Friday, April 26, 2013

A Philosophical Retrospective

It has been literally years since I posted anything here, and I kind of thought I never would again. my goals and perspectives have shifted considerably and I guess i thought that this particular forum was no longer relevant to me, and then I discovered today that i had something to say and this was the only place to say it. Even if no one comes by my tiny dusty little crevice of the internet.

My second year in seminary I had a very difficult time applying myself to my learning. I was suffering from a severe perceptual shift that had literally rocked my foundations, and as generally happens in such cases I was lost and searching for something familiar to hold onto. This perceptual shift was entirely caused by my visit to Poland with a large group of other kids from seminaries and yeshivot around Israel.  It was six days of ghettos, graveyards, concentration camps and old shuls. Not to mention Holocaust movies to fill in the long spaces when we were traveling from place to place by bus. There were a lot of devastating effects that resulted from this trip, but the loss of my faith in Gd was not one of them. At least not yet. The biggest one, at the time, was my loss of faith in the Orthodox community.

After six months of depression, restlessness, and unanswered questions, I tried to do what they always tell you to do: I went to speak to a rabbi. In this case, the rabbi was the head of my seminary. known to be a man of great Torah scholarship and many years experience in teaching young adults, i thought this man, the head of my ivory tower of Jewish wisdom and knowledge, would be able to guide me back to a place of confidence and faith. So I scheduled a private meeting with him.  After all these years I can't remember exactly what I said. I'm sure that I was nervous and uncomfortable, bringing up something that was so huge to me on an emotional and spiritual level; I'm sure that I didn't express myself clearly, and that even if I did I may have been misunderstood. (English is not this man's first language.) But his response was clear enough. As soon as i indicated that my faith issues were connected in some way with the Holocaust, his face cleared as if he found the answer and was relieved.

"Well, clearly, you are arrogant," he said, as if this was some kind of revelation. "You think you know better than Gd how the world should be run." He would have gone on in that vein except that's where I gave up and started crying. The tears made him re-think his words a little and he tried to backtrack and kind of soften what he'd said but it was over from that moment. He hadn't heard me, he wasn't trying to hear me, he wasn't even aware of what I was talking about. He just wanted the problem solved and out of his office as quickly as possible. Suffice it to say, the problem was not solved.

I want to be clear about something. the reason I don't believe in god has nothing to do with the Holocaust or any of the other myriads of tragedies that have happened to mankind since he first walked the earth. Whether or not there is a god, evil exists and we have to deal with it somehow. But my perception of the Orthodox community as one that values questions, information, knowledge, and wisdom was basically destroyed in that office. I still believed in god for quite a few years after that interview. But from that moment I didn't want to belong to any facet of the Orthodox community. or at least not that facet (modern orthodoxy) which had been my great white hope after Chabbad and Bais yaakov.

I'm not the only one who's been shattered by experiences like these. And I know you can't assume that a religion or philosophy is exemplified by the people who claim to practice them. but I really do think that educators and mentors in the religious world need to be more aware of what their students are thinking and feeling. It isn't arrogance to want to understand loss and tragedy in a way that brings some meaning to existence. it isn't arrogant to ask questions, to admit you don't know things and that you want to know more. it isn't arrogance to ask a respected leader for guidance and comfort in a troubled time. It is arrogance to assume you know what a student is thinking without allowing them to finish their sentences. It is arrogant to assume that you can solve all their problems with one of the stock answers you heard from someone who never seriously questioned their own faith. And it is not only arrogant but selfish to dismiss the agony of the soul with a curt, formulaic lecture.

I am not angry at this rabbi. i think perhaps if someone explained to him exactly what I was thinking, in Hebrew, that he may have done a better job. But when these people look at me and judge me for not believing what they believe all I can think is: it's your own damn fault.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Conversation Between Two Tripping Kids

