Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you hide. - Anonymous
Monday, May 13, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
We can be okay
When things don't turn out one way
"Welcome to Holland"
Not just memory
But remembering fondly
Fifteen steps of ascention
Up to Yishtabach
Most people missed you
While you were here on this earth
And I miss you now
Friday, May 10, 2013
Numbers: A Love Story
Rashi explains the lists and numbers that Bamidbar starts with as reflective of G-d's love for the Jewish People. When you cherish something you repeatedly count it. Hashem counted us three times in one year as an expression of His love of the Jewish People.
This concept of counting that which is beloved relates to our lives. We collect baseball cards as kids, shot glasses as adults, and repeatedly look over our treasures, assessing the value of each piece. We balance our checkbooks, and count our change, due to our affection for money. On the holiest level parents gaze for hours at each of their sleeping children.
It's not the literal counting that shows love, but the attention paid. This is what Rashi means by saying that counting reflects love.
When Hashem took us out of Egypt He carried us, cherished us, and counted us. Shortly after the expression of love that was the Exodus From Egypt the Jewish People strayed and our Father disciplined us with love and then counted us. When He rested His Presence upon us in the MishkanHe lovingly counted us.
These 3 times that G-d counted us can be applied to 3 relationships of love in life: The first rule of love is giving. We may use G-d's carrying us out of Egypt as a lesson of care and concern for others. However, just like G-d, we must show our love through setting of boundaries as well. As G-d showed us when He rested His presence upon us, sometimes when you love someone there is value in spending time, not to give in a specific way and not to discipline, but just to be together in love.
These 3 ingredients: care, discipline, and attention, need to be nurtured for relationships to be balanced. May G-d in his love for us, bless us in the art of love, as we each, in our own way, do our best to emulate G-d and communicate love with all the elements.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Quote of the Day
"When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it." - C.S. Lewis
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Yom Yerushalayim Poem II
From Open Closed Open
By Yehuda Amicha
And there are days here when everything is sails and more sails,
even though there's no sea in Jerusalem, not even a river.
Everything is sails: the flags, the prayer shawls, the black coats,
the monks' robes, the kaftans and kaffiyehs,
young women's dresses and headdresses,
Torah mantles and prayer rugs, feelings that swell in the wind
and hopes that set them sailing in other directions.
Even my father's hands, spread out in blessing,
my mother's broad face and Ruth's faraway death
are sails, all of them sails in the splendid regatta
on the two seas of Jerusalem:
Yom Yerushalayim Poem
Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David's Tower I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. "You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, "You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important, but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family."
- Yehuda Amichai
Sunday, May 05, 2013
On Pesukei Dezimrah: Four From The Artscroll Siddur
1. Pesukei DeZimrah, according to the AriZal, means The Verses of Pruning: clearing away our distractions before we recite Shemah and Shemoneh Esrei.
2.. Baruch She'Amar has 87 words in it, corresponding to the golden - paz - nature of this holy prayer.
3. The first part of Hodu consists of 29 lines. The first fifteen were sung in the Mishakan when the morning Tamid was offered. The last 14 were sung when the afternoon Tamid was offered
3. Ashkenazim focus on the fact that Hodu is sentences of praise of G-d. Sefardim focus on the fact that Hodu, in part, was recited when the Korban Tamid was offered. This is why Ashkenazim say it after Baruch She'Amar, as part of Pesukei DeZimrah. And this is why Sefardim say it before Baruch She'Amar, along with Korbanot,
4. Yishtabach has fifteen words of praise in its first half and fifteen words following the introductory words (Baruch atah Hashem) to the ending bracha. "This number alludes to the fifteen Songs of Ascents (Tehillim 120-134) composed by David. Also, fifteen is the number of the Divine Name, yud heh, the letters used to create heaven and earth; thus it signifies that everything is G-d's.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Maybe Secretly We're All Terrific Whistlers Or Something
It is exciting as each teacher and class (along with the timing and my mood, etc.) make it different and uniquely meaningful each time. I must have done it about 40 times in school and it's always a great event. This year's appearances took place on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Dr. B. wore her Catcher in the Rye shirt. I improvised my Holden costume and channeled him as best I can. I acted out the piece and then took questions, first as Holden, then as me.
