Busted Halo

In Rendezvous with G-d, twentysomething blogger and journalist Monica Rozenfeld explores what it means as a young Jewish woman in New York City to have a relationship with G-d.

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January 11th, 2011

monica-eatprayloveSo, recently, I’ve been trying out this new thing called bubble baths which I hear are great for relaxation. I make a warm bath, get in, and read a good book for about a half hour or so. For the past week, during these baths, I’ve been rereading Eat, Pray, Love (which I had forgotten how G-d heavy the book is). And here it was, after all this time of not praying, author Elizabeth Gilbert reminding me how to begin.

If you’ve never read her book, you must. It’s all about leaving behind the things that do not fulfill us (in her case, her marriage) to discover the things in life that do. And at her lowest points, when she did not know what to do, Elizabeth would cry on her bathroom floor to G-d and He would say to her, “Go back to bed, Liz.” G-d has a plan.

So in this sort of holy soul-searching story, Elizabeth Gilbert seeks to find balance between worldly pleasures and godly presence. She begins to pray in an unusual way. Instead of crying on bathroom floors again, she writes a letter to herself, in a stream of consciousness, to see what writes …

August 5th, 2010

You may have been following my adventures at Rendezvous with G-d, from covering a website for religious Jews seeking extramarital affairs, to interviewing Muslim women and their views on wearing veils. You might remember stories about my personal life, some of which were so personal I chose to later take it down. And today, I close a small chapter of this blog, and open a new one as I move out again. This time I am moving to Brooklyn with a (non-practicing) Catholic and (semi) observant Jew. And more difficult than finding the apartment, might be how to live in the apartment with such varying religious traditions.
So meet the girls who have decided to take this interreligious journey with me. They too will now be contributing to Rendezvous with G-d, as the three of us use our day-to-day living as material for this blog. What will happen if one of us forgets and breaks an important law during Shabbat? Will we get scared of the religious man torching our kitchen in order to make it Kosher? Will one of us become more, or less, religious during this experience? These are all the questions we ourselves are curious to …

July 19th, 2010

monica-faith-in-what-you-eat-flashMaking plans to move in with a kosher roommate has really made me start to think about what I will be eating when I make the move in a month. Recently, I visited a doctor who reminded me the importance of not cheating on my gluten-free diet. It causes all sorts of problems for me (fatigue, skin problems, allergies, and down the line can contribute to diabetes and certain types of cancers). Yet, for whatever reason, I have not taken it as seriously as I should.

It’s funny for me to think about how people who are ordered to follow diets by their doctors for health reasons often cheat, and many times go back to old eating habits, yet people who commit to a kosher lifestyle will never taste a shrimp cocktail or cheeseburger ever again. How come, when it comes to faith versus science, faith makes a much stronger impression?

If you were to read kosher laws in the Torah, you will notice there is no explanation for the reason G-d told Jews to keep a kosher diet. Jewish law, as an FYI, is separated in three categories — laws with rational explanations, laws which require rabbinic interpretation and …

July 8th, 2010

interfaith-apt-flashIt would only make sense for me, the Jewish girl who blogs on Busted Halo, to find two roommates — one Catholic, one a semi-observant Jew — to move in with. The beautiful part about it is my getting new material for the site.

When it was decided the three of us would find a place together, it was no question we would get along. We’re all in the same industry, have mutual friends, same crazy schedules (3 am work hours) and so on. But what happens if one eats bacon and leaves the lard out all over the kitchen table? And the other gets annoyed about having the lights on all night because of Shabbat.

“Would Annie get mad at me if I asked her if she eats bacon?” Farrah asked. “I hate bacon. It makes me throw up. And it’s not just a Jewish thing. I just hate bacon.”

“What do I need to know about Shabbat? I’ve been meaning to ask about that light thing.” Annie says. “I remember in college, the people across the street would ask us to turn the light on for them.”

So here goes some serious Jewish-Catholic dialogue. And by serious, I …

July 7th, 2010

In ancient Greece, luck was believed to be a lottery, only awarded to a certain number of people by the gods. In Chinese tradition, however, luck is believed to be governed by our own power. Creating space for luck to enter and travel is how we receive our lot of luck. That is, at least, what my new Feng Shui book says. In Chinese culture, Feng Shui is not looked at as a superstition or religion, but as a science and an art.

