Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Leaving (for) Las Vegas!!

Yep, folks, I'm leaving for Las Vegas tomorrow morning. It's so strange - I really never had any desire to go, but, here we are!

My youngest brother, Ricky, turned 21 this year (hooray!), and my other brother, Adam, wanted to take him on a trip to celebrate. After doing some research, they chose Las Vegas.

A few weeks ago, Adam was telling me about their plans to go. All of the sudden, he stops himself and says, "Wait - why aren't you and Lindsay joining us?!?!"

Lindsay and I checked our calendars and we realized that we could totally go - we could plan the first sibling vacation!!

So, now, all four of us are going to Las Vegas, and we are absolutely thrilled. We got tickets to see Penn & Teller (YAY!!!). We've gotten lots of good suggestions of places to go, things to see, and buffets to patronize.

Do you have any suggestions? Any memories of a trip to Vegas that stand out?

Wish us luck - we'll be back $1,000,000 richer!! :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Miracle of Karaoke

So, you know that I am, and have been for some time, a karaoke addict. During rabbinical school, I would often go out for karaoke at least twice a week, and I became good friends with the DJ and other regulars. It was a huge part of my life for years. Now, I still try to go every few months.

However, last night, I witnessed the MIRACLE OF KARAOKE!!

What miracle? Well, I had dinner at a congregant families' home, and it turns out that the husband and wife met at a karaoke bar. They told me the story of how she sang, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and how he was totally smitten from that moment on.

At that point, their son called out: "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for karaoke!"

Yes, folks, karaoke can truly be a miracle, and can bring about life. No, really!

After dinner, we all sat around and sang some karaoke songs ("Torn," "I Gotta Feeling," "I Feel Fine," "Crazy," "Before He Cheats," and more).

Now, I believe in the power of karaoke even more than before. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day of Action for Reproductive Choice!

From the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism....

Ask Congress to Protect Reproductive Health Care!

Today, pro-choice advocates come together for a National Day of Action to stop the anti-choice Stupak-Pitts Amendment and ensure access to reproductive health care in the Senate's health care reform bill. The House-passed health care bill was diminished by the inclusion of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which, if included in the final bill, would deny coverage for abortion services to women covered by the new federal health care plan. We must fight to ensure the Senate bill and final legislation do not restrict access to reproductive health care.

Take Action: Urge your Senators to oppose anti-choice amendments like the Stupak amendment and support comprehensive health care reform. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121 or you can send an email. Please forward this email to pro-choice friends and family! For more information, visit our Day of Action page or contact Legislative Assistant Samuel Lehman at 202.387.2800.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day Blog-a-Thon

Our generation has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. The deadly disease can’t be cured and can be prevented. Yet in the United States and worldwide, young people may not always have the tools they need to protect themselves, including information about and access to health care, condoms and contraception.

Did You Know?

  • Worldwide, almost half of all new infections occur in young people under age 25.
  • In the United States, the rate of new infections among young men of color who have sex with men has almost doubled since 2001.
  • Of the 11.8 million HIV-infected youth worldwide, over seven million are female.
  • Less than one-third of young people worldwide know how to protect themselves from HIV.
Stigma and shame about sex lead to fear of honest conversations about the virus. And poverty, lack of education, sexual violence, stigma, and gender inequality all make young people more vulnerable to HIV infection. Read more about the roles racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty all play in the HIV epidemic and how ignoring prisoners, sex workers and intravenous drug users only helps perpetuate the HIV epidemic.

After almost three decades researchers still have not found a cure for the virus. While the benefits of both abstinence and condoms are scientifically proven, scientists are still exploring an HIV vaccine, microbicides, and male circumcision as ways to prevent HIV.

Yet meanwhile, through abstinence-only programs politicians and far right activists continue to deny young people in the United States and overseas information about proven effective HIV prevention. In the United States, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs censor information about condoms and exclude GLBTQ youth. In developing countries, U.S. policies distort the proven-effective ABC approach to meet an ideological agenda.

We are committed to fighting this epidemic at all levels – by demanding resources from our governments; by working to change social stigma that creates barriers to prevention; by being responsible in our own personal behaviors; and by breaking the silence.

This year for World AIDS Day, Advocates for Youth, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and SIECUS have organized a petition campaign and blog-a-thon on the Amplify website.

From now through December 6th, you can sign the online petition asking President Obama to create an Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that provide the best and most comprehensive services and information to young people worldwide. Our country's HIV/AIDS policy must respect the inherent worth and dignity of those who receive our support by giving them the resources they need to lead whole and healthy lives.

Sign the petition, and check out the blog-a-thon today!

There are many ways that you can commemorate World AIDS Day, including learning more about HIV/AIDS issues in your area and around the world. Unitarian Universalists across the United States and Canada are powerful advocates and educators with the UU Global AIDS Coalition.

Find out what's happening in your own community for World AIDS Day here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beautiful Autumn Moment

Well, so much for NaBloPoMo - I missed a bunch of days due to a wicked stomach flu I had last week. Finally feeling better today, and eating regular food. I think I probably caught something in Toronto or en route.

On my drive in to work this morning, I had such a fun, meaningful, autumn moment - the wind was such that fallen leaves were all over the parkway, and they were blowing in beautiful patterns across the lanes.

At one particular instance, they seemed to be dancing at the exact tempo of the song I was listening to on the radio! They were spinning, leaping, and floating in time with the music.

It was one of those lovely "in tune" moments, where the whole world seems to be jubilant.

Brought a big smile to my face, and it was a great way to start the day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home sick

Bleh, got a stomach flu. Be back soon, all!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November - A Month of Monumental Moments for Marci

On my drive home from work last night, I found myself contemplating all of the huge moments that have taken place, in my life, in the month of November.

A few of them, in chronological order:

1) November 28, 1976: My parents' wedding date! I certainly wouldn't be here without this celebration :)

2) November 4, 1984: The date upon which I "skipped" first grade. I had been in first grade up until that point, but, following months and months of testing and being removed from my classroom, I finally officially entered the second grade. I acclimated easily, both socially and academically, but the true ramifications took years to appreciate. The classmates I "left behind" never really forgave me, and our friendships were strained from then on. I was always younger, and always had to explain why, which became a source of shame (the usual response from the other person was, "Oh, so you're smart or something?"). I wasn't able to feel comfortable with the skipping, on a deep level, until rabbinical school, when I was no longer the youngest person in my class. However, even now, as a rabbi, I am still dealing with being perceived as a "baby rabbi." I am in no rush to be older, at least now, but for years I felt like I had to rush everything.

3) November 11, 1995: The night of the "Screw Your Roommate" Dance at Brandeis, during my freshman year of college. Met my college boyfriend/fiance that night, fell in love, and dated him for the next five years. Learned so much about myself throughout. We split up during my second year of rabbinical school (and never married). Realized that I was most comfortable "mothering" someone, but that this wasn't fair to myself or to the other person. Began to search for a relationship that would allow me to be an equal, and to be cared for by the other person as much as I want to care for my partner.

