Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova from Denver!

Well, I've made it to bright, sunny, mountainous Denver, Colorado. The air here is fresh and crisp -- I feel like I can breathe for the first time in months. It's sunny and surprisingly hot, but not humid, which is something I always loved about Denver.

I have so many posts to write -- I stayed in the Omaha Jewish community last Shabbat and had an amazing experience, I arrived in Lincoln and the first thing I did was get a haircut, I spent so much quality time with my beautiful nephews Owynn and Oliver, and I schlepped to Denver where I'm spending Rosh Hashana and Shabbat at the home of one of the local rabbis and with old and new local friends who made this trip and transition so easy, so possible (thanks Melissa!).

The next few weeks will hold a lot of morsels of pensive thinking from me, and I hope you'll put up with it as I attempt to transition into normal life again (is there such a thing?). I'm moving into my new apartment on Sunday with absolutely nothing except clothes, some Judaica, and a Brita that I bought while in Lincoln. Luckily, my mattress is coming Monday so I'll stop being sleep-grumpy by then. There will be exploration, thrifting, and shaping my new life, my liberated life.

Will you stay tuned?

I want to thank everyone who has sent emails, texts, or has called to check in on me and share their words of consolation and support. It's so weird that when you get divorced in the Jewish world, the greeting is "Mazal Tov!" and not "I'm so sorry." What a funny world we live in, yes?

So I want to wish everyone a Shana Tova u'metukah and may 5772 be filled with nothing but mazal, brachot, and simchas. All my love to every last one of you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Unanticipated Start to Renewal

This week, we begin the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, holidays that are juxtaposed with a bittersweet sensation of happiness and reality. The book of life, the book of death. At this time every year, I beg for new beginnings, for insight, for clarity, and it's an appropriate time of year because it's also the season of my birthday, which happens to be Rosh Hashanah on the Hebrew calendar and September 30 on the Gregorian calendar. I'd really wanted to do something jazzy like Kate did for her birthday, where she listed tons of awesome facts -- known and unknown -- about her from the most minute to the deep and meaningful. Had I written that post a month ago when she posted her's, I probably would go ahead and post it anyway, but I can't put myself in a mindset of cataloging and celebrating these 28 years of life that I've been given. But I'm distracted.

Ever since I was a kid, I'd always wanted to be married by 27. I'm not sure why, but it was some kind of goal that I could work for and 27 seemed like enough time to sow my wild oats and then settle into a life of marriage, have kids and be someone's wife. So I hit that goal, with four months to spare.

What I never anticipated, however, was being divorced by 28. I also never anticipated moving back to Denver -- where I lived six years ago for a summer at The Denver Post -- alone.

This blog has watched me on a unique journey into and through Judaism as a convert, and now, I suppose, it will document what it means to be a single, converted, divorced Orthodox Jewish woman pushing 30 living in the Rocky Mountain state.

Why Denver? Well, I didn't have this blog back in 2005, but if I did, you would have heard me sing the praises of Colorado as the healthiest place on earth. The moment my wheels hit Colorado, I felt the need to eat healthy, to be healthy, to feel healthy. I went through a heartbreak there, but it didn't smack me in the face like it did elsewhere, because I was mentally and emotionally healthy. I was able to cope and move on. When I lived in Denver, I went running and walking, I ate fresh vegetables and maintained a mostly vegetarian diet, I explored the state, I got out. I did things. I was happy, I was healthy, I was positive about my future and confident in who I was. Everyone keeps telling me Denver's a horrible choice because there are no single frum folk there. To that, friends, I say, "I'm not interested in dating at the moment. Seriously?"

Why not Israel? Divorce is a big enough shock to my system right now. I need a change, so I'm starting small with a move to Denver where I can regroup, clear my head, and find some inner peace. The balagan of Israel is too much for the tender state of me right now, so stay patient. I haven't ruled it out. After all, the world is my oyster at this point.

