Friday, August 26, 2022

We're Back: Ask Chaviva Anything!

It's been awhile and I honestly don't even know if anyone is interested in this series, but I wanted to bring back the Ask Chaviva Anything series because I'm trying to spend more time here on the blog! Ready? Ask away!


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Parashat Re'eh: Worshipping Gods You Didn't Know vs. Just Not Worshipping Other Gods

Boker tov and chodesh tov and Shabbat shalom. It's me, again, with another look at the weekly Torah portion from my favorite place in Jerusalem: the shuk!

This week's parashah is Re'eh (Devarim 11:26-16:17), and it's chock full of blessings and curses we've all heard before. But one thing I've noticed though is the repetition of a phrase: 

(singular you) אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתָּ

 (plural you) אֱלֹהִ֥ים אֲחֵרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־יְדַעְתֶּֽם

Gods who you didn't know/haven't experienced

This phrase is used again and again in requests to not listen to others who try and pull you into worshipping "gods you didn't know." The dangers around worshiping "gods you didn't know" or "gods you didn't experience before." All usages are past tense, as well. 

This line appears in Devarim 11:28, 13:3, 13:7, and 13:14.

My immediate thought here is ... does this mean we can worship gods that are new to us? So no idols of Avraham's father but yes to all the others?

Why not just say clearly and definitively, "Don't worship other gods"? Period. Full stop. 

Why the "lo yadata" and "lo yadatem" ... that you didn't know? 

Let's say that the idea here is that the Israelites are supposed to focus on the Gd they do know rather than gods they didn't or don't know. This may be the point of the language because the whole of Sefer Devarim is one big reminder of all the things HaShem did for the Israelites. There is one Gd, HaShem, and He's the end-all, be-all. 

I took you out of Egypt! 

I fed you manna!

I kept you! 

I'm giving you this land!

I promised you'd be numerous as the stars in the sky! 

Look at all I did for you! 

You know me. You didn't know them. You don't know them

Maybe? 

It still doesn't sit well with me. There's something uncomfortable about this line that I just don't like or love. Something uncertain and unnecessary. 

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Friday, August 19, 2022

Parashat Eikev: Are Jews really better than everyone else?

Happy Friday! I am happy to say these words are coming to you from the comfort of Machane Yehuda, aka the shuk, in Jerusalem, Israel, Planet Earth. Let's dive in. 

This week's Torah portion (aka parashah) is Eikev, which I've written about quite a few times before (including here and here). There are so many compelling events in this week's portion! This portion comprises Devarim/Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 and includes Moshe's final words to the Israelites and retells the infamous story of the Golden Calf. 

Are the Jews better than everyone else? 

It also includes a verse often cited as troublesome for how the world thinks Jews understand themselves in the expanse of humanity. In Deut. 7:14, the Torah says

ברוך תהיה מכל העמים

Baruch t'hiyeh m'kol ha'amim. 

This often translates as "You will be blessed above all people." This is just one of the places where the antiSemitic trope that Jews believe they're better than everyone else comes from. But that's a mistranslation. There is so much nuance with translation, and this translation misses the mark. The Hebrew uses a mem (מ), which means "from" not "above." Mem is a comparative preposition, and when you compare two things, you're setting them apart from one another. 

The better translation here is "You will be blessed when compared to all people." It's an indicator of a different status of blessing, not a status of being above or better than others. And it makes sense. Jews are viewed by the world as distinct, separate from. Even the most non-religious Jews are still considered as different and separate. This was the blessing from HaShem. 

You can embrace that blessing of difference and celebrate it or view it as a negative and something to fight or battle against. 

What's the deal with the different versions of the Golden Calf story?

Later, the parashah retells the sin of the Golden Calf but changes up a major portion of the story, which makes me wonder. If you recall, the scene here is that Moshe went up on the mount to get the Torah from HaShem. He was gone "too long" for the people, so they panicked and fell back on their old "we need an intermediary to check in with HaShem and see what's doing with Moshe" ways. Thus, they built a calf (not to worship, but to serve as an intermediary to their Gd). 