I starting this post right after the performance. It's been sitting in the draft pile and came to my mind tonight. So here it is for you, whoever you may be.
Thursday AM to PM
Soon a student, a senior, is scheduled to come by for an appointment. There's a strong chance he won't come. Tomorrow is the last day of classes for seniors, so I get it. We've been talking for some time about talking. I taught him in honors Chumash two years ago and since last year I've been his guidance counselor. It's nice to have closure, like I did yesterday with another student that I taught in that same (wonderful) class and have also worked with as guidance counselor since last year.
Over the (nine) years I have used this venue to sometimes take a moment during my workday and non-work day to write here. I've often wondered who reads what and who thinks what. To a large extent I will never know who reads what and who thinks what about what I post here.
Still, I write, and wonder, here.
It's an honor to work with students in this venue. Recently one student shared thoughts about how he overcame his fear of speaking up in class. Another student spoke about how he wants to provide for himself asap and doesn't like to take more than he needs to from his parents 9even though they're happy to give). Another student weighed thoughts back and forth about going to Israel when he reaches that post high school year.
Time has gone by as it always does(until it doesn't). That student came by (he reminded himself via his IPhone and we had a great talk about all kinds of stuff. Largely we spoke about the nature of high school. We looked at some of this article about the effects of the high school years on life.
As Harry Chapin sings in "Flowers Are Red,"Time went by, like it always does." I'm home, working.
I just got an email from a journalist who said that he quoted me in an article but not by name, adding that while citing by name may bring redemption it also can make his job obsolete. It reminded me of when I shared a Dvar Torah with a colleague. He said, "I'm going to use that and not quote you."
Rabbi Norman Lamm once said that when he visited the Kotel for the first time he was disappointed. And when he went for the second time it was the most moving experience of his life. He explained that initially he had unrealistic expectations and was bound for disappointment. The second time he had a realistic sense and was therefore able to take in the holiness.
That reminds me of a poem I recently wrote. Ironically, I think it's one of my best. I hope that by putting it out here it is appreciated (and not stolen):
Today has been rich, a lot of guiding, listening, teaching.
Since I've gotten home I've been busy. I have an article that is due for submission. And lessons to prepare. And, as Harry Chapin sings in "Remember When the Music," (Springsteen tribute version found here) "promises to keep." It was a good quote when Robert Frost famously used it first.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
If Only We Could Know And Remember Always How Beautiful We Are
This was shared with me by the school psychology graduate intern in my school. It applies to people of all ages and genders.
It's been 3 years since I shared this other video that is not irrelevant to this post.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A blog, like a life, is a funny thing. You never know how it will turn out. When I started this blog in November 2004 I had no idea where it would go. Now, I don't know where it will go; I know only, to some extent, where it has gone. Lots of poetry has been shared here, more than I'd expected. Even more unexpected than that is the fact that several people, maybe more, have written haiku because of being exposed to it here.
As for friends I've made a few. I didn't see that coming.
I'm writing in real time. I don't like doing anything in fake time.
In a few minutes it's time for Vaad, an informal ed program I've been involved in since its start two years ago. Soon a room full of ninth grade students will excitedly arrange their chairs into a circle, knowingly, as I entering the room. Then we'll eat the rice cakes I've brought, as usual, for everyone. And we'll talk.
That's where I am right now, here.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Yes, Yes I Remember it Well
It feels like yesterday that I wrote this post about memory, and also this one, and this newspaper article (remember those?) about Nabokov's memoir, Speak Memory..
If people didn't remember things there would be no writing. What else would we be missing? Do relationships require remembering? Forgetting?
