" Movies - from Entertainment Weekly -

a great interactive article that shares the 22 best "twist" endings in film.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Top 25 Songs (At least, According to My iPod)

Try as I might, it has always been incredibly difficult to figure out my most favorite songs. I mean, how does one really begin to create such a list? Well, it became clear to me recently - what are my most played songs on iTunes? I am going to list them in order, including how many times I've played each song (at least since adding it to iTunes). Perhaps this is the true test. Prepare to learn more about me than you ever have before!

  1. "You are the New Day," The King's Singers (45 times)
  2. "Feel," Robbie Williams (41 times)
  3. "Private Emotion," Ricky Martin and Meja (35 times)
  4. "Something Stupid," Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman (35 times)
  5. "Loves Divine," Seal (35 times)
  6. "Runaway," The Corrs (33 times)
  7. "In Your Eyes," The King's Singers (33 times)
  8. "Yihiyeh Tov (Things Will Get Better)," David Broza (32 times)
  9. "In Your Eyes," Peter Gabriel (32 times)
  10. "My Favourite Game," The Cardigans (31 times)
  11. "Chicago," Sufjan Stevens (31 times)
  12. "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin," Colin Hay (30 times)
  13. "Skye Boat Song," The King's Singers (29 times)
  14. "Looking Through Patient Eyes," P.M. Dawn (29 times)
  15. "Waters of March," Jane Monheit (28 times)
  16. "The Road to Mandalay," Robbie Williams (28 times)
  17. "Here With Me," Dido (27 times)
  18. "Such Great Heights," The Postal Service (27 times)
  19. "Blues Away," Erasure (26 times)
  20. "This Kiss," Faith Hill (25 times)
  21. "Veronica," Elvis Costello (24 times)
  22. "Hallelujah," John Cale (24 times)
  23. "Both Sides Now," Joni Mitchell (24 times)
  24. "Thank You," Led Zeppelin (24 times)
  25. "Quando, Quando, Quando," Michael Buble (24 times)
So, what about you? What's your favorite? Does your iTunes agree? What are your top songs on iTunes?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jeez - it's just a GAME!

Okay - seriously? It's just a game :)

I had the marvelous opportunity to go to the NY Mets game yesterday. The weather was perfect, we had amazing seats (right behind home plate), and we felt good. I was there with some of my most favorite relatives, my cousins from Arizona. Yep, that's right - Arizona. Meaning that they were cheering for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team playing against the NY Mets.

Now, to be fair, they didn't HAVE to wear DBacks t-shirts. And, we didn't have to cheer obnoxiously loud every time the DBacks did something right. And, we didn't have to be there on the third game of the series, which the Dbacks happened to win!!

In full disclosure, I am a Chicago White Sox fan. Thus, I was totally nonpartisan at the game. However, in solidarity with my cousins, I decided to cheer for Arizona.

Then the threats began!

"Wow, are they gonna get stabbed on the subway!"

"Ma'am, that's a dangerous shirt to be wearing!"

"Turn around and don't come in!"

I mean, aren't sports there to help us escape from the stress of our lives, to create group identity, and to have fun? When did it become so verbally (and personally) violent? It's one thing to yell obscenities at the pitcher when he walks yet another batter (and I don't even approve of that). It's another to harass another fan, who is just as allowed to cheer for their team as you are to cheer for yours.

I mean, come on - it's just a game!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Heads or Tails Tuesday: Royal

Well, folks, it is that time again! Heads Or Tails is a weekly meme done on Tuesdays hosted by Skittles. Anyone can play. In fact the more, the merrier! You can visit the Heads or Tails Home Page for more information on how you can join in!

This week's topic/prompt: ROYAL

So, I am so excited to tell you about one of the greatest QUEENS of rock, CYNDI LAUPER!!
She has put together one of the most incredible concert tours of all time, True Colors.

The concert tour, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, Logo Network, PFLAG, and many others, and has very important goals. According to the website,

The goal of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) equality is at the heart of True Colors. From day one, the tour has sought to raise awareness about the discrimination the GLBT community still faces and raise significant funds for the organizations that work everyday on their behalf.

My sister and I attended this concert this past Sunday night, June 1, at the Jones Beach Theater here in New York. It was one of the most positive, wonderful, and celebratory events I have ever attended, nevermind the fact that some of my most favorite performers were there!! The show was hosted by "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's" Carson Kressley, and the line-up was:

  • Mary McBride
  • Kat Deluna - who has a huge hit right now with her song, "Run the Show"
  • The Cliks- who turned "Cry Me a River" into a rock anthem
  • Indigo Girls - their voices have been such an enormous, enduring part of my life, ever since overnight camp campfires, and it was absolutely amazing to see them live (I first saw them live while I was in high school, and hadn't since then). They even sang two of my most favorite songs, "Galileo" and "Closer to Fine."
  • Rosie O'Donnell - we expected stand-up comedy, but were instead treated to moving, beautiful lessons on life, family, and love. She spoke about her mother, who died when Rosie was young, and her children, who continue to teach her every day.
  • The B-52s - they ROCK!! The band puts on such a good show, filled with so much energy and life. "Rock Lobster" will always make me smile.
  • Cyndi Lauper - the QUEEN herself. She sang many of her most famous songs, but I was moved to speechlessness when she sang one of my all-time, most favorite songs, "I Drove All Night."
We laughed, we cried, we sang, we clapped, we danced, we cheered. My sister and I have always believed that we must have been gay men in past lives, so we felt right at home :) The night was closed by a group performance of Cyndi's song, "True Colors." It was beautiful, inspiring, tear-jerking, and empowering. My sister and I held onto each other, smiled, and sang along.

But I see your true colors
shining through
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

If you have a chance to see this tour, or to support any of its important sponsors, I strongly encourage you to do so. As long as there are any groups of people who are not considered equal, or do not have equal rights, then we must continue to strive for equality for all.