When one is ill or has bad luck in life, a Feng Shui  master may enter the home, cleanse the space of bad energy, reorganize furniture, bring in plants and remove items, and it is claimed that the person’s health and luck will change. This is often, in Judaism and Catholicism, something we leave up to prayer. By reorganizing the space where we live, can we also reorganize our life?

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to home décor, style magazines and these reality home makeover shows lately, and am often left in awe at the sight of some of these homes. It is no secret that certain colors, scents, etc. give off a different emotion, …

June 1st, 2010

monica-sexcity-flashEveryone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw, NYC columnist with her funky outfits, happens to be my role model. And although I love the show, and liked the movie, I thought a sequel would be a bad, if not a suicidal, idea for the name. But once I found out the ladies will be in Abu Dhabi, I was excited to see what four City girls would be doing in what they call the “New” Middle East.

I’m not going to lie. The first half of the movie, with the Middle Eastern-inspired outfits and scenery made me want to take a trip to this paradise hosted somewhere between dry lands, poverty and political warfare. I even laughed when Charlotte used her maiden name afraid her Jewish name might cause trouble there. I thought to myself if I would do the same. But then things made a turn for the worse. Caution: Scene Spoiler. Samantha got arrested for kissing on the beach, then she wore shorts out in the market where religious men snared at her, and then she dropped her purse filled with condoms and then shoved the condoms …

May 21st, 2010

allyouneedislove-flashThis week, for the first time ever, I went for a TV audition. Let’s just say it was for a reality show that has something to do with millionaires and love. Why did I go? Despite my camera shyness, I thought it would be an interesting experience, the ya know, let’s see what happens kind of thing. As a journalist, I get curious about basically anything. But reality shows, never (not to be in one at least). In my observation, it wasn’t a day-in-the-life for many of the girls at the audition either with the exception of a few who came with professional headshots.

For this casting, we had to fill out a 26 page application, take photos, and do a quick interview with the casting director. Questions asked were: What are you looking for in a partner? When was your last relationship? Who is your celebrity crush? You might think these are superficial things to ask, but these casting agents weren’t messing around. They were looking for the real deal. They wanted people looking for love. And the more girls (and guys, yes there are millionairesses) I met at the casting, the more I realized they too are looking …

May 17th, 2010

This week is kind of a big deal. From May 18-20th, we celebrate Shavuot (Shah-voo-ote) which is the holiday of when the Israelites received the Torah from G-d on Mount Sinai. It happens to be one of my favorite Jewish holidays because the way to celebrate is by staying up all night, with a ton of people, drinking and studying text.

Last year, I went to the JCC in Manhattan where they had classes all night, plus Israeli dancing, musical performances, Krav Maga lessons (Israeli self-defense) and tons of food and wine. It’s overall a real high energy, exciting time where the City is filled with people walking from one shul to the next at all times of the night.

If you’re at all interested in participating in Shavuot, just do a search for Shavuot in your town. Almost every synagogue and Jewish center is hosting something. You can always host your own Shavuot party and invite people over for an all-night Bible study. Why not? Let me know how it goes.…

May 13th, 2010

© 2004 Alan Light

© 2004 Alan Light

It’s been several months of one transition to the next — moving, leaving a job, ending a relationship…the list goes on and I’m only 24! It’s easy to be spiritual when it’s easy to be spiritual. When the sun is shining, and everything is aligned in one’s life, of course it’s all G-d. But what about these shaky moments, the ones where all we want to know is that we’ll be ok? I used to be better with change, excited even. And now, I just want to run into a cage somewhere and hide with the bears.

I’ve learned something about myself lately – and that is I am as scared of settling or failure as I am success. What if everything does work out? What if I do get the job of my dreams, end up with my soul mate, spend a life of saving the world and telling stories of strangers I’ve never met? What once sounded like a fantasy could actually come true, and all I want to do now is find a mediocre office job where no one knows my name rather than the world-trotting journalist I dream to be.

