Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time's moving on...

Back in Israel.

Sick again. Boo.

But learning has been really really amazing. I have definitely gotten a little rusty on my text skills and need to work on that but that just takes time. We had an amazing shiur today on why evil exists that was basically a kavanah lecture in disguise. I didn't think that I was really enjoying her class but then as soon as it was over my friend and I looked at each other and were like, "woah. She just answered so many questions." It was a really good feeling.

Then we got a teaser of an impromptu shiur on the different sects of Orthodoxy which ended very quickly after getting a very funny handout comparing Chassidic to Yeshivish and Modern.

It's very weird to think that Omri will be going home so soon. I'm for sure still trying to process that. And I'm not doing very well. I'm just trying to think of all the reasons it makes sense for me to be here and him to be back in the States. I can focus more on my learning, on my friendships, I can travel more... Oy I hope I come up with some better excuses.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Mom's Book... or, why I'm the luckiest daughter ever

My mom's book is out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's so exciting! I can't wait to read it again! And again!

And yes, that's her real name :)

Mom's book is about finding your true life purpose and living a fully realized, inspired, joyful life. She uses wisdom from many different sources and her extensive life experience from all her work with career counseling and working with large organizations. It's both inspirational and enjoyable to read--and also very practical. It's a great book for someone looking to just tune up their quality of life a little bit. A lot of what she found out with her research (she did a lot of personal interviews, my favorite part of the book) was very surprising and good to read. But I won't give it away... you'll have to buy it and see for yourself!!

My stepfather and I went to go see her speak yesterday to the local community (same place where I saw John Loftus speak--post about that below). She's a fantastic speaker and it was so great to see the way this talk came together.

I found her talk very inspirational. At one point she spoke about identifying your purpose, passions, and strengths. She gave really great ways of seeing what these things are for you.

One idea she used with purpose was--"What bothers you most about the world?" which her teacher used to say to her. I think it's funny because a lot of what bothers me is similar to her. People not being fully self-actualized. People buying into the advertising brainwash and trying to find happiness by fulfilling made-up needs. A lack of beauty in the world.

Her talk reminded me of a shiur I heard about finding your life purpose. G-d is like a contractor who puts skilled craftsmen on a building site. If the craftsmen know their stuff, they don't need the contractor on the phone all the time telling them what to do, step-by-step. He can just give them a basic layout and they'll know what to do. (The analogy being Contractor is Gd, craftsmen are Jews, and the layout is the Torah.) Sidenote: her book is from a non-religious perspective, but draws from wisdom from many sages.

dding in what my mom's saying, I came up with my own analogy: how annoyed would you be if you went an hired craftsmen (Jews), gave them a toolbox (strengths), and put them on an empty building site (their purpose), and they went and tried to use their hammer to dig a garden. The hammer doesn't really work, it's won't be particularly fulfilling, and if I was the contractor, I'd be kindof annoyed. But when we open our eyes and see what we love, what we're good at, and where we want to see change in the world, that's how we fulfill our life's purpose. (And to do this, buy her book.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

John Loftus... rockstar

I went to an AMAZING speech this week given by John Loftus. He's an Irish Catholic from Boston (yay) who worked for the CIA and got so disillusioned that he wound up calling them out on all the stuff they were doing wrong. He wound up leaving and becoming the lawyer for whistle-blowers who want to do it legally. He was such an impressive speaker, talking about the ridiculousness of some of the moves our government has made and the real history of groups like Hamas, which was founded by the Muslim wing of the Nazi party. He gave the whole breakdown and history of the various terrorist groups around Israel. It was insane.

Loftus also spoke about the American "news" and how frequently major networks fall for propaganda and sell it as news. Makes you wonder where to look to get your news...

He does a radio show and talked about some of the news agencies that give unbiased, researched reporting. Of course, I couldn't catch the name of any of them. What do you go to? I no longer trust any American news stations, or CBC, BBC...

John Loftus also wrote a book called "The Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the Nazis, and the Swiss Banks" that I'm dying to read (secret obsession with the Vatican, as an ex-Christian) and he also wrote a book called "The Secret War Against the Jews" which, of course, would never be accepted if it was written by a Jew but he's Irish Catholic YAY!