Late Motzai Shabbos In Nebraska
You can get so tired that it stubbornly stays
The bags under your eyes won't go away
You wonder about how you've filled your days
And would you do it over, come what may
You can stay on your computer late into the night
Sit up straight and continuously write
Or let yourself go with all your might
Laying down you see the light
By Neil Fleischmann
I fear, I fear for the death of the pen
I fear it will happen - if not now then
Though it is more powerful than any sword
I fear the demise of the written word
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Meyers-Briggs Check In
- You have strong preference of Introversion over Extraversion (78%)
- You have slight preference of Intuition over Sensing (12%)
- You have moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (50%)
- You have moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (56%)
|Introverted (I) 75%||Extroverted (E) 25%|
|Intuitive (N) 77%||Sensing (S) 23%|
|Feeling (F) 95%||Thinking (T) 5%|
|Perceiving (P) 91%||Judging (J) 9%|
Maybe I've become more balanced or maybe different tests are skewed different ways or maybe I'm in a different mood and context.
Going Home Again, Again
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Not Knowing What To Write Or Where To Write It
What should one write?
Where to fight the fight?
What to share?
No harm is meant
When I need to vent.
And yet, some get offended,
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Jed Camp - Part II (http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/jedcamp+NJNY)
1:48 PM - Session 4 is starting. I facilitated an improv related discussion during the third slot. It was a good conversation about flexibility in teaching and in life, I think.
1:50 PM - The day is mainly about transformation and change. The facilitator of this group has boldly chosen the question of whether or not the system needs changing based on technology or anything else or if we just need to adapt to the needs of our students rather than adopting a new approach.
1:56 PM - The discussion is presently about whether or not the world has really changed or if we're just more aware of how things are, which is pretty much the way they were, just it wasn't kept track of in the same way...
2:01 PM - This is a pleasant and calm discussion about how the more things change the more they stay the same and that technology should not be used for technology's sake. The question was raised - do we need Twitter or if a teacher uses Twitter in the class room is ait an example of the tail wagging the dog?
2:06 PM - Someone is saying that technology is relevant and should be considered as we plan and teach.
Shakespeare was just compared to a blackboard, both are teaching tools.
2:12 PM - R Wolbe was just quoted as saying that if someone leans a certain way in learning they should work on the things that they don't lean towards. Then if they see they keep gravitating back to what they leaned toward originally then they should return to that.
I have enjoyed this day (there's a half hor left in this, the last session). It's nice to talk to others in the field, to listen and to learn.
Someone just walked in and is saying that she finds it scary that we are sending kids out into the world and that they don't know how to access what's out there. She feels that there is some standard of what kids should be expected to know when he leaves high school. We're returning to the first discussion of the day (that she and the facilitator and I were each in...
2:21 PM - Someone is now talking about this article from today's NY Times about online courses.
2:31 PM - The session ended with someone sharing a story about a kid that switched from a yeshiva to a highly rated public school. The student and parents feel that the yeshiva's teachers did a much better job than those in the public school. This person who shared this is not a teacher in Frisch but she did mention that the school the student and parents rated highly was The Frisch School.
234 PM - People are making their way up and out for mincha. This was a meaningful and fulfilling and enjoyable way to spenf 6 hours on a Sunday.
Jed Camp - Part I
9:08 AM - At Jed Camp. Eating breakfast, talking to three teachers from my school.
9:12 AM - The tech master from my school is trying to help a teacher get her emails sent to her new IPhone. It's complicated.
9:15 AM - The password isn't working, the back and forth continues.
9:16 AM - We can each give a talk? Me? Maybe...
9:17 AM - A colleague just read this and was worried that he'd be mentioned in my next update.
9:33 AM - Shmoozed with a former colleague. Was interviewed and filmed and asked what I hope to get out of today.
A colleague just decided to present. If I did present it would be on either "Improv in Teaching," or on "What Do You Think Should Be A Limudei Kodesh Teacher's Primary Goal?" Another colleague is surprised that no-one is talking about the process and evaluations as opposed to tests, tests, tests - but she says she doesn't want to present.
The whole idea here is that people present what they want in an improv kind of way, I think...
Two people just gave welcomes and introductions.
I don't know what to do with the fact that when I encounter people all the things I know about that person, the times we've met before that they do or don't remember, and and and...
9:47 AM - This is an unconventional convention - the rule is that you are allowed and encouraged to walk out of any session that's not doing it for you.