In Deut. 9:21, Moshe says:

"As for that sinful thing you had made, the calf, I took it and put it to the fire; I broke it to bits and ground it thoroughly until it was fine as dust, and I threw its dust into the brook that comes down from the mountain."

But in the original incident in Exodus 32:20, it says:

"He took the calf that they had made and burned it; he ground it to powder and strewed it upon the water and so made the Israelites drink it."

What's missing? The people drinking the water, of course. Why isn't this brought up in this week's portion? 

Ramban says it's because Moshe didn't want to humiliate them, but that doesn't seem to track. This entire portion is an extensive reminder of how the Israelites screwed up. Ramban also says he doesn't want to tell the people because he doesn't want them to know that he did to them what is done to wives accused of adultery. After all, Israel did cheat on HaShem, right? Sort of, anyway.

Okay, stop. Wait. What? Yes, when a woman is accused of adultery, she's forced to let down her hair and drink some sketchy water. In Numbers 5:17:

"And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water."

So is what Moshe did in Exodus and what happened to an accused adulteress the same thing? The former involves burning something and putting the ashes into water. The latter involves some dust from the floor, which could be some ash mixed in with general dirt. The Hebrew word is the same in Deuteronomy and Numbers, but the version in Exodus doesn't use the word for dust/dirt or ash. But the two don't appear to be the same. Even if the ash on the tabernacle floor was from a sacrifice, those sacrifices are out of holiness. The burning of the calf has nothing to do with anything holy. 

All of that to say I don't buy the Ramban's perspective here. But when something in one place in the Torah doesn't match something in another place in the Torah, we have to explain it, right? 

The reality here is that the drinking that is explicitly called out in Exodus is merely implied in Deuteronomy. One can safely assume that there was a single source of water where the Israelites were camped. When Moshe says, "I threw its dust into the brook that comes down from the mountain" the implication is that the people were drinking out of this brook whether they wanted to or not. 

And that concludes this week's thoughts on Eikev. There are a bunch of other interesting sections in this portion, including gobs of talk about conquering and possessing the land, but I've covered that in previous years pretty thoroughly. Until next week ... Shabbat Shalom!


Monday, August 15, 2022

Fun Puns and Alliterations for Celebrating Sukkot in 2022

Yes, Sukkot has come and gone this year, but after many years of creating alliterative names for the nightly meals in the Sukkah, I thought it might be fun to compile a ton so that when next year rolls around and we're hopefully gathering with friends and family ... you can have some fun, alliterative meals!

For those not in the know, a sukkah is a temporary structure that is also called a booth or a hut or a tabernacle (the latter most often outside of Jewish circles). With that, I give you the alliterative options:

In the sukkah ...

  • Sushi in the sukkah (served with sake in the sukkah)
  • Spaghetti in the sukkah
  • Make-your-own-salad in the sukkah
  • Make-your-own-sandwich in the sukkah
  • Sabich in the sukkah
  • Sausages in the sukkah
  • Smoothies in the sukkah
  • Subs in the sukkah (as in, sub sandwiches)
  • Sambusak in the sukkah (think: middle eastern samosas)
In the shack ...
These could also be used for "in the sukkah."
  • Shakshukah in the shack
  • Schnitzel in the shack
  • Shakes in the shack
  • Shepherd’s pie in the shack
In the booth ...
  • Beers in the booth
  • Brews in the booth
  • Burgers in the booth
  • Bagels in the booth
  • Banana splits in the booth
  • Bibimbap in the booth
  • Blintzes in the booth
  • Burritos in the booth
  • Bourekas in the booth
  • Hummus v'basar in the booth

