Busted Halo

Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.

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March 19th, 2011

For those of you who don’t know, the holiday of Purim is coming up March 19 – March 20 (21st in Jerusalem).  The holiday is kind of like a cross between Halloween and St. Patty’s Day with a Jewish flare – imagine dressing in costumes and drinking until you can’t tell the difference between good and evil.  To put you in the holiday spirit, and to understand more about Purim, enjoy this video from G-dcast narrated by my super talented spoken word princess and friend, Vanessa Hidary AKA the Hebrew Mamita.…

March 9th, 2011

800px-Truffles_with_nuts_and_chocolate_dusting_in_detailEvery year, for as long as I can remember I’ve given up chocolate for Lent. When people ask me why, I don’t typically have an answer, it’s just something that’s been ingrained in me since childhood.

After attending a mass back home where we remembered my cousin, our priest got me thinking. Why not calculate all the money we save from that sacrifice and donate it?

While I don’t eat THAT much chocolate on a daily basis, I’m curious to see just how much I do spend.

As far as my charity of choice, I’ve spent some time thinking and after learning of a friend who’s training to participate in the Police Unity Tour, a bicycle ride from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to raise awareness for officers who have died in the line of duty and raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum, I thought this was the perfect cause.

Having three family members who are cops, I think it’s a fitting decision.

What are you giving up for Lent?…

March 3rd, 2011

800px-Vallee_OssauI went back to Hillsong NYC yesterday with my best friend Wendy. Walking into Irving Plaza with Wendy is the norm as we’ve been attending and covering shows together since high school. However, the idea of having Sunday service at a concert venue still boggles my mind.

Yesterday’s service talked about three ways to make it through a valley. I couldn’t help but think of of my previous post, Coping with Rejection that seemed to strike a chord with many of you. I’m always reminded of the phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but sometimes it’s hard to remain positive when you don’t land that dream job, when your boyfriend breaks up with you or when there’s family conflict.

Luckily, pastor Carl Lentz gave three steps to dealing with hard times.

1. Stay Active. If you keep giving to other people you will keep moving forward.

2. Stay Connected. Your relationships will make you or break you in a valley season. Everybody needs somebody.

3. Stay Focused. Refuse to take your eyes off of God’s promises.

Too many people let go of their dreams when a valley hits, don’t fall victim at the last minute, right before the …

February 24th, 2011

355px-Woman,_why_are_You_Weeping-This past year has been quite the spiritual journey. Living with Monica and Farrah has opened me up tremendously to new religious experiences and questioning my own faith. I consider myself open minded and am truly intrigued by Judaism and  rediscovering my Catholic beliefs.

Last month, I received a comment to one of my posts that struck me.

“Take time for praise and worship, do not make your profession and the music stars your God. If you do not nurture and work on your faith, it will go away. There are 10,080 minutes in a week, go to Sunday mass and spend 60 minutes with God who has provided all these blessings.”

While I know I seem to profess music is my religion, I by no means idolize these rock stars as my God. The comment really got me thinking and while at first I was offended, I thought maybe I should try out some churches in New York for Sunday services.

Last weekend, one of my best friends since middle school, Sarah, came for the weekend and mentioned a few churches she and her friend wanted to check out. Thus, began my weekend of church hopping as we came …

February 20th, 2011

bhutan-refugee-largeYou haven’t heard from me in a little while. Miss me? School started just a few weeks ago and I’m already in the deep end of reporting. One of my first stories back was on refugees from the country of Bhutan.

Bhutan is this tiny nation nestled in South Asia, a country made up entirely of Buddhists. I was fooled once to believe it is a euphoric territory on earth, but soon learned that the nation had exiled more than 100,000 Nepali people from its land simply because they were Hindu. To add irony to the equation, the nation of Bhutan claims to measure its country on a metrics of “Happiness,” an emotion engrained into their public policy. How then do Buddhists, who claim such perfection, exile a people on religious ground?

This, of course, is not simply a religious matter. It is very much a political one. But the irony remains.  The beauty in this story is the faith.

When I interviewed activists who help Bhutanese refugees acclimate to the United States, the most important thing for these refugees, they said to me, is a place to pray.

