Elul 6: http://jewishsagesoftoday.com/ essay on Michael Berenbaum who is a prolific Holocaust expert said that he is "protecting Jewish memory." What do you do to protect Jewish memory?
I think the easy answer to this is about being a Jewish educator, but I think it is more than
that. While the collective Jewish memory is incredibly important, the familial Jewish
memory might even be more so. One of my favorite times is when my extended family (most often my mom's family) is sitting around telling stories, passing them from generation to generation. I remember times where people have sat in total shock about a "family scandal" and other times when people are laughing so hard they are crying. These moments have duality - they are perpetuating the family memories of the past and creating new memories to be layered on top. I am lucky to have such wonderful relationships with so many of my extended family members, and hope that this continues for many generations into the future.
Photo Above Right: 13 of 34 members of 4th generation Goldman Family.
Elul 7: Rachel Brodie writes about the emotion around the birth of her 2nd child. When has the capacity of your own love for someone/something surprised you?
When I was told that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting their first child, I
was incredibly hesitant to let myself feel any emotion. I lived 1800 miles away, and had no idea how I would be a part of this child's life. The months leading up to the birth, I didn't even buy a single item for this child. The phone rang on August 8th, 2004 about 5 a.m. my time ... and I was told my sister-in-law was in labor. And I just laid in bed, phone in my hand, and cried. When I got the call later that the baby was born and they were waiting to hear if it was a boy or girl, I cried even harder. When I was told it was a boy, and his name - Evan Samuel, and that everyone
was healthy. I cried tears of joy. Then when the first picture was emailed to me (via a friend's phone), I sat on the floor and fell in love in an instant. (And then I booked a flight to St. Louis and went to Disneyland and spent $300 on gifts for him.) On June 28, 2006, Jack Ian came into our lives ... and my heart expanded to let the love flood in for this new nephew. I am lucky, that now at ages 4 and 6, I have such a beautiful relationship with both boys, despite never living in the same city as them, and despite only seeing them about four times a year. I know, I would do ANYTHING to protect them, give them unconditional love, and help guide them into their futures.
Photos: Evan (top) Jack (bottom)
Elul 8: Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater writes forhttp://www.craignco.com/jewels/) about the creative process he goes through to write sermons. What is your muse? What inspires you to express yourself?
When I sat to reflect on this question, the first answer that popped into my head shocked me. Anger. When I get angry about something - whether it's an injustice, a philosophy I don't agree with, being hurt by someone, a loss, a movie I didn't like, an issue I think that needs to be addressed ... the words just flow. I would like to have a muse more ethereal, maybe with time ... maybe with a love of b'shert ... maybe with my own children.
Elul 9: Comes from Rabbi Hayim Herring's @toolsforshuls http://toolsforshuls.com/ When were you recently at your best? When do you think that the Jewish people acted at its best? When do you think a significant part of the world behaved at its best?
I think that by launching my own consulting business, I have created so many new opportunities to be at my best. Those moments when I am teaching, learning, sharing, collaborating, exploring, growing, challenging, creating, connecting --- all in the same breath.
I think the Jewish people have rarely acted our best .... and in all the cases I come close to naming - they are in tragedy: 9/11, Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, hurricane Katrina, Daniel Pearl's execution ... we have a lot to work on. And again, when I think a significant part of the world behaved its best - probably 9/11 ... but just because the majority of the world was on good behavior, there was still so much hatred swirling - against Arabs, against Muslims, against America ... that it detracts to much.
Elul 10: Rabbi Shlomo RIskin writes for Craig Taubman's Jewels of Elul about being challenged & effectively standing up for his choice. In the past year, what choice have you been asked to defend and you walked away feeling good about it? http://www.craignco.com/jewels/)
Two things come to mind. The first is that when one of my cats was incredibly ill earlier this year, several people kept challenging my choice to put a lot of money and a lot of effort into trying to save her life. I have no regrets (as she sits in my lap now purring). I also had to choose during that time to walk away from a cruise that I had been planning with friends since last June ... and I don't regret that either. The second, is in my choice to take this untraditional path and not enter back into full-time employment, but instead to work on my EdD and build up my business. Sometimes you end up defending the untraditional professional path, but feeling great you took the risk.
Next blog: Elul 11-16