randomness...: October 2005

My opinions, updates on my life, all sorts of "randomness"...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"I took a cane from a blind man
I tasted the fruit in the Garden of Eden
When I walk out of here
I know I'll stand clear
But the taste in my mouth remains"
Saturday night, after Shabbas, I went to an amazing Guster concert. This was my 5th or 6th time seeing them in concert, and they just keep getting better and better. The sound of "Two Points For Honesty" still sends shivers throughout my body.

I went to the show with my friend Jo who had never heard Guster before. So awesome to introduce someone to a band as amazing as Guster--if any of you haven't heard them, buy their cds immediately. In the spirit of Halloween (I know, I know, not the most Jewish of holidays, but fun nonetheless) I wore a pink wig:

Fun, right?

Roth came in to town today for some med school interviews. We spent the day downtown, walking around, and shopping (pretty girly, I know, but fun). And she's still here for a couple more days. There's actually going to be lots of seeing friends from home coming up--next Sunday i'll be in Ann Arbor, and then the weekend after I'll also be in Michigan since I have a convention at Tamarack. So if anyone's going to be around, let me know!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Funnest website ever: HookedOnFacts

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On yuntiv I tested out the capacity of my apartment--18 people for dinner on Shmini Atzeret. Baruch Hashem. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Succot BaMidbar

The plans began in September, with an e-mail from Rachel about plans to visit her & Avi in Tucson over Succot:
"As ya'll know, Avi and I live in a condo-like apartment. Our porch is covered, so I spent the past few days brainstorming how we could have a Sukkah. I thought: maybe the landing of our stairs, but then it would be tiny and in the way. Maybe outside in the courtyard, but there's tree-cover that would prevent it from being kosher, and if we moved it to the parking-lot, I wouldnt expect it to survive the holiday without being torn down, stolen, or inhabited by a family of 15.

So the new idea...was thrown out jokingly by me, but Avi thinks it would be great. We could backpack into the desert, and live in our Sukkah out there, just as our ancestors spent their time in the Midbar with total dependance on God.

Is it feasable? I think so...Invite anyone you want to join, and think well about it. We're exchanging a normal holiday experience with its yummy food and long luxurious naps for the chance to sleep under the stars and feel the midbar vulnerablity.

Who's in?"

Seven of us were up for the adventure (and had schedules that allowed us to go)--Avi, me, Anna, Rachel, Bethany, Aryeh & Sam.

Next to finding flights that allowed us to miss the minimal amount of work/school, the biggest challenge was how to build the succah. Now, I have a succah, unfortunately it's in West Bloomfield, not here in Chicago, & is crazy heavy--ie not conducive to bringing on a plane. So that wasn't going to work. The tough part was building a succah big enough for 7 that would hold up to the weather, and not cost a fortune. The solution? We built a teepee. Nope, not kidding, our succah was a teepee.

That's Sam, minutes before yuntiv began as we were putting the final touches on our succah. We set it up in the rain, expecting that there were be thunderstorms and rain the whole time we were there. I honestly assumed we would be wet the entire time, and that the succah would blow over in the storms. And did it? (I know, the suspense....) As it turned out, Hashem was smile on us. The thunderstorms stayed away, the tarantulas & scorpions stayed away, the succah stood up to the test, and somehow my headlamp stayed on the whole time, lighting our succah! Amazing.

All in all, the whole experience was incredible. Sleeping in the succah, one with nature, amazing full moons that lit up the whole desert, singing zmirot amongst the cacti--I loved it. Not to mention the great company!

I've been struggling lately with my spirituality, and with finding a way to be at the spiritual level I want to be, when I'm outside of Israel. This whole experience showed me that I can have it, amazing spiritual experiences here. Sometimes it's as simple as chilling outside next to a cactus. Spirituality is all around us, wherever we are. Ideally we'd all be in Israel, where spirituality is easy to find, but even in America, it's possible--it just takes a little more effort! And maybe getting out of the city once in awhile.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tucson is so gorgeous. Avi & Rachel have the cutest apartment ever, and this darling little kitten that isn't too bad, for a cat. Plans for the succah seem to be coming along well, although we'll see how well it holds up to seven of us in it in the thunderstorms!

So it's time for Succot BaMidbar!! Off to set up our teepee-ish succah n the desert!


Friday, October 14, 2005

Right after Shabbas I leave for my Tucson Succot adventure. You have no idea how excited I am. Amazing.
Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

On the eve of Yom Kippur, I'm sorry for any way I may have hurt you this year, be it intentional or unintentional, knowingly or unknowingly. Please accept my apology.

