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.

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A Beginning

As some of you know, I ended my marriage 4 years ago as of the end of April. But the divorce isn’t complete. The county courthouse was an hour away and no one would drive me there to get help with the paperwork. My health started to skew downwards and that took precedence. We’re legally separated but not divorced. I now live maybe a third mile from the courthouse and plan on going there to get help with my paperwork ASAP! But I also need a get.

A get is a Jewish divorce. While most Reform Jews don’t get one unless they are going to a more religious path, some get one so they can separate themselves from the past and move forwards. I do want that.  But then we will have to convene a Beit Din.

A Beit Din (or court of law) is called for several reasons. Some examples are for conversion a dispute over a piece of land or a divorce. During a conversion the convert will take a Hebrew name to show that they are now part of this community. My rabbi told me that some people will take a Hebrew middle name after a divorce. However I already have a Hebrew middle name. She said I can have more than one so why not? I thought about it and I know the name I want to take. I want to take the name of Dina.

In the book of Exodus, Dina was the only daughter of Jacob, sister to Joseph, and daughter of Leah. As the story goes, she was raped by the prince of Shechem. Many stories have been written about Dina to see if there could be another point of view. Was she really raped? Was Dina in love? Did she want this relationship? Or was it truly rape? As friends and readers of my blog know, I am a survivor. I take the name Dina in honor of the biblical Dina and all past, present, and future survivors.

Musings While Medicated: Lessons From Harry Potter

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This screenshot from Tumblr was posted on a FB fanpage. Whether it’s canon or fanfic I don’t know. There are many Dramione fanfics. But from it is the crux of this post.

You could use many words to describe me.
3 of them are Hufflepuff, Jew, and stoner. I have no problem with any of these descriptors. I’m a proud badger, I’m proud of my heritage, and MMJ ended my benzo addiction.

One of the comments on this screenshot caught my interest, I think it may have been someone claiming this was their OTP (don’t quite remember, it’s been a shitty day and I’m baked). But a comment on that comment was “No way! Hashtag Pureblood Hashtag HeilHitler” Someone actually liked it!

Mortified, I asked that person not to go there. Did he learn nothing from HP? The whole rise of Voldemort was compared to Hitler. Grindelwald was compared to WWI. Pureblood wizards…pure Aryan blood…hello? No more Hitler, no more Voldy, accepting everyone. No Hogsmeade Wall, accepting people for what they believe, where they come from, who they love, the type of magic they do, or if they do magic at all. He responded in a total douchebag manner. I decided to block him and report the post. In the process of clicking on the offensive comment, I clicked on the HH hashtag. Facebook loaded tons of public posts using that horrible hashtag. A few referenced Trump followers so I ignored them.

For those who aren’t aware 4/20 (stoner Christmas) was also Hitler’s birthday. Plus the birthday of my abusive grandfather but that’s another story. There were so many horribly offensive posts about killing minorities, glorifying Hitler, and smoking a doobie in his name.  I reported about a dozen posts before I couldn’t take it any more and broke down in tears. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!

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.

Selah

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The 5th Night of Hanukkah-a look at the past.

This is the 5th night of Hanukkah and I miss my grandparents. I talk to Grandma every week but Grandpa no longer remembers me, dementia. They were born in the same year as the lovely woman singing in this video. I have extremely beautiful memories of my grandpa who nurtured my love for music and always made me laugh. Our favorite song was in Ladino, Hebrew-Spanish. If I start to sing it, Grandpa will start to sing along as he remembers. Music is what brings us together, it’s one of the few things that triggers memories for Grandpa.

This song is written from the perspective of a child and I am no longer a child not will I ever have one. But when I hear it, I think about my grandpa and the wonderful influence he had on me as a child. I was often a depressed adolescent and then teenager but Grandpa always believed in me. He wanted me to be happy, even if I didn’t have a high-powered career. He loved me for he who I am.

Ladino language lyrics

Hanukah linda sta aki, ocho kandelas para mi, O…
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi.
Muchas fiestas vo fazer, kon alegria i plazer,
Muchas fiestas vo fazer, kon alegria i plazer, O…
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi.
Los pastelikos vo kumer, kon almendrikas i la myel,
Los pastelikos vo kumer, kon almendrikas i la myel. O…
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas,
kuatro kandelikas, sintyu kandelikas,
sej kandelikas, siete kandelikas, ocho kandelas para mi.

English translation

Beautiful Hanukkah is here. Eight candles for me, Oh…
One little candle, two little candles, three little candles,
four little candles, five little candles,
six little candles, seven little candles, eight candles for me.
There will be a lot of parties, with joy and happiness,
There will be a lot of parties, with joy and happiness, Oh…
One little candle, two little candles, three little candles,
four little candles, five little candles,
six little candles, seven little candles, eight candles for me.
We’re going to eat little pastries, with small almonds and honey,
We’re going to eat little pastries, with small almonds and honey. Oh…
One little candle, two little candles, three little candles,
four little candles, five little candles,
six little candles, seven little candles.
Eight candles for me.