Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Follow the Gourd! The Holy Gourd!

I just wanted to wish you all a chag sameach. I found myself suddenly really looking forward to sukkos, and filled with nostalgic memories about sukkah decorating as a child (and an adolescent, and an adult).

I always enjoyed the hanging gourds. No idea why. I just think they're funny, in a happy way.

Anyway, a gut yontiv to all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A "Big" Goodbye

This will most likely be my last thought on the Big vs. Aidan toss-up, because there is no contest anymore. I'm so happy with "Aidan" that is really places the entire dramatic saga with "Big" in a new perspective.

The reason I'm putting up this last one is because I noticed today that "Big" no longer lists himself as single on Facebook, and I wasn't remotely jealous. In fact, I'm kinda proud of him. I was undoubtedly as wrong for him as he has proven himself to be for me, and I'm glad he seems to have grown up enough to commit to a woman. I hope that also means he'll treat her better than he treated me. If he's willing to stop seeing other women, it's already a start.

The flip side of that is that I had actually found out from someone else that he had begun seeing this woman, and that he had started seeing her by the time I told him about "Aidan". The fact that he and I are supposed to be friends, and he didn't bother telling me that he was seeing someone as well was perhaps the final nail in the coffin. It made it so crystal clear to me that I simply have no patience left with his inability to communicate (or, alternatively, our differing opinions on what is important to communicate about). After all, if I've already acknowledged to being with someone, why should it matter? Particularly since "Aidan" and I went to his bday party the following week, and he was physically demonstrative with his new girl. Had I not already known of her existence, I'd have been very surprised, and therefore hurt. Not jealous, but hurt that our "friendship" didn't matter enough for him to give me a heads-up. I guess I'm still slightly peeved about it, but I just shrug and say "Typical". Because it is typical for him.

So this is a public farewell to my personal Mr. Big. As I hope we maintain our friendship, he may still potentially be referred to here in Cara's World. He just no longer has the same codename, as he no longer plays that role in my life.

A Post-YK Confession

I'm not ashamed to admit it. In fact, in this particular case, I'm delighted to have the chance to admit it.

I was wrong.

I had hoped to have a chance to blog this before Yom Kippur, but it turns out to be an added plus that I had to wait until now. This is the latest installment of the Rabbanit Debate. Again, I'm not addressing whether women should or should not have an equivalent title to "rabbi," but rather the specific leadership issues surrounding the recent staff appointment at my shul.

I had dinner on Thursday night with the new Programming and Ritual Director of my shul. Since she needs a shorter code name for blogging purposes, we shall give her the acronym "The PRD". She'd invited me to come over and join her, to follow up on an interesting conversation we had begun weeks before during a shabbos meal.

To be honest, I was more than a bit apprehensive. She'd given a speech from the bima on Rosh Hashana that had bothered me a great deal, and I was uncomfortable with the notion of airing my grievances in her own home. It simply didn't feel right. Turns out that my fears were groundless.

Instead of having a heated confrontation, in which one or both of us offended the other, we had a candid, open conversation/discussion about the shul community, its leadership, "public" sentiment towards the PRD and roots of those sentiments, and even contemplated what she could "do" about the situation. I also learned far more about her, and the details behind her hiring.

Of particular interest were her emphatic statements that she does not want to be a rabbi, and the information that the Board never intended to hire both her husband as well as her. Not only did the conversation help the two of us solidify the foundation of our friendship, but it also framed the Debate more squarely in terms of shul leadership and obligations/responsibilities towards the community.

This all could have been said before Yom Kippur. The nice thing about having been forced to wait until now is that I can add the post-YK postscript. Right before Neila, after giving a brief description of the shul's new Torah Institute programs, she took the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the segment of the community that resents or fears her, to ask mechila for anything she may have said that was offensive (however unintentionally), and to admit that she has no desire to ever be considered a rabbi. It was a brave, admirable move.

So, the debate isn't over. I still have very strong feelings and opinions about the role the rabbi and board have played in creating such confusion, hurt, and resentment. But I'm grateful to have had the chance to learn just how wrong I had been about the PRD, and the dangers of attributing motivations to people I don't really know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ahoy, Me Hearties!

Avast, ye scurvy knaves!

Today be ITLAP Day. Let's hoist the Jolly Roger and sail the fickle seas! Those who stand in our way shall be made to swab the deck and feel the lash of me cat o'nine tails! Arrr, ye scallywags!

In honor of this merry day, I've gone back into the archives and dug up two pirate quizzes for the lundlubbers in the audience:

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
For those interested, I be the Quartermaster!
You, me hearty, are a man or woman of action! And what action it is! Gruesome, awful, delightful action. You mete out punishment to friend and foe alike – well, mostly to foe, because your burning inner rage isn’t likely to draw you a whole lot of the former. Still, though you may be what today is called “high maintenance” and in the past was called “bat-shit crazy,” the crew likes to have you around because in a pinch your maniacal combat prowess may be the only thing that saves them from Jack Ketch. When not in a pinch, the rest of the crew will goad you into berserker mode because it’s just kind of fun to watch. So you provide a double service – doling out discipline AND entertainment.)

What's Yer Pirate Name?

My pirate name is:
Red Mary Bonney
Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Quick Update

5768 is already turning into a very busy year. This is a good thing, but leaves me little time to blog. So here's a brief update:

* Lots of shul stuff. Rosh Hashana was highly political, but I'm not ready to blog about it. I'd like to wait until I actually speak with key players in the shul leadership.
* I have the world's greatest boyfriend.
* School expects me to actually read stuff.
* Work expects me to actually do stuff.
* Chagim require that I take time out from reading stuff and doing stuff.
* I still have not seen OU JellyBellies on the shelves.