So here …

April 29th, 2010

It’s really cool for me, as someone who has spent so much time interviewing people of the Jewish faith, to remove myself and get to know more about other faiths – like Islam.

I recently read a book review for Marnia Lazreg’s Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women making the case for Muslim women to remove their headscarves. I found this fascinating that a Muslim woman would tell others to just stop wearing the veil. As someone who didn’t know much about veiling, or covering, I assumed the veil was a heavy symbol of showing faith in G-d. Marnia has told me this is what many women believe, even those who wear the veil, but it is not. In her research, she attempts to prove the veil is a man-made tradition in order to sustain inequality of man and woman, and that the interpretation of veil is falsely interpreted as a literal veil, and not what its intention is which is to protect oneself, truly meaning “guarding” oneself; not hiding.

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I went ahead and asked other Muslim women how they feel about Marnia’s argument. Several women felt strong in their conviction that they are wearing the veil for …

April 27th, 2010

The other day G-d spoke to me. He came in a form of a coffee vendor, shouting out, “Hey! What kind of coffee do you want?” Looking nice enough, I went over and requested my coffee iced.

We chatted for a bit. I surprisingly didn’t have to rush for once, being early to my destination. He asked to read my palm, his grandmother apparently was a big deal palm reader. He told me I will live a long life — 92 or 93. I will be married, have one son and be a millionaire by the time I’m 35. He also told me I will have some type of kidney problem in a couple of years. I’m not sure if I would be so upset about a kidney problem now, since the rest of my life sounds pretty good.

I have to ask though, who the heck is this guy? And why is he so certain he can tell my future?

I’m not sure I believe in such prophecy, but I’m not sure I don’t either. Part of me is looking forward to seeing if it will come true. I suppose there is something nice about knowing everything will be …

April 18th, 2010

For the past several months, I have been lying to someone who I care about more than anyone in the world. Who it was and what the lie was is kind of irrelevant, but I was lying so deeply I didn’t even realize I was lying, until of course it was pointed out – with tears and a half-eaten Panini sandwich.

You might have noticed I have been struggling lately to do anything “Jewish” or spiritual. I haven’t been able to bring myself to light Shabbat candles or even sit down at a Shabbat meal. Part of me thought I was just losing my spirituality. The truth is I was losing part of myself. By lying to someone who could call me out just by looking at my face, how could I bring myself in front of G-d and lie to Him too. How could I light candles and say my prayers, when I am lying to the person I pray for. Lying to G-d feels pretty much the same as lying to my reflection.

I recently came across this Busted Halo post on the spirituality of punctuality. It hit close to home because I have been known to …

April 13th, 2010

It’s interesting to think about what makes one interesting, in particular one self. I’ve always had this kind of syndrome borderline paranoia which causes me to believe everyone else in the world has a story to tell, but not me. This made it all that much more wearisome to write a blog about being a twenty-something girl looking for G-d and a good fashion sense at the same time. Quarter-life crises can be more challenging than they appear.

As an aspiring journalist, I ask people questions all the time: What inspires you? How did you overcome your fears? Why are you so interesting and I’m not? I’ll just say that it’s much easier to ask the questions than to answer. Only recently I’ve been asked such questions too, and it makes me think – why does anyone care?

There’s a great illustration that totally resonates with me by artist Cathy Thorne, see below:

I don’t know if it’s a female thing, or a being 24 thing, but I definitely see how we can all think it’s greener on everyone else’s side. You know, everyone else has a more interesting career, love life, social circle, nightlife, sex life, relationship with their …

April 5th, 2010

What does it mean to be religious or spiritual? Does a religious person have to be spiritual, and does a spiritual person have to be religious? I find it interesting how the two have become almost mutually exclusive for many people. “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” or “I practice my religion but I don’t believe in G-d.” I’ll repeat: What does it mean to be spiritual or religious? I find the word usage has become a bit disheveled and I’m attempting to clean it up.