4) Thanksgiving, 2001: The time during which I traveled out to Arizona to visit one of my best friends, Todd, who later passed away in 2002. The days were idyllic, surrounded by the Southwest US in autumn. Visited the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff (Route 66!!), and celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Phoenix. It was a helpful way to heal from the horrors of 9/11. I will always treasure those precious days.

5) November 7, 2004: As I mentioned a few posts ago, this was the date of my car accident, an ordeal that finally culminated in my successful spinal surgery in December, 2007.

6) November 21, 2009: The date upon which I will fly out to California to visit an old OSRUI friend of mine, Mike. Totally excited to see him, catch up, and enjoy some California sunshine. My first official vacation starting work at my new synagogue. By the way, Mike is a HILARIOUS, TALENTED film critic (in addition to his many other skills - directing, editing, composing, acting, singing, etc.), and you can watch his entertaining reviews on each week's biggest films.

Guess November is, in general, a pretty good month for me :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Funny thing happened on the way to dinner....

Just had a share a really funny thing that happened while in Toronto:

Lindsay had some free time, finally, on Saturday night of the convention. She hadn't been outside of the hotel for DAYS, so we decided to take a walk and find a nice sushi restaurant. The concierge had recommended a place called "Ki," and it would take about ten minutes to walk there.

So, we head off, using one of those helpful "Tourist Map" things that they hand out at the front desk. We got our bearings, walked for a few blocks, and began to feel more and more confident that we were heading in the right direction.

Finally, we got to a street that seemed like the next street we were supposed to turn onto: We were looking for "Bay Street."

However, the street sign read: "Locust Street."


Luckily, there was a policeman right there, so we asked him where Bay Street was.

"Right here," he said.

"What??? But this says, 'Locust Street.'"

He smiled and replied, "Actually, it is Bay Street, but they are filming a movie here, so the crew changed the street signs."

At which point, Lindsay exclaimed, "Wait a minute - how do we know you're a real police officer?!?!"

Laughing, he answered, "I am a real cop, don't worry."

Passers-by were so interested in our conversation, that we had an audience for this whole exchange. With much gratitude to the (real???) cop, we went off on our way and found our restaurant shortly thereafter.

(it's funny that, with all the movie sets in and around NYC all the time, we've never had anything like this happen before!!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back in NYC

Always good to be back in my own bed, with my beautiful kitty cats.

Going to take a nap, so see you soon!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

5 Years Since My Car Accident

Wow, today was five years - how can that be? So much of it feels so recent... Other aspects feel like they've been part of my life forever.

I am so grateful for the healing and rebuilding I've experienced, but I will never be grateful for the accident, the pain, and the suffering. I wish I could've learned these lessons some other way.

What do you appreciate learning in your life?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 6, 2009

Girls on Pop: Everyone Loves a Rabbi

One of my bestest friends, Brooke Tarnoff, is a writer of PopEater, a really fun AOL pop culture website. (Brooke and I were partners-in-crime in college, and we wrote some of the best sketch comedy in the history of the world. Really.) She makes these fabulous podcasts with a group of cool gals who talk all things pop. In the latest episode, Brooke name-drops me throughout! The title, "Everyone loves a rabbi," refers partly to me! Apparently, I need to be giving out "Rabbi Relationship Advice." Crazy!! Check out the video below (I get mentioned around the 15:00 mark).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mini-Update from Biennial

Hello from Toronto!

I'm having so much fun meeting people, running into friends and colleagues, learning and laughing. This gathering is uplifting in so many ways.

It is so amazing to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic, energetic Reform Jews from all over the globe. There is a palpable excitement among the group here - people who feel connected to their faith, friends, and congregations.

Hanging out with my sister tonight - she has some time off, so we will probably try a local restaurant for dinner.

More soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off to Toronto!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

As the Interfaith World Turns....

As part of my new position here in Wantagh, I have had a new, wonderful opportunity to be a part of two local interfaith clergy councils: Massapequa, the location of one of our merged congregations, and Wantagh.

In my previous five years as a rabbi, I hadn't yet had a chance to do much interfaith work. It's not that I wasn't interested; rather, the learning curve of entering the rabbinate was so steep that there was only so much I felt I could do.

Now, as a solo rabbi in a smaller community, I can really get to know the other clergy in the area. And, boy, are they wonderful!! I have already enjoyed meeting other people of faith, who are so dedicated to their religious communities, to helping people on their spiritual quests, and to appreciating a sense of the divine in our lives. The group serves as an important reminder of all that we have in COMMON, rather than the differences that may divide us.

I had lunch yesterday with the current president of the Wantagh Clergy Council, Father Christopher Hofer, who seems to be a clergy person with a very similar M.O.: bringing joy and love back to our religious experiences. Feel free to check out his terrific blog and learn more about him and his community, The Church of St. Jude (Episcopal).

We have a big Interfaith Thanksgiving Service coming up, on Wednesday night, November 22. Our synagogue is hosting this year, and it promises to be a huge event of music, togetherness, and gratitude. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting ready for WRJ Assembly!

In two days, I will be leaving for Toronto for a big convention: the 2009 Women of Reform Judaism Assembly. The Assembly runs side-by-side with the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial, and together, the two events bring together thousands of Reform Jews from all over the world.

These conventions take place every other year, and I haven't been able to attend since 2005's Biennial in Houston. Lindsay, my sister, works for WRJ's national office, so she will be SUPER stressed and busy during the event. However, after hearing about how amazing the Assembly programming has been, year after year, I am really looking forward to attending the women's workshops.

Plus - I was asked to LEAD a workshop, which is always wonderfully exciting. I will leading a program on how to use WRJ's The Torah: A Women's Torah Commentary and the corresponding Study Guides that WRJ has put together for a number of the weekly Torah portions. I highly recommend this text as an invaluable addition to your Torah resources.

I'll be sure to update you from the Assembly/Biennial - stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Here we go - National Blog Posting Month 2009!!!

Thanks to Deb for the beautiful NaBloPoMo badge!

I'm gonna do it, folks!! I am really ready to buckle down and get back to blogging regularly. Honestly, I miss it, and I think that using the structure of NaBloPoMo might just do the trick.

My lovely sister, Lindsay, is concerned that I am taking on too much by committing to a month of blogging, but I love it so much.

Anyone else gonna join me? Let me know, and I will include a post linking to your sites!!

Good luck!

Monday, October 26, 2009

To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo....

That is the question!

I am involved in a big internal debate right now - should I participate, as I did last year, in National Blog Posting Month? Every November, participants can opt in to this special challenge, which encourages us all to blog every day for one month.

Since I have been so remiss as of late, I am thinking of participating, just as a way to get myself back on track.