10:14 AM - In a discussion about what a high school is meant to do. We're going around and listing assumptions that presently exist in yeshiva high schools and what we should or should not change - if we could. The list of assumptions included that tests are needed, that Jewish Studies teachers should teach information and values, that it's an English teachers job is to teach writing, that extroversion is better than introversion.
10:18 AM - Someone just mentioned a video that questions if it's wisest to separate by grade - I couldn't catch the name. Martin Seligman was just quoted about positive well being. His book is Flourish. Earlier Susan Cain was mentioned and her book, Quiet (also the video of her Ted-talk).
10:22 AM - There's a bit of a debate going on now about what a person should have when they leave high school. Skills? Happiness? Values? Do you need Pre-Calc for life? Do you need it for college?
10:26 AM - Will Richardson's article was just quoted. On a related note someone just said that we should make chanoch le'na'ar al pi darco our mantra.
10:28 AM - This seems to be a popular room. A bunch of people have come in in the middle, leaving other groups. I don't think anyone has left this room.
10:30 AM - A curriculum consultant just spoke up in response to the question of Judaic Studies and others' curricular goals.
10:36 AM - There's a lot of talk about a lot of walls that exist and if those walls could or should be broken down - walls between subjects, between personality types, between levels of understanding and commitment, between the Israel year and what we do. Israel has been picked up on now as a point of interest - someone is wondering aloud if the Israel year does more than "making people frum for 5 minutes."
10:43 AM - The moderator was masterful in stepping back. He now subtly is speaking up as time winds down. He has pointed out that it's interesting how many times the Israel year has come up during our talk about the 4 years of high school.
10;45 AM - An impressive (wise, quiet, thoughtful) fellow named Dov Emerson (I know his name because he was on the Middle States committee that evaluated my school this go round) is saying that we should not underestimate the power we have in relating to and engaging kids.
11:07 AM - I'm in my second session, which has 6 people (all males,all rabbinic types, it seems) in it as of now. We're talking about curriculum and standards. Teachers are creating lessons every night, someone is saying, and wondering if this needs to be the case.
A discussion took place for a few seconds about whether being able to learn Gemorah on one's own is a higher priority than other goals?
11:11 AM - I think I'm going to trust the rule that people are committed to not being offended if you leave a room...
11:17 AM - Just entered a session on being positive based on the thoughts of Martin Seligman. The facilitator of the class has his students, on the first day of school, fill out a survey about their strengths. There's talk about celebrating successes "in a loud, yet informal, yet deliberate way" - through things besides words, like body language. The advice is given to not accept negativity, not to accept the assumption that there is a they, and to create a feeling that there is a we. A complaint about email has been submitted - because it takes away from body language etc. A response is offered that emails need not be uncomplimentary, terse, or cold but can be positive as well. Yes and is being promoted instead of ever saying the word "but"... ""I notice, I wonder, what if, how might..." - This model of words can be used when you watch someone teach, says someone in in the room. I'm thinking that these words are big for life and that a classroom is just a place where life goes on.
11:33 AM - The focus is positive here, while talking about positivism (is positivity a word?) (not according to Word). The question of trust comes up. Trust must be established for positivity to be effective....
Positivity Ratio is a book and a website that the facilitator is mentioning as we wind down. If you have a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative she says that scientifically you become a person that can be successful - it's like the temperature at which water freezes, it just happens. Most people, over 80 percent, of people have less than 3 to 1ratio of positive to negative...
11:46 PM - Someone just looked up online and is now citing another group of researchers' ratio, who says that it needs to be 5.8 to 1 for a team to be successful. This is in the book Appreciative Team Building. And someone else now adds that in marriage the Gottmans say you need 5 to 1 positive to be successful.
11:54 AM - Time for lunch.
12:09 PM - I just looked this over and am going to post it. Going to eat lunch and to prepare for my session on Improv which will be one of the ones right after lunch, please G-d.