In the hut ...
  • Hot dogs in the hut
  • Pizza in the hut (this is not alliterative, but a nod to Pizza Hut!)
  • Hamburgers in the hut
  • Hot pot in the hut
  • Herring in the hut
  • Heroes in the hut (as in sub sandwiches)
  • Hamin in the hut (hamin is similar to cholant)
  • Huevos rancheros in the hut
  • Hummus in the hut
In the tabernacle ...
  • Tacos in the tabernacle
  • Tequila in the tabernacle
  • Turkey in the tabernacle
  • Make-your-own-toast in the tabernacle
  • Tajine in the tabernacle
And a few more:
  • Pancakes in the palapa
  • Pancakes in the payag 

Another one that I came up with was cholent or chile en la choza (chili in the hut), but I was told that choza in Spanish is actually more of a hovel than a hut. If you speak Spanish and can let me know, I'd love to hear it in the comments!

Want to share one I didn't think of? Post in the comments and I'll add it to the list!


Friday, August 12, 2022

Chaviva on the Parashat Ve'etchanan: Aliyah, Changing the Law, Prayer, and more

Many moons ago, I sat down and studied the weekly Torah portion (parashah). I started this when I was living in Washington D.C. right after college. I'd finish my shift at the Washington Post, head to a coffee shop in Dupont Circle, and dig into the portion to figure out "What's bothering Chavi?"

It's been a long time since I had the mental or physical space to do this. Being a full-time working parent means my week is filled with living on other people's timelines and managing other people's problems and needs. Now that we're living in Israel, I have Fridays off (for the most part), which means I'm trying to reclaim Friday mornings as my own. 

Sometimes, that will mean heading into Jerusalem to the shuk and sometimes, that will mean staying local and bumming it at an Aroma. Sometimes I'll drive around looking for plaques to understand what occurred in the lands around me and sometimes that will mean going to museums, and sometimes that will mean reading the weekly Torah portion to try and reclaim a me of a bygone era ... a me who learned voraciously. 

This week, it means the latter. This week's Torah portion is chock full of so many thought-provoking verses, but I'm going to try and stick to a few that sing to me at this moment. 

Devarim 4:1 Possessing the Land of Israel

 
וְעַתָּ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל שְׁמַ֤ע אֶל־הַֽחֻקִּים֙ וְאֶל־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָֽנֹכִ֛י מְלַמֵּ֥ד אֶתְכֶ֖ם לַעֲשׂ֑וֹת לְמַ֣עַן תִּֽחְי֗וּ וּבָאתֶם֙ וִֽירִשְׁתֶּ֣ם אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֧ר יְהֹוָ֛ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֖ם נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶֽם׃ 

Now therefore hearken, O Yisra᾽el, to the statutes and to the judgments, which I teach you, to do them, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers gives you (Devarim 4:1).

Here I am, living in Israel, re-fulfilling a dream I had a decade ago. This life is, without a doubt, filled with struggles and challenges and incomprehensible stumbling blocks. And yet, I'm also fulfilling what the Ramban considers one of the 613 commandments.

There is a positive, biblical commandment to dwell in Eretz Yisrael, as it says, "You shall possess it and dwell in it" (Devarim 17:14, 26:1). (Sefer Chareidim, Mitzvot Asei HaTeluyot B'Eretz Israel, chap. I, sec 15.) 

Chazal (חז"ל acronym for Chachameinu Zichronam Livracha, or “Our sages, may their memory be blessed”) say that the mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel is equal to all the mitzvot of the Torah (Sifrei, Re'eh 28). 

I suppose, then, that it makes sense that it's so hard. If one mitzvah can be equal to all the mitzvot, then surely there must be challenges and feats to overcome. Imagine taking 613 steps versus taking just one. Imagine answering a test with 613 questions versus just one. 

(The truth is that the Land of Israel is easy. It's the State of Israel that is the challenge.)


