Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brought to you by Great Moments at Hillel

Try explaining "Jewdar" to your Israel Fellow, who has never lived in a country where Jews are the minority, and is not sure how to pick the Jewish students out of the crowds while tabling.

"Um...look for people with curly hair, Star of David or hamsa necklaces, Hebrew lettering on their shirts, and well, skinny awkward guys are usually a safe bet, and..."

Friday, September 5, 2008

So, now I'm getting paid to be Jewish and do Jewish and live Jewish from 9-5, Monday-Thursday, and from 2-10 on Fridays, including Shabbat.

I went to Shabbat at TBE tonight, and didn't really feel...much...

It could be because I spent most of the week tabling and looking for someone to blow the shofar for Rosh Hashana, and I was already at TBE three days in a row this week (Tuesday for Rosh Chodesh, Wednesday for a meeting that didn't happen, and Thursday for two meetings that did). I wonder if Judaism is going to become "rote" for me - so much a part of my daily life that nothing will separate it from anything else.

I've already come to terms with the fact that Shabbat will become part of the working week - it will probably be a source of stress, for that matter. That's why I get one Shabbat off each month, which I figured I'd spend at TBE. I just hope I can separate it for myself, make sure it makes a difference, if that makes sense.

Jacob warned me about this, and he suggested finding new outlets. It's always good to find new outlets anyways. I'll ask Rabbi S. about it this weekend when he comes down for our training too.

It could just be this week and nothing else. Some weeks it is harder to let go. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Tabling for Hillel has taught me that I attract very awkward guys who:

a) Can't carry a conversation
b) Aren't Jewish
c) Aren't interested in Hillel and
d) Just want a captive audience

I did however, get two people to fill out info cards today, and I got five people yesterday. So I guess I'm doing fine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rosh Chodesh Elul

We have started the month of Elul, which, I read, means "search." Fitting for the month of release and returning, the month of Rosh Hashana, the New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Elul enumerates a process of cleansing and creating goals, of letting go of one year and starting another.

Tonight I attended my first Rosh Chodesh circle at TBE. I brought C with me, but every other woman there was over 40. There were candles in a circle and we introduced ourselves matrilineally, according to the tradition. We also welcomed into the circle women who were on our minds, but not physically present. We shared our goals for the coming year and we talked about the year that we're leaving behind. I told them what happened last year on Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat before Rosh Hashana.

TBE always holds Shabbat Shuva at the beach. There's something about the end of summer, a bonfire, and the crashing ocean that is perfect for the final Shabbat of the retiring year. I was sitting in the dark listening to the ocean during silent meditation when it hit me. I don't have to be a grad student. Wave upon wave of relief, joy, sadness, and crushing raw emotion. I felt free.

I promised myself on that night that if I couldn't do grad school healthfully, I couldn't do grad school at all. And, as promised, I finished my school year and I have not applied to new programs. I'm working at Hillel, giving back to the community that was always the one space where I never had to be anything but what I am.

Part of me was concerned about losing that space. I mean, it's enough, hoping that I can help create that for someone else. But I was still searching for a Jewish space where I don't have to perform anything - a space where I can just be.

I found that tonight at the TBE Rosh Chodesh circle. I'm so glad they meet each month. I'm looking forward to this. I will make time for it, even after I start my own Rosh Chodesh circle for the students. This one, this time, it's for me.