What happened? As much as I know y'all want to ask this question, and as much as I want to answer it, this blog isn't the place for it. Evan (aka Tuvia) and I are divorcing amicably after spending most of our marriage trying to make things click into place. Not everyone works out in the way that you think or hope they will, and that's the crapshoot of life, folks. I was at an all-time emotional low when the decision was made, and since then -- a mere couple of weeks -- I've already started to feel like there's a silver lining in this. Gam zu l'tovah. (Even in this there is good.) Just know that Evan and I gave it all we had, and the marriage didn't work out.

What now? Well, I'm on the hunt for a Denver job. So if you know someone, let me know. I've applied for a few, and one responded that I'm overqualified, so I'm afraid that this is going to be a constant refrain that will frustrate the bejeezus out of me. As for school, it's on hold for now with the option to return in the spring, but I'm not sure what's going to happen there. I think in the past year, I outgrew what I thought the program could provide me. I want to continue learning, so maybe I'll hop off to Israel to seminary or something. Seriously, world = oyster. But right now, I really need to find work in Colorado -- so help a Jewess out!

I suppose I have a lot to think about, and you're all along for the ride. Why I chose to uncover after the divorce, what the Denver community is like, and, most importantly, what do I want out of life?

Thus, the High Holidays -- a time for renewal -- couldn't have come at a better time. Or maybe HaShem had this all in the books. After all, everything happened so quickly, the move, the divorce, everything. I felt almost forced to be in Denver by the High Holidays, and it has happened. My 10Q email arrived the day of my get and reminded me of what I foresaw in 5771, and it was foreboding in a way. What is HaShem trying to say to me? And what does it all mean?

Stay tuned, folks. It's going to be an interesting 5772.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Hiatus

Friends, foes, and readers! I regret to inform you that until after the High Holidays, chances are I won't be blogging much, if at all. When I come back online, you'll find out what's been going on, but until then, I have a lot going on and need to focus on the "real life" aspects of my life.

Stay tuned, and stick with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Day in the Life

Maybe some of you are curious what a normal day in my life looks like, and maybe some of you couldn't care less, but today was particularly stressful, and I can't seem to figure out why. Let us look back.

Alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m., Tuvia gets up.
Alarm goes off at 9 a.m., I hit snooze -- or so I think, and start to nod back off, feeling hazy.
Alarm goes off at 9:05 a.m., I angrily turn it off and set it for 10 a.m.
I doze back off (shockingly).
Alarm goes off at 10 a.m. I turn it off.
Lawnmowers start running outside my window. I groan.
I check my email, hoping for an email from a friend who was flying in who I wanted to meet for coffee -- nothing.
I doze back off, cellphone in hand.
Finally, around 11:30 I throw the covers off, flip my legs around, sit up, say Modah Ani, groan. Head toward the bathroom.
I shower, get dressed, make a smoothie, pack a sad excuse for a lunch/dinner in my Laptop Lunchbox, grab my bags, head for the door.
Commute into Secaucus where I grab the #320 into the city, arriving at Port Authority a lot quicker than I'd anticipated.
Walk from Port Authority over to 39th and Broadway to the Coffee Bean because I have a few hours to kill before a 2:45 appointment near Union Square.
Wait in a long line to get an iced coffee after which I hear "Chavi!" being called out.
Sit down for some chillaxing time with some e-friends.
Hop the Q Train to Union Square and walk over to my therapy appointment (yes, I said therapy; yes, I'm nuts and need help)
Spend an hour crying, questioning, talking out loud to myself, having mini-lightbulbs go off and then shattering just as quickly as they arise)
Walk toward campus, only to realize I left my ID in the car.
Walk to the campus security office for a temporary ID to get into one building.
Walk over to the library, get a temporary ID to access the library for the day.
Go to the computer to print out some papers to read, only to realize while standing in line to print the papers that I don't have my ID and thus can't pay for the copies.
Spend 80 cents of my only $5 to buy a temporary copy card and print only half the documents I need.
Go to Starbucks, wait in line, and pick up a Starbucks Double-shot.
While waiting in line I hear, "You know, he looks like you -- really Jewy, you know?" making me giggle.
Grab my coffee and head over to 246 Greene for 4:55 class, and I finally eat something, which makes me feel sick. Oh, and I realize I'm dehydrated.
Sit in class until 6:35, debate the logistics of going to visit Hadassah in the hospital.
Go to Bobst Library and pick up an English translation of Midrash Rabbah.
Head toward Port Authority.
Arrive at Port Authority to discover lines all the way back to the entrance of Port Authority.
Sweat like nobody's business, hear people say "I can't use my phone! Only emergency calls! What's happening!?" sending a scary vibe over the crowd.
Finally get moving and arrive back at Secaucus around 7:45 p.m.
Excited that my day is over, I -- emotionally exhausted -- begin to drive. Over an orange parking cone.
I back up, go forward, back up, go forward, back up ... and the cone is lodged underneath my car.
I pull over to the office, where -- lucky me! -- there happens to be two police officers dealing with a drunk guy.
I walk over to the cops, "Um, there's a cone stuck under my car ..."
The cop -- Alex was his name -- proceeds to spend 10 minutes dislodging the cone from the underside of my car.
I drive away, feeling stupid, hit up Whole Foods so I can actually eat this week, arrive home, and ... end the day.