One activist told me that the first thing refugees do when …

February 7th, 2011

Filippino Lippi's Madonna and Child

Filippino Lippi's Madonna and Child

I have to tell you a secret.  A few weeks ago I started to feel reeeeeaaallllly funny.  Like, I was having a connection with Christianity out of the blue, and it wasn’t just some curiosity – it was a weird affinity, like I was having an existential crisis or something.  Now, if you read my blog posts on here you know one thing – a main thing – about me: Judaism is a HUGE part of who I am.  Understandably I was starting to freak out.  Let me take you all on my short-lived Jesus journey.

It all began one Shabbat afternoon when the sun begins to set and the end of Shabbat is near.  I was reading the Saturday Times and saw a short listing of a new exhibit at the Met where the featured painting was this Madonna and Child.

Seeing this painting sparked something within me.  Firstly it reminded me of my high school Art History class that I loved so much.  But even more than that I said to Annie, “I want to go to Italy for Christmas.”  I want to go somewhere for Christmas???  I never speak in terms …

January 31st, 2011

2011 started out how past New Year’s have: surrounded by friends and family with numerous hopes and resolutions made. After ending 2010 with a much coveted interview for what I thought was my dream job, I was confident 2011 would be my best year yet.

Unfortunately, I soon found out I didn’t make the cut and I was devastated. I quickly began questioning my life and career choices as well as my own abilities. Why am I so passionate being a music journalist? Why would God give me this writing talent only to be accompanied by numerous failed job interviews? No one likes rejection and I was trying my best to see the silver lining, but had a much harder time than I care to admit.

So, of course I turned to music. Oprah Winfrey just launched her OWN network a few days before and one of her first aired shows, Master Class, featured Jay-Z discussing his life, struggles, failure and the importance of staying true to yourself. He knew when he was writing all his rhymes and rehearsing them as a child that he had something special that the world had to hear. He didn’t shy away from …

January 22nd, 2011

This past week I took a trip away from the apartment to Atlantic City, a place that survives solely on believers. With more than a dozen casino resorts, hundreds of blackjack tables and thousands of slot machines, it is only a miracle to find the one that will make you win big. Yet, despite two free rooms and comped dinners, the casino still asks for me and my mom to visit because they know we will pay our stay with little red and green chips.

Photo Credit: Jamie Adams

Photo Credit: Jamie Adams

Bright lights and the sound of quarters trickling from machines made for family vacations growing up. My mom and aunt had good luck often times — $300 one trip, $1,000 another trip. I took some of that luck with me when I started to play at 21, no longer watching mom outside the casino border next to the guard. I have to admit, I love the game. It’s exciting. Gambling, however, is not an addiction to money for me, it’s an addiction to possibility.

Next to me on a blackjack table was a woman in hijab who praised the Lord every chance she could. “The Lord took me out of Showboat …

January 21st, 2011

dearboyrfriend-flashDear Boyfriend,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said the other day. You told me that you’re all or nothing, and if you found that G-d exists you would be more religious than me, because how can one believe in G-d without accepting all of his commandments and abiding by all of His laws? There is so much that can be discussed and argued from your one statement and you’ve got me questioning myself, my faith, and those around me. Why don’t I see things in terms of black and white, or all or nothing, but instead my practice falls along not in shades of gray but all colors of the rainbow? I never did a 180, going from non-practicing to suddenly wearing skirts and long sleeves and praying three times a day. Because how does one do that when not knowing Hebrew, not knowing anything really? But maybe you’re right. If I believe with all my heart that there is a G-d, why do I find it acceptable that as long as I keep kosher and observe the Holy Sabbath that it’s okay for other areas to slide? That I don’t have to say all the prayers …

January 9th, 2011

I think every day has the opportunity to been seen as a start to a new year.  I mean, every day I wake up in the morning and I say Modah Ani lifanecha melech chai v’kayam shehechezarta bi nishmahti b’chemlah, rabah emunatecha. I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

Imagine that.  Every day we have the opportunity to see our life anew.  A fresh start to reinvent ourselves.

My first new year began on my 28th birthday this past June.  I’ll be honest – it was rough.  It still is.  I hated adding another number to my age since I was in high school, but I got over it through the years.  Until this year where the increase of a digit just made me…well…sad.  That’s why I so looked forward to Rosh Hashanah in September.  I wanted a real fresh start and a connection with G-d that would help me achieve that.  I needed to believe that I had the power to control my year.  So far, it’s really amazing to have reminded myself that the energy of Tishrei (the month that includes …

January 5th, 2011

2010 has been one of the most fun, invigorating, stressful, emotional and satisfying years yet. I never dreamed my passion  for music would evolve into my becoming a music journalist and that I’d actually make money from doing what I love — attending concerts and interviewing some of my favorite bands.

