Friday, September 28, 2007

A few more links...

Read another story about Temple Shalom and a Temple of Peace in the Jewish publication forward here.

Inspired to make a tax-deductible donation? You can do that here.

Since I last posted that link, the synagogue has uploaded a promotional video that you might enjoy. That can be found on the home page here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Along the same lines

A post from my friend Nathan's blog.

It's kind of hard to believe that in a post-Holocaust world that the architects did not have that intent, but maybe they didn't? And it's not like Google Earth is the only place to see the building's aerial look. There are airplanes, too.

What do you think?

Jewish Jokes and Such

Work is weird for me. My newsroom is not a place I feel totally comfortable being myself. I try to open up to people, be myself and often find myself the subject of ridicule. I think it's partly the fact that I'm a 24-year-old woman. I think it's partly that I have a job a few others I work with wanted. I also think it's partly because people know I have thin skin.

Anyway, the point of this blog is that someone made a Jewish joke in my general vicinity today. And, yes, it was directed toward me.

I won't repeat the joke here. But I will tell you it was made by a man who is married to a non-practicing Jewish woman. A woman who spent some time living in Israel as a child, but has all but abandoned religion. Maybe that matters. Maybe that doesn't.

What matters most is that I didn't know how to react. We all make jokes based on stereotypes. Sometimes it's a joke about a sorority girl. I know I've directed a few of those at my friend, who is a sorority alumnae. She laughs most of the time. Sometimes the jokes seem a little more personal.

So how did I react? Well, I guess you could say I didn't. I didn't join in the laughter that seemed coming from all sides at me in my workplace. I think I muttered a "heh" of acknowledgement.

Ryan says he would have told people it wasn't funny. I guess I'm not brave enough for that yet. I think I was scared to be seen as the crybaby in the newsroom, though I might already have that reputation. Luckily, it was at the tailend of my shift, and I was able to gather my stuff and leave work before my emotions got the better of me.

Ever since my decision to explore conversion, I've been faced with weird looks and ignorant questions. I know for the most part these acquaintences and co-workers do not mean harm. No one has said anything that would get them fired from a radio show, but the nuanced comments still sting.

I remind myself that my sensitivity is my Achilles' heel. But I also realize that jokes about certain issues -- race, religion, sexuality and gender chief among them -- might permeate even the thickest skin. I likely will be faced with these stereotypes throughout my life. Hopefully I'll know how to respond in the future.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

RH, YK and other things

This has been a crazy last couple of days.

As most of you probably know, the past handful of days made up the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the most important period of the year in the faith. The Days of Awe focus on taking an inventory of the past year, righting your wrongs and wiping the slate clean again before the Jewish New Year (Yom Kippur).

I won't try to get too deep here because my mind is still adjusting to the 24-hour fast I just completed (part of the Yom Kippur tradition).

I don't find this holiday particularly moving to be honest, but I think that's because it is SO HARD for me to slow down and reflect upon life. Ryan, however, takes it more seriously than one might expect. Last night before Kol Nidre services he listed all of his actions that harmed me in the last year -- from the minute to the large. I could tell by his demeanor that he had been thinking about this all day and that his misdeeds really weighed on him heavily.

It's interesting that this holiday corresponded to a wedding task that is also kind of like taking an inventory -- the wedding guest list. As I thought of people I needed to forgive or apologize to, it was easy for me to see a pattern. I don't have lots of friends. This doesn't really bother me, but I realized the minute someone hurt me in a devastating way, the friendship usually goes like this: First, I tell him or her that they hurt me deeply. Second, they (usually) apologize. Third, I never speak to them again. Even if I'm the one doing the hurting, usually I am so mortified that I retreat until the other person seeks to repair the friendship first. My good friends who I have hurt have always come to me and worked it out. The so-so ones end up by the wayside.

Is this healthy? Maybe not. But it works for me and has kept me a short list of friends I always know I can rely on. Sure, it would be nice if I had a lengthy list of friends that meet my criteria, but I (probably unfortunately) have high standards and would rather invest 100 percent of my energy in a few really good friendships then spread that energy around to many people. But that's just me.

Anyway, to bring this full circle, this holiday has made me realize that maybe I should have sought to maintain those lost friendships more. I honestly don't have any regrets, but I'll never know what might have been.

Tonight I am at an almost-friend's house. I say almost-friend because she is a girl I've "known" for years. We worked together briefly in Kansas City, and she was nice enough to let me crash at her apartment before a wedding-related appointment tomorrow when a friend got sick and I couldn't stay with her. We're on our way to being more than friendly ex-co-workers, but not quite. I won't explicate that here.

But I just want to say I love LOVE love her apartment. She lives in a loft in the River Market, and it's so eclectic. It's the style I want to have but I'm too scared to try. Nothing matches, but everything does. She manages to make a stack of books, a shelf of soup and a cart of shoes look chic. I love this style, but am intimidated by the artistry of it. Instead, if it doesn't match, it gets hidden away in those stupid leather boxes everyone buys at BBB for their coffee tables. You know what I'm talking about...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's been so long...

There has been so much happening in my life -- faith-wise and other-wise -- that I can't believe I haven't updated. But I guess I've just been too busy.

First of all, Ryan proposed! I'm sure all of you who read this know this by now, but I had to say it just to get it on the record.

I totally expected it, but it is still all so overwhelming. It's strange to go from being "just a girlfriend" in everyone's eyes to Ryan's "very important life partner." As morbid as this sounds, I go from not being mentioned in the standard obituary to being the first person listed. That's a pretty big leap. (Please excuse the morbidity. I used to write obituaries as a part-time gig!)

So obviously in regards to that, Ryan and I met with the rabbi who is going to marry us Aug. 31, 2008, in Lawrence, Kan. I couldn't be happier! She currently serves the congregation in Topeka, Kan., but she has ties to Omaha. What could be better? She seems so warm and loving, and she said it was very important for her to meet with us several times and for us to participate in a local congregation. She is reform, so she said she wouldn't require me to convert pre-ceremony, as long as I was exploring my faith. She seems like a perfect fit for us, and I love the fact that she is local for my parents in case they want to go to services or meet with her to learn more before the ceremony.

I think a lot of people expected us to ask the rabbi in Fayetteville to perform the ceremony. That's a good segue to my next thought...

Ryan and I have decided to explore the other synagogue in our area. We were about ready to submit our membership application when I realized I didn't feel comfortable at the synagogue where we have been attending Basic Judaism classes.

As I've talked about before, living in Northwest Arkansas and trying to be Jewish has some challenges. There are two major synagogues in the area. Both are reform. Both hold services only once or twice a year. The synagogue we've been involved with thus far only has Friday services. They hold Torah study on Saturday mornings, when most synagogues traditionally hold longer services. The other synagogue holds longer services on one Saturday a month. Because of my schedule, I would never be able to attend services on Fridays, so we're going to explore the other synagogue. We're going to try to attend Yom Kippur services at the synagogue next Saturday.

This makes me a bit uncomfortable. As anyone in a small Midwestern town knows, when you change houses of worship it tends to be a big deal. Even though we have legitimate reasons for exploring the other synagogue and likely joining, I feel guilty. We're paying for our Basic Judaism classes separately, so there's no obligation there, but it's still strange when the rabbi asks us how our membership application is going.

Speaking of Yom Kippur (sorry this post is a little stream of conscious), I'm excited to fast again for my second year recognizing the holiday. Maybe this year I'll have a clue why I'm not eating or drinking anything for 24 hours!