So, if I do it, will you join me? Who's in????!?!?!?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Weeeeee!!!! Wiiiiii!!!!

Well, I've finally done it. I bought a Wii!!!

I have been hemming and hawing for quite some time now about getting a new videogame console. I have the PS2, which I have had for about five years. I use it often (thought not much over the past few months, what with the new job and the high holidays), and have loved getting the many Guitar Hero games.

However, when I learned about the wonderful world of Wii Fit, I decided that I really had to go out and get one of these machines. Plus, Beatles:Rock Band has come out, and I really wanted a new system in order to get the most out of it.

The Wii arrived yesterday. It is beautiful, and it is so fun to use. Even navigating around the main menu is fun.

I oriented myself on Wii Fit Plus (which just came out a few days ago), and it feels so good! I am delightfully achy this morning. I enjoy its sense of humor and how encouraging it is.

So, do you have a Wii? What are you favorite games? What should I consider buying?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chag Sukkot Sameach! Happy Sukkot!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the temple....

We have another holiday right around the corner! Welcome to the festive holiday of Sukkot. During Sukkot, Jews build booths, or huts, called Sukkot (singular = Sukkah). We are commanded to dwell in them during the seven days of the festival (please note that Conservative and Orthodox Jews observe eight days of the festival). If the weather is good, we are encouraged to sleep, eat, study, and do all of our general, daily activities in the Sukkah.

The Sukkot remind us of our days when we were farmers, and we would have to dwell in temporary shelters along our fields at night. These huts keep us closer to the earth and the heavens above. The roof, covered by branches and leaves, is left open to the sky so that we can see the moon and stars at night.

During this festival, we shake a lulav and an etrog - made up of four species of plants that grow in Israel: Citron, Myrtle, Willow, and Palm. We shake the lulav and the etrog in E, S, W, N and up and down, symbolizing that God is all around us.

This harvest festival is a wonderful way to reconnect with the the beautiful, natural world around us. We watch the leaves starting to change colors, the weather is growing colder, and we are getting ready to hibernate for the winter. But, our tradition helps us spend time outside, out in the world, breathing the fresh air and watching the beauty around us.

Chag Sameach - Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

L'shanah tovah!! Happy New Year!!!

Hello, friends! I hope you are all having a lovely autumn. For those of us Jews, we have been in the midst of the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe. These are the ten days that begin with Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year) and conclude, tonight and tomorrow, with Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance).

This is a time of reflection, contemplation, and reconnection. We are encouraged to return to our true selves - to consider our behavior over the past year and seek to do better in the coming year. We listen to the Shofar blast - the loud sound that comes from a ram's horn. It serves as a wakeup call, forcing us to reach for our highest potential as human and spiritual beings.

I hope that you all have a good and healthy 5770, and that you always feel that you can have a fresh start whenever you most need one.

For a truly new, innovative way of thinking about these ten days, please visit 10Q - they have created meaningful questions, for Jews and non-Jews alike, to contemplate over the past few days. You have the next 72 hours to complete the questions (and they remain confidential). One year from now, they will email you your answers, giving you an opportunity to see how you did this year!

L'shanah tovah tikateivu v'tichateimu - May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Top Ten List

Hello, friends!! During my drive to work today, I heard a song on the radio that NEVER CEASES to break my heart each and every time I hear it. Thus, I have been inspired to create a top ten list: The TOP TEN SONGS THAT BREAK YOUR HEART every time you hear them (or, at least, every time I hear them....).....

1. I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt) - This version is the ultimate in gut-wrenching, sad, heart-breaking songs. The George Michael version is just as sad, but Bonnie takes the cake.

2. All Out of Love (Air Supply) - Ugh, that lyric, "I'm so lost without you." That says it all. And their voices are filled with such pleading...

3. More Than Words Can Say (Alias) - This was one of the first songs that I had to listen to OVER AND OVER in order to figure out the lyrics when I was younger. I would sit there with my boom box, hitting rewind and play, rewind and play, because the words moved me so.

4. I Don't Know How to Love Him (Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack) - Though these words are sung by Mary Magdalene, she is speaking for all women baffled by their partners, not sure what to do with them.

5. Eternal Flame (The Bangles) - It's not the lyrics as much as the beautiful, lullaby quality of the song. I just can't listen without being moved to tears.

6. What it Takes (Aerosmith) - Probably a surprising choice for some of you, but I am all about Monster Ballads sometimes. "Tell me what it takes to let you go" is a thought that I have had to ponder before, and I know there is a universality to its plea.

7. Everytime (Britney Spears) - A stripped-down, simply orchestrated song that allows Britney's voice to float over the piano, singing words like, "I may have made it rain/ please forgive me/ my weakness caused you pain/ and this song's my sorry."

8. You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand) - A classic song, so good for some karaoke melodrama, and it hasn't gotten me through a few breakups. "It used to be so natural/ to talk about forever / but used-to-be's don't matter anymore/ they just lay on the floor/ till we sweep them away." Those poor "used-to-be's!!!"

9. How Deep is Your Love (Bee Gees) - I really need to know!! A surprisingly deep song from the guys primarily known for lighter, disco fare. Love this song. Can't get enough.

10. In the Deep (Bird York) - A song featured heavily in the movie, Crash, this haunting piece both calms you and moves you to tears. "Thought you had all the answers to rest your heart upon. But something happens, don't see it coming, now you can't stop yourself."

What would you add?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Drum Roll, Please




Can you tell I'm excited? I am giving Jenny Craig a break for about a month or so, just as a I transition to the new job (luckily, my weight is staying virtually the same, so not worried). But, I have really been craving a good cardio workout - isn't that crazy? I guess that it means that my body is ready for it. Have I really healed enough? I sure think so!!

So, I joined Bally's online last week, and I went to my local location (near the new synagogue so that it is easy to go from work) yesterday evening. I signed up for my free personal training session, got my official ID card, and I bought a lock. I haven't been to a gym since a little while after my car accident. For awhile there, I tried to keep going (there was this Latin Dance Class that I LOVED), but it got too painful. Eventually, I let my membership lapse. I just couldn't do it.

But, now, I am trying again. I took it really easy yesterday - 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, and 15 minutes on a recumbent bike. Felt so good to be moving my body, listening to my iPod, and taking good care of myself. I kept close eye on my back, and made sure to listen to its signals. If I started feeling any pain, I slowed down or reduced the resistance. I don't feel any pain or soreness today, so I must've done a good job!!

The location also has a pool - my FAVORITE!!! I can't wait to go swim some laps, then relax in the whirlpool. Another great new step in my recovery!!! HOORAY!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A New Synagogue Home!

So excited to be the new rabbi at a wonderful congregation on Long Island (YES, I finally have my own parking space!!! The ultimate luxury!!).

