Showing posts from 2020

2021 Plans: Pulpit or Podium?

This post fills like I'm dropping a truth bomb to those around me... Surprise! I think I might want to be a Rabbi next.  I have spent the better part of December trying to figure out what 2021 will look like. I know, who spends time trying to figure out next year, when the one that has just passed turned out to be a giant dumpster fire. If we have learned anything from 2020, is that predictability is no longer a factor when trying to set a path. When 2020 started, one the things that were clear to me was where my professional life was heading. I was growing at work, finding my voice, finally building my dream path. Our trip to Cuba in February opened my eyes to a world where passion and determination open roads that you didn't even know existed. I came back recharged and renewed, ready to build from the momentum into a career that was screaming at me to push myself. I was also half way through my DEI Fellowship, thoroughly enjoying working with a wonderful congregation, and wa

Half A Life Later, I Am Ready To Stand Out

 November 27, 2002. That was the day I graduated High School. The school year in Chile goes from March to November. December 5th, I spent the day saying good bye to friends and family, and that night, I boarded Lan Chile Flight 530 to New York. I don't remember crying that day, I just remember being excited. My mom was flying with me, so maybe that helped. We landed in JFK on December 6, very early in the morning. Headed over to Rye to my cousin's house, and a few days later, I moved into one of Adelphi's dorms and started their ESL program, which I was scheduled to attend for a month before starting my Undergraduate studies at Adelphi that January. I moved into the dorm like any college student, said good bye to my mom, and got started. Back then, smartphones weren't a thing, and neither were laptops with built-in cameras, so if I wanted to talk to family and friends, I had to type an obscenely long calling card number and wait for the person on the other side of the l

Yes, I am Jewish, and I voted Blue.

On November 3rd, 2016, I voted in my very first American Presidential election. However, its not that moment that made the experience a memorable one. I (painfully) remember November 4th, 2016, like it was yesterday. I was 8 months pregnant with Lily, and I had gone to bed late the night before, flipping between news outlets for different updates from states that were slowly starting to call their election results. I had gone to bed with hope that all the polls were right, and that a Clinton win was nothing but a given. Now, I was by no means a big Clinton fan, but as a human being, I found it impossible to vote for the alternative, whose behavior and narrative went so strongly against every moral and ethical value I hold in my heart. That dreadful morning, when I turned the news on, it felt like a giant brick had fallen and cracked my head open. My voice was gone, my whole body ached, which was a different ache from that of my already long and difficult pregnancy. I held onto my belly

How We Weathered The Storm and Came Out Stronger

This might be one of the most personal posts you will find on this blog. I don’t write it as an update on my life, or for pity or attention. I write it because the lessons learned from the experiences are lessons that should be able to help those going through the same struggles we have gone through. As many of you already know, on April 24th, Stephen was admitted into the hospital. The following five weeks were plagued by tears, pain, endless waiting for calls from doctors, fights with doctors, uncertainty, anxiety… anything and everything you can think of that comes with a loved one fighting for their life without answers. The experience allowed us to discern who are the ones who will always be there for us, while showing true colors of those whose motives can be questionable at best, and dangerous at their worst. We were blessed to have Stephen fully recover. And while he is well and healthy, our marriage did not have the same result. The weeks following his discharge were dark. W

Jewish In Times of COVID (And How I Survived It)

On March 7th, I got the call that our Purim carnival got cancelled. COVID was starting to really kick in, and the world started getting acquainted with the now famous phrase "in these uncertain times". We already had our costumes picked out, so the fact that the carnival, which is one of my favorite events of the year got cancelled, it really made me sad. At that point, however, it felt like a micro-problem: we are missing out on the carnival, we'll just get through this one and just wash our hands more often and not shake hands or hug when we see people. On March 13th, we got the email from the Superintendent of Schools that schools would be closing for two weeks. After that, it all started snowballing.  I had tickets to go to Chile on March 27th for my grandmother's 90th birthday. I was being told by people to change my ticket for later in the month, as the virus wasn't slowing down. As the date drew near, I got the email from the airline that my flight was canc