That is all. You may go now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Heart Buttered Popcorn

Maybe I'm way behind on the news feed, but it has recently come to my attention (kudos to the boyfriend for telling me) that JellyBelly beans are switching to OU certification. I, for one, am super-excited, and hopped online to find out when they're expecting to hit the shelves. I couldn't find an exact date, but everything said either "later this summer" or "later this month" which tells me nothing.

The question then becomes, if you were a JellyBelly flavor, which would you be and why?

The "Rabbanit" Debate- Part 2

In an earlier post, mainly devoted to my abhorrence of shul-bashing, I mentioned the new staff appointment at my shul. Conversations over the past few weeks have prompted me to expand on this discussion, particularly since it's taken an interesting turn.

For those who wish to engage in this debate, let's make one thing very clear: this is not a debate about whether or not women should be given the title "rabbi" (or an equivalent title, if one exists). It's a interesting debate in its own right, and we wouldn't give it justice if we discussed it right now. This is really a debate about leadership, community, and public perception.

So here's the back story: my shul has a new "ritual and program director". This director is a woman. She also holds the title of "Rabbanit Chair" (still not sure what that means, though), which is an endowed position, paid for by the generous legacy of a staunch feminist who had been a member of the congregation for years.

The debate was originally about calling this woman "rabbanit" as the modern Hebrew equivalent of "rabbi", and employing her in what is, essentially, an assistant rabbi capacity. I had adamantly opposed considering her to be "assistant rabbi", and was critical of those who bestowed such a title upon her. Without really knowing her, I was critical of her as well, interpreting this debate as largely stemming from her own feminist leanings. Calling her "assistant rabbi" was a sure-fire way to ruffle my proverbial feathers.

Then I went to New York, and spent shabbat with people who knew her, and had learned with her (one of whom happens to be the person who engaged me in this debate the first time around). All of them were under the impression that she was, in fact, the assistant rabbi of the congregation, and that we were happy to consider her as such. And this is where the "rabbanit debate" took an interesting turn. It is no longer about whether or not she should bear such a title (as mentioned above, I do not want to discuss that here), but about how her hire as shul staff was portrayed to her (and her friends), and to the community of which she is now a part.

From my NY friends, I gleaned that she, herself, considered the position offered to her as being an assistant rabbi job under a different name, and that she (and her colleagues) were excited to find an MO shul that was ready for such a step. She, apparently, accepted this position under such an impression of the community, which she had only been able to visit once, when she and her husband came to interview.

The community, by and large, was under a far different impression. When she and her husband came for that interview, we were told that he was interviewing for the assistant rabbi position, and that she was under consideration for education director. They came, they left, and soon afterwards the congregation was informed that she, and she alone, had been hired as "ritual and program" director. Not long after that, it was announced that there was this new endowment for a "rabbanit" chair, which she would hold as well. The shul rabbi also gave a drasha somewhere in this time frame about bestowing the title "rabbanit" on women who had attained a level of learning equivalent to that of smicha.

So here is the debate: how much should a congregational rabbi do to forward his own agenda? The shul rabbi has made his own views on women in Orthodoxy very clear, and hiring this woman in this capacity is a step towards furthering his agenda. However, there really isn't a part of the congregation that backs him on this. While the congregation is divided on feminist issues, the divisions are pretty much between those who 1) don't know about the issue, 2) don't care if there is an issue, and 3)adamantly oppose change. There really is not a strong segment that wants to be at the forefront of pushing the boundaries.

Is it fair to the community to ignore the fact that the majority never wanted such a controversial staff appointment? Is it fair to this woman to hire her under the misperception that the community is ready for a "rabbanit"? Should a congregational rabbi ignore his communities wants in favor of his own?


(Note: One more time- this is NOT about whether or not women should be called by any title. This is about the role of leadership in a community. Also, this is not in any way meant to be an attack on the woman mentioned. I respect her, and look forward to developing what I hope will be a close relationship with her.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back To School

When I was a kid, 'back to school' was synonymous with getting new clothes, massive quantities of "school supplies" (most of which got lost or were never used), and the dual end-of-summer-blues/new-year-energy.

As an "adult", I find that there's still a certain parallel rhythym at this time of year. Ok, I'm a student, so I am literally going back to school now. I'm talking about more than simply beginning classes again. Of course, I did buy "school supplies", which consisted of a notebook and a couple of folders for class notes. I considered buying a protractor, just for old time's sake, but I think I've forgotten how to use one.

I've already started thinking about fall clothes and shoes, and the need to buy a new outfit for yontif. Maybe even new shoes. I love shoes. The great thing about being an "adult" is that now I get to buy the clothes that I really want, and not the ones that my mother thinks will simply look darling on me.

More importantly, there's still that conflict between being a bit bummed that summer is ending, and being excited for the year that's beginning. Yes, this also parallels Elul and Rosh Hashana, but why be profound when I can be shallow and talk about shoes? I had a really great summer: I played softball, I won a bike (to be time-shared with the rest of my trivia team. Or donated to charity, which is more likely), I sang karaoke (badly), I started seeing a truly amazing guy, I made new friends, I started my new field placement. Now that school has started, the free time with which I did so much has already dwindled considerably. It's hard to adjust. On the other hand, my classes seem great, I'm enough of a dork to like school, and I enjoy my field placement more and more as my caseload increases and I get more involved with the kids and families that I'm seeing. It's great to see my school friends. And there's just so much to look forward to.

The point of all this? It's been an awesome summer, and the forecast shows high probability for an equally awesome autumn. The sun is shining in my world.