Family, Judaism

Forgiveness. Can you imagine?

I haven’t blogged much lately, but in my defense, I was just promoted and have been very, very busy. I’m extremely grateful for the promotion and the generous raise that came with it, but it does require more work to be at this new level and I realize that. I used to be a prolific writer and blogger, but my career took a turn four years ago and I’ve struggled with finding time to write ever since.  That’s likely to continue!

All that being said, I just went through my first experiences with the Jewish High Holy Days and it affected me profoundly. I have been struggling finding the right synagogue, and there aren’t a lot around here to choose from in the first place, but the one I was attending is no longer palatable. The rabbi I’m studying under, who was at the helm of that synagogue, has left and, out of loyalty to her and disgust with the leadership there, I haven’t gone back.  This frustration, though, led me to a synagogue about 25 minutes away that I now know will be my future home for Jewish life and worship. Rosh Hashanah services there were absolutely breathtaking. My old synagogue was tiny, like being in someone’s living room, but this new place is large, with pews and the most gorgeous, two story ark that holds the Torah. They also have a choir that sings in Hebrew (of course). This music, combined with the prayers, moved me greatly. Rosh Hashanah is now my favorite Jewish holiday, but Yom Kippur is the one that affected me the most.  

The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe. It’s a time to “get right” with those we have had strife and struggle with over this past year. As Yom Kippur approached and then passed, one person kept appearing in my head, over and over again: my brother. Continue reading “Forgiveness. Can you imagine?”

Family, Holidays

Becoming Jewish: the Christmas conundrum

Me + Christmas tree, 1981
Me + Christmas tree, 1981

Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:

Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”

Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”

Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”

Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”

Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*

OR

Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”

Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”

Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!

Continue reading “Becoming Jewish: the Christmas conundrum”

Family

When Enough is Enough

Being on the other side of the continent from my family – both close and extended – these past two years has afforded me a lot of freedom. I’ve been able to do a lot of soul searching and self-analysis without the family pressures of “maintaining status quo” or just going with established norms. This time has allowed me to come to terms with who I really am, what I believe, and solidify my core beliefs about what is right. Raised conservative, I’m now about as far left politically as a person can go, and close-minded people who spend their lives lobbying against the personal interests, private matters, and basic freedoms of other people are, in my opinion, not worth my time. I’ve also always been outspoken, but I’m now that way more than ever, and all of this leads up to what happened a few weeks ago.

Continue reading “When Enough is Enough”

Family

You can go home again, but maybe you shouldn’t…

Have you ever had one of those experiences that really just defy words? At least, right away? I went home to Indiana for a week and only recently got back to Washington, and I’ve been trying to wrap my head around my trip. I discovered something pretty profound, at least to me: they say you can’t go home again, but I don’t believe that’s true. You can, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to feel like home anymore.

We moved from Indianapolis to Seattle last August. Last September, my parents moved out of the house they’d lived in for 29 years. When I headed to their house after arriving at the Indianapolis airport, I was driving to an unfamiliar house in a town I’d never been in. There was no “going home.” In fact, home was gone.

Continue reading “You can go home again, but maybe you shouldn’t…”

faith, Family, Reflection

If the spiritual journey is like a winding road, I’m stuck on a bypass…

Tim and I have 90% of our conversations about religion in the car.  Not sure why it happens that way, but when we’re heading somewhere is when, inevitably, the conversation turns to religion. Continue reading “If the spiritual journey is like a winding road, I’m stuck on a bypass…”

faith, Family, Holidays

An unexpectedly blessed Christmas

I approached the Christmas season with a healthy amount of dread, as I have previously wrote about in this post.  I planned on avoiding all family gatherings and had a great excuse because of the hours I was working the fact that I would need any time off to rest.  But, as it often happens, things change.   Continue reading “An unexpectedly blessed Christmas”

Holidays

Holidays that were

When November rolls around every year, there are always two dates on the calendar that matter – my birthday and Thanksgiving.  The first grows less significant each year as I reach the age where I start to pretend that I don’t have birthdays at all.  The latter, which is a holiday that’s supposed to be filled with gratitude and love and familial closeness, leaves me empty.

Continue reading “Holidays that were”