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Showing posts from October, 2016

Elul 3: Do I judge? Heck, yeah.

People say it like it's a bad thing: "Don't judge."
"You're so judgmental."

Someone posted a concern on a Facebook page today: she felt bad for judging someone for both not vaccinating a child and for needing to tell that anti-vaxxer that she and her unvaccinated children weren't welcome to visit her and her newborn child.

I heard her loud and clear. And I wrote this:

Hi, (name redacted) ...

I'm a mom of a 32 year-old daughter and 29 year-old twin sons, so I think I'm qualified to say this: You are going to be an awesome mom (I bet you already are), and you are absolutely permitted to judge other peoples' choices. It doesn't matter how judging others' choices makes you feel; what matters is that - God willing for many, many years - you are going to be making life/death decisions for your child. You MUST judge other peoples' decisions because your discernment (a nicer, maybe more PC, word) may one day save you or your child…

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 29: Dear God ... (Return)

Dear God,

As I enter the new year 5777, I offer this "wish list."

Give me the willingness to examine my past year. I know I made a lot of mistakes and held onto attitudes and beliefs that didn't serve me or You or anyone else. Looking back isn't easy; I'd rather take the easy way out and pretend that I was A-OK. Yeah - that's not going to work.Give me the willingness to make a list of the people I hurt so that I can make amends to them. And yes, this year, let me put myself on that list, too.Sometimes I try to force a round peg into a square hole. This coming year, help me pick the right shape for the right puzzle. Instead of living a day or 2 or 365 in the future, may I experience every day as it comes. It's trite but true: yesterday is past, tomorrow is yet to come, today is a gift - and that's why it's called the present.Remind me to wait, to ask myself, "Why am I talking?"Remind me to say thank you to my body and my soul every morning…

Elul 28: Singing and praying on the crater crust (Give)

"To live, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater crust that may crack and spew fire any day."

This bit of literary hyperbole, courtesy of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, is  on my mind this time of year.

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur my cantor colleagues and I draw on every ounce of strength that we can muster. We may find ourselves teetering on the edge of a massive emotional cliff, so wrapped up in the power of the words and the beauty of the music that we feel like we're about to head into a dark territory and maybe not be able to hold ourselves back. We stand on that crater crust, praying that it holds.

My teacher, Cantor Faith Steinsnyder, warned us about these moments. Give the prayers, music, and words our all, yes; but hold something in reserve. And when we do feel so emotionally involved that we think we're headed over that cliff's edge, we force ourselves to dial everything back. If we go over that edge, we do ourselves and our congre…