The congregants have been so warm, so welcoming, and have really opened their hearts and souls to me so far. I began last Wednesday, July 1, and I've been slowly becoming more and more acclimated. Friday night was my very first Shabbat worship service with the community, and I am STILL enjoying it. I felt like I ran a marathon, but it was such an amazing feeling - so much love, spirit, and joy. Though the new cantor doesn't officially begin until August, he was our "special guest," and it was just amazing to see how fun it will be leading services with him all the time.

I can't even begin to convey how thrilled I am to be a part of this new congregation. It is a very exciting time for all of us in the community, as we glimpse the exciting possibilities in our collective future.

Hope all is well with you!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Memory of Stephen Tyrone Johns

Please join me in a moment of silence, honoring the memory of Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died heroically yesterday defending the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In my eternal optimism, it is easy to think that everything is okay, that everyone wants peace and tolerance as much as I do. As a rabbi and as a human being, I believe strongly in the value of Tikkun Olam, the repairing of the broken world around us. We are all responsible for making this world a better place, and for helping people strive to be GOOD.

And yet, yesterday's tragic events remind us all to be mindful of the darker side that is ever-present.There are those who are dedicated to hate, to brokenness, to destruction. Here was a presumably lone gunman who was "well-known to the authorities," a man who has served time in prison for domestic terrorism before, yet he was allowed to have a gun and perpetuate hate. He has published unbelievably disgusting books that were both racist and anti-Semitic.

As a rabbi, I always aim for a nechemta, a word of comfort at the end of a teaching. For me, I must turn to a quote from the Holocaust Museum's website, a quote that reminds me that we are all mandated to work for peace:

"On January 27, 1998, Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, delivered a speech to the German Bundestag in which he said 'I come from a people who gave the Ten Commandments to the world. Time has come to strengthen them by three additional ones, which we ought to adopt and commit ourselves to: thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.'"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chag Shavuot Sameach - Happy Shavuot!!

Wishing you all a Chag Shavuot Sameach - a Happy Shavuot.

Shavuot (meaning "weeks") is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving and receiving of Torah - the Five Books of Moses - on Mount Sinai. Why "weeks?" Shavuot falls on the day following the counting of 7 weeks (a week of weeks) since Passover.

So, theoretically, the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt 50 days ago, and they have been on a journey all this time towards the foot of Mount Sinai. These have been their first tastes of freedom in 400 years, and I would imagine that they were scared, elated, confused, and traumatized. Now, they stand as a community and as a new people,below the mountain, and Moses has ascended to receive Torah.

In these few weeks, we move between two of God's greatest acts: the redemption from slavery, and now the revelation at Sinai.

I will be attempting an all-night study session tonight - there is a tradition of "Tikkun Layl Shavuot," in which Jews study texts and learn together all night, until sunrise. I will be attending a terrific session at the local JCC, which is offering study, dance, meditation, learning, and plenty of food and coffee.

Wishing you meaningful moments of learning and revelation in your own lives!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I am decathecting.....


Pronunciation: (dē"ku-thekt'), [key]
to withdraw one's feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in anticipation of a future loss: He decathected from her in order to cope with her impending death.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

Yep, it appears that I am beginning to decathect from my current job. I described it as "senioritis," but then I learned that there is a psychological term for it: to decathect. These have been a really tough few weeks, especially since we held my big "Farewell Shabbat Service" over a week ago. So, like, the congregation said goodbye to me, but I still have a month left before I actually go.

In addition, I am so excited, and so ready, to begin my new position in Wantagh. So many meetings have already taken place, and there are so many wonderful things to come. It is hard to be in this state of limbo - between one place and another. A transitional space, like the Israelites wandering b'midbar - in the wilderness. There is much uncertainty, much mourning for the job that I am leaving, but also much anticipation for the new chapter that is beginning shortly.

So, I am just trying, REALLY hard, to be where I am. To just appreciate the journey, even though it is a long, drawn-out goodbye. I want to appreciate all that this particular synagogue has meant to me, personally and professionally, before I rush to move over to the new one.

Any suggestions?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Boo Hoo, Moo Moo

Well, I've just learned that I am officially banned, for life, from donating blood. Why? Because I have bovine material swimming around inside of me. You may recall that when I had my spinal fusion surgery back in December 2007, the surgeon used cadaver bone, bovine material, and even some synthetic material.

I was hoping to donate as part of my synagogue's big Mitzvah Sunday event - the whole community was coming together to do all kinds of mitzvot (good deeds) to help the temple and the world around us. One of the ways that I was looking forward to participating was to be a good role model by donating blood.

I now learn that those of us lucky enough to have cow parts are not allowed, permanently, to donate blood.

However, when I kvetched about this to my sister, she wisely answered, "Well, which would you rather have? The ability to donate blood, but be in pain? Or your life back and be totally healed?"

Well, when you put it that way.... :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Support Gay Marriage!! Get a Free Sticker!!

After a lot of years of devastating setbacks in the fight for marriage equality, it seems like the country is finally moving in the right direction. With marriage legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine, and the fights going strong in New Hampshire, New York and California, this movement is gaining more momentum every day, and I'm excited, as a woman, a heterosexual, a Jew, and a rabbi, to be a part of it. It is up to each and every one of us to stand up for equality for all!

To that end, I wanted to let you know that CREDO Action is giving away some awesome stickers about supporting gay marriage - I think you'd really like them. I just got mine - if you have a minute, click this link to check out the stickers and get one of your own (for free!).


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Moment for Poetry

"The Earth in Spring" by Judah Halevi (1075-1141)

Then, day by day, her broidered gown

She changes for fresh wonder;

A rich profusion of gay robes

She scatters all around her.

From day to day her flowers' tints

Change quick, like eyes that brighten,

Now white, like pearl, now ruby-red,

Now emerald-green they'll lighten.

Now she turns all pale; from time to time

Red blushes quickly cover her;

She's like a fair, fond bride who pours

Warm kisses on her lover.

The beauty of her bursting spring

So far exceeds my telling,

I think sometimes she pales the stars

That have in heaven their dwelling.

(translated by Nina Davis)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back in the USA

I'm back from Mexico, my friends. I had an incredible time - this was, BY FAR, the nicest place I have ever been, and it will probably always maintain that distinction. The wedding was held at the Banyan Tree Resort in Mayakoba (near Riviera Maya and Cancun). Most unfortunately, many of the guests canceled, but I can certainly understand their fear about traveling to Mexico right now (even the NY Times referenced the difficulty of holding weddings in Mexico right now - the wedding I officiated at was even discussed in the article). But, for me, it was never a question to go. Yes, as you know, I was concerned, and I took many precautions. But, a flu? I'm not scared of a flu.

So, now, let's enjoy some pictures from my trip to paradise....

A picture of one of the many rivers that flow through the property. Each guest had a private villa, with his/her own pool, huge bathroom, king size bed, and more.

The bed, after the housekeeping staff had readied it for sleep. They left a tray with goodies, the remote control, and a robe. Slippers were even set out for me!

