I wasnt able to directly embed a video file to my blog, so I’ve uploaded the original clip here. I hope you enjoy it. Thoughts?
This week’s Torah parshah is Chayei Sarah, meaning “life of Sarah.” It’s ironic, isn’t it? After all, it’s all about her death. I’ve honestly never understood that. But anyway, here’s my take on it.
Taken from chabad.org (source can be found here)
“When the news reached Sarah that Isaac was nearly sacrificed, the shock of his near loss coupled with the relief of his life being spared was too much for her to bear, and she died. Abraham purchased the Machpeilah Cave and the surrounding field from the local Hittites for her burial grounds in Hebron.”
Now some may call Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son brave or an act of faith, but it’s actually an act of terrorism. Faith in G-d is all well and good, but there are limits. In the above passage, it states that after Yizchak was nearly killed, the stress and fear for her son’s life and the resulting relief that what she feared had not indeed come to pass was too much for Sarah to handle. Avraham caused that stress, and in doing so, doomed his wife. He screwed them both over. This story is proof that stress really is a killer. I know about stress! I’m in college!
Honoring my parents has always been difficult to me. Most of my followers here on WordPress know that I was raised by a single mom. Don’t get me wrong, she did the best she could raising me. But for the last few years, I haven’t felt like a daughter. I feel like a lightning rod. I feel as though I’m the one who cleans up the messes and absorbs all the dysfunction, not too different from Meg Griffin of Family Guy fame. There’s a double standard between the way Mom treats me and the way she treats my stepdad. When I’m out of work, I’m expected to be the perfect obedient housemaid and clean messes I wasn’t even there to make. When Brian quit his job, he was allowed to sleep until noon and play his war games all day. Every time I try to stick up for myself, I’m never taken seriously.
Today was the last straw. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had an angry outburst. When Mom asked me to clean up, I burst out, “Why should I? You never do!” Immediately, I regretted what I had said. Mom had a major surgery not a week ago, and I was incredibly cruel to her. But the emotional toll this has taken on me is too much. I’ve spent so much time eloping after others and trying to be selfless that I haven’t been taking proper care of myself. The worst part is that Mom doesn’t even know what she’s doing to me or how much power she has over me.
And then there’s my birth father. He has broken promise after promise after promise, not only to me but also to my sister’s as well. All three of us hate him, and not without reason. He’s never been there for any of us. He had money for cigarettes but not child support. He blamed everyone for his actions: Mom, Grandma, even me once. The guy can’t take responsibility to save his life.
One of the most well known mitzvah is that of Kibud Av Va-Em (Honoring parents). It’s one of the most difficult mitzvot I’ve tried to take on so far. It’s the only one that I’ve been truly, truly struggling with. Does this make me a bad Jew or a bad person? Does G-d even care?
Today is the day before my mother’s surgery. She’s scared, but then we all are. My stepdad and I have been cleaning the shit out of our apartment as a result. And one of Mom’s coworkers sent us a bag of grocries from the Safeway down the street.
Kindness isn’t something that one finds on a daily basis. In fact, it’s extremely rare in Trump’s America. Humanity is not a smart species. We elected Bush twice and Trump once. Nor are we a kind species. From politicians restricting what I can buy with food stamps and women’s rights to crime in our world, one would think that there are folks who just want to watch the world burn. But I believe we can be a kind species.
And that’s why mitzvah actually does mean “Good deed.” There are mitzvah which can also be classified as good deeds. The world needs help, there’s no doubt about that. Do what you can to help. Give tzedakah. Volunteer. Visit a sick or lonely neighbor. Leave a nice note inside a library book. The possibilities are limitless.
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted copied and pasted “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
I was thirteen. I was walking Luca when some guys in a yellow truck pulled up. The worst the driver did was wave, but it was the Latino guy next to him that did the talking. He kept saying things like “You’re pretty” and “Come with us!” The guy had to have been in his thirties at the very least. I was thirteen. It scared the shit out of me for weeks on end afterward, and I couldn’t even walk to the bus stop without looking over my shoulder.
I was thirteen.
It’s bullshit. It’s scary. It’s fucking WWII all over again. My mother is worried about me wearing my Star of David in broad daylight. I understand where Mom’s coming from, but I’m not going to give in to fear or hate. If I do, then the Nazi asswipes get exactly what they want. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction. I’m Jewish, goddamn it. That’s who I am. I’m not trading the only fucking identity I’ve ever known for anything. Not for the Nazis (yes, that’s what they are), not for Mom, not even for G-d Himself (Herself?) I don’t know any other way to be. I’m not scared for my own safety, but for my grandma’s. She’s just a seventy-something year old woman who’s obsessed with her stupid cat and Wheel of Fortune, yet there are assholes who would wish her harm. She’s everything to me, and I hope to G-d she knows it. Virginia is no place for an old Jewish lady right now. Learn kung fu, carry mace, do whatever you have to do to stay safe. We live in a scary world right about now.
It’s finally fucking happened. After years of alternating between full kosher but no tznius, tznius but no brachos, I’ve finally figured out what I’m comfortable with Jewishly. I’ve been what I call religiously bisexual for a number of years now and it’s confused me to no end. I’ve been pissed off at the Big Man because of it, but I believe that I’ve made my peace with G-d. I used to feel as though He hated my guts. After all, why else would He plague me with an absent birth father, depression, anxiety, and constant unemployment?
But I realize that maybe these trials were not a punishment, but a test that I damn near failed. My faith has never been strong. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that I was raised with almost no religious education (let alone a Jewish one), but all I know is that I’m happy now. I don’t have the patience to be a full on Hasid. But I’ve found where I belong in the Jewish world. After all, Judaism is who I am. I don’t know any other way to be.
