Friday, December 26, 2008

No Words

Last Friday night after services, I wrote a long, sad and bitter post about the situation going on in my home synagogue right now.
A situation that I'm not comfortable sharing in this forum, for a number of reasons.

My post didn't include this person's name, to protect her identity to those who come across this blog incidentally.
It felt silly, even wrong, to refer to this person as "my cantor."
She is so much more than just that.

My post talked meanly about the person/people who made this decision.
A decision they needed to make.
My words were mostly out of the anger and loss I am feeling right now.
Words that could never change the decision, words that would only bring sadness to the people who might have read them.
Therefore, I didn't post the blog. I didn't even save it.

There aren't enough words to describe the sadness and anger this decision has brought into my heart.
The selfish worries for my own future--a future that I thought would always be secure--that are running rampant through my head.
The void that will forever be with me, now that my synagogue is no longer my home.
If this person isn't there, it can't be my home.

And that's the hardest part of all, because so much of my life is still there.

And yet, despite all of my anger and sorrow, I feel the need to share this.
To share something that tells this person how much she means to me and to the congregation.
Had she been given the proper goodbye, I would have shared this poem with her so the congregation could hear.
But since she wasn't given so much as a goodbye, I'll leave them here so everyone I love, including her, can read them.
These words have been with me for the last 10+ years, as long as I've known this person. They capture so beautifully her work at the synagogue, and the gifts she has shared with me and so many others.

To this person--you know who you are--I love you with all my heart.
Thank you for being my mentor, my teacher, my ema #2, my friend.
Thank you for sharing your music, your soul, with me.
Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of success.
This poem is for you, because you have done all of these things and so much more.

What is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I wanted to share a recording of one of my pieces from my Shabbat Reform Workshop final this morning. It's a setting of V'Shamru by Maurice Goldman (even though the beginning is cut off...)

I haven't been good with keeping up with the blog as of late, I know...but I'm hoping this recording makes up for it. I'm very proud of this piece; not only is it very difficult to sing, but I've worked tirelessly with it to make it the best it can be. Though it's not perfect, I'm very happy with how this turned out. It was one of those moments where everything just clicked into place, and I knew with my entire being that I was doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

Enjoy...the next time I blog will be from St Louis!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Sometimes I am overwhelmed, in the best possible way, by the acts of kindness I encounter every single day. Living in New York City, it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and to see only the ugly that this world has to offer. I am so very thankful for the people in my life who remind me that kindness is a virtue, and that goodness does indeed exist in our world.

We read in Pirkei Avot, "On three things the world stands: on Torah, on avodah (worship/work for God) and on gimilut chasadim (deeds of loving kindness.)" Each of these three pillars of the Jewish faith could easily stand on their own, but really, they each blend into one another so easily when we talk about deeds of loving kindness. We are reminded of kindness many times in Torah, and our worship allows us time to pray to God for those around us who are in need of prayer. When we pray to God on behalf of others, even if only once in awhile, we open ourselves up our own acts of kindness.

One of the most beautiful things about my spiritual journey throughout the last year and a half has been the opening of my eyes to acts of kindness. While I'm not always quick to show it, I am genuinely thankful for the ability to recognize this kindness. In the last few months, so many people have reached out to me in the form of kind words, gifts, and/or support. To all of you, thank you so, so much--for loving me, for opening yourselves up to gimilut chasadim, and for making me a kinder person through your thoughts, words, and generosity. Whether you realize it or not, you are each an example of living, breathing Torah, and you help to carry on all three of these pillars of our Jewish faith. You also remind me, in whatever ways I am able, to extend the same kindness towards others. Your actions make ME a better person in the eyes of God and Jewish tradition.

There is no better gift you can give me than that.

Thank you.