The sun rises over Neve Shamir in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Devarim 4:2 Waiting for Revelation, Not Change

 לֹ֣א תֹסִ֗פוּ עַל־הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אָנֹכִי֙ מְצַוֶּ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א תִגְרְע֖וּ מִמֶּ֑נּוּ לִשְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־מִצְוֺת֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶֽם׃ 

You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you (Devarim 4:2).

When I was in graduate school at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, I had a fantastic mentor and teacher named Stuart Miller. He was an Orthodox Jew who was also a professor, striking a challenging balance between "this is what I believe" and "this is what the facts tell me." And he was so good and managing that balance without the friction so many academics suffer while knowing what the historical and cultural record says and what the Torah says. 

This week's parashah is V'etchanan in which the pasuk (verse) above says the laws of the Torah are set in stone and must remain as they are literally written, period, full stop. The challenge here, obviously, is that time changes people, technology advances, and the world has become a different place. 

So how do we reconcile and balance the seemingly archaic and outdated laws of Torah with the way we live our modern lives?

What I learned from Professor Miller was that we cannot change the law if we are living Torah-observant lives. 

The Torah doesn't bend to us; we bend to the Torah. Over time, aspects of the law are revealed to us and re-revealed to the point where we can apply Torah to our daily lives in this modern world. The Torah doesn't have to change; we have to look harder and understand better. 

This is where the gedolim ha'dor (the big rabbis or thinkers of each generation) play a vital role. They see how the law applies to modern situations and advise accordingly. It's why there are Shabbat elevators and Shabbat lamps and why we can use timers and hot plates and other things that rabbis of generations gone by would have scoffed at, surely. 

Instead of saying "We live in a new world, the laws of the Torah don't fit with this modern world," we say, "How do these laws apply in our modern world?" 

Obviously, not all streams of Judaism or all flavors of Jews hold by this. In the Liberal world, much of the law has become optional and in the Orthodox world, some groups have taken the law and changed it to be more oppressive and hateful. Neither are what this pasuk says.  

Devarim 4:7 Waiting for Answers That Never Come

כִּ֚י מִי־ג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל אֲשֶׁר־ל֥וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים קְרֹבִ֣ים אֵלָ֑יו כַּיהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֔ינוּ בְּכׇל־קׇרְאֵ֖נוּ אֵלָֽיו׃ 

For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the LORD our God whenever we call upon Him (Devarim 4:7)?

When I was a little kid, I used to pray every night. I'd beg Gd to help me love myself more, for people to like me more, to not feel so sad, to not feel so alone, to be thinner, to be smarter, to be different, to be better. I never asked Gd for things. I was never the type of kid who'd say "I promise I'll be good for the next week if you convince my parents to buy me x, y, z. I was the type of kid who'd say "I promise I'll be good forever if you promise to convince more people to like me."

I was a depressed and sad kid. I was fat and unhappy and my journals from childhood are incredibly upsetting to read. Even as I continue to struggle with so many of these same issues today, I wish I had been kinder to myself. I was just a kid!

The hardest part of those prayers and being that kid was that I was never answered. Gd never responded to me. At least, that's what I thought and felt. There was no booming voice from the sky saying I was going to be okay or asking me to do something different to make my asks come true. As a kid who knew the stories of Gd talking to the prophets and Moshe, I thought maybe, just maybe, I'd hear an answer. 

At some point over the past 10 years, I learned that we always get answers to our prayers; they're just not the answer format we expect, need, or want. They don't come in the timeline we demand either. I spent my childhood asking for self-love and it wasn't until I was a fully grown adult human woman that I started understanding what it means to love myself.  It took until I was in my late 30s to learn that starving myself wasn't the way to happiness and health. I'm still working on it, and not doing a super-great job all the time, but I'm working on it.

So this pasuk (verse): Is Gd close whenever we call upon Him? Does he answer when we call upon Him? The truth is the verse says that He's close, but not that he answers. What does "close" mean? It means that HaShem neither slumbers nor sleeps and is always available to hear our prayers, our cries, our requests. 