Girl: (offers boy a cup of ice.) Here, take some.
Boy (looks confusedly at the cup of ice, and then back at the girl.) What is it?
G: It's ice.
B: (continues to look confused)What?
G: Ice.
B: Are you sure?
G: Yes. Here. (puts some ice in his hand. Boy looks at it flabbergasted.)
B: But what is it?
G: It's still ice.
B: Really?
G: Uh-huh. I swear.
B: What do I do with it?
G: Put it in your mouth.
B: Why?
G: It'll feel good there. Really it will. Trust me, I would not lead you to falsehood. (maniacal giggle.)
B: But it's ... cold, and wet ...
G: Yes dear. it's ice.
B:It's a solid but also a liquid! It's amazing!
G: Yes, ice does that.
B: What did you say this was again?
G: Ice. It just keeps on being ice. Well eventually it will be water and then vapor, but for now its still ice. Barely.
B: I just... I just don't know.
G: I do. It's ice. Put it in your mouth. It's good for you.
B: Are you sure?
G: Very sure. Remember I would not lead you to falsehood! Not intentionally, anyway.
B: (takes deep breath) Ok, here I go. (puts ice in mouth, face lights up with joy) Oh wow, you were right! This is so awesome!! What is this again?
G: It's ice.
B: It's amazing!
G: Good. Here have some more.
B: (hesitates) ... are you sure?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


So, I think I'm gonna start a new religion. Kinda just your garden variety functional morality, with some neo-hippy glitter. Lots of music and substances of various kinds and love and joy and frolicking, and volunteering in homeless shelters and orphanages. Kind of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. If any of ya'll are down for joining up, let me know; we're gonna be doing some festivaling come spring. :)

I am a starball of Awesome. You should be too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conversations With Me Father

F: Did you know that watching too much tv smooths out the wrinkles in your brain and turns you into an orange?
M: An orange?
E: Brain wrinkles?
F: An orange!Brain wrinkles! It's true! You know, take out the sound and basically you're sitting there, staring at a box!
M: Yeah, but - an orange? I mean, there's a pretty large genetic discrepancy between people and fruit....
E: Yeah I'm pretty sure that's physically impossible...
M: To begin with, oranges don't have brains.
F: It's true! Did you read the study?
M: Did you?
F: I made up the study. I couldn't read it because it hasn't been published yet.
M: Oh, well, as long as the scientific data is verified and reliable, sure. Oranges. Yeah.
F: Oranges. It's true.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My current vision of hell involves wandering endlessly between terminals 3 and 8 of JFK, intermittently sprinkled with 5 hour spurts of Russian karaoke. To quote my friend Chanie: This is what an aneurysm sounds like.

Also: I'll be in NY until Sunday. I'm considering moving here. Or maybe Philly. If anyone is around and wants to get in touch, give me a holler! Or, since I won't actually be able to hear that, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Turkey''s Moral Authority

So: Turkey genocides an entire people, and illegally occupies the north of Cyprus for some 36-odd years. But they are the voice of morality when it comes to Israel and Gaza. Maybe? I mean this is just a thought, but maybe? They should shut up until they get the fuck out of Cyprus and set up an Armenian State.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Note

So, thought I'd give anyone who's still out there a bit of an update. It's been 4 and 1/2 years since I started this blog (ishly) which is kind of cool, and it makes me sad that I haven't written much lately. There are many reasons for that. But I do hope to start posting with some sort of semi-regularity again because, to be honest, all I've ever wanted since I was a little girl was to have my own publication in which to put rants and nonsense and poetry. Blogs are kind of 10-yr-old Miri's wet dream. Also, abandoned warehouses, but I am as of yet unable to realize that one. So it's a shame not to exploit this opportunity more than I do. And since in the near future I intend to have a spate of free time in which to create more nonsense, because there really isn't enough in the world, this seems like a good method.
Also, I started this blog when I was making aliyah, and I am now leaving Israel for awhile. I have to go home and earn money. And also .... I just need a break. I have spent 23 years in a world that is only a fraction of what this planet has to offer and I think it would be healthy, prudent and wise of me to step out of context for a bit. Shift the perspective. See some mountains. That sort of thing.
Part of me knows that I need this, that I've been needing it for about five years. But I've paid my dues, (almost) won my degree, been the good girl, and it's time. It's time for me to be who I need to be, and not who everyone else needs me to be. In short, I have absolutely no idea where I'm going or what I'm doing next. And like all unknown things, that's scary. But the possibility implied is so immense. What would you do if you could do absolutely anything? (within the parameters of reality, according to the laws of physics and whatnot.)
That's the question that's been keeping me up nights these days. Although, past a certain point, who knows what is the cause and what merely an amusement with which to pass the time? As things go along it gets harder and harder to tell.

Oh! And also, I'll be spending some time with the family, which is usually fodder for blog silliness. So stay tuned.