The private, outdoor bath. Huge enough for five people. A wall of candles behind it (which I lit), bubble bath, bath salts, and bath oil.... I starred up at the stars as I soaked. Laying in water, next to fire, feeling the air gently blow, outdoors among the earth. All four elements surrounded me. It was a profound, powerful, spiritual moment. Wow.....

The wedding itself went off without a hitch - this was one of the most beautiful couples, and they are so happy together. Everyone there was a mensch, and the couple was clearly enveloped by love and support.

What a treat! And, now, back to work. Wishing you a happy Monday!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oink, Part II

I'm leaving on a jet plane.... and I know when I'll be back again. Sunday!

So, as you know, I am flying to Mexico tomorrow. I am totally excited about the trip to officiate at a beautiful wedding. There's just that whole "pandemic" thing - that "swine flu infesting the world" thing.

But, living here in NYC, I am almost at the point where I feel like the risk is just as bad if I take public transportation around here. There are dozens of confirmed cases here in the five boroughs, and cases all over the country. So, like, I'm at risk no matter what.

I have anti-bacterial wipes, Purell, anti-bacterial spray, clorox wipes, a personal air purifier, and I feel healthy.

I am not checking a bag, which will allow me to exit from the Cancun airport as quickly as possible. I will be able to head right to Riviera Maya, to the resort.

I'll be sure to tweet and post if I can. Wish me luck :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy 61st Birthday, Israel!!

Wishing you a Chag HaAtzmaut Sameach -
Happy Israel Independence Day!

If you would like, feel free to visit a selection of my previous posts on Israel:

13 Things I Love About Israel

Sites and Sights of Israel

My Most Recent Trip to Israel -Day 1

Monday, April 27, 2009


I am a bit freaked out about this swine flu epidemic currently spreading around the world. Usually I don't get caught up in these bits of hysteria, but this time I have good reason to worry: I am flying to Cancun this weekend to officiate at a wedding. Don't get me wrong - I am not at all worried about the wedding itself, and I absolutely adore the wedding couple. And, at any other time, I would be OVERJOYED at the prospect of traveling to Mexico for a destination wedding.

However, I am flying right into the "eye of the storm" when most countries are posting travel advisories and encouraging their citizens to avoid traveling to Mexico.

I am trying to remain in control, though - I purchased a personal air purifier that I should be able to wear on the plane. I am flying into Cancun, then I am whisked away to the resort in Riviera Maya. The wedding is at a brand new resort, so I would hope that it will be impeccably clean. I will carry purell and anti-bacterial wipes with me at all times, and I might even purchase a mask for the flight.

I spoke with my primary care physician this morning, and she said to just wash my hands frequently and keep an eye on how I feel. I hope that I won't need to pay her a visit when I return.

Wish me luck?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day at the Beach

Wishing you all a lovely Sunday. I am writing from the beach on a 90 degree NYC day. It is beautiful, peaceful, and serene. A real-life relaxation CD, right in front of me. The best part? I don't have to be anywhere but right here. Have a great day!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thank goodness it's cloudy today....

Oh my goodness, I have a pretty bad migraine today. It started two nights ago, and it hasn't gone away yet. This is frustrating for me, because they have been so much better over the past year or so. I haven't had one of these "long-term" migraines in a long while.

I went through a period in college where I was battling migraines ALL the time, and I was even on daily, preventative medication at the time. When I went to Israel in 1999-2000 for the first year of rabbinical school, they got much better (a holy land miracle? lol), and never really returned to that level of severity.

The silver lining to today's migraine? Imitrex is now available in GENERIC!! When did that happen? They used to cost $20 a pill (which was awful when I needed them every single day and the insurance company severely limited what they would cover).

So, there's always a bright side - hooray for generic imitrex!!!

Okay, back to my darkened office....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D,C, 2009

Lindsay and me at the Cherry Blossom Festival.
April 6, 2009

(On our road trip out to Chicago for Passover)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jenny Update

Well, hello, all!

To those who celebrated, I hope you had a lovely Passover and Easter. Otherwise, I hope that spring has finally sprung where you live, and that you are enjoying the rebirth of the world around you. I am always inspired by the growth and life taking place around me at this time of year - it reminds me that the same possibility and potential lies within me!

After being away for Pesach (Lindsay, my sister, and I took a road trip out to Chicago for the holiday), I went to Jenny Craig this morning to weigh in. After a week of matzah, I had no idea what to expect. I also hadn't been very focused while away. Sure, I got plenty of activity in, but I didn't really watch what I was eating.

However, there was still good news, which shows me how much my body wants to be losing weight. Latest total weight loss?

I am down

-27.4 lbs!!

Isn't that incredible?!?! I am so close to that darn 30 pound mark. Do you think I might make it this week?

I really, really, really need to refocus. I am feeling SO ambivalent lately about the program, and really not wanting to commit to it any longer. I know that this is just a phase, and I will get through it, but it is so hard. If I hadn't had a loss today, I probably would have just thrown in the towel.... well, that's not necessarily true, but I would have really wanted to.

Okay, it's a new week, and I will try to do my best.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a great weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Birthday!!! (Almost)

Hi, all!!

Tomorrow is my 31st Birthday!! HOORAY!!

As excited as I am, it's kinda a weird number, you know?
Like, 30 was such a big deal, but 31 is just so.... odd.....

Lindsay and I are going out for a fancy-shmancy dinner tonight,
followed by karaoke at Iggy's (of course!!).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grammar Girl's "How to Write a Great Blog Comment"

I'm a big fan of Grammar Girl, a weekly podcast (available on iTunes) by Mignon Fogarty that highlights a different grammatical question or hint each episode. She also posts the transcript of her show on her website, and this one I found particularly relevant (in a "meta" kind of way). I would LOVE to hear your responses to what Grammar Girl has to say about "How to Write a Great Blog Comment." Enjoy!!!


Rule #1 -- Determine Your Motivation

People have different reasons for writing blog comments. What's yours? Are you trying to get the attention of an influential blogger? Drive traffic to your own blog? Establish yourself as an expert on a topic? Do you appreciate the person's work and want to say thank you or brighten his or her day? Do you disagree so strongly with what you're viewing or reading that you simply can't let it stand without a rebuttal? Sometimes, understanding your motivation will help you decide what kind of comment to write.

Rule #2 -- Provide Context

I know as you're writing your comment *you* know what you're responding to -- maybe it's the article or video or maybe it's someone else's comment, but when people come to the page later and read the comments, it isn't always immediately clear what you're talking about. It's most important to provide context when there are a lot of comments. If comments are coming in really fast, for example, yours can get separated from the comment to which you're responding.

For example, instead of just starting out "Humidity is important too!" it's helpful if you start with some context like "User Squiggly1234 has a point about chocolate storage temperature, but has missed one important variable" and then go on to talk about humidity. That way other commenters won’t be confused as to why you started talking about bad hair weather on a post about chocolate.