The beautiful thing about Judaism is that the revelation at Mount Sinai/Horeb happened before all the Israelites. Everyone saw and experienced those moments. It wasn't a private revelation to one person. It wasn't a setup that said you have to rely on a specific person or persons as a channel to Gd. In Judaism, we all have access. Constant access. Because HaShem is close at all times and, as this pasuk says, aren't we lucky? 

And, indeed, in this parashah, the next several verses talk about that moment when HaShem appeared before the people and what they saw and experienced to serve as a reminder of this very fact. 

What did you see in this week's Torah portion? Do you have any thoughts about anything in this post? Share with me in the comments! 

And if you're curious what my TaNaKh of choice is, it's the Koren's Magerman Edition. I love all of the extra goodies in the back, the easy tabs, the two bookmarks to keep tabs on the weekly Torah portion and the haftarah, and more. Get yours here!





Thursday, July 28, 2022

One Month in Israel: Aliyah Without Aliyah

I thought I'd feel something ... something more. More deep, more powerful, more. Just more. 

When I made aliyah in 2012, I felt it all. I felt the air differently, the mornings differently. Every experience was like I was growing into a new and more meaningful life. I saw everything through new eyes, and those eyes felt and experienced things differently. Everything was shiny and new. 

I was a new Chaviva. A better Chaviva. A Chaviva more deeply in touch with her spirit, soul, and emotions. 

Moving back, I've realized I'm not that Chaviva anymore. I'm eight years, three kids, and so many life experiences (both challenging and rewarding) later. 

And I'm struggling with not feeling that ... feeling everything "more."

When we landed, Tuvia was on an energetic high. Every sight and sound was big and special and like coming home to him. I was in awe of him. I envied him. At the same time, I didn't understand why he was able to feel that way when I just felt like everything was dulled. The sights, the sounds appeared as if the shine and shimmer had been buffed clean off. 

Over the several weeks we've been here I've been waiting for that more, that shimmer to return. To look around and marvel. I've had a few moments when I step out on the balcony at sunset and the view sucks me into a world of quiet and light. But it's fleeting. It's so fleeting I don't even know how to describe the speed to you. It's shorter than the blink of an eye. 

You know when you live someplace a long time and it becomes comfortable? There's two types of comfortable you can feel: the type where it's easy and relaxing and always like coming home or the type where it's too familiar and thus uncomfortable. Somehow, that's how Israel feels to me right now. 

I know I should say I'm lucky to be here, and I am. I feel lucky and blessed and so happy to finally be home. But I want it to feel like it used to. I want to feel something about it. Anything really. It feels too familiar, too normal, too run-of-the-mill, too dull. 

I have a feeling it's because I'm working, and the kids are home, and it just feels like summer back in Denver in many ways. But I'm holding out for the moment, the feeling, the shimmer. I know it'll come back to me. 

I need to start learning again and find an outlet that is more than kids and work and marriage. Kids and work and marriage have been all I've had for so long now. I have nothing that's mine or for me. I have to find that something, and I have to find it soon. 

Anyone out there know the feeling that I'm feeling? Drop a line in the comments, please.


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Aliyah Part Deux: We Are Finally Moving Home

 It's been a while blog readers, but I've got some big ... nay ... huge news. 

Around this time in 2012, I decided to make aliyah to Israel. I sold everything, packed three suitcases, and moved in October 2012 to Nachlaot, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Jerusalem. 

A few months later, I met the man I'd marry (December 2012). 

A few months after that, we got married (February 2013).  

Many months later, we had our eldest child, Asher (December 2013). 

Then, unfortunately, for many reasons (chief among them my father's illness), we moved back to the states in April 2014. Our goal? To move back before Asher entered kindergarten (i.e., mid-2019). 