“It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ― John Wooden
Friday, April 19, 2013
Poem of the Day - The Fault In Our Stars (With Apologies to John Green)
he was made
a household name
by Robert Browning
in the households
of poetry geeks worldwide
poor Ibn Ezra
in his own words
wrote that he was
born without a star.
we are all born
but our lives
are not their fault.
came on the scene late
and looked at the beauty
of man and humanity
and decided that
though they may not be
completely to blame
there is such a thing as
the fault in our stars.
Quote of the Day
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Tanka of the Day
By Edna Saint Vincent Millay
My candle's burning at both ends
It will not last the night.
But Oh my foes, and Ah my friends
It sheds a lovely light.
Modeh Ani: Yeshiva Poetry Slam Version
It's early and late, always is. And yet. I need to write. It will be incomplete, always is. The last time we had a poetry competition one of the other school's coaches commented with some surprise on my writing: "These adults and kids, who truly love art, even within the framework of Torah, have recharged my faith in humanity." On Monday via Boston my faith in humanity was a minor casualty in a major tragedy, but it did go down.
Yesterday my school hosted our second annual slam. In seventeen years of service at the same institution these poetry events make the list of my most fulfilling moments. We won top prize - best poet. More than that, it was once again an amazing display of and by students who are bright in my favorite kind of way. I have to head out to school right now and enbrace what today brings. For a moment I need to pause and thank G-d for yesterday.
Thank you G-d for the chance to be part of something wonderful. It is a miracle that these events happen at all and a bigger miracle that they have so many positive splashes and ripples. I am grateful.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Yom HaAtzmaut 5773
Monday, April 15, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Fate felt is when the moment of crossing seems right to you. I am grateful to G-d for connecting me with an interesting cab driver, again. He told me he lost his father a week ago Friday. He asked for Jewish spiritual advice about dealing with death and he wondered what Judaism says about life after death. He connected to the idea of giving charity in memory of the person. So simple and almost cliched in my mind and yet to him it was fresh and exciting. He told me he's been doing this job for two years and feels that G-d sends his way the people he needs to meet. I was glad to have a conversation about ideas and a real give and take about life. I really needed that.
Friday, April 12, 2013
I received a lot of positive feedback from my 9T Chumash class today when I shared this Dvar Torah with them. Part of it was that they liked the ideas. I think what they liked best was that they were addressed and mentioned in it. In fact it is about them and you and me and all of us.
As the high school year runs its final laps the seniors relish being the most experienced students in school. These young men and women have grown profoundly through four intense years and represent the end product of a high school career. Still, it seems like seconds ago they were ninth graders - and that position was not without it’s charm. Back then they were more innocent. In September, as freshmen, they’ll again have the chance to see things from an original perspective, one that will grow and then be gone in another four years. These students and their transition are the inspiration behind this piece concerning the dynamic relationship between being first and last in the cycle of life. I dedicate these thoughts to my students, both the seniors and the other grades moving upwards.
According to Rashi the juxtaposition of the end of Shmini and the start of Tazria conveys the idea that just like in creation animals preceded people, so too in regard to laws of purity and impurity animals come first, then people. There is a similar Rashi regarding Yaakov meeting Eisav and organizing his family (Vayishlach 33:2). This is the concept of “Acharon, Acharon Chaviv. Antechambers precede grand ballrooms and similarly this world precedes the next (Avot 4:21). Shabbos follows the week. (it’s not just a day of rest, but the best day was created following all the other days). The best comes last.
On the other hand, first is best. First born gets honor and privilege. The first of the month and the first of the year are days of prestige. The first Aliyah of Torah reading is the one a Kohein is honored with.
Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin addresses the issue of first versus last as a position of honor. He asserts that when one thing precedes another and the first is a means and the second the end, then the last is clearly more important. Shabbat is more important than the days that precede it because the rest of the week is preparation for Shabbat. And this serves as a metaphor. In the words of Chazal: “He who works diligently before Shabbat will eat on Shabbat.”
Rav Zevin cites the medrash on Breishit that tells us that when we live up to our potential mankind is told by G-d that everything was created for us and that's why we were created last. But G-d reminds us when we stray, "even the gnat was created before you". While it is true that last is best, as Rashi alludes to at the start of Shmini, this is only the case if what comes last elevates and transcends what came before it. But when last misses it's spiritual calling, then it's first come first served, and whoever was physically created first is more esteemed, and last is last on the totem pole.