Rule #3 -- Be Respectful

I shouldn't have to tell you this, but comments that start out "You're an idiot," are laced with profanity, or are just plain disrespectful, undermine the authority of your argument. Nobody gives much credence to an obnoxious troll. So aside from the pleasure you get from annoying people, you're wasting your time writing such comments. Always remember there is a real person reading your comment. It's easy to be mean while hiding behind the anonymity of the Web, but you shouldn't say anything you wouldn't say in person.

Rule #4 -- Make a Point

Sure, most bloggers will lap up short comments like "Wonderful!" "I love it!" and "Thank you," and if all you want to do is express gratitude or brighten their day, comments like that are fine, but you'll make a more lasting impression and a more meaningful contribution to the conversation if you say a bit more. Why is it wonderful? Why did you love it? It's even more important to make a point when you disagree. It's a waste of time to just write "You're wrong," or a longer ranting equivalent. Make sure you include the reason you disagree. It's easier than you think to avoid making a point. Consider the comment "You're spreading lies by saying the ideal temperature for chocolate storage is 28 degrees. At that temperature, the chocolate will go bad." Really, all you've said is "You're wrong." You need to say *why* the temperature is wrong. Say what temperature is better and why. Maybe say where you get your information. Is it based on your experience, the recommendations of the Chocolate Storage Association, or just your own wild guess? Make a point.

Rule #5 -- Know What You're Talking About

When I read comments I’m always amazed by how many people admit (admit!) they have no idea what they're talking about and then go on to make recommendations, suppositions, or write long rambling analyses based on nothing more than a pure guess. I swear I've read comments like "I've never worked with chocolate before, but I think 29 degrees would be better than 28 degrees." That kind of comment is not the way to get positive attention from an influential blogger or establish yourself as an expert. If you have a question the author didn't answer about why 28 degrees is best, it's fine to ask; but when you're commenting about something that's based in facts, you're not adding anything useful when you write comments based on your intuition. You're not under orders to comment on everything you read. Save your time for commenting about things where you can actually say something useful.

Rule #6 -- Make One Point per Comment

People have short attention spans, and in my experience attention spans are shorter on the Web and even shorter when people are skimming comments. A comment should be just that -- a comment -- not a manifesto. If you have something so complex and important to say that you can't do it in a few short paragraphs, start your own blog. If you have two separate things to say about the video, photo, or blog post, it's usually better to break it up into two separate comments. Remember, people are often skimming.

Rule #7 -- Keep it Short

This is really an extension of Rule 6, make one point, but since it's possible to go on and on about one point, I thought I'd also remind you to keep your comments short. Again, it's a comment, not your own blog post.

Rule #8 – Link Carefully

If you're posting a comment with the hope of driving traffic to your own site, think carefully before you include a link in your comment. Of course you should include your link if the comment box has a place for it, but leaving a link in the body of your comment is a risky thing. Many people think it's great marketing, but a minority of people think it's obnoxious and pushy.* If you decide to do it, make sure you've written a thoughtful comment that truly contributes to the conversation on the owner's site, not a useless comment that's just a transparent excuse to leave your link. It's also considered more acceptable if your link points to something you wrote that's relevant to the conversation, not just a link to your general landing page.

Rule #9 -- Proofread

I know it's hard; those boxes in which you write comments can be tiny, and they usually don't include a spellchecker. But proofreading is important because if you have a lot of typos or misspellings, it undermines your authority. Any troll who disagrees with you can just say, "What do you know about chocolate storage, you can't even spell 'their.'" If you have trouble proofreading on the Web, write your comment in a word processor where you can see the whole thing and run it through spellcheck, and then paste it into the comment box.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shining the Mirror on Ourselves

An excerpt from my sermon last Friday night:

It may surprise you to learn that mirrors, and objects used for reflecting, have been such an enduring part of the human experience. In this week's Torah portion, a combined parasha entitled Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses and the Israelites are completing the building of the Tabernacle as their continue their desert wanderings. Throughout the process, Moses has requested that the men and women bring items from their households to contribute to the building. They've brought linens, threads of various colors, gold, silver and copper, and even animal skins. In Exodus chapter 38, verse 8, when a holy wash basin is being described, the text tells us, "Moses made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting." These mirrors, made of copper, must have been highly valued in the Biblical world. The comment about their inclusion, seemingly minor, inspired Rashi, one of our greatest commentators, to share a fascinating midrash about women and their role in the evolving Israelite community.

Rashi brings the explanation that when the women first brought the copper mirrors as a contribution, Moses was reluctant to accept them. The reason is because, in Moses' view, they incited vanity and superficiality. God, however, told Moses to accept those mirrors and that they were indeed very special - in the following way. Those very same mirrors had been instrumental in the creation of the Israelite nation. How? You are going to love this. God told Moses that, in Egypt, the men had come home exhausted from their back-breaking work, and the women used mirrors to help them to present themselves to their husbands in an enticing manner, leading to increased procreation... Thus the Israelites continued to increase in number under the slavery in Egypt.

Because of mirrors, the people of Israel survived their enslavement!

But what about Moses' original concern – that mirrors inspire vanity and superficiality, like the story of Narcissus. Mirrors are able to disclose a kind of truth about the one who gazes into it. There are even superstitions that focus on the mirror seemingly absorbing a piece of your soul when you gaze into the glass. But, perhaps the truth telling can help us become better people.

An old Jewish legend tells of a rabbi who traveled to a village where only a single, poor Jew lived. Although destitute, the Jew opened his house to him, shared his meager meal, and apologized that he couldn't show more honor to his guest. Upon leaving, the rabbi blessed his host and wished him well. Thereafter, the poor man's lot improved so much that he soon became the wealthiest man in the village. He even hired a guard to keep away the beggars from clamoring for tzedakah (charity).

When the rabbi returned a year later, he had to plead with the guard to let him see his master,and then he was rudely ushered into the house and made to wait. When at last the man appeared, the rabbi asked him: "Look through the window. What do you see?"

"People going about their affairs," answered the man.

"Now look in your mirror. What do you see?"

"Only myself."

"The window and the mirror are both made of glass," observed the rabbi.

"The only difference between them is a silver coating. It's time to remove it."

Shocked and sobered by the rabbi's words, the man promised to change his miserly ways from that day forth.

The Israelite women teach us a very important lesson when they bring forth mirrors as their contribution to the tabernacle.

- Each of us has something to contribute to our community, and it is not up to us to judge the relative merits of the contribution.

- Mirrors, when used for selfish vanity, can keep us from seeing the world around us, but when they are used to help us create something sacred and open, they can help us make the world a better place.

In this current economic climate, these two lessons ring even more true. Each one of us has something to contribute, and it might not always be the most obvious offering. Your time, wisdom, enthusiasm, support, and love can be as valuable, and usually even more valuable, to your friends, family, and community, than your checkbook. Just because you can't give money doesn't mean that your contribution isn't important to those around you.