I couldn’t be more blessed and grateful to have finally jumped completely out of my comfort zone last year. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God that Monica convinced me to move from Jersey to Brooklyn in August. Moving out was a  major transition and I quickly found out living with Monica and Farrah would be a learning experience like none other.

When Monica first told us the idea of this blog I was intrigued, yet skeptical. What did I have to offer my two Jewish roommates and a Website of spiritual seekers when my visits to church mostly consisted of weddings and Christmas Eve mass? Farrah goes to services weekly and prays daily when I could barely remember the last time I stepped foot in a church.

I expressed my concern to Monica to which she said matter-of-factly, “music is your religion.” And, right then …

January 1st, 2011

no-yarmulke-largeThey say opposites attract.  For example, in the play “Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?” the protagonists are two people with very different religious views.  According to the play’s website “Eleanor is a smart, savvy, New Yorker, whose secular brand of Judaism might include the occasional latke but definitely does not include God. Aaron is Dr. Right – he’s got the brains, the looks, the wit…but wait! He’s also got a serious case of religion. Can Eleanor see past his yarmulke to find love?”

While the two characters struggle, ultimately they go for the happily ever after. That’s all well and good for fiction, but what about real life? I’m, for all intents and purposes, an observant modern Orthodox Jew (a Neo-Chassid, if you will). But my boyfriend (yes, boyfriend) is an atheist. So maybe opposites really do attract. I have a strong belief in G-d and he’s a science guy. I have faith in a higher power, and he says that he is jealous of those who do but he wasn’t raised with the notion of G-d.

We’ve been together for almost 3 months. From the start of our courtship it has …

December 31st, 2010

While there are so many posts written in my head, I thought I should hop on the band wagon and look back on the end of 2010 living in our happy, little interfaith home with Monica and Annie.  It’s time to take a moment to reflect and remember my  kosher kitchenware that has been lost to the traif gods:

Two dairy bowls (donated to Monica and Annie) and two dairy forks (to be re-kashered) were lost a couple of weeks after we moved in during a pasta incident.

A dairy cutting board (donated to Monica and Annie) was lost after it was washed with good intentions.  It has since been replaced.

A dairy bread plate mysteriously made its way into our non-kosher sink.  It has been donated and we still do not know how it got there.

A meat knife was de-kashered after it was mistakenly used to cut a dairy cupcake (to be re-kashered when the snow melts).

A friend broke one of my glasses.  It’s okay, especially since I broke one of his wine glasses back in the day while doing dishes.

The last loss of 2010 (I hope the last since there are less than 24 hours …

December 28th, 2010

In October, I wrote about a difficult week when three close friends and family members were admitted to the hospital. Last Saturday I found out the worst news when I was told my cousin Silvia would never make it home. After eight weeks of battling an infection, pneumonia and what they eventually found to be an extremely rare form of cancer, she passed away at the age of 56.

While I know no one is fond of death, wakes or funerals, this was especially hard and I, like many at times like these, started questioning my faith and God’s existence. Silvia was like an aunt to me and was even my confirmation sponsor back in high school. She was selfless and loved nothing more than spending time with her family. My heart broke for my two cousins, her daughters, only in college, who will have to go on without a mother.

What is the reasoning behind this?

Why would God allow such a thing?

I really don’t know. The answers never get easier. Even when I was on the alter reading from the New Testament’s letter of Timothy about fighting “the good fight” and having “kept the faith” at her …

December 26th, 2010

If you were to walk into our apartment today, you would see an amalgam of holiday decorations. Hanukkah candles, a mini Christmas tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care and tons of festive cookies and chocolate.

Out of my past 26 Decembers, this year has been one of my favorites. There is just something so special about living in New York this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas trees sold on the street corner, the first big snowstorm or hearing holiday tunes played in every store, it’s nearly impossible to not get into the holiday spirit.

