Friday, September 18, 2020

sweet new year

 Standing at the threshold of 5781,  feels similar to standing at the threshold of my patients rooms- feeling the anxiety and fear in my chest,  along with a deep yearning to connect, to be with, and to experience the sacred. 

This year has been one for the books- life as we've known it has been flipped upside down. The fear and anxiety has taken grip of us all, as we peer into the unknown,  as we desperately try to hold onto something; anything, that will ground us and connect us. It has been a year of disconnect-- from our friends,  our communities,  our loved ones. We've been tossed and turned and broken into so many pieces. I can still see the body bags, the un-claimed souls who were gently placed into trucks to be brought elsewhere; souls in transit. 

The trauma we've been through is palpable; tangible; permeating our very beings. 

There has been anger; pouring into the streets, stemming from centuries of systemic racism and hatred, reaching its boiling point in a society steeped in disconnect--

Where the world has become one big pot of binary thinking- its left or right; you're Democrat or republican,  you're for settlements or against, you're religious or you're not-- with not too much room for the nuance and the color in all

A year where the rage has turned into literal fire. That is now sweeping thru the west. 

And all we do is sit and point fingers. And wonder why everyone else isn't behaving..

But 5781 is at the doorstep. We are about to cross over. And in this time of darkness and hiddenness; where essentially we put our masks on for the holiday of purim and never took them off---we ache to really see each other and not just each others eyes--

We remember the threshold. And that in the pain and fear of the unknown, there is also a desire for connection and a potential for healing. Realizing that we're all in this together-and that we need each other for picking up all the broken pieces, to become whole again.

Wishing us all a shana tovah- a year that is blessed with health, with love, deep compassion,  a year in which we find ways of connecting deeply with the "other", a year that we find peace in ourselves and in the world at large, a year that knows an end to our suffering and a year in which we can begin to see the glimmers of light thru the our way to becoming whole once again..

שנה טובה ומתוקה-כתיבה וחתימה טובה !

Monday, March 9, 2020

some late night thoughts this purim -

Corona. Community. Epicenter. Upside down-ness. Apartness. Quarantine.
Everything that feels so inexplicably not Purim.
This Purim feels impossibly hard to celebrate and feel joy. And it reminds me of one, less than 10 years ago; where just 2 weeks before I lost a good friend suddenly, without warning. There was a terrorist attack just mere days before, where a terrorist entered a home and killed 5 family members over Shabbat; and then there was the tsunami in Japan that wiped out 15,000 in mere hours. It was a Purim that felt impossible to dance; impossible to feel any kind of “joy.” What is joy in a time of uncertainty; in a time of pain; of sadness; of fear and anxiety?
That year, I drank. I drank for my friend in honor of the wine he was in the middle of making in California vineyards; for all the wine he had hopes and dreams of making (especially in Israel); I drank because I didn’t understand. I drank because the words “עד דלא ידע” have us drinking to a place of “not knowing “ - more accurately,; drinking to a place where we don’t know the difference between Haman and Mordechai. What does that even mean? I think it means that we are drinking to a place “beyond knowing”, where we look around us at the world, at the upside down ness, and we have all the questions, and we can take a moment and recognize that maybe, just maybe, there is something to the not knowing. Because in the not knowing, there is no difference betw good and evil; it all becomes one. And this oneness becomes all-powerful - for just a moment in our drunken haze, we can get a glimpse of the Divine - of the back of G-d’s crazy tapestry, that is woven all together.
It was in those moments of some crazy drunkenness, that I was able to wrap my head around the power of the “lo yada”, the power of the not knowing. And it is this that gives me strength during this time -
Working as a chaplain in the very ICU at the epicenter of this virus ,and being on the double end of this thing; in my Jewish community, which finds itself at the center as well--I have been witness to both the fear, and anxiety that this unknown has caused - that there are things beyond knowing; this virus is so powerful in that we literally just throw our hands (washed of course) up and say “we have no idea what is happening right now” - and and and --in the same breath, we see the power and the sense of Oneness that this unknowingness has created - the sense of community; of humanity. That we’re all in this together. That we might not understand G-d’s crazy world, but we can reach out to each other with love and compassion - and that that is created in this space of unknownness.
I was blessed to witness this tonight - when my friends who are journeying with me in a crazy year of transformation, healing and growth in our chaplaincy program- stopped by the door with amazing care baskets for my kiddos who are quarantined (including costumes for purim!) - coming from people who dont even celebrate Purim, but who know what it means to be compassionate, loving humans--
It is this Oneness that becomes all the more clear, in the beyond knowing-ness. I bless us to stay healthy, loving, compassionate, and to be able to see the beauty and power in the לא ידע, the not knowingness of our world.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Havdalah --- CPE world