Except not. I have a ton of reading to do, a restless hamster, and ... that's that. Poor Alex, though. Seriously. People like me probably drive him to drink.

I think my day felt more stressful than it actually was. The question is: Why?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Haveil Havalim 329: The 9/11 Edition

It is a hard and heavy day to be hosting Haveil Havalim, but I'm up to the challenge, and I hope that the wisdom and insight into all things Jewish blogging brings you a little light on this day, the ten-year anniversary of the horrors of September 11, 2001 in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. Huge, heaping spoonful of sigh, folks. 

Check out Hadassah's Ground Zero - stream of consciousness over on In the Pink, or read my Where Were You on 9/11? here on the blog. I'm guessing there will be more reflective 9/11 pieces up on next week's blog, and I pray that nothing happens over the next week that necessitates more reflection and mourning. 

So what is Haveil Havalim?
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs — a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack.
And with that, let us begin!

I've decided to start out with Torah entries, including Refining the sparks within the nations posted at A Chassidishe fabrengen, and the Velveteen Rabbi gives us The vidui prayer of Yom Kippur -- and of every night. Oh my gosh, Yom Kippur is so soon that people already are blogging about it?! Gasp!

History entires were weak this week, considering, but because I find the topic of history to be quite broad, I'm going to expand what I include here. The one official submission came from Batya at me-ander with Jerusalem's Old Train Tracks, which comes with some interesting photos. 

In Culture, presents Jerusalem of Golden Ale, a look at an Israeli beer fest, and, because I'm equal opportunity, I wanted to include some Food posts, which falls into culture, right? So we have a review of St. Dalfour's Raspberry & Pomegranate Jam and LU's Granenbiscuits Milk-Chocolate Coated Time Out Cookies over at Isreview. gets creative with Bissli Schnitzel, which I have to say sounds amazing. I just have to find some of the gluten-free kind! Also at is a video on how to braid round challah -- just in time for Rosh HaShanah.

Israel seems to always get the most entries with Haveil Havalim, and I think that's great! So what do we have? Shiloh Musings submitted Authentic voices from Gush Katif, which discusses an "excellent reference site for English speakers seeking to understand what happened in Gush Katif before the Expulsion and with the expellees after the expulsion." Also at Shiloh Musings, Batya offers Israel Tries Too Hard For Peace and "Where Are We?" Ask the Confused Trolley-Jerusalem Light Rail Passengers, where she looks at the reality that the light rail does, in fact, wind through upper middle-class Arab neighborhoods, and Jewish Authority in the Land of Israel also is at Shiloh Musings. 

Also in Israel, Yoel Meltzer gives us Déjà vu in Israel on the social protests, and Tomer Devorah offers An Indictment of the National Religious Public

Israel meets Politics with Over 410,000 Israelis Demonstrate -- Celebrate -- For Social Justice at offering a personal video, podcast, and pictorial account of the Tel Aviv demonstration. (And, can I just add, it's killing me that I can't change "over" to "more than." Ugh.)

