Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Jews run the gay agenda, too!

A blogger in Canada lists the "Jews" who run the radical, gay agenda. Too bad a number of these folks aren't Jewish, most notably the very Catholic Dan Savage.

The Jews are so gay!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Devil Came On Horseback

M and I saw The Devil Came on Horseback today at the Seattle International Film Festival.

The film showcases Brian Steidle, a U.S. Marine who was assigned to investigate the Darfur region of Sudan in 2003, to determine whether or not a genocide was occurring. What develops is not just the horrifying events in Darfur, but the story of Brian's eyes opening up to how corrupt political powers in the world allow atrocities like Darfur to happen and explores why it has yet to be stopped. The viewer is left with a set of tools to help increase the visibility of this crisis in America, because the people of Sudan are depending on us to help them.

The film was incredibly powerful and moving, for many apparent reasons. I could go on and on about the grace injustices of the film or how horrifying it is; instead, I am encouraging everyone out there to see this film when it comes to your area. You can also go to the web site (linked above) and request a screening in your area.

I know there are a number of activists who read my posts, and this film is the perfect tool to begin discussion and push people into action.

There is no word to describe how awful the effects of corrupt governments have on people in this world. The Arab and Muslim leaders in this world have a responsibility to help these citizens, fellow Muslims, and racism keeps them from doing anything. China is just now beginning to change its partnerships with Sudan, but not enough to get people to stop calling next year's Olympics the Genocide Olympics.

My hope is that enough awareness can be drummed up in the next year, so that the American athletes going to Beijing might very well be placed in a position to raise awareness about China's connection to the atrocities in Darfur. One can only hope people in the positions to create such visibility have the conscience to see that it is right. I plan to write the U.S. Olympic Committee, requesting that they have www.savedarfur.org sewn into every, official Olympic uniforms made for the athletes. This is a prime opportunity for the world's focus to shift to Darfur, and its high time as well...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sasquatch Music Festival

I had the pleasure of attending the Sasquatch Music Festival yesterday, a large, indie rock festival held at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA. The amphitheatre setting is absolutely amazing, as it overlooks a large gorge and the Columbia River.

Besides seeing Bjork (amazing!), Beastie Boys (fun!), Ghostland Observatory (hysterical!), and others...there was a Heeb Tent. The tent promised much Jew-centric entertainment, and my friend K and I looked at each other puzzled. We were convinced we were the only 2 Jews attending (exaggeration), but looked forward to viewing the tent. Unfortunately, the Beastie Boys (Jews...so I guess, five in attendance?) kept us sufficiently distracted that we missed the small window Heeb had their tent.

We were simply impressed by the presence of Jewish stuff in this festival....not many Jew-centric things occur in Washington.

Shavuous Recap

The service on Tuesday was the smallest I've attended, since M and I started going to Kol Haneshamah 4 years ago. I was a little disappointed by the low attendance, as I was excited to share my Dvar with our usually large group. But, those in attendance were those meant to hear my words, I guess.

The Dvar went off well, and seemed to resonate with a number of attendees. During the potluck following, many people asked me more questions about my journey, Rabbi Yonah, and how I came to really feel welcome in Judaism. It felt wonderful, both because I finally found the words the accurately describe my experience and that I was able to share it with my community.

And, Jews being Jews, I have now been approached to join two synagogue committees and asked to give another Dvar during high holidays. LOL - my Rabbi told me I had a honeymoom period with Judaism for 2 years, but this seems to have gone out the window with him being on paternity leave.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dvar for Shavuous

On Tuesday night, I will be giving a Dvar for Shavuous. I have been asked to speak about my “aha” moment in choosing to convert. While I had many such moments, I focused on one that I felt tied right into Shavuous and receiving the Torah. Enjoy!

On Shavuous, we celebrate receiving the Torah from G-d. At its core, the Torah can be seen as the most profound act of love from G-d to his children; much like the parent of an unruly child, G-d provides rules, boundaries, expectations, and encouragement, so the Jews may grow further as a people. The Torah is G-d’s form of tough love; love that inspires us to grow with every passing year.

Looking beyond the events at Mt. Sinai, I also like to approach Shavuous as a time to reflect on how we give each other the “Torah.” Not in the sense of literally handing each other stone tablets or rolls of parchment paper; instead, how are we giving a piece of Torah to one another, inspiring each other to grow?

My “aha” moment came from an act of love, of true acceptance and connection; a passing of the Torah, if you will.