I’ve just made my first bracha in a long time, and it felt damn good. If I forget a blessing, I won’t sweat it. G-d will understand. I’m still learning the ropes after all. It’s strange, feeling like this. But I like it. Thoughts?
I will be pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education this fall semester at my local community college. There are almost no lists of backpack essentials for Jews, so here is mine:
- Interview folder-If you are unemployed like me, you may want to keep a folder with resumes, paper apps, and cover letters with you. This is a damn lifesaver.
- Pens-Self explanatory. You never know when you’ll need to write something down.
- Wallet-Again, self explanatory. Keep it in an easily accessible part of your bag so you don’t have to scramble for it when you need it.
- Keys-house, mail, car, bus pass, whatever you have. It helps if you keep them on a lanyard, which many booths at street fairs give out free.
- iPod/Music player-How else would you listen to kosher music? 🙂
- Textbooks-If you’re taking less than four classes like me, you can still put your textbooks in your bag without overcrowding it. The same goes for workbooks.
- Pencils-Most math classes won’t accept work written in pen. Why, I have no clue.
- Gum-Bad breath is a huge turn off for employers, rabbis, professors…basically everybody.
- Water-You would not believe how thirsty I get between classes.
- Snacks-See above. I’m bitchy when I’m hungry, which is why I can’t fast on Yom Kippur.
- Headphones-For listening to Jewish music, watching Torah classes, and listening to playback recordings of class lectures.
- Deodorant- I am constantly forgetting to apply it in the mornings.
- Pencil sharpener-So you don’t have to use the loud noisy ones and distract the rest of the class.
- Highlighter-Useful for classwork, homework, and Torah study.
- Medication-I can’t even count the number of times my medication alarm has gone off and I was nowhere near my pill sorter.
- Bus schedules-If you don’t have a car, these are lifesavers, especially when your phone is dead.
- Coloring book-Boredom is a bitch. ‘Nuff said.
- Notebooks for class-I take so. Many Notes.
- Psalm book-For prayer or study. Mine was from Amazon, and is travel size.
- Travel size siddur-I don’t want my nicer one to get messed up by all the jostling that goes on in my bag.
- Travel size bracha book-You would not believe how many times I’ve forgotte to say brachas for foods or even forgotten which blessings to say. I love the one from Orthodox Union.
- Flashlight-In case the lights go out. Mine is LED and I got it from a street fair.
- Laptop-For watching Torah classes and working on coursework.
- Sunglasses-Can’t study Torah blind, can you?
- Something to read-Again, boredom sucks.
- Chargers-Lifesavers, these things.
- Hair ties-I’m a messy eater. I have ended up with food in my (extremely long!) hair more times than I care to admit.
- Something to do-Puzzle book, Angry Birds, whatever goes.
- Phone-For obvious reasons.
- Hoodie-I’m constantly cold, and since it’s fall semester, It’s very useful.
- Mini hairbrush-For neatening up when you need to.
- Planner-For homework, interviews, laundry reminders, and other things.
Am I missing anything? If so, leave a comment below!
On November 8, 2016, America elected a racist, xenophobic, selfish, climate change-denying orange faced bigot as its supreme leader. Trump is unfit for the Presidency. He has referred to women as pigs and dogs. He has authorized The Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines, both of which are illegal according to the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851. He has called for a total ban on people from Muslim countries coming into the United States. He has said that he would date his own daughter were she not his daughter. He has several complaints of sexual assault under his belt. He cares nothing for seniors, women, people of color, the LGBT community, veterans, or immigrants. He is in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause. He is a narcissist. He is completely unqualified for the job.
Fear is the best sort of breeding ground for this regime. Everyone in this country is living in fear right now. They go about their business, doing their thing, and don’t act because no one they care about is safe anymore. And they have every right to be scared. They could be deported or arrested or even killed in a hate crime. The regime is insane.
That’s what we need to do. We need to educate people about what Trump is really doing. We need to donate to Planned Parenthood or PFLAGG. We need to get in constant contact with our elected officials. We need to march. We need to fight back in any way we can. Trump can’t shut the whole country up. We are the silent majority. I will not be silenced anymore. I’m done sitting on my ass, unable to do anything. I believe in a free America, not a dictatorship. I will fight. Will you?
You may not have seen, but there’s a disturbing video circulating the Internet. No, it’s not uncensored porn or that scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark loses his shit. It’s even more sinister. On Dec. 30, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis, from Cedartown, Georgia, used the social streaming app Live.Me to broadcast her suicide. I haven’t been brave enough to see the video yet. Her parents took it off her Facebook page, but you can still find it. My question is, who would even want to see that? That poor girl felt she had no other way out, and for people to goggle at her last moments like a monkey in a zoo is just tasteless. This is why we need to destigmatize mental illness in America. It can strike anywhere. Let me put it this way: Depression is caring about nothing. Anxiety is caring about every. Single. Thing. Having them both is hell. Hell isn’t a fiery pit or a Breitbart article. Hell is depression. Hell is being paralyzed with sadness to the point where you can’t breathe. You can’t think. It’s not about anything but crippling, drowning pain. Hell is spending most of your nights in a panic or in tears or both. I’m lucky. I have access to meds. Between my best friend and my boyfriend, I have a good support system. But for Kaitlyn Davis, help didn’t come too late. It didn’t come at all. Ave atque vale, Kaitlyn Davis. Hail and farewell, Kaitlyn Davis.