A gift of chai-life

Note: This was done with a voice -to-text program so anything I said came out. I think I fixed most of the typos.

How many times can I cry at my synagogue? It seems that I am up to at least a dozen times now. This last Saturday was my most recent episode of crying. We were reading a portion in Deuteronomy about helping the poor. How there will always be poor people and how if you are able to, you should help the poor even if you don’t know what they will spend the money on whether it will be food, housing or drugs.  I’m not sure how it came up but I asked if our synagogue had a tzedakah (charity) fund. A long time and frequent member of our study group confirmed that we do. I asked with tears in my eyes that if people can go to someone in the synagogue to ask for the funds to god damn I was wrong my f****** brain f****** blood do I think you get the point.  About 2 weeks ago my water got turned off. The automatic payment from my bank didn’t go through and I didn’t know it. So the city turned off my water. It would cost $250 to turn it back on. That’s money I did not have. Electricity I could live without for a few days but not water especially when I’m prone to have volcano ass. And I certainly didn’t want to go to my parents and tell them that I f***** up bad adulting and I needed help I was not going to go grovel at them. I felt like s*** about it but I went to my ex. He lent me the money so I could get my water turned back on and it was turned back on.

Last week I was outside of my building picking up trash with Max, well Max was picking up the trash and I was taking it from him and putting it into the garbage can. My cane with leaning against the side of the building I was recording him picking up the trash to have (come on brain work) a record of his training it’s always good to do that and because it was super cute to have a video of my dog picking up the trash. But after he picked up the trash I walked away. And sure enough, I’d left my cane against the building and it was stolen. And on my cane was a pouch with some of Max’s stuff in, gone. I filed a police report but I’m never going to see it again. Today is Tuesday. On Sunday night I sent an email to the synagogue asking if I could get help from the Tzedakah fund. I explained what happened. I sent them a picture of the receipt from the water bill and of the cost of the cane, the pouch, and the things that were inside it and to show them what would cost to replace the items. I wasn’t sure what they would say or do if anything at all. Would they tell me that I just needed to find another way, this money was for real emergencies, that they weren’t going to help me, I really didn’t know. But Monday night I got an email from someone at the synagogue loving kindness committee. She explained  what they do and how much they give to help people she asked me if I needed that full amount and exactly what happened I explained again and told her yes I do need that full amount. I actually mean more to repay my ex husband but he does not mind if I take some extra time to repay him and right about now, I’ll take any help that I can get. I got an email back from her today saying that they are going to give me that amount I can get it from them on Saturday. Tears rolled down my face, I was so relieved. I had no idea that I can get help from them in this manner. I really hate asking for help but I’ve come to a point in my life where I really have to, there’s no choice. I need help even though I don’t realize it at times. It’s very humbling for me and I hate it. But as much as I hate it I have to do it. There’s no way around it.

On Death and Dying-in memory of Batya.

In December, I said, I was going to buy a Chumash in January. I only had a Tanakh and I wanted my own Chumash at home for studying. My non-Jewish readers might be a little bit confused. A Chumash is a book. It has the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Chumash is a derivative of the word for 5.) It’sin Hebrew and the lingua franca, in my case that’s English. There’s also commentary on what is going on. Since the first 5 books are divided into into a certain way as to be read weekky, there’s a section from Prophets with the weekly reading. It’s in the Chumash right after the weekly reading. The Tanakh is a much larger book, it’s the entire Hebrew Bible. T is for Torah or the first 5 books. N is for nevi’im which is prophets. Kh is ketuvim which is writings such as psalms, lamentations, proverbs.

But in January I had to catch up on some bills due to holiday spending so I told myself that I’d get a Chumash in February. Well, right at the end of January my service dog Max got an infected abcess on his paw. An expensive trip to the vet took precedent over the Chumash. Last week at Torah Study, I saw our synagogue librarian going through some books that I knew didn’t belong to the library. The bibliophile in me had to inquire about the books. Apparently they were for sale! They had been donated to the synagogue and while some were being kept for the library, others were being sold as a fundraiser. I started to page through them and my heart sank. The flyleaf said “From The Library of Betty Braver”

Betty (Batya) Braver was a well-respected and very much liked member of our community. She lost her battle with cancer last year and donated her Judaism library to the synagogue. Betty wasn’t just a member of the synagogue. Betty was gifted with the skill of being able to read from the Torah scroll. For those who don’t know, the scroll has no vowels or punctuation. Not only do you read it, you chant it and the musical notations are not in the scroll. Betty not only had this skill but she taught classes so others could learn. I was able to take one of the classes from her. The whole community mourned her passing.

In the box of books, I saw a Chumash! I was so excited! I was going to get a Chumash at a great price and one that was used by a wonderful person. The English calls this  version version with commentary by Reb Aryeh Kaplan “The Living Torah”. And Betty’s memory will forever live at Temple Beth El, through her books, through those chant trope like, via her children, and through all the lives she touched. The people we love never go away for they live in our hearts.



“Big Pharma” & Privilege: Or Why I Wish Allies Would Stop Using This Phrase

I’ve been wanting to say something like this for a long time! We have different diagnoses but my views on “big pharma” are the same.

Foxglove & Firmitas

(Update 1/6/16: As of today, this post has been read almost 80 thousand times.  It was originally written for the Pagan and Polytheist communities and those who regularly read my blog, but very clearly it struck a chord with a lot of people.  I’m actually still pretty shocked by that.  I have made the decision to move any more writing on disability to a new blog, Wunderkammer by C. Laurentine, which will document living life as a disabled artist and activist.  So if after reading this you decide to follow me for my writing on disability, it will be over at the new blog.  Thank you.  Thank you a million times over for reading this.  Thank you. – Camilla)

A friend posts an article on Facebook about how the United States’ medical system does not meet the needs of those with chronic pain. This is a reality that I…

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