I began my journey toward the mikveh three years ago, bowing out for a time as I struggled with my anger against organized religion. Throughout my life, I felt a strong connection to G-d; however, in religion I saw an archaic, meaningless institution that people used to either pacify their existential fears or wield power over others.

I wanted nothing to do with this, even though I felt very connected to the Jewish people and loved the traditions I had been sharing with my husband Michael.

So, I wandered for almost 2 years, making no personal commitment to Judaism, but living a Jewish life in my home and attending synagogue. Finally, after healing some of my wounds and wanting to make more definitive commitments in my life, I decided to resume my journey last year on Yom Kippur.

While this decision came from wanting a deeper relationship with G-d through Judaism, it was not my “aha” moment. I resumed my journey intent on firmly deciding whether or not to commit to the Jewish people. I no longer wanted to waffle, for I saw this indecision as disrespectful to the Jewish community.

Instead, my “aha” moment came from the most unlikely of sources: a Chassidic Rabbi. Anyone who knows me understands that I am both stubborn and skeptical, and also resistant of authority when it doesn’t make sense to me. I came to see the Orthodox movement as something to resist and criticize.

One day, I was searching online for lectures on Judaism and came across a Rabbi named Yonah Bookstein. I found his lectures energizing and inspiring; Yonah took seemingly mundane concepts and laws from Torah, placing them firmly in our modern world, demonstrating how they can be both practiced and meaningful. I was fascinated by this very halachicly traditional Rabbi, with a very non-traditional approach to teaching and existing.

I had the pleasure of meeting him last December, and we visited for about two hours. We had been conversing occasionally over e-mail for about a year prior, so he knew I was on the road to conversion; he was very pleased. Also knowing I was married, he asked how Michael and I met. He then asked me when we were going to have kids. I stuttered a bit, mentioning that we weren’t quite ready to have children. “Well, why not?” he said, “Having children is amongst the greatest mitvot men can fulfill.”

This seemingly small, typical moment of Jews pressuring others to have children was my “aha” moment. Here I sat across from a Chassidic Rabbi, swapping life experiences and having a great time, and he is pressuring me and my husband to have children. While many religious leaders would encourage Michael and I to never come into contact with a child, here I sat across from one concerned I had yet to parent one.

This was a profoundly healing moment for me. Even though I know most Orthodox people would not consider me a Jew, having a connection with one who has since welcomed me to the tribe is enough to confirm for me that Judaism has a place for me at the table. Rabbi Yonah prodding me about having children was a moment where I was regarded as a 1st class citizen; a stark contrast to my Catholic priest expecting me to live my life hidden in shame and wanting me to believe that G-d simply made a mistake when creating me.

I understand that Rabbi Yonah has particular halachic obligations, and might very well hold differing opinions from me on homosexuality. I have no qualms about disagreement and debate. However, I left our time together flying high, having exchanged the love of G-d’s Torah with this wonderful man, because we both looked beyond our labels and connected with one another as fellow human beings. Finding ways to truly connect with one another, I believe, is at the core of Torah’s numerous lessons.

True human connections in life are scarce, but Hashem has truly blessed me with many wonderful people, including my husband Michael, my parents Leo and Maggie Judd, my best friend Joe, and Rabbis Michael and Yonah, all of whom inspired me to grow during my journey toward the mikveh. Receiving the love and lessons of the Torah, both in study and through these relationships, has been one of the true gifts of my life. I look forward to the inspiration these gifts will provide me as I continue my life journey as a Jew.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Reflections for Shavuous

On Shavuous, I will be reading from the Book of Ruth. I will also be giving a D'Var Torah on what my "aha" experience that led me to my choice.

This task has sent me on a lenghty bout of reflection and questioning. What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? What could Hashem possibly have in store for me.

One of the most powerful realizations I had was, looking back at the first 30 years of my life, all the most memorable, powerful, and life-changing events/moments in my life have been unexpected and unplanned by me. That goes to show just how much control we have over our lives and their directions.

I was heard someone say that G-d gave us gifts and talents, and we are merely the managers of these gifts. Life is a gift; it is enjoyed on borrowed time, with a lot of guidance and influence from Hashem. Once we stop fighting that aspect of our lives, peace can return. For an anxious personality like me, this lesson truly resonates with me and has made me a much happier, productive person.

I'm not sure if that will be part of my Shavuous thought, but it is certainly what is resonating with me tonight.

Daily Thought

I have been struggling a bit this week with various aspects of my life. This daily thought from askmoses.com couldn't have come on a better day to remind me of a few things I already knew. You gotta hand it to those Chabad folks.....

True self discovery is a process of transformation, changing who you were until now to reveal your full potential.