More Israel goods come in the form of  Religion and State in Israel - September 5, 2011 (Section 1) and Religion and State in Israel - September 5, 2011 (Section 2) posted at Religion and State in Israel.

New Soldiers « The Real Jerusalem Streets, posted at The Real Jerusalem Streets's Blog, discusses the disconnect between general opinion versus the media and UN's criticisms of the IDF.

And, on a happy Israel ending note is a post on the New: MAchat - Ma'ale Adumim English Speakers Community Website posted at Good News from Israel.

For a cross from Personal to Judaism, we have The Rebbetzin's Husband asking "What should go into a rabbi's opening derashah, his first speech to his new shul?" in A Rabbi's first speech? Also from The Rebbetzin's Husband comes "Things people say on their deathbeds." Home Shuling discusses Rosh HaShanah books in Praising our children, loving our children. (An encore performance). Also on the crossover is Black, Gay, and Jewish with "Please, for tzedakah," a post that has got me thinking about prayer. Life in the Married Lane has another installment in her Women Who Inspire Us series, too. 

In Judaism, Adventures in Mama-Land is prepping for Rosh HaShanah with FREE ראש השנה / Rosh Hashanah Colouring Pages & Activities! 

Majoring in Zionism, Torah Style can be found over at Shiloh Musings, and Ima2seven tries a new approach to Elul with her kids in An Elul Experiment... posted at Ima 2 Seven
.The awesomely titled How to Make a Fantasy Football League Draft Holy can be found over at To Kiss A Mezuzah.


I want to end this carnival with one submission, from Hadassah, as well as a huge push for a friend's organization.

Hadassah submitted I'm a Pain in the Neck - Surgery Needed, which discusses her impending Monday surgery to fix some serious neck problems she's been having. I'm asking all of you to have Hadassah in mind Monday morning and throughout her recovery process. She's my Yiddishe Mama, and I love her more than words!

The push for a friend's organization? Well, that involves The G-d Project
which houses mini-documentaries on G-d, Judaism, and spirituality. The project is the work of the awesome folks behind, and they are launching ONE HUNDRED videos tomorrow (that's Monday, September 12), and I need you to Tweet, Facebook, Blog, and do whatever you can to get the word out on this amazing project. The diversity of insights will blow your mind, I promise.

Be sure to submit for next week's Haveil Havalim over on the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Were You on 9/11?

Everyone's doing it -- the obligatory "Where Were You on 9/11?" blog post. What were you thinking, feeling, eating, saying. Were you asleep? Standing up? Waiting in line at the grocery store? Maybe you were taking your kids to school or in the hospital mourning a passing relative. Were you burying someone? Were you giving birth? What were you doing? Who were you? Ten years have passed, and the defining moment of my generation is September 11, 2001. The moments when we found out are clear, and the rest of the day is a blur.

Essex County (NJ) 9/11 Memorial (My Photo)
I was in Citizenship Issues course -- the bane of all of our existences, it was a required course for all seniors to discuss and learn about our country and its branches of government, policies, and procedures. I can't remember how we found out, but the school immediately shut down academic operations and turned on emotional operations. TVs and radios were on in every classroom. We stopped learning and started watching, breathing, doing whatever was necessary to swallow reality without spitting it back up.

Then I went on to Calculus, where I grabbed the hand of my then-boyfriend Kevin and just stared at the TV screen, watching everything unfold. Kevin and I broke up less than a month later, shortly before my 18th birthday. I entered adulthood with images of falling bodies and ash.

In choir class, all we could say was, "We were just there." And we had been. My junior year, Concert Choir took a big trip to New York. It was my first time out of the midwest, my first time to a city bigger than Kansas City or Tulsa. We soaked everything up -- the food, the music, Broadway, the buildings. The buildings. In our pictures, there they are! Just months before, the Twin Towers, standing tall behind us. Did we know what they were? Did we care? Or did we just miss them when they were gone, a hole in the skyline, a gap in time.