Obviously, life happens. Pandemics happen. Everything happens in HaShem's time and on HaShem's timeline. I accepted that a long time ago. 

And now? Now is the time. Everything is right. We are finally heading back to Israel!

It's not technically aliyah, because we are all citizens of Israel. But it feels like aliyah. We've been gone for more than eight years and the country has changed so much. We're moving to a new build in Ramat Bet Shemesh because I can't return to the Gush (I have my reasons, which I may explain someday). I'm keeping my amazing job at Bizzabo, which has HQ in Tel Aviv. Mr. T is interviewing with some solar companies. The kids are registered for school. There is so much moving and happening!

Are we ready? Yes! Am I anxious and nervous? Yes! Are the kids stoked? Absolutely! Is our home packed up and on its way to Israel? Yes!



Friday, December 31, 2021

Jews Are Not a Monolith

Back in 2019, Delish shared a coffee-and-cream colors chart. At some point, it was used to display the various colors of Indigenous peoples as a way of saying, "Indigenous people are not a monolith."

Now, here I am, using this clever image to say, "Jews are not a monolith." 

coffee in different shades with the word Jew on each cup

When I converted on January 1, 2010, I claimed my place among the Jewish people. I acknowledged the Jewish neshama (soul) that I was born with and set it free to grow and expand. 

Interestingly, while I was living the life of a Torah-observant Jew prior to my conversion and for a long time after my conversion, people were always surprised by me. 

"No Jews in your family? Well, you pass so easily!" 

"You look so Jewish, though! Pale skin, dark hair ..." 

"Are you sure there are no Jews in your family tree? You look more Jewish than some Jews!"

And I got this from Jews and non-Jews alike ... all because the assumption that all Jews are light skinned with dark hair because that's the stereotype. And for the longest time, I had such pride in the fact that I could easily pass when so many other converts I knew couldn't. 

Why? I was never questioned who I was or what I believed or how I observed. The only hiccups came (and continue to come) when people start playing Jewish geography. Only then does my past as a mildly non-denominational Midwestern Christian trickle out. 

But the reality? Jews come in all colors. I may pass because of stereotypes of what a Jew looks like, but there is no one way a Jew should or can look. 

And that's the post. Shabbat Shalom!


Friday, October 22, 2021

You Know You're Raising a Jewish Kid When ...

As you all know, I didn't grow up Jewish. The first 20 odd years of my life were spent living a generally midwestern Christian/secular lifestyle. So, watching my three kiddos grow up Jewish is fascinating to me. There's a lot that people who grew up take for granted when they look at the world, and I imagine things that are special or weird or amusing to me don't even faze my husband. 

Here are a few examples (yes, really) from today:

You Know You're Raising a Jewish Kid When ... 

Tirzah was sitting at the table coloring (this girl is as into art as I was at her age, which makes me so proud) and held up two markers. 

"Which blue should I use Mommy?" 

Me, knowing that she's still figuring out her left and right, pointed to the one in her right hand. 

"The one in my Shema hand?"

Yes, my 5-year-old daughter referred to her right hand as the Shema hand instead of saying "this one" or "the one in my right hand?" (Note: The Shema is a special prayer that pops up throughout the daily prayers and at bedtime.) I'm schepping nachas over here. (Or, if you like my autocorrect, "scheming nachos.")

You Know You're Raising a Jewish Kid When ... 

I took Zusha to get his flu shot this morning. The other two got their shots a few weeks ago, and it was an utter disaster. Luckily, Zusha was chill, didn't wiggle, make a peep, cry ... nothing. It was amazing. But because I'd bribed the other two with a Target gift card, I had to deliver with Zusha, too. (Had I known he wasn't going to freak out, I wouldn't have even brought the bribe!)

So we headed to Target and he picked out his Paw Patrol toy. We went to self-check out (obviously) and while I was ringing us out, a nice man checking out behind us asked if Zusha had a piggy bank. I answered that he did, and the man handed him about five little coins amounting to something like 36 cents. We hopped in the car and were driving home when ...

