Sunday, June 24, 2007

Are you Polish?

Today was Seattle's Gay Pride Parade. I attended, complete with my wedding ring and kippah. I believe it's important to be present, as a married, religious member of the community.

That said, I struggle so much with many aspects of the gay community, including its ego-driven, body-image obsessed, over-sexualized, corporate-influenced set of values. Not really anything different from the general society, but I wish that the gay community could focus more on celebrating our diverse identities, and less on looking physically attractive, getting laid, and buying the latest in-fashions. The parts of the community I like are overshadowed by these more dominant, negative ones.

On a heart-warming level, I received a lot of curious glances and warm smiles beause of my kippah. Many people loved it, because it has characters from The Simpsons on it. Others were impressed that someone was visibly Jewish at the festival. One German woman asked me if I was Polish, and what Polish city I was from. I kindly laughed, saying I was not Polish, my mother is from Ireland, and I was raised in Seattle. She laughed, telling me I had a nice beard, and beautiful, smiling eyes - the kind she had only seen in Poland and Germany before.

How curious.

Apart from a lot of hatred that exists out there for Jews, there are also those folks that respond quite warmly to someone visibly Jewish. There is something that seems to pique people's interest. When I am wearing a kippah, more people approach me to ask for directions, comment on what I am wearing, or make any other approached toward me.

It makes me wonder what positive aspects and traits people project onto Jewish folks. If they do not have hateful assumptions, I wonder why they assume good. Is it guilt from history? Is it personal, positive experiences? Or is it just me?

Who knows. Every time I wear a yamulke in public, the reacton is generally positive and striking. Maybe the difference is with how I take the world in.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Driver's 10 Commandments

This is the first release from the Vatican that I find meaningful...the Pope released the 10 Commandments for drivers. Would be nice to see some better behavior on the roads, these days...

The "Drivers' Ten Commandments," as listed by the document, are:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What the f$&%?

A Friday funny of sorts, although one wonders if this bizarre story is truly funny or not. And, no, this is not a piece from The Onion.

Pentagon Confirms it sought to create a "gay bomb."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Music of the World

Another quote from Ask Moses

Two other spiritual capacities play the music of the body – Mind and Emotions. The instruments of Mind are the flow of thoughts, and the instruments of Emotion are the flow of words. The masterful individual orchestrates thoughts and words so that the music of the world is heard more serenely.

This one has particular significance for me, since (in the past) I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. Most of them spanned from poor mental habits, where I was not dealing with life in an effective manner. In short, I tried to control everything.

This quote points out that the "music" of the world happens, and it's up to each of us to hear it correctly. Perception is tricky, and can be marred by emotional baggage, bad emotional habits, or faulty assumptions. This is the core of a lot of our problems in America; since most of us our living comfortably, we have become less disciplined in our approach to life, preferring a more self-centered, "all about me" focus. This will invariably lead to moral relavatism, laziness, and breakdown of our communities. Perhaps it already has....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ponder this


The Synergy of Harmony

A Hassidic adage teaches that two people speaking together elicit a synergy of their higher souls to overcome their individual temptations. Speaking to and with each other, as brothers and sisters, overcomes all adversities. But the operative term is ‘as brothers and sisters’.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Upcoming Bashert Event

You’re Invited: June 21, 7pm
Roundtable Discussion: Coming Out and Staying In: Your Jewish Family and Community

For lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) people, coming out in a Jewish family can mean risking separation from an important part of one’s identity. Even when family members are supportive, coming out can test the entire family’s relationship to the larger Jewish community.

Bashert, the LGBT initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, is sponsoring "Coming Out and Staying In," a roundtable discussion of the concerns families have when a child or other family member comes out, and how our Jewish community can become more welcoming and inclusive.

The program is open to everyone in the community who is interested, especially LGBT Jews; parents and other family members of LGBT people; and their friends and supporters.

This event is co-sponsored by Jewish Family Service.

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2007

Time: 7pm (8:15pm Kosher dessert reception)

Hillel at University of Washington
4745 17th Ave NE
Seattle , WA 98105

Rabbi Will Berkovitz, moderator (Yay! Rabbi Will!)
Robin and Sara Boehler
Dr. Ted and Andy Kohler
Don Armstrong, Jewish Family Service
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

You may RSVP to this invitation at Please provide your name and email address. You have the option of providing your home or business address and phone number. The JFGS does not share mailing list information.

For more information about Bashert or this event, please contact Cheryl at or at the Federation on (206) 774-2231.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

All Apologies

I took my previous post down because, while filled with some real humor, I realized that it was Lashon Hora. I stand corrected and will certainly avoid such entries again.

Nevertheless, I do want to blog about my experience at Rabbi Lapin's house on Saturday night. I left the evening feeling both enlightened and uncomfortable. This discomfort remains with me.

There is a disturbing trend in America, where people allow the more selfish aspects of capitalism to intersect with strong religious belief. With this mix, you get a slate of baby boomers who led self-indulgent lives in their youth, now "saved" by whatever religion and claiming to be working on G-d's behalf when voting on any particular social cause.

I do not accuse Rabbi Lapin of this, particularly. However, I do take issue with how he takes his personal views on issues and uses Torah to justify them. For example, he equated recycling with idolatry, explaning that people leading non-religious lives offer the separation of their garbage as their "sacrifice" or "offering." He then went on to quote one article claiming that all garbage and recycling go to the same place. Recycling and environmentalism, to Rabbi Lapin, have become the new secular religion and it achieves nothing.

While there is plenty of legitemate criticisms of environmentalism and recycling, Rabbi Lapin went beyond that scope. He simply used Torah to justify choosing not reuse and recycle. Even if a quarter of what we recycle is reused, isn't that enough of a reason to do it? Does Torah not teach that we are the stewards of the Earth? Rabi Lapin would have us believe we need not recycle, because Hashem will provide everything we need.

I feel this same discomfort from any religious figure, whether you are justifying the war or celebrating the 2006 election as a gift from G-d. But, the conservative end of the spectrum has certainly allowed Capitalism to influence how and why it is religious.

Another bothersome point brought up was his interpretation of "my cup runneth over." He taught last night that our cup needs to be full first, so that whatever runs over we share with others. Well, what is the definition of "full" and what is the "run over?" I have read some of his teachings before, and he has said many times that G-d wants us all to be rich and this is something to strive for.

Good Grief. This is so antithetical to anything I've been taught or believe; I just don't know what to do with it. Most unfortunate was that I found a lot of his teaching uplifting and enlightening, but I could not completely buy into him because of these other aspects.