This year, I celebrated my first Hanukkah with Monica and Farrah. Although they told me presents for eight nights was reserved for children, I wanted to make it special. So, I bought them little gifts each night that they opened after they lit the candles. In addition to being introduced to the Jewish tradition of lighting candles and listening as Farrah read a prayer, I helped out with the Sephardic Music Festival where I witnessed Ladino music for the first time. Though, I couldn’t always understand the words, the song’s message was often translated in English. Mostly songs about love and loss, I …

December 21st, 2010

It’s been an interesting, beautiful, difficult kind of year. The year 2010 has brought some unexpected changes in my life – and no matter how wonderful or heartbreaking – Judaism teaches us that “this is for good, too.”

If you’ve followed my blog Rendezvous with G-d, and now Girls Meet G-d, you will know that I have had a lot of questions over the year. Whether it be about faith or boys, about direction or family, I always ask if religion has anything to say about it. Moving in with two awesome girls this August, I’ve kind of “settled” into my own with an apartment I love, and a graduate program that pushes my potential day in and day out.

And as that program got my stress level to an all-time high, Hanukkah came right around finals, reminding me to stay still for a little while and reflect on some miracles.

This year’s Hanukkah was especially nice because our lovely roommate Annie surprised Farrah and I with a gift each night, a tradition typically reserved for children of the family. It kind of made it hard to say goodbye to Hanukkah afterward, as I still expect gifts on the table …

December 9th, 2010

While everyone has been going crazy over Yeshiva University’s Maccabeats Chanukah video, let me share this with you by my friend and spoken word artist Danny Raphael.…

December 8th, 2010

MenorahsIn my pre-Chanukah post, I discussed (or rambled on about) how Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, but also the time when Jews all over the world celebrate, and meditate upon, miracles.  But what kind of miracles exactly?  Well, we have the basic Chanukah story where the Hashmonaim found a small amount of oil that lasted eight days and nights to burn the menorah.  Now let’s go even further than that.

I recently heard a beautiful thought on Chanukah miracles.  The miracle wasn’t so much that the Hashmonaim found a small bit of oil that lasted 8 days, but that they believed in themselves enough to search!  The Jews – the Hashmonaim – could have just given up on themselves, but instead they believed in themselves and in their search – not just for any kind of oil, but for pure oil so that the menorah should be lit.  And that is the miracle of Chanukah – to believe in our true potential and to believe in ourselves.  We put so many physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual limitations on ourselves that it’s so easy to actually believe that we are incapable of doing all of the wonderful and unique work …

December 1st, 2010
Photo courtesy of Channah Graham - http://littlemissgraham.wordpress.com/

Photo courtesy of Channah Graham – http://littlemissgraham.wordpress.com

I have no anecdote to share of Hanukkahs past from my childhood.  No special connection to this holiday that commemorates the miracle of one small amount of oil that lasted 8 days and 8 nights to keep the menorah lit.  Yet I’ve been singing Hanukkah songs since last week, bought Rabbi Pinson’s book “Eight Lights: Eight Meditations for Chanukah” to get even more in the mood, stuffed Annie’s stocking with Hanukkah gelt, and placed my menorah on our table in anticipation.  And now, with Hanukkah just a matter of hours away, I’m going over latke recipes and drooling over the sufganiyot (jelly donuts) that my friends in Israel are eating.

While it’s true that my family doesn’t have its own unique traditions when it comes to Hanukkah, here in our little apartment in Brooklyn I get to create my own.  Who would have thought that with our little multi-faith “family” with my roommates Jewish traditions would be made?  But therein lies the beauty of Chanukah, which is a holiday about miracles.  It’s believed that during the time of Chanukah, we have the opportunity to create miracles in our lives.  When …

November 27th, 2010

Thanksgiving is over and Black Friday is coming to an end. Everyone is finishing their leftovers and enjoying family time before Monday calls us back to work again. Some of us took pleasure in our lot and will now carry on as usual. Others took time to write a Gratitude List, as Busted Halo columnist Phil Fox Rose suggests. I was not one of those people.  There was something else I needed to do first.

The loveliest thing about being home is the comfort of my own space. After the festivities and the shopping were over, I sunk myself into a warm bath where I always bring a notebook and write in a stream of consciousness.  Only last night, my stream of consciousness wrote me a “forgiveness list” instead and it kept writing itself until I was left with nothing else to feel sorry about. Before I could be thankful to anyone, I apparently needed to forgive a lot.

My list surprised me – especially with how much forgiving myself I needed. I forgave myself for my life-long resentment toward my dad, and then I forgave my dad. I forgave myself for not always listening to that little voice …

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