"Mommy, I want to open them!"

"Open what?"

"These! I want to open these!"

"Mommy's driving Zush, what are you holding?"

"The coins Mommy!"

"Sweetie, those aren't chocolate." 

Yes, Zusha, my little 3.5-year-old thought they were gelt, those foil-wrapped coins you get at Chanukah. He was legitimately disappointed that they weren't. But, we see so few coins and paper money these days, that he thought they had to be Chanukah gelt. Ah! I was giggling the rest of the way home. 

Do you have a "You know you'er raising a Jewish kid when ..." story? Share in the comments!


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Ask Chaviva Anything: The LuLaRoe Documentary

It's been a long time since I answered an Ask Chaviva Anything question, but this one came in and I thought, "Well, it's about time!"


Q: Have you watched the Lularoe documentary? If so, was it surprising/ upsetting/ validating/ etc. Thanks!


A: Yes. I watched LuLaRich. I binged every last minute of it, with the line "Oh my Gd, we're in a cult" ringing uncomfortable and accurately true. 

For those of you who forgot (or repressed), I drank the Kool-Aid. Yes, I sold LuLaRoe from August 2016 through August 2017. In fact, my LuLaRoe Instagram page is still up and so is my (overly) emotional "Why?" video. Yipes. 

I first heard about LuLaRoe in late 2015/early 2016 in one of the modest fashion groups I'm in on Facebook. Suddenly, Jewish women everywhere were talking about this affordable, fun, and fashionable clothing line and how they were making money as a side hustle. (Funny that they now sell shorts and crop tops!)

The company's model and fashion piqued my interest and I found a local seller in Spring 2016. She urged me along and I finally signed up, despite all the red flags and everything else that came along with it. 

When I was in it, I loved it. I loved the fashion and the ownership and I felt beautiful in the clothes. But it was a lot of work for very little return. Very little. As in no return. I was drowning in clothes no one wanted to buy because they were ugly. But I kept telling myself that it was worth it, that I was an independent, empowered women. And every time I was told that I wasn't working hard enough, I worked harder, because I'm a perfectionist! I was so deep in it ... getting out was a battle and it left me angry and frustrated. 

So, watching the LuLaRich documentary was definitely validating, with very little in the way of surprising. I did like finding out just why I kept getting bleached skirts (they sat out in the sun, ew). I also found it amusing just how completely detached Mark and Deanne pretend to be from the rest of the company. But what I found most upsetting was the whining and complaining from people who made bucketloads of cash on the backs of people like me. Yes, I feel bad that they suffered, but at the same time, they knew exactly what they were doing. 

But, truth be told, I'd go through everything (including the thousands I lost) with LuLaRoe again over ever doing Optavia again, because the latter caused more lasting and irreversible harm.

Honestly, it's amazing how I got duped into not one but two schemes that saw my insecurities and used and abused them. I keep telling myself: "Chaviva, you're a smart person! Why'd you let two toxic schemes suck you in!?" 

You see, both LuLaRoe and Optavia do the same thing: They tell women that if they don't see success, it's their own fault. If you can't hit your financial or weightless goals, obviously you're not working the system correctly. Nevermind that one is robbing women and the other is selling eating disorders. 

Anyway ... I could go on and on. But ultimately, I was glad to see the reality of LuLaRoe brought to the forefront. I'm glad that the world can see how this company is built on the backs of people who just want to get ahead and support their families but who end up drowning. I was elated that people could see how all of the "experts" running the company are beyond unqualified to do the jobs they're doing. I was happy to see that the true colors of LuLaRoe were revealed. 

All of that said ... sometimes, just sometimes, I really miss some of the clothes. I even poked around to find out my former mentor/coach is still selling and I almost bought one of the dresses. But. I didn't. Because, I'm still a little angry. 

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