Two lights
Representing distinction
Light & dark
Male & female
Jew & non-Jew
Created me & ideal me
Creation & redemption
Seeing the difference
Feeling the distinction

Entering into a space
Without time
Without distinction
Where the minutes
are the moments
Where I can taste
the unity
the oneness
of humankind
In their fear, anger, vulnerability and pain
In the things that move them, drive them and give them hope

Where potential sees Sparks of fulfillment
Where I can taste
Ideal me
And see
A glimpse of redemption

Where politics fall away
And external trappings
And we see
The inner core
The deepest depths

A space of transformation
Where I can taste the sacred

Leaving the sacred
Entering back into the world
Of distinction; the things that divide us
Th world more mundane

Fusing two lights back into one
With realization of what oneness could be
Not ready to enter the present
Taking sweet whiff of spices
Intending to bring the transformation
I to the world of chol
Bringing the sense of oneness and redemption
Into a week of mundane
Hamavdil bein kodesh l"chol

The light is extinguished
But the sweet taste of shabbos
Of compassion, of unity, of redemption
Will carry me forward
Bringing shabbos into my week

Saturday, August 13, 2016

For these I cry
I cry for all the people who are in so much pain; living their lives from their constricted place, never allowing themselves to live fully, consciously, G-dly I cry for all the people over the world, in distress, and in need of physical, spiritual and emotional healing
I cry for the thousands who are being slaughtered and for their families; and for those of us reading from the sidelines, who have become so desensitized
I cry for the victims of abuse; those who have been hurt by the ones closest to them, those abused by their leaders; those who have been broken, and are living their lives trying to fix the pieces; I cry for their lack of trust in a world and a society that has failed them
I cry for members of the LGBTQ community - who for too long, have felt the need to stay in their closets; that narrow, isolating, lonely, fearful place - I cry for our communities that have not yet awakened to the fact that “they” are “us” - that “their community” indeed is “our community.”
I cry for the schisms happening within us - from a place where we talk “ABOUT” rather than “TO” ; spreading lies and judgments about the “other”, when we should be creating dialogue and trust between us
I cry for the world that has become so black and white, that we’ve failed to see the nuance, and the complexity; a world that has become so extreme in its views, that we cannot tolerate when someone thinks differently than us; so black and white, that we’ve lost all appreciation for G-d’s most beautiful rainbow
I cry for our Israel; for the corruption amongst its leaders, for laws that are alienating members of the Jewish people; for the division that is so deep within
I cry for those Jews, who haven’t yet felt the blessing of what it is to be Jewish; for those Jews who feel alienated, unwanted, removed; when we should be reaching with arms wide open, instead of blocking them off with our closed hands
I cry for the destruction of our Temples; not knowing what exactly we’re missing, but know that in this world of 2016, we are so very far from redemption.
“למה לי רב זבחיכם..ודם פרים וכבשים ועתודים לא חפצתי...לא תוסיפו, הביא מנחת שוא-קטורת תועבה היא לי..למדו היטב דרשו משפט, אשרו חמוץ, שפטו יתום, ריבו אלמנה“
The key to redemption seems pretty clear - G-d has no desire for our offerings and prayers when we don’t know how to treat each other. When we don’t recognize that everyone is made in G-d’s image, we are in danger of further destruction. But when we are able to focus on the good, to seek justice; to help the oppressed and the vulnerable; to build bridges - then we will merit seeing a rebuilt Jerusalem - which will shine to the world as an עיר הצדק -קריה נאמנה May it be soon