The rest of the day was a blur. I don't remember classes or going home or what our parents must have tried to say to us to calm us down. My little brother was just a kid, I was almost an adult. We were so far away from it in Nebraska, but what most of this country doesn't know is that Middle America is called the Heartland for a reason -- we feel everything that happens in this country, and we feel it harder and louder. When any part of the U.S. bleeds, Middle America dies a little more.

The past 10 years have seen much in my life change.

  • I have two degrees and am working on two more.
  • I have lived in Nebraska, Colorado, Washington (D.C.), Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
  • I have dated countless folk, become engaged, and married. 
  • I have visited Israel four times.
  • I have learned a new language (Hebrew).
  • I have converted, twice, within Judaism.
  • I have legally changed my name from Amanda Jo Edwards to Chaviva Jo Galatz.
  • I have watched friends come and go and come and go.
  • I have become the proud aunt of four boys.
  • I have grown up.
Ten years has flown by. Just like August -- zip, and it's gone. Will we continue to remember? It's embedded in my early adulthood, it colored my senior year of high school in more ways than one. I won't forget, will you?

From the Just Call Me Chaviva archives on 9/11:
  • Mentions of 9/11 (of which there are quite a few, actually)
  • 2006: On this day in History
  • 2003 (from my retired LiveJournal): "Two years ago right now, I was done with lunch and sitting in CI, if I remember correctly. Or maybe I was in Science. I was at school. And regardless of where I was, every TV was on in Northeast High School with the station tuned in to the news showing the planes crashing, and crashing, and it was like a tape on repeat. And that, is where I was. Now, it's raining. I don't have a television to watch what's going on. I can't see what the news has to say in rememberance. I just know it's sunny in New York City, and it's cloudy here. And I don't mind. Give them all the sunshine they need. I had mine."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Covering Crisis of 2011

Not that I needed a reminder, but thanks to Facebook, I was reminded that

On This Day In 2010

Chaviva Elianah Galatzis now a member of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Sheitel ;)

Ahh, memories! It seems like just yesterday that I went with my bestie Ally to a sheitel sale where I picked up my first hair piece -- a hat fall. I blogged about it (Taking the Hair Plunge), with pictures and everything, and to this day it is my most-read blog post. In that post, a year ago, I wrote,
I like to joke that I was born with bangs. I've had these bangs since forever, and when I started covering, I vowed to keep them there, and I have. Everything else covered up, I've discovered that I love covering with scarves (okay, I knew I would), with one small caveat: I miss the volume. I miss the shape of my hair. I miss the way my face and my head look with the hair all up and out like it used to be. I miss having a "look," that made random strangers in random stores ask me if I'm a hair stylist. 
Do I miss it enough to give up hair covering? Of course not. I miss my hair's shape and body like I miss putting 70 buttons on my purse and wearing tons of colorful bracelets on my wrists. It's nostalgia. It's a "moving on" kind of nostalgia. A choice that I'm 110 percent okay with.
Followed by,
In the end, I'm still a tichel kinda girl. But a sheitel gives me something that a tichel doesn't right now, and that's body, a 'do, something to work with. I look forward to wearing it on Shabbat, with cute winter hats, and for specialsimchas and events in cities and locations that, well, are perhaps a little more sheitel appropriate. It gives me something to play with, to do like I didn't do once upon a time when I had long, irritating, thick hair. And, as myreal hair begins to grow long, I look forward to taking it to a special place: growing it, cutting it, donating it. Repeating. That, it appears, is what the awesome gals in my complex do, and I admire them for doing that. (Of course, first I wondered why people don't get their hair cut and turned into a sheitel, but then I realized how silly that was. *wink!*)
Oh how the tides have turned, and oh have my opinions, needs, and feelings changed. To all of those people who said that it would get hard, you now can say "I told you so!"