What really matters is how you use your position. Being first gives you a chance to thrive in a new place and in a fresh way. Being last allows you to build on what has come before. In our life we all are neither exclusively first nor last. In our lives we all have a first grade and a last, a first job and a last, a first love and a last. Each comes with its own advantage. On the one hand Chazal say that the education of a young person is comparable to writing on clean paper, which is better than writing on erased paper (Avot 4:25). Conversely, we are told that there is no one who is wiser than an experienced person is (Mili De’Avot 10b).
May high school students, in Frisch and everywhere, and all of us be blessed with the best of both being first and last.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The Thing With Feathers
Monday, April 08, 2013
On the bus coming home from work tonight American Pie was playing on the radio. I was struck the the rhyme between door step and more step. At first I thought it was a cop out rhyming step with itself and then I realized he was treading the two words (compound?) as one/ And then I realized I had this same issue with Billy Joel's rhyme - "these are the times to hold on to, but we won't although we'll want to." At first I thought rhyming to with itself was cheap and then a friend argued that rhyming want to with on to was clever. Thoughts, oh myriad readers?
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Between silences there is silence
and in the half asleep silence
I try to wake myself up enough
So that I can write this poem
Before I choose to settle in one
Of the worlds I oscillate in between
Friday, April 05, 2013
2 On Shmini By Me
Thursday, April 04, 2013
I think sometimes about Rav Kook's thought about Tefilat HaDerech. he says it's not just about robbers or wild animals. On a deeper level Tefilat HaDerech is about moving from one space into another. this can be a turbulent time for our soul and thus we pray for extra divine supervision.
It struck me this year that we start the Pesach Seder by listing the fifteen steps we hope to ascend during the night. At the end we say Yishtabach (the same one we said this morning and every morning), which has 15 words of praise for G-d (some say to say it all in one breath) and fifteen words following Baruch Atah Hashem at its conclusion.
Today was my first day back to my regular work, following my break time work.A colleague/dear friend asked me to find for him the source of the words -
"Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."
It is by Robert Browning, the opening lines of his poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra. It's funny this came up because I just mentioned this poem in a talk over Pesach about Jewish/Torah poetry. The opening stanza of that poem was the inspiration for a John Lennon song called "Grow old With Me."
After I supplies the background my friend told me why he asked. The rabbi who married him and his wife many years ago quoted that line at the chupah. He plans to get it put on a plaque.
Over Pesach i taught a large improv workshop and was joined by a colleague i invited to run it with me:
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Back From the Berkshires Again
It feels like yesterday that I wrote this piece, but it was eight years ago. I wrote it upon returning from serving as rabbi at a Pesach retreat at Isabella Freedman. I've been doing it all these years. I have so much to say, just got home a short while ago and yet the words are hard to find. People came to talk to me all the time - I listened and counseled about grief and relationships and more. Heavy stuff lightened by sharing; amazing to what extent mentioning = managing.
I spoke about the hagaddah in two pre Seder shiurim. I ran 2 seders and all the minyanim. I spoke about humor and poetry and freedom and love and stories - each of those a full length talk in its own right. I ran a workshop on improv and one on poetry. And I spoke at Yizkor. I emceed the talent show. It was all fulfilling, and exhausting, and I wish I could write about all of what happened and tell you the under the surface stories too.
On the bus ride home (which was late in leaving because a man who was asked to move his seat to accommodate a couple refused to do so) (after a whole to do of of negotiations and fights and stalemates and the bus not leaving I walked up to man - with whom I developed a connection and a relationship of mutual respect over the holiday - and quietly asked him to do me a favor and move his seat, and he did and off we went).
I tried to write and what flowed was writing about not writing:
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Poetry With Class
I just facilitated a workshop in poetry writing. Everyone wrote one acrostic poem out of the word shul and either a rubai or a chain of rubaiyat.