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hope turned upside down and back again

The time is late, and I should be heading to bed, but my heart and head are in no place to sleep.  Time has become of little meaning.
Tonight we all heard the most painful news of all--that the three boys who we have been praying for, hoping for, singing for, doing extra good deeds for--those boys were found dead, murdered in cold blood by evil terrorists.  Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel.    Names that will forever reverberate with a gut-wrenching sadness, with a hope that was turned upside down.
This story is one of pain.  A deep pain. One that cuts to the very fiber of one's being.  Pain for the boys who had to live through a horribly frightening act of evil, pain for the families who lost their beloved sons, and pain for the entire nation of Israel, who lost their brothers.  This is a nation in mourning.

And yet.  I was listening to the news tonight. They were reporting from Kfar Etzion, the settlement where 2 of the boys went to high school.  The very place where my husband and I got married.  And not very far at all from the place where the boys were kidnapped from.  The reporter mentioned how the high school sent out an email to the families about the news, and said their doors were open tonight for students to gather together in prayer, in mourning, and to speak with psychologists.  In the background, sounds could be heard from a wedding that was taking place just a few minutes away, in the stunning tent that housed my husband and I when we got married.  The surrealism of it all--the guy getting married was a graduate of that high school, and the Rabbi officiating was the head of the high school.  But what the reporter continued to describe was the fact that while word got out about the painful news, it was all done in hushed tones...the bride and groom had no idea. Three hours into the wedding, and the chatan and kallah still didnt know! Can you imagine?  מי כעמך ישראל??!!  People in so much pain, hiding the pain to be able to dance and rejoice at a wedding--hiding the news, so they wouldnt, G-d forbid, lessen the joy of a bride and groom!! Such strength.  Such beauty.

This story is one of pain.  But it is also a story of strength.  Incredible strength shown by the mothers over the last 2 weeks, strength in our holy soldiers who were working tirelessly day and night to find our boys, strength in a nation that desires happiness and peace, and who will not let terrorism win.

It is also a story of hope.  Hope that was turned upside down with the finding of the dead boys, but hope that is still whispered and sung about, in a deep yearning for all to be right again.  The hope that our nation is built on.  לא אבדה תקוותינו After all these years, we are still a nation of hope. Of belief. Belief that somehow, in the end, goodness and light will prevail.  The thousands of acts of kindness, the unity displayed, the prayers breaking down heavens doors, the candles lit--this is proof of that goodness.
We will continue to live, to dance, to sing, to join hands together and break down walls, and to believe and hope for a better day..
May their memories be a blessing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mighty Like a Rose

Savta, I sit here staring into the candle that I just lit for your yahrtzheit.  I cannot believe a full year has gone by since you left the world.  I'm sitting, cuddling your great granddaughter, Ayala Ta'ir, for whom you are named.  Ayala, the hebrew for your yiddish name Hinda.  
Her eyes sparkle, she gives me huge smiles, and she laughs, enjoying our playtime together.
5 months old, and what a beautiful personality. Some might call it luck, to be blessed with such a wonderful little babe, but I know the truth.  By naming her for you, we are blessing her with your spirit. Your amazing, positive, optimistic, loving spirit. 
There is so much to tell you - so much has happened, so much that I wish we could be sharing together. You would love to see me as a mom- you would be so proud, tell me in your loving voice how you now love each great-grandchild more than the other.  Always so much love to go around.
Being a mom is tough stuff; I find myself in the hardest moments, thinking "oh, the joys of motherhood."  If you could maintain such a positive attitude in your later years, with your memory getting worse by the year, and your eyesight and hearing starting to go--and still say with a song, "oh, the joys of getting older" as you did a dance sitting down--then I can as well.  
You took what G-d gave you and blessed Him for allowing you to live, each and every day.  When we would ask you how you were , and sometimes even after hospital stays, you would respond with "B"h! I'm alive and I know it!"  You were a widow for 21 years, yet you didnt let that bring you down. Your apartment was always filled with your neighbors and friends, discussing politics, world views, religion, and your favorite: your grandchildren. 
Never in all my years knowing you, did I once hear you utter a negative word. You thought positively, you spoke positively, and you exuded positivity.  People loved being around you.  
You lived in a time of prejudice, and hate, of fear and depression.  And yet, you didnt let that cloud your perception.  You loved people--irregardless of ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation.  You said that "people are people"  and all deserve our respect.  You never judged--you loved instead.  
You turned to a life of observance at an older age because of your son, and the beauty you saw in the practice.  You believed that its never too old to learn new things--your learning continued- each decade brought something new. At 50, you learned to drive, at 60, you learned hebrew.
You came to take care of us when we were sick, and you came to all of our school plays, "days", and graduations.  You were there for it all, never missing a milestone.
You were married for 50 years to a wonderful, intelligent, special man.  A marriage built on commitment, devotion, love, and integrity.
You beat breast cancer by the power of your positive thinking.  It wasnt going to beat you; you were going to "flush it down the toilet."  And flush it down you did.