Also, for those among us who may not be hit as hard by the crisis, please do not let that layer of silver keep you from seeing those outside who may need your help. Open the window and share some of your silver with those who are without.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sites and Sights of Israel

Had a great time with those of my classmates who were able to attend the conference in Jerusalem. We celebrated five years since we were ordained! Here, we are giving the typical Israeli hand-gesture which means, "Wait!"

I spent Shabbat in a community called Modi'in, with old family friends of ours. After a wonderful Shabbat service at Kehillat Yozma, I was able to join our friends for a delicious, fun dinner.

A frequent graffiti spotted throughout the country: Am Yisrael Chai - The People of Israel live.

Crazy piles of paprika! At a spice shop in Tel Aviv.

Entrances to the courtrooms at the Israel Supreme Court (located in Jerusalem). Designed to invoke the ancient gates of the Old City, at which the judges would sit and adjudicate.

The Sabra cactus (what we call a Prickly Pear) - Israelis are called Sabras because they can be prickly on the outside, but are sweet and soft on the outside.

A picture of a mountainside village in the Golan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jenny Update!

Well, a quick update for those of you who follow my Jenny Craig chronicles. I hadn't weighed in for a few weeks (mostly because of the Israel trip - I didn't want to worry too much about my eating while I was there). Then, it was really hard to get back on track when I returned. I don't know what I was afraid of - but it was so difficult to get up the momentum to go back and weigh in.

I suppose I was scared that all of my hard work, and all of my success, would be so fleeting - that I would come back, weigh in, and find that I had gained it all back. An irrational fear, I know, but my weight loss attempts in the past have never worked. I have a sense of impending doom - like, when it is all going to stop working?

Luckily, I decided to "bite the bullet" - before the triple b'nai mitzvah service I had on Saturday morning, I drove over to Jenny Craig to see if they were open. And they were. I didn't have an appointment, so I just walked in and asked if I could weigh myself. They said yes, and that I could just add the information to my folder.

So, I walked over to the scale, took off my shoes and jacket, and stepped up....

And I was down!!!

So, the new grand total weight loss?

27.2 pounds lost!!

How can this be? I was looking forward to the big "25" pound milestone, and I blew right past it!! I guess I am really internalizing a lot of the new skills I am learning, and I am making lots of good choices. I'm going to keep going, and I hope that this is going to last!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hello to Wantagh!

Shalom, all!

Those of you who aren't from New York are probably asking, "Who/What is Wantagh?" Well, it is a lovely community on the South Shore of Long Island. It is known as the gateway to Jones Beach (quite a fun beach, with a fabulous concert pavilion - that's where I saw the True Colors Concert Tour last year).

It is also the site of my NEW JOB!!!

Yes, my friends, I will soon have a new position. I will be in NYC at my current congregation until the end of June, then I will be becoming the rabbi of a warm, welcoming community in Wantagh. As we get closer to July 1, I will share with you more about the transition, my excitement, the bittersweet nature of leaving my current congregation, and all of the rest.

This is the major reason that I haven't been posting much lately, but I couldn't tell you about it just yet. I have been heavily involved in interviews since November/December, and I really wasn't sure where in the country I would wind up. I was primarily focusing my job search in the Chicago and the NY areas, though I interviewed in many other locations just to spread a wide net.

And, for some reason, a divine hand is keeping me here in New York. I have felt such an incredible sense of homecoming with this new congregation. It already seems like it is a match made in heaven (literally!!).

(I also learned that a number of my new congregants have been reading my blog - so, hello to you!! Leave a comment and let me know that you stopped by!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 1 in Israel

Shalom from Israel!

I departed from JFK Airport on Saturday night, flew for 10 hours and landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last night. It was an emotional journey during which I reflected on my two past trips to Israel (I lived here for a year in 1999-2000, then visited again in 2005).

During the first trip, I learned so much - it was the first year of my rabbinical school training (which was five years total). I was engaged at the time, so much of the year was spent pining for my fiance at home (we split up soon after I returned to the States).

Last time I was here, it was very soon after my car accident. I was in so much pain the entire time, and there was so much I couldn't do. I spent much of the trip on the bus, waiting for the group to return.

I am going to post pics soon (it's not working right now, for some reason). Will update more tomorrow!!

This time - I'm healthy!!

When I arrived last night, I said a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. It felt like a homecoming. I was surrounded by people speaking Hebrew, I rented a "pelaphone" (Hebrew for cellphone), and I was on my way to Jerusalem. It was dark and rainy out, so I really didn't get to see much of the landscape.

I am here for our annual Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention (the main Reform rabbi professional organization). Last year was in Cincinnati, and this year is in Jerusalem. BIG DIFFERENCE!!! :)

Today, however, I took a day trip with some of my colleagues to the Galilee. Specifically, we visited a site called Beit Shearim, a very famous burial site in Jewish tradition (one of our Talmudic sages of the 2nd century, Judah HaNasi, is buried there). We then traveled to Tzippori, another famous town very close to Nazareth and Megiddo, where the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court during the first two centuries CE) once sat before moving to Tiberias.

In Tzippori, we saw the most incredible mosaics - they were found on the floors of excavated 6th century synagogues. They depict images of the Bible, such as Abraham's binding of Isaac, images of Aaron becoming the High Priest, as well as big ole Zodiac. I am fascinated by the Zodiac, because it shows that the Jews were quite influenced by the outside Hellenistic culture and that they adopted some its beliefs/art.

Happy Blogoversary to Me!!!

By the way,

TODAY IS MY BLOGOVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe that I have been blogging for TWO YEARS! How has that happened?

Which leads me to ask -

What is something amazing that YOU have accomplished over the last two years?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

All kinds of updates

Hello, all!!

Yes, it's your lovable old pal, Marci, checking in after a brief hiatus. My life has been on a non-stop path of stress and chaos - not always of a negative nature, but just requiring a lot of time and energy. No matter what, as you would imagine, there is a lot to catch you up on!

First cool thing: I am going to Israel in two days!! You've heard me mention this upcoming trip, and I can't believe that it is almost here! I hope to be blogging about the trip while I am there (at the request of my dear friend, Andi). I will post pictures of my adventures - we are primarily in Jerusalem for the convention, but there are a few trips to Tel Aviv and other communities throughout. I also will be sure to take pictures of the fun times with friends and classmates, including Rabbi Phyllis Sommer (have to travel to the other side of the planet to see her!).

Second cool thing: My Jenny Craig adventures continue to go really well! My latest weight loss total is 24.2 lbs - so close to that 25 pound mark!! I will do my best while in Israel, while not driving myself crazy. But, it continues to be a success, and people are really starting to notice that I look thinner. Woohoo!!

