The year was 2008, and I was eight years old.
Politics was a grown-up term that I didn’t know much about, other than a few names: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain. Although the real meaning of the election was lost on me, my parents encouraged my brother and me to formulate opinions about the world. However, there was something standing in my way of deciding who to cheer on. Being a young child, I idolized my parents and pretty much went along with whatever they said. This time, though, my mom supported Hillary, and my dad supported Obama. What to do?
Maybe politicians sacrifice authenticity for popularity, and prophets sacrifice efficacy for moral purity. Maybe politicians choose their paychecks over their values and prophets choose radicalness over relatability. Maybe politicians are too quick to resort to “business as usual.” Maybe prophets are too quick to isolate themselves.
The camp's philosophy regarding Jewish religious observance is both rigorous– campers are expected to observe the laws of kashrut and Shabbat– and egalitarian...Encouraging girls and women to wrap tefillin at places like Camp Ramah seems long overdue.
Recently, the Pew Research Center has found that in 2013, 47% of adults, ages 40-59, had both a parent who was sixty-five or older and children they were still financially supporting. This group, called the “Sandwich Generation,” will only grow larger as people live longer and have children later. The responsibility of taking care of elderly parents often falls on daughters who are also mothers and professionals.
On July 28, I watched, with tears in my eyes, as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Whatever your politics—this is not a political post—it was incredible to watch another glass ceiling shatter and heartwarming to imagine what this moment will mean for all of the young girls, staying up late to hear Clinton’s speech.
This summer, paranormal activity gets a new set of adversaries as four awkward and highly intelligent women come together to prove not only that ghosts are real, but that women are capable of rebooting a previously all-male franchise.
A few weeks ago, I found myself eyeing a pair of socks decorated with typewriters. I used to love stuff like this, I thought, Why don’t I wear crazy socks anymore?
Oh yeah, I remembered, I’m a rabbi now.
But as I prepared to place the socks back on the rack, I wondered, Why can’t a rabbi wear crazy socks? More importantly, Why can’t I, as a rabbi, wear crazy socks?
Although I never met him in person, I felt Elie Wiesel was the voice of my own suffering and sorrow; I, too, had fled a repressive regime, leaving home and family behind. I saw in him the possibility of taking my misery and translating it into a hopeful future where humanity could work together and embrace the common good.
After last week’s murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, America’s cities erupted in protest. A tragic and incendiary week became even more violent when a gunman opened fire on a Dallas protest, murdering five police officers. The resulting media frenzy was, overall, disheartening.
When my allies speak up, their voices can reach people who don’t want to listen to me, but who are willing to listen to someone more like themselves. And more than that, when my allies speak out, they make it clear that my issues matter to them, that I matter to them. I want to pass that on.
I don’t think I fully understood the importance of my mother's words at the time. But looking back, this lesson, and being raised in a household that constantly preached passion and hard work over vanity, are some of the things that have shaped me most into who I am today.
I wouldn’t really say I write for change. In theory, yes, that’s a wonderful idea: the idea that everything can be changed through the power of the pen (or should I say keyboard), but I honestly don’t believe that’s true in my case. Would I love if my blog posts really inspired people and made them want to change the world around them? Yes! But I know that’s probably not the case. In fact, I think it would be a little naïve rather than ambitious of me to think that.
While some Jews may struggle to see the connection between their modern, fast-paced lives and traditional Jewish practices, Kohenet Sarah Shamirah Bechirah sees such links as natural. As a Hebrew Priestess and Jewish Meditation teacher, she puts treasured rituals in a fresh context.
Each day when you wake up in the morning, you have a choice. You can be positive, or you can be negative. Sometimes people blame what choice they make in the morning on what is going on in their lives, be it trivial or life threatening issues. I am one of those people.
As a little girl, I dreamed of when I would be in high school and would get to attend my high school prom. I always thought that it would be just like what I saw in the movies - I would be asked by the boy of my dreams, I would go to the mall with my friends to find the perfect dress, and I would spend the morning getting ready with my friends. Then my date would ring my doorbell, we’d take pictures on a grand staircase, he’d sweep me off my feet and away to prom, where we would dance the night away and take home the titles of Prom King and Queen. It would be perfect.
My summer camp has rats in the walls and rotting wooden decks and haunted basements. My summer camp is hot and cold, made up of love and hate and freedom and restriction and myth and reality. My summer camp is more corrupt than the Brazilian government but still comforting enough to call it a religion. My summer camp is where I grew up two weeks at a time.
I mourn the victims, along with their families and friends. I grieve for the traumatized survivors whose lives will never be the same. I especially ache for the young members of the queer community who despite the advances we have made, still feel unsafe being out at work, at home, at school, and who will never know what it’s like to step out of the closet for a few hours and dance the night away, unencumbered by fear.
In that masterwork of the western cannon, Fox TV’s That 70’s Show, the main character Eric Foreman is a wimp. The viewer knows he’s a wimp because of numerous running gags, including his friends mocking him for his action figures and Spiderman sheets. He is derided for his childish things, unlike another member of the gang, Jackie (a woman), whose obsession with unicorns is considered cute. This running gag is telling of a larger phenomenon, that men are expected to move on from childhood more quickly than women.
Two driving forces in my life are creativity and passion. These qualities have always gone hand in hand. As I have grown through the years, my love for writing and my passion for activism have blended into one tremendous, creative, passionate, one-act play.
When I was nine, I idolized Hermione Granger. I had just finished the Harry Potter series, and I was convinced that she was everything I aspired to be--bookish and intelligent, a powerful witch who stood up for what she believed in, but who could also snag the world’s best Quidditch player as a prom date.
My world completely changed when I learned how to read in first grade. From that time forward, I brought books with me everywhere I went. As a shy girl who rarely had the courage to speak her mind, I learned to make friends with characters in cozy novels.
I’ve kept a journal since I was ten years old-- just over a third of my life. After seven years of writing, I’ve filled eighteen notebooks, all of which I’ve kept in a box under my bed. I can get lost for hours in these old volumes; I’ve been known to lose full weekend evenings to re-reading my thoughts from sixth grade.
Such is the life of a Rising Voices Fellow. Late nights full of soul searching and edited drafts covered in red. Going to sleep feeling like your latest piece is worse than your third grade diary, and waking up realizing it’s halfway decent. But it’s not just about the writing.
In looking forward into my near future, I’ve seen it fit to look into my distant past for inspiration and as a guide. I’ll soon be leaving my childhood home and will be tasked with forging a life and identity separate from that which I had with my parents. I’m an Ashkenazi Jew, one that has always felt connected to the “old country,” so to say.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on August 23, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.