I miss our visits, our boggle playing (you always won!!), our trips to the beach, our sleepovers.  I miss the pictures of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that adorn your entire apartment.  I miss the oreos you kept  stashed in your freezer, the kit kats you had in the bottom drawer.  The lullabyes you sang, the dances you jigged, the wisdom you dispensed.  
I miss your laugh, your excitement at hearing our voices on the phone.  Your smell.  Your unconditional love.  The way nothing in the world was more important than us.  I miss sitting next to you in shul during the holidays, following along in your siddur, loving to be in shul.  I miss your hug and the way it would envelop every part of my being. I miss the way you would make me feel as though I were the most special in the world. There is nothing quite like a Savta's love.
I miss your "gevalkeshriegens!" and "sheshneid your zudick!!"  (to this day, none of us have any clue what they actually mean)  I miss your stories- the one of how you met Sabba ("there I was, a pretty girl with the blond curls and blue eyes, leaving the lecture with a bald man with glasses!! "  such laughter followed that story..told again and again..)  The story of Abba getting in trouble with his teachers, but when you called them, and laughed about what a rascal he was, the teachers ended up laughing as well.  Your educational moments (convincing us to smoke cigarettes in your dining scare us from never smoking anything ever again)  Your understanding.  Your pride in our accomplishments, and your sympathizing in our failures.
Even in your later years, when your memory had all but disappeared, my Abba said to you "Do you know who I am?"  and you would respond with a smile " Im not sure, but I do know that you love me and I love you."  At the end, Savta, there wasnt much, but there was love. Which is what had been there all along. 

Savta, on some level you must know, but you would say to us, at the end of anything family related- be it birthdays, simchas, or just the pesach seder-  "next year,please G-d, with additions!!"  well, youll be so happy to know that the Schaum children have added not just one, but 3 great-grandchildren in this one year, and be"h another one on the way.  We lost a dear and precious neshama--but we have added 3 new ones.  3 new souls who you are watching and protecting with your love--3 new souls, who sadly, did not get the chance to know, and to love you.  

You told us to dance at your funeral, because it was a celebration of your life.  Dance, we didnt, but we did sing you the lullabye that soothed us to sleep growing up. 
This candle I lit tonight, is your light that will continue to shine--through all of us, and through our children.  Ayala Tair--She will be"h shine in this world, with your blessing. 
Yahrzheit commemorates your life- and the celebration that it was.  I shed tears tonight---sad that my daughter will never know you, and your incredible soul--but at the same time, celebrating your life that was, and this precious life that will be"h continue to be. 
Please look down on us from on high, and continue to pray for us, and keep us...I miss you more than you can ever imagine,

"go to sleep and dont you worry, we're all here, so dont you worry, sleep and dream, our sweetest savta.  sweetest savta, everybody knows, dont know what to call you, but youre mighty like a rose.  looking at your family, with eyes so shining blue, makes you think that heaven is coming close to you.."  
o how i wish it were...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"let there be peace"