Here's one by an anonymous, talented, ten year old -
Songs escape from
Hallel and creep
Under the door
Here's one by Lynn Cohen
Pesach means spring, flowers in bloom
Not this frigid, windy, gray gloom
When will the sun shine, steadily, full
Not just to tease us, only to loom
And by Evelyn Richman -
Singing, chanting aloud
Home of G-d, G-dly thoughts
YOU; we'll stay, need to stay
Longingly, lovingly here
Sy - free a Jewish slave
Love, i don't want to rave
But at isabella Freedman
Think of the energy i'll save
We have to learn and honor the hava amina because this whole life is a hava amina - Rav Simcha Bunim
Saturday, March 30, 2013
It Was Always A Clark Bar
I recently got a make my day kind of comment on this old post. I remember when I put that one up telling someone that those pictures were meaningful to me, particularly that I liked the one of the diner. They said that they thought of it as "a throw away post."
If only there was more sharing of memories and sweetness and sweet memories the world would be a better place. On Friday night for an hour and a half we sat and shared memories. And it was good.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
From 5:30 to 6:30 this Yom Tov (second day of first days) afternoon I told stories to young children (4-7). I started with a couple of Chelm stories. One of the kids had heard that the people of Chelm were actually wise. I said I heard that too and that I'd also heard that people made up the stories about them being not so smart out of jealousy and that it wasn't so nice. She politely raised her hand and asked why, if I myself said it wasn't nice was I telling Chelm stories. I said that maybe from now on I would just tell the stories and not a town.
Afterwards I was talking with the youth leader and he said that stories were like a blanket, warm and comforting and snuggly. I was reminded of, and shared with him, the story from the Gemorah about how in a time of Rabbi Yehudah bar Ilai there was such poverty that six students had to share one blanket. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelewitz says that it's hard to conceive of six people sharing one blanket. He says that it's possible if each one is trying to give the blanket to the other.
A couple that I've been spending Pesach with up here at Camp IF for years told me that they needed to meet with me right after Yom Tov let out. A lot of people talk with me and I've already counseled some people on their relationships and listened to others share about their illnesses and more. I wondered what this was (and guessed that maybe they wanted to set me up). We met in the bookstore, which is left unlocked, and was the most private place around. Hannah, who always helps me set up my spot and provides me with water when I give my kiddush talk made me a blanket as a birthday present! It's her own creation, that she usually sells - Snuggle Fleece Blankets! Wow! This brought me great joy.
I like being here because the tone is not banal but quite the other end of the spectrum. People who come here care and connect and are interested in ideas and growth. it is a blessing to be part of this Pesach program.
I was talking to someone yesterday about Rav Nachman stories. I said how I often think about the one about the Xs on the head. (A town's water (or wheat) is tainted and makes anyone who imbibes it crazy. A king and his assistant hold out, but eventually, if they want to stay alive, they have to imbibe. But they each put an X on the other one's forehead so that they will at least remember that they are crazy.) I said that before I ever get a "smart" phone I'll need to put a mark on my head so people can remind me how crazy it is to be connected to technology like that constantly. He said he had considered throwing his Iphone into his chametz fire.
Then he said a line that struck me, "Today we are so available that we are not available." I pray we all be blessed to be available to each other in the emotional more than technical sense of the word, always.
It's about 11:10 PM, almost time for bed. I'm still processing though. Someone who worked here for many years up until this one, and who lost her father and worked through some of that with me a few years ago gave me wine and chocolate for Pesach. It was a beautiful gesture much appreciated. I think I can't eat one of the boxes of chocolate covered marshmallow twists though, as the hashgacha is by this rabbi, who represents a shitah, but not the one widely accepted.
We just watched The Final Victory, the interesting story of Dr. Felix Zandman that is not (in America) well known. It's available to watch in full here.
Hagaddah ideas are still resonating - atzabeihem is used to mean idols - atzabeihem kesef vezahav. Via the 1974 SOY Hagaddah - this could mean those things that make us sad are silver and gold.