The headband fall that I just can't love.
A year and a half after getting married and taking on the mitzvah of hair covering, I'm standing in front of a mirror hacking away at my own hair, wondering why I don't feel beautiful anymore. Twice in the past few weeks I have chopped off lengths of hair. Too long, then too awkward, and now? Well, I don't know why I look the way I do. And those bangs that I've had since birth that I've always loved? Also struggling with liking them these days (sorry to those of you who covet my bangs).

Have I worn my fall every day over the past year? No, but I've worn it plenty, and I've complained about it plenty, too. Falls are hard when you have bangs and have to figure out what to comb that fall into, which has left my head often aching. Likewise, the long-hair look just isn't me. It's never been me, and although I enjoyed having some length in the beginning, I ended up throwing it into a ponytail about seven months ago. And still? It hurts, it's too long, it isn't me.

I spend most days taking hats, tichels, and scarves on and off, trying to figure out what looks right. Over the past few months? Nothing looks right. Nothing feels right. But I still cover, it's a mitzvah that I can't give up because the act, itself, is part of who I am, and I believe firmly in everything it stands for. But how I want to do it has changed.

So a month ago I went online and bought a very, very inexpensive "fake" wig off a Chinese website geared toward "cosplay" (that is, people who are into Japanese manga and want to dress up, I guess). I bought a cute bob, short in the back, longer in the front, with side-swept bangs. I wasn't expecting to like it, let alone love it. I figured, for $25, I can't go wrong. If it's a bust, it's a bust. If I love it, maybe I can take it to a sheitel macher and say "this is what I want" and get it done, without winging it with a sheitel stylist.

The fake. Yes, it looks a lot better in this photo
than it does in person. Believe me. 
The "fake" wig arrived, and I was in love. The color wasn't really right, and it was incredibly shiny, but I loved it. I loved how my face shown through the frame of the shape. I didn't wear it for a few weeks, scared that someone might really spot it for the fake it was, but then, on a whim, I wore it out to dinner with some of my convert buddies, and they all loved it as much as I did. Filled with confidence, I wore it to shul a few weeks ago, but it was spotted -- it looked fake. It was too shiny, and no matter how much baby powder I've thrown on it to tame the gleam, it just hasn't worked. The netting is done poorly, there are no combs in it, and the hair already is falling out.

My response? Get a real sheitel in the style that I love, that frames my face, that makes me feel glamorous -- a feeling that I haven't had since getting married. But that, friends, is $500+, money that it's hard to convince your spouse is worth spending, especially when your spouse -- G-d love him -- doesn't dig the sheitel look, period.

And this is where I stumble back into that mirror and try to figure out who I am and why I can't feel beautiful as is. It's silly, and I never thought I'd be that person who couldn't pull that inside beauty out and just suck it up under a tichel and deal. But this is the narrative of many women who take on hair covering, who buy a sheitel or fall and months later need something new. First one's never the charm, that's for sure, and most women will tell you that. I was even warned that the fall would be short-lived, and although I scoffed at it, well, those who told me that were right.

So where do I go from here? How do I figure out how to either deal with the hand given me or to magically find $500 and convince my husband that it's worth it -- to me? Is it an investment worth feeling good about oneself?

From Sisterhood of the Travelling Sheitel to the Covering Crisis of 2011. If this is what happens after a year, where will I be in 10?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quiet to Captivating

The things that I don't write about on this blog could fill the largest spaces of the grandest libraries of the world. When I started blogging, eons ago back in the days of LiveJournal, I managed a very public, honest, and forthcoming image for myself. When I started this specific blog in March 2006, I decided that I would continue my public face in order to build a narrative on my journey to and through Judaism.

Did I anticipate it would garner as much readership as it has now? No. Way. Jose. I'm blown away every day by the hits, the emails, the comments: You guys have made it all worthwhile. But the things I really want or even need to write about -- this blog is my therapy, a voice for the voiceless neshama -- I can't. Why? Because I'm a public blogger. Anonymity, in my point of view, is more harmful than helpful and despite not being able to write about some things that would be worked out through the therapy of word-sharing, I still couldn't imagine doing this any differently. (Remember that rant against anonymous bloggers I wrote?)