Third cool thing: I had a passport adventure this morning. My passport doesn't expire until the end of April, so I assumed that it was going to be fine for my 10 days in Israel. Yeah, it turns out that it isn't okay at all - your passport needs to be valid for at least six months past your travel dates. When did I figure that part out? On Tuesday!!! and I leave SATURDAY!!! I have to tell you, I am so grateful that the US Department of State offers same-day passports (which costs a pretty penny, but is still available nonetheless) as long as you travel to very specific locations. I called the NYC location first - they didn't have an appointment available until NEXT WEDNESDAY!!! Yep, that wouldn't really help :) So, I looked around on the government's website, and there is a site in Norwalk, CT, which had an appointment available this morning. Thank goodness! So, I shlepped up there, went through the whole routine of standing in various lines, waiting for my number to be called, and finally, after 2 1/2 hours, received my brand-new passport.

This one doesn't expire until 2019. I remember when I got my soon-to-expire passport back in 1999 - I was preparing to leave for rabbinical school (the first year is in Jerusalem), standing at a major precipice in my life, not knowing what was to come over the years to come. I was also struck by the fact that that passport would expire in 2009 - when I would be nearly 31 years old, when I would be five years into my career as a rabbi, and, I hoped, married with kids. Well, the married with kids part hasn't panned out just yet, but I am so happy with where I am. I am healthy, out of pain, enjoying my career, and living with my sister. There are wonderful, profound adventures around every corner. I wonder what will happen between now and the next time I have to renew my passport!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jenny Mini-Update

In the craziness of last week, I didn't get to update you on my Jenny progress. I was so overjoyed about the new administration, so I forgot to post my weekly update.

This is a mini-update about a mini-loss :)

0.4 lbs

for a total of

21.0 pounds lost!

Hooray!! Can't wait to see how it goes this week!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lindsay is Graduating!

Hello, all! I hope you are having a great weekend, and that you are feeling refreshed and renewed before the new week begins tomorrow.

Please join me in wishing a big CONGRATULATIONS to my sister, Lindsay! She is graduating tomorrow night from her Massage Therapy Program at Swedish Institute in New York City.

For the past two and a half years, Lindsay has been attending school part-time, while still working full time. She seems to have a true gift for the healing professions, and I am so proud of her for pursuing something that she felt so drawn to. She has a real sense of the body, and inherently understands both western and eastern approaches to health. Lindsay is very intuitive about where you might be hurting, and how to best help you. If it hadn't been for her and her wisdom, I don't know how I would have made it through my years of pain.

She took her licensing exam last Thursday, and now we are waiting the 6-8 weeks until she receives her score. Then she will figure out what is next for her massage career.

Our parents are arriving in town tonight, and one of my brothers is flying in tomorrow morning. It's gonna be a great time, celebrating Lindsay and her amazing accomplishment.

Mazel tov, Lindsay!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Happy Inauguration Day!!!
Hooray for Obama!!!
Hooray for America!!!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Love About Israel

The situation in Israel and Gaza is so difficult and painful right now. In solidarity with and support of Israel, I decided to dedicate a Thursday Thirteen post to the State and People of Israel.

13 Things I Love about Israel:

  1. Landing at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, walking off of the El Al airplane, and knowing that I am standing on holy ground. There is nothing like that first moment back in the country.
  2. My first falafel sandwich in Jerusalem. Yes, I eat Middle Eastern food the rest of the time, but nothing ever tastes quite as good as the falafel in Jerusalem.
  3. A visit to the Western Wall, in Jerusalem's Old City. I walk up to the wall, knowing that myriads have stood there before me, and I gently lay my forehead onto the cool bricks. I feel closer to God there, and I feel that my prayers reach God differently as I stand at the holy site.
  4. Laying on the beach in Tel Aviv. You rent a lounge chair, set up an umbrella, and soak in the rays on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. There is nothing like the feeling of the sun in the Middle East - I got freckles there for the first time (I know, not necessarily a good thing).
  5. Visiting the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. The Israel Museum contains a beautiful mix of antiquities, art, sculpture, history, and fun. I try to visit every time I am in the country.
  6. I love putting on my sandals and my bathing-suit, then slowly walking into the healing waters of the Dead Sea. The deepest part of the Dead Sea is over 2300 feet below sea level! Why is it called the Dead Sea? Well, the water is so high in salt and minerals that virtually nothing can survive in it. It is not deadly to us, though, if we want to float in it and enjoy the minerals and mud!
  7. There are few places as incredible as Masada, a desert fortress atop a mountain near the Dead Sea. According to legend, a Jewish community fled from Roman conquerors around the year 70 CE to the top of the mountain, survived for a short time, then decided to commit suicide rather than be captured. Though the story is bleak, the site now represents survival and bravery. Many Jewish teens climb the mountain in the middle of the night, and then watch the sunrise from the top.
  8. There is a great water park (yeah, I love these things) in Tiberias, right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Hof Gai, as the park is called, is one of many fun places to visit in the city of Tiberias. Tiberias is a holy site to both Jews and Christians, and there is much to do there. But, yes, I love the water park!
  9. I love taking my time on Saturday afternoons, part of the Jewish sabbath. In Israel, for some reason, I am able to observe Shabbat more easily. I find it easier to take the time I need for myself, for friends and family, and for a closer connection with the Divine all around me. My friends and I used to go to a park, bring a picnic and a frisbee, and we would spend the whole day playing, resting, and chatting. What could be better?
  10. Wanna have the best milkshake in your life? Visit Yotvata, a restaurant in Tel Aviv that carries, by far, the best dairy products you will ever taste. Kibbutz Yotvata, in the Negev Desert, sells its dairy all over the country, but dining at the restaurant provides a fun way to enjoy it. Once seated, everyone gets a free taste of the fruit smoothie of your choice. Once you taste it, there is no going back! Ice cream, milkshakes, cheese - nothing compares anywhere else in the world.
  11. As difficult as a visit is, I find it crucial to visit Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial museum. Nearly every step is gut-wrenching, and you find yourself near tears throughout, but you are also inspired by tales of bravery, courage, and endurance. Somehow, the Jewish people survived, and visitors to Yad Vashem exit the museum and find themselves standing overlooking a lush, green Jerusalem forest. There are, indeed, miracles.
  12. Deep in the Old City, in Jerusalem, is one of my most favorite sites: the Arab Shuk. Through twisting sidewalks and alleys, you wander through shops and storefronts of every shape, size, and scent. You can find pretty much anything on these streets, you can make new friends, eat delicious foods, get invited for tea, or get a GREAT bargain. Some of my most beloved scarves and jewelry pieces are from my excursions to the Arab Shuk.
  13. Last, but certainly not least, I love that Israel is my home. I knew it the very first moment I landed there - my soul was returning to its source. There are parts of my heart that are forever in the East, in Jerusalem, with my Israeli brothers and sisters.
And, you? If you have been there, what do you love? If you haven't, what do you most wish to see?