Rav Kook notes the halacha of remembering the Beit HaMikdash. The Shulchan Aruch says that people often kept this halacha by setting an unused place at the table. He says that at the seder, because the cups of wine are so primary, we remember the Churban by having an empty cup on the table. The custom, for many, is to fill the cup of Eliyahu before Shfoch Chamatcha. That's the empty cup that has been there. And we fill it now at the point of the Seder when we are so filled with hope and really feel that the future Geulah is coming.
I don't know what to write or where to write it, not much is new and yet so much is. I am feeling a bit run down, the start of a cold. I've run 2 seders of about 4 hours each - leading and singing and teaching and standing on a chair and running around like a chicken without a head. I spoke between Mincha and Maariv on Monday and Tuesday night (the second night longer than the first) about the Hagaddah. I ran the minyanim, led some of the davening myself, did some of the laining. I spoke twice for about an hour each time at kiddush time (humor, freedom). And unofficially I taught the day camp little kids and spoke with a bunch of people as rabbi. I hurt one woman's feelings and hope she accepted my apologies. I read and learned and shared some nice new thoughts. Today I oversaw and negotiated the three minyanim and helped with some programming, listened to some people's stories, and also had some space.
May we all be blessed with redemption, and soon.
Please pass the redemption, and the poetry, the you being you and me being me.
Ascension is a Jewish theme, particularly between Pesach and Shavuot, it's what we are meant to do.
So, I sit, quietly doing my avodah, as you do yours, even if we don't know that our lives are holy service.
Someday we will not need to fall in the same bowl of soup again and we together with G-d will stand outside the soup pot and boil the perfect recipe.
Only me, it's all I can be, but to do so I need to stop imitating you.
Very much pain, it's what I've been hearing a lot of lately - like the 93 year old man who told me today that his greatest wish in life is to not be alive this time next year.
Everyone is alive for a reason - I need to believe that this is true, and I actually do.
Redemption is on one or the other side of the door.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Passover Announcement 5773
Here's last year's version of my hagaddah. I very much hope to tweak it for this year and post it soon.
Did you see this post last year? Do you think it will be much less green? Colder? Snowy? Icy?
Will I be ready to leave by 3?
Why is it hard for me to organize, to move, to do physical things?
Why do I prefer internal living and internal worlds?
Why are people not as kind to other people as they can be?
Why is eating such a challenge?
Why do I blog? Why do you read? Who are you? Can you tell me who I am?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Between Pesach and Shavuot
the slave climbs away
from slavery to freedom
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I'm taken by the idea of super-imposing wisdom onto a child that they may not consciously have and don't have the words for.
On Turning Ten
By Billy Collins
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Irena Sendler: From the Chasiday Umos HaOlam
Guest Post By Laurie R.
Irena Sendler joined the Zagota underground soon after Poland was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. Zagota members specialized in helping Jews escape the Nazis and, as part of this effort, Sendler obtained a pass which allowed her to enter the Warsaw ghetto as a social worker who specialized in infectious diseases.
Once in the ghetto, Sendler quickly discerned that the fate of the Jews would most certainly be death. She concentrated on bringing young children out of the ghetto, sometimes smuggling them through the Old Courthouse on the edge of the ghetto and at other times sedating them and hiding them in toolboxes or under seats on trams. Sendler and her Zagota assistants also led many children out of the ghetto through the sewer pipes which ran under the city.
Some of the children that Sendler brought out were orphans but others still had living parents and Sendler had to work to convince the parents that sending their child away was the only way that a child might survive. She later noted that she had to "talk the parents out of their children."
Sendler found a foster family for each child and documented the child's name and adoptive family on tissue paper which she buried in glass jars in her backyard. Sendler's goal was to eventually reunite the children with their families or, if that proved impossible, with their community.
In 1943 Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned and tortured, yet she never revealed where any of the children were located. Zagota members succeeded in bribing a prison guard and obtaining Sendler's release and she lived out the remainder of the war in hiding.
Irena Sendler succeeded in saving over 2500 Jewish children, double the number that Oskar Schindler saved, but her story was almost lost to history until a group of Kansas schoolgirls stumbled on a short account of the incident and began to investigate. Their research culminated in the Life in a Jar project which through the Lowell Milken Center honored Sendler and brought this chapter of Holocaust studies to international attention.