This week has been one of the most unsettling, emotionally draining weeks I've ever experienced.  The fear. The vulnerability.  The anxiety. The knowledge and feeling that there are people in the world who want you to be brought in "black body bags" and who want to kill you in any way possible. 
It takes a toll.  The 5 people who died.  The thousands of children who will suffer from this trauma for years and years; who wet their beds at age 7, and who cant sleep at night.  The parents; who put on such good faces, who are brave and strong for their children, but who just want to cry to sleep every night for the pain and anguish and the helplessness they feel.  The adults, who feel paralyzed to do anything, or go anywhere because fear has taken over their lives.  
It's funny. The people I know DO feel for the innocent loss of life on the Palestinian side as well.  As  the most moral, humane army in the world, we do everything in our power to avoid their deaths.  But at the same time, we also know that we must do what needs to be done.  And that is protecting our citizens.
It has baffled me this past week, all the people posting their liberal leftist views. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own views.  But, for one moment- how can you possibly compare us to Hamas?  Most agree that not ALL Palestinians are evil people; the ones who want to live in peace with us, we'll gladly be your friends. The problem becomes that their leaders do NOT want peace, they do everything they can to abort peace.  The leftists seem to be unaware of history- and all the compromises we have made in the past in the name of peace.  And yet, and yet, we have never been given peace.  Even most secular leftists in Israel have given up on the idea of "land for peace" as it is something we have tried for so long in the past, and have never been rewarded with peace.  We have given back so much land, and have not received peace in return.  So what exactly doesn't the world understand? Why do they think we haven't tried the peace thing?  We gave them all of Gaza, gave them the opportunity to build a real society, gave them millions of shekels, dollars, euros- in order to create a flourishing society. And instead- they build warehouses for rockets, and rocket launchers, all of Gaza becomes a battlefield.  What does the world want from us?  We offered them  97% of the West Bank, and they chose to begin the Intifada 12 years ago. I'm just not sure where else there is for us to go, what other options are left. It's depressing, this thought process. 

And yet..some silver linings to be found in all this darkness . The statuses from the facebook world, able to take a horrible situation, and paint it pretty. The memes that make you laugh.  The song written for the children in the south dancing about "Color Red" with smiles on their faces in order to cope.The soldiers preparing for war by singing songs about belief in G-d. The pictures of us treating Gazan patients in our hospitals.  The radio broadcasts that talk about G-d and the beauty of Shabbat by secular broadcasters.  The overwhelming hospitality displayed by the entire country in housing residents of the South, to give them some respite for Shabbat. The unity displayed by our people.  An incredible light shining in the darkness. 

And then, the ceasefire.  Words that created such anger, disappointment, sense of betrayal.  Wanting to finish what we started. Wanting to bring quiet to the south(and to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem).  Feeling that we were duped.  Feeling that we lost a real opportunity.  Feeling that our citizens are not being protected. Wanting. Wanting to believe that there is a reason behind it all. NEEDING to believe there is a reason behind it all. A greater plan.  That Netanyahu knows what he's doing.  That G-d is really with us.

We pray every day. For peace.   The Messianic vision is for peace. We want it just as badly as the "Peace Now" activists, yet we want it when its REAL.When it LASTS. When it doesnt mean being scared to ride on buses, when it doesnt mean fearing for your life when you get into bed.  We want peace. So so badly. And yet..I feel like this time, it needs to come from on high. Maybe that's why we always pray that G-d grant us peace.  We've done our effort- now its YOUR turn, G-d.  You need to help us in this.  

And in the meantime, we need to continue to do the things that increase light in the world, as we have shown that we do so well.  Because there is too much darkness. Even if it's unilateral.  Because eventually, the light will be so blinding there wont be any room for the darkness.

Need to sleep. Need to rest my mind.  Falling asleep at the computer, to songs of peace on the radio channel...soothing, calming, hoping for a better day, a better tomorrow...when we will sit on our terrace, and children will play tag..עוד תראה, עוד תראה כמה טוב יהיה בשנה הבאה ("just wait and see, how much better next year will be") Waiting for that day...