Why Jewish Leadership Needs To Start Early

The world today is a scary place. Beyond the obvious pandemic fears, we live during a time where not all lives matter, where people of color fear the streets, where women have to reconsider what they wear or where they go, and where speaking up for issues that matter puts you at unnecessary risk. It’s not the world that we planned when bringing children into, or what we envisioned growing up. It’s disappointing, maddening, and frustrating, but not unfixable (is that a word? Who cares, it’s a word today). Three years ago, I joined the staff at a wonderful congregation that was kind enough to give me a platform that allows me to do the work that I enjoy the most. Jewish leadership development has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I am not talking about Jewish leadership in terms of practice and ritual, but about the pillars of social justice and tikkun olam (repair the world). If you know me personally, you’ve heard me repeat the phrase “Jewish education is a non-ne

Why Today Was One Of The Hardest Days Of My Life

 I had been looking forward to my children going back to school since March 13th, which is the day we were informed school's would be closed due to the pandemic. I had been craving that silence, that routine, that moment where the kids would come home and tell me all about the awesome things they did at school (or in Ethan's case, how long the day is and how he would rather stay home playing video games). Every single day after March 13th, I would stare at my home waiting for the email from the Superintendent telling us that school was reopening, and that we could go back to normal.  The email never came, and normal wasn't "normal" anymore. Both kids would sit in front of computers and see their friends and teachers. While Lily would love it (albeit not really pay much attention), Ethan struggled. He is shy, and doesn't care to show his face on the screen. Adjusting to virtual learning took a lot of time, but we were blessed with a teacher who was so incredibl

Why We Need To Talk About Race, And Why You Might Hate Me For It.

We need to talk about race. I will not apologize for any discomfort that this post may cause, nor will I be upset if your feelings towards me change because of my political beliefs. In fact, if this post makes you so uncomfortable that it elicits that unique, burning feeling of immeasurable anger or disgust that can only generate from the very pit of your stomach, whether you agree with my stance or not, then I will consider this post a success. Why? Because that means that means that you needed to hear what I need to say. I was one of those people that believed that “All Lives Matter” was the acceptable retort to the Black Lives Matter movement. I believed that singling out one group of people did nothing but just strengthen racism. I was one of those people that lived in a bubble of unrelenting privilege. Luckily, I have friends who are people of color that had no problem shaking some sense into me, and that took the time to challenge my beliefs, making me look at myself in the mirro

Why Tradition Is Meant To Be Broken Sometimes

I have told you guys before how I grew up in a fairly conservative Jewish household. As such, women are to light candles, keep the Jewish home, etc. Women, however, are not to read from the Torah, wear a kippah, don a tallit, or wear tefillin (though all of these have been revisited within the Masorti movement most recently, sparking endless debate). I never questioned these practices, nor did I ever feel restricted by them or felt any level of resentment towards the men in the family; it always felt right. My grandfather on my mother’s side grew up in a very Orthodox household. His mother once had to be carried out in a chair during a medical emergency and walked in said chair home during the High Holy Days because she refused to break Halacha (Jewish law) and ride in a car (and yes, Halacha does say that medical emergencies supersede everything else, but here we are). However, despite all of this, at age 15, my grandfather went to his parents and cut off his peyot (sidelocks worn b

Why I Don't Feel Strong Sometimes

I have been trying to find a way to write these thoughts for weeks. This is the best I could come up with. The last few weeks have been complicated. Health issues have affected our home, and I find myself handling more than I often think I am capable of. We have bee n incredibly blessed with a support network of people who have been there for us unconditionally, which has triggered tears in both myself and the kids more times that I would like to admit. Somehow, our house and family are still standing, even when my brain is flooded with “what ifs” and “how comes” multiple times throughout the day. And while the world seems to be on pause, our lives haven’t. Ethan now has Google Meets three to four times a day, Lily meets with her friends on Zoom two to three times a day, and I am still working, with added learnings through the NGF and the JewV’Nation Fellowship. And while staying busy has been a saving grace, those distractions eventually stop, and I am left to my own thoughts. One of