G'mar Chatimah Tovah!! May you be inscribed in the book of life!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Friday night I had my first Shabbas meal in my new apartment (see how pretty my table looked?). It was nice--I've missed making meals since I've been here. And it forced me to finally kasher my oven! :)

Jake was in town this weekend, in his job doing promotions for "The Devil", so last night I went out with him and his friends.

Super fun, had a blast. So all in all, it's been a fun weekend. Look at me, playing in the city!

Monday, October 03, 2005

I know I haven't posted in awhile--sorry. I started writing this essay (yes, an actual essay--I guess I miss school slash writing for the JN) but I haven't had a chance to finish it. I'm now in Pittsburgh for Rosh Hashana, and I'll be back in Chi-town Thursday morning. The whole Chicago thing has actually been going pretty well... After my first miserable week of sitting home alone every night and wishing I was back "home" (yet at the same time not sure what counted as home anymore), I had my first Shabbas there, and met some great people. The shul I've been going to (I haven't officially joined yet, but I will) is Anshei Shalom, is this cute little Modern Orthodox shul with a great community. Everyone has been super friendly, which definitely makes the adjustment easier. I'm actually getting excited about this year!

So I had the best wake up call ever this morning. My friend Ezra, back in Yerushalyim after three months traveling in Southeast Asia, called to say Shana Tova. He has ben sending these amazing updates on his life, and his thoughts on what he's been experiencing. So here;'s some of his words, from one of his e-mails to the "holy chevra," written on his last day traveling:

Now comes the real challenge. Here in India there is
much darkness, so the light naturally jumps straight
up at you- but what about in yerushalayim, mammish the
city of fire?! Reflecting generally on these past few
months, it has of course dawned on me that all is not
light in yerushalayim, or anywhere in Israel for that
matter. I dont refer simply to the hitnatkut, i refer
to the face of Torah in Israel-- for all its beauty,
it has managed to accumulate so much dirt and is
desperately crying out for cleansing, for a new energy
and shine so that all who need it may be warmed. There
is so much work, so much tikkun to be done- it is
almost impossible to believe that Torah, something so
completely beautiful to truly be beyond all words
(though we do try- i was in a yeshiva for five years!)
has been so justifiably darkened in the eyes of the
world, and even worse in the eyes of so many fellow
Jews i've been traveling and talking to these past few

What gives me hope is that i feel blessed to be part
of a chevra that is mammish starting to turn things
around, to embrace a Torah of light, of openness, of
love, of respect-- and in what i feel to be a really
really real way. Leaving this journey behind is in
many ways painful, and the transitions of the coming
weeks and months are scary indeed, but with your
support and presence i see so much excitement ahead. I
also have some small plans of my own for the future
betterment of our community, and i cant wait to share
them with you in the very near future. A new life, a
new light, and could there be a better time than elul
and rosh hashana- hamelekh basadeh!!!!!

...namaste and so so much love-
shavua tov-

Amazing... Such an incredible kid. So while I'm sharing other people's Rosh Hashana thoughts with you, here's one more. This is from Yehoshua Coren, Shalem Recruiter for YJ.
A quick thought based on a teaching of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l.  The Midrash (our ancient Rabbinic tradition) says that before God created the world, He prayed.  After that, when the world was created, Hashem introduced the notion of brachot, blessings.  Our Sages teach us that the first letter of the Torah, 'BET', was chosen to begin the creation of the world because the word b'reishit, the first word in the Torah and the first statement of Creation, alludes to bracha, blessing.

What's the difference between prayer, tefillah, and blessing, bracha?    When I pray, I'm praying that God will do everything.  When I give a blessing, this is saying that I have the power to bless.  We believe that every person has the power to bless. 

The first thing that we do on Rosh HaShana night is to bless each other.  We bless each other that we should be written and sealed in the Book of Life.  When we do this it's like saying, "Listen.  If I'm going to merit to be written into the Book of Life, I only want to be written there if I'm written with you.  I'm saying before God that I only want to be written in the Book of Life if it's with you."  On Rosh HaShana, we're all so connected.

In Young Judaea our anthem is "Ani v'Ata Neshaneh et HaOlam."  "You and I will change the world."   But the truth is, on Rosh HaShana our connection to each other is so much deeper.  We are connected to each other on a level that is so deep, above and beyond the level of separateness of "You and I"  Rather, instead of "You and I" we are on the level of "WE"

So this is my bracha, my blessing, to all of Young Judaea: "Anachnu Neshaneh et HaOlam," that "We Will Change the World."

Ketiva v'chatima tova.  May we be written and sealed together for a good, sweet year.

B'avaha mirushalayim,


Everyone is so spiritual these days--I love it. So to al of you who made it to the end of this uber-long post, Shana Tova! The best of luck with all of your endeavors, both new (like a new teaching job or moving to DC) and existing. And remember, whenever you're in Chicago, you have a place to stay!


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