Sunday, September 30, 2018

I miss my Rabbi

Today is the Hebrew date. 2 years since he left us alone in this world. I don’t even know the English date. This day on the Hebrew calendar that will always be remembered. 

I miss my Rabbi. 
Rabbi Kosman left our world too fast. Too fast for me, at least. 
I didn’t get to tell him how much I appreciated what he taught me.

I wanted to tell him that he taught me to look at every person. Even when they annoy me. Even when they make me feel awkward. 
Even when I feel uncomfortable around them. 
Even when I feel frustrated by something they’ve said or done. 
Even when I allow them to hurt my feelings. 
To look at them, with total love in my heart, and accept them as a human being, Understand them to be a human being, created in the image of our Creator.

I can no longer call him and ask him what he would recommend in any situation. 
But I can feel his spirit in my heart, and in my body, and know exactly what to do or what to say, or how to react.

Rabbi Kosman modeled love.
Rabbi Kosman modeled acceptance. Deep, non-judgmental, acceptance.
Rabbi Kosman modeled being human, with every flaw.

And so even when I struggle with this person or that. 
With the choices people around me make that I may not agree or feel comfortable with, I still can love and accept their humanness. I close my eyes. And I feel Rabbi Kosman within me. Around me.

This is what I feel today. A combination of sadness and loss and complete joy and gratitude.

Today I miss my Rabbi.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I have to write something....

"You have to write something," a voice inside keeps repeating. 
"But I don't know what to write." Another voice answers back. "And I fear words aren't enough."
I've read so many other more prolific and articulate words. 
I tell myself, "Don't bother, you don't have anything important to add." 
And then another voice becomes adamant, "You can't stay silent!! Someone, somewhere will learn or be inspired or hear...And besides, Yom Kippur is tonight. Life is too short."

So, I am forcing myself to sit down and write, as my chicken roasts in the oven, and my turkey soup bubbles on the stove.

I want to say I'm so sad.

And so shocked.
And so angry.
And so disillusioned.
And so inspired.
And so sad.

The 45-year-old man, father, son, brother, and friend who was murdered on Sunday, for being a Jew (and it seems an English speaking Jew), was my next-door neighbor's brother. On one hand it feels really close. The entire Fuld family has been coming to Chashmonaim and staying at my neighbor, Moshe's house, twice a year for the past 12 years.

But really, it doesn't matter. Ari Fuld was a innocent human being. It doesn't matter whether I knew him or not. 

He was at the shopping mall, sent on errands for his wife. He was on the phone, as many of us are many times a day, when the terrorist came up behind him and stabbed him. He was targeted because he was a Jew. (And again, it seems from reports on the scene, that the sick, dagger wielding animal was looking for an English-speaking Jew.) He was a man going about his day.

All the rest of the details are not what I want to focus on here.

Tonight is Yom Kippur. The important day on the Jewish holiday calendar where I look at myself and ask, "What have I done this year to hurt another, to disregard or disrespect, to embarrass or shame another? What have I said or done without consciousness? What have I done to diminish my relationship with G-d?"

I have a responsibility to answer for myself, my words, and my actions. I want others to call me out when I have said or done something hurtful, or have overstepped my boundaries. But ultimately, I am responsible for myself.

Life is so so so so so (did I say, so?) precarious. So precious. So short. Every day is a blessing if I wake up in it. I don't have the energy anymore to spend my time on people or things that I have no control over. Although I do feel that I have responsibility when I can make a difference, to be silent when I have something to say is undermining my power.

What I want to share following Ari Fuld's murder is the main message I take from this tragic loss. And that is that the small stuff just doesn't matter. I can control my reactions and what I tell myself. And I can only make a difference first to myself and then to my family. And then, if I have energy leftover, I can make a difference out side of my house. 

We cannot fight for a nation unless we are fighting for ourselves.

This has been a conceptual understanding for many years. A message that I believed in, but didn't know exactly how to follow. I understand now.

The loss of life, whether awaited or sudden, makes me look at my mortality and really take in the message that life is too short.

My blessing to myself and anyone who has read this far, is that we take the time to set our priorities and values. Make them clear, and then live our lives based on these choices.

My nephew posted this a couple weeks ago that I will leave here:





Thursday, September 06, 2018

What you don't know about this picture...

Following my post on Facebook from this past Monday, I would like to give an example of how I think we look at our Facebook friends’ posts, and make assumptions about what we are looking at. When we see so many happy, smiling pictures, we might assume there is only a happy smiling life behind those pictures. If we live in a realistic world, we know that’s not always true. But when the only pictures or posts we see are positive and happy, we may forget about reality and what could actually be happening.

There are any number of positive, sweet thoughts you might have when looking at this picture. 

It is a sweet picture. 
Full of love and connection. 

But the story behind it, or the hours that led up to it, are nothing but scary, traumatic and miraculous! 
What you don’t see, is that our 6-month pregnant daughter, Nechama, and our 1.8 year-old grandson, Shachar, were in a car-totalling highway accident on the way to the airport on Sunday with our three nieces. 
Thank Gd, none of them experienced any internal injuries or broken bones. Lots of bumps and bruises and sore necks. 
The car that they were driving was totaled. There was an accident on the highway in front of them, for which the car in front of them slowed down. But the driver of the car behind them, didn’t. 
Coincidentally, there already were emergency vehicles on the scene. And, the police that were present saw the approaching car ram into the car our children were in. 
There were loud booms, screaming, crying, body pain, and bewilderment. 
They were taken by ambulance to the local hospital immediately. Nechama was sent to the maternity ward where she was put on a fetal monitor for 4 hours. 
Upon receiving a phone call from their daughter who was in the accident, my brother and sister-in-law immediately drove their van to the hospital. Once everyone was evaluated and then discharged without any crucial physical injuries; our daughter’s luggage retrieved from the damaged car; and a new car seat purchased at the nearest Wal-Mart, they drove back to Baltimore to figure out what to do next.
Because our daughter took insurance before they traveled, and the hospital discharge doctor wrote on her papers that she needed to travel with an escort due to her body pain, pregnancy and having to manage a lively toddler on her own, it was decided very quickly that Ari was the best choice to fly in and bring Nechama and Shachar home.

This picture was taken the moment Ari arrived in Baltimore at my parent’s home where Nechama and Shachar were staying. 
It does show the realistic love Ari has for his daughter and grandson, and the deep love and connection Nechama has for her father. 
It doesn’t show the intense fear, body pain, tears, anxiety and feelings of “what’s going on?” felt by Nechama and Shachar.
What is not known without this information, is the story behind the picture that makes it so much more real and authentic!

If you just looked at the picture and didn’t know the story, you might think, “That’s so sweet.” 
And now that you know the real story behind it, do you understand how your thoughts about it and the feelings it evokes are different?