Okay, back up, is that really true? Back on March 11, 2006, I wrote,
This is top secret. 
And just in case google does take over the world. I want to be prepared for the changeover when all other blog hosts go defunk. I respect you, LiveJournal, and you've had my love for the past 6 or 7 years, but there comes a time, you know. A time when google waves it's hand over the land and everything disappears.
Ridiculous, I know. So I'm only remembering it the way I want to remember. Or am I? On March 26, 2006, I wrote,
OK. So I lied. I'm moving over. I've decided to be more anonymous. More liberal. But more anonymous. LiveJournal, I love you so, but quite frankly, maybe the fact that I've been around there since the late 1990s has made me ... not grow. I want to write more meaningful things. I want to post about Judaism and what I'm learning and my mundane activities should be no part of that. I need to grow and mature in my writing and my faith. 
So I'll start over. I'm tired of trying to find mantras and phrases that should define how we should be and how we aren't. I can't put words to anything but my emotions. You can't put words to the future, only to the past. So there's no point in trying to express what future I could find, when I should just be writing and creating a chronology for the past. 
Well, and that's where we begin.
Oops. Wrong again. I wanted to be anonymous? I don't remember it that way. In fact, I remember feeling like this blog was a new beginning, a liberation, a place where I could really be the big, bad Jewish me that I was -- something that didn't fit in fluidly with my LiveJournal persona of angst and anger and, well, language. Lots of language. I was a sailor once upon a time, evidently.

It's funny to me, going back and reading this. I was inspired to do so because a friend back in Nebraska (Thanks, Sarah!) sent me an article from the July 2010 College English journal, "A Virtual Veibershul: Blogging and the Blurring of Public and Private among Orthodox Jewish Women" by Andrea Lieber. 

The article is based on research from 2006-2008, a time period in which I was still a mere puddle in the Jewish Blogosphere, let alone an Orthodox Jewish Woman blogger. The author suggests that "blogging is better understood as a technology that enables an expansion of the private sphere for the Orthodox Jewish women who write them" (622), which I can partially agree with, but then she says things like "Blogs are usually, but not always, anonymous" (629), which I wholly disagree with. 

The article is interesting because it focuses on several anonymous, frum women bloggers who tell Lieber that their blog is their place "to vent," "to shout out to the entire world," or to utter a "primal scream" (629). One of the women goes so far as to describe herself as completely orthopraxic but living the life because that's just what you do. To be honest, her case studies are, in my opinion, an incredibly poor glimpse at the amazingly broad tapestry of Orthodox Jewish Women bloggers. She cites 50 OJW blogs discovered between November 2006 and March 2007. Really?

My question is: Did those of us out there who are Orthodox Jewish Women bloggers just hit the scene with force in the past three years? Most of the OJW bloggers I know wouldn't describe their blogs as some place for them to scream out in a way that they can't traditionally in the "traditional" community. 

I also don't feel like most of the OJW bloggers I know would agree that their "public writing does subvert certain aspects of traditional Jewish gender roles" (622). The women that Lieber interviewed were quick to point out that their blogging had no feminist ambitions, and I would agree with that point for most of the OJW bloggers I've encountered. Then again, I suppose one can argue what Orthodoxy and Feminism even mean together for the OJW blogger. If anything, I would urge Ms. Lieber to reexamine her data, search out the powerful OJW bloggers out there who serve as a PSA (public service announcement) for Orthodoxy and strong women, and reconsider some of her conclusions.

I may not have started this blog out with some grand plan that has led me to this point, but one thing was always certain, and that was that I wanted to "post about Judaism." I never wanted my posting to be forceful or even educational -- I just wanted to write, to put words down because for me it was therapeutic. Pen to paper, soul to words. That's how I view blogging. I'm not writing a guide to live by, and I'm not telling others how to be or do Judaism. I'm not liberating myself or other Orthodox Jewish Women by blogging. What am I doing?

I'm telling a story -- to what has turned into a beautiful, captivated audience. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can You Still Treat Your Sweet?

In this vlog, I pose a question that I'm sure lingers in the minds of newly marrieds. Help!