Check out this incredible man at http://www.john-loftus.com/

or www.intelligence-summit.org for his non-profit organization.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Should I stay or should I go now...

Here in our little home in Sarasota, FL, much conversation centering around my imminent flight back to Jerusalem... and whether I'll be on it.

My mind changes about, oh, every day. It's just dangerous enough to completely freak out my mom without actually being dangerous enough to be a deterrent for going back. My friend Malka says I should stop trying to make the decision emotionally and decide *intellectually* what it is that I'm looking for in these next few months.

Number 1 is easy: proof of Judaism. By hell or high water. My best friend says she'll go storm the Polish consulate for me to get the long-lost birth certificate I need. This girl will do anything to be able to get drunk off bubbly at my wedding ASAP. This is why we love her. If the Poles are uncooperative, it's a full conversion for me (*sound the death walk*).

Numbers 2-200 are harder. Learn to keep a kosher kitchen. Connect artistically and get inspiration. Grow. Be challenged. Find direction (I think I'm starting to sniff it out, believe it or not). Figure out what issues I have with frumkeit and address them. Read. A LOT. Get in better shape. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. See theater.

I learned this Shabbos that I can do the challah, the kugel, the cholent, and the chicken (as long as nobody turns off the oven while my food's in it). Oh, and the carrot cake was bomb. The 6 braid still alludes me completely and I need something more exciting that I can cook.

I got SO BURNED OUT in Israel. And of course. The class schedule is intense, and my situation is already stressful. Plus... it's Israel. But I'm losing focus over here and I don't think it's just that I'm on vacation.

And I miss my friends. And my bed. And my books. And my black fuzzy boots. And I want to see everyone that's now engaged.

Ok I still haven't done anything intellectual. I'll have to go work on that...

Or shower.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Happy Friday!

I love having this opportunity to look back on my week. I can't believe last Shabbat I was in Jerusalem. Omri and I were supposed to be in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank but wound up, on Friday afternoon (which is insanely late) changing our plans because our host was unwell. I was a little happy to be changing our plans because coming back from the Gush and getting to the airport all motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) made me very nervous. Turned out that we went to war with Gaza over Shabbos and, although I know my host and his town is fine, it would have been a security nightmare to get back into Jerusalem in time to get to the airport!

Now I'm home. The first two days I was here I had huge jet-lag and was watching the news every five minutes. It was stressful and miserable. Finally my brother broke me out of it with a huge amazing heart-to-heart (he's so good at that) and we all had a big talk--my mom, stepdad and Ben--about how it was so hard for me to make them go out of their way to accomodate my religious needs (like keeping kosher and Shabbat) on top of how difficult those things were for me the first time back, making my way around an un-kosher kitchen. They listened and reassured me that they knew it would be a little work but they were happy to do it. They are all really amazing loving people. I feel a lot better, despite needing to email my halacha (Jewish law) Rabbi about two times a day to ask how to fix a mistake. Hopefully he will get a break now!

I'm forcing myself to not make a decision about whether to go back. I feel that it would still be safe if I was willing to stay in my neighborhood and not go to the mall anymore. I think that Omri would be happier at home which is hard for me because I think that right now I'd really like to be in Israel. At the end of the day, I don't have enough infomation and I need to see what this operation in Gaza looks like in about a week. It's hard to let such a huge decison remain undecided but its probably a healthy exercise for Omri and I who generally prefer to decide everything years in advance.

Yesterday mom and I went to the seaside to tovel my dishes (dunking them in open water which makes them kosher). It was fun and goofy and she took great pictures which I'll post up after Shabbat! She said she was wondering what passers-by would think we were doing and she decided the most likely answer they'd come up with was that we were homeless lol

Today I cooked a huge Shabbos meal for everyone. It was SO much fun. Here's the menu:
1st course: gefilte fish, homemade challah, hummus, and salad
2nd course: chicken soup with noodles
3rd course: potato kugel, roasted chicken with veggies, baked sweet potato
4th course: homemade healthy carrot cake

And there's cholent for tomorrow!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE cooking all day. It's so relaxing and rewarding and fun. I can't wait to have a house of my own to operate like this.

Ok time for a shower and cleaning.

All my love,


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