Why I Don't Look At The Bright Side Of Things 24/7

My son’s second grade teacher has been wonderful through this whole pandemic. She, as well as all the other amazing second grade teachers at our school district, have put together lessons and posted them on Padlet for the kids to complete at home. They divide the lessons by section, and one of the sections is called Social/Emotional Learning. Ethan has never been too into completing the lessons in that section and, admittedly, I haven’t pushed it much because I think he is already dealing with enough (aren’t we all?). I bring it up a few times a week in hopes that he will find something on the list that catches his eye that we can hopefully work on together. However, For this week, the lesson at the top of the Social/Emotional Learning list was called “Optimism Lesson”, and my first reaction to that was: there is no way I am having Ethan complete that one. I know, what kind of mother am I if I’m not promoting optimism and the good side of things to my child, especially if he struggles

Why I Need To Learn To Be "Enough"

I have to be honest; Passover has never been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it’s because the Seder is so long, or because trying to coordinate so many people to pay attention in our super long Seder table (as in 30+ people) for one Seder, after completing the first half at another Seder, is just too much. I am not someone who thrives in rooms with a lot of people and a lot of noise, even when I’m surrounded by my loved ones. For years now, my sisters and I have had to split our time between two houses in one night. Granted, I don’t always get to go to Chile for Passover, but even during years that I don’t, I still have to “virtually” divide myself for both, mostly in solidarity to my sisters, and so I can be “there” for both sides of the family. This year, the Seder has taken a whole different meaning for me. It goes beyond the fact that we all have to celebrate a very family-centered holiday (in my family’s case, more so than all the other holidays throughout the year) separa

Why We Need To Embrace Our New Normal As Permanent

I have always loved the movie Wall-E. There is something so endearing about the little robot and its tiny little scooper that is so determined to clean a completely shattered world; How he goes through his day literally reorganizing dirt and collecting little treasures like Rubik’s cubes and rubber duckies, all while ending his day by indulging in the uplifting sounds of Carol Channing in “Hello Dolly”. Wall-E and Eva end up fighting the forces that be (better known as autopilot) against all odds to save humanity through a simple little sprout of green hope. Truly, if that movie doesn’t move you to tears every time you watch it, we need to have a conversation about feelings. I remember watching that movie for the first time. I was gearing up to start my master’s in social work, so my brain was in that liminal stage between having taken a semester off to reassess my life and preparing to return to a classroom and learn how to analyze people and things. After the first time I watched,

Why We Should Talk About Sex More

We need to talk about sex. Admit it, even the title of this post made you squirm, or sparked your attention. Either way, even the simple word, sex, has this ability to spark an immediate reaction on people. Ever stop and think why that is? I did, and you are about to read my thoughts. For some reason, society has decided that being a woman who talks about sex is controversial. When talking about potential subjects for future posts, someone said to me “ladies don’t speak like that”, as if sex is some kind of dirty subject that must not be mentioned out loud for fear that the moral police might jump out of a corner and brand you with a big bright scarlet letter.  After all, being an adult capable of making decisions, birthing and raising children still does not make it ok for me to discuss the basic sexual needs that are part of the human condition. Apparently, sex is only to be discussed as a means of procreation, lest we mention pleasure or passion, for they are not morally accept

Why This Shabbat We Need To Work On Emotional Closeness

I have been trying really hard not to talk or write about the current state of the world. I have been trying to keep our lives and the lives of our children as normal as possible, and to some, this appears as me ignoring all warnings and not placing weight on the severity of the situation. Even coming up with a name for this post has been a week-long process, mainly because I have come to a place where my brain goes on immediate defense mode and would much rather quarantine itself away from all of the fear and uncertainty around us. And I am talking past the physical repercussions of COVID-19, or the emotional stress that comes with a pandemic. I am talking about how it is bringing out the worst in us as human beings. (Funny enough, just the other day I finished writing a whole blog post about sex, and even that felt slightly more comfortable than writing about this.) We all know the practical purpose of social distancing. Keep yourself six feet away from others, avoid physical touc