A study that came out last year found that Christians are much more likely to use the word “spiritual” than Jewish people who were surveyed. When it came to events in life such as a birth of a child, a true love, a lucky break, the word “spiritual” was attributed to these moments by Christians, while most Jewish people called these moments “profound.”

When speaking to my fellow Catholic friends, I see we use the words “religious” and “spiritual” quite oppositely. If a person believes in G-d, according to my Catholic friends, they are “religious.” If a person goes to Church every Sunday to praise G-d, he or she is considered “spiritual.” Correct me Busted …

March 30th, 2010

I have always wanted to travel to India. There is something incredibly powerful about that Country – the land, the people, the spirituality. And when I do finally go, I plan to visit the Jewish community there, just as I do when I travel to most places.

Unfortunately, the Indian Jewish community is shrinking according to a recent CNN article. The article begins “At 65, Ian Zachariah is one of the youngest ones left. ‘Can you believe it?’ he says, adjusting a borrowed yarmulke in a now-empty synagogue.”

Once a thriving community of 6,000, there are 30 Jews left in the City of Kalkata. And though there are two Jewish schools in the City, not one student is Jewish. However, as opposed to other places (such as Egypt which this week we celebrate our Exodus), Jews left India on their own accord, leaving behind a rich culture and community.

“‘Kolkata,’ he says, was the kind of place that absorbed everyone. Evidence of that tolerance can be found on the same corner as Maghen David, where land is shared by a Christian church, a Hindu shrine and a Muslim mosque.” Beautiful.

Read the full article at www.CNN.com.…

March 26th, 2010

Tonight is the Great Shabbat for the reason that it comes before Passover. Monday night, most Jewish families religious or not, will sit down for what is called a Seder meal. The 15 steps of the Seder are a. incredibly long, but more importantly b. resemble important parts of life and Jewish history.

For those unfamiliar, Passover is the holiday which commemorates the day Jews escaped Egypt as slaves and traveled to the Holy Land. Jews were literally “passed over” by marking their doors with lambs blood, as instructed by the Lord, and Egypt’s Pharoah let them go out of fear of the Ten Plagues – the final being the killing of all of Egypt’s firstborn.

A rabbi who I would even consider an expert on Passover, lucky for me, is right here in New York City. He runs the Meaningful Life Center and always has something beautiful to say about Passover. Here is a video of Rabbi Simon Jacobson below:

Secrets of the Seder

You can learn more about Passover or Rabbi Simon Jacobson on his site: www.meaningfullife.org. Stay tuned as I follow along on the Omer counting which is a daily exercise between the holidays of Passover …

March 23rd, 2010

Glamour magazine and Torah have become my recent nighttime reading choices. They have become neighbors on my bookshelf, best friends in fact. I am not sure where my recent fascination for glitz and glam came from – something I always found to be a bit superficial, and unimportant – but here I am, fascinated. What are the 50 must-haves of the season? I want to know.

Concerned about my new hobby, I took the liberty of conducting a little research (via google) if there was in fact a connection with fashion and religion. I was pretty impressed with what I discovered.

From the history of religious dress, to Models for Christ, to “Fashion Gods,” to religious-inspired fashion lines, there was a whole world out there I never even tapped into – until now. And, some really cool items I found along the way… like this shirt, with Torah scroll imprinted onto the cloth.

Adam Courtney via www.adamcourtney.net

Adam Courtney via www.adamcourtney.net

Dress is explored a lot more than I assumed in religion. I should have figured considering the laws of modesty – and the requirements to wear certain items, especially for religious leaders. Robes, collars, yarmulkes, turbans, they all have some purpose and …

March 19th, 2010

The whole nation is talking about it – even Katie Couric. Organization Reboot, based on Jewish values and traditions, are always on the lookout for creative ways to tap into universal, spiritual practices. Tonight, they are asking all of us – Jews and non-Jews – to unplug as they launch “Sabbath Manifesto.”

Believe it or not, this 25-hour custom of turning off your phones and laptops each week existed way before electricity was even discovered. “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2). Some may not feel that checking emails and voicemails are work, but for most of us, that is our work.

The point, according to the brains behind this Dan Rollman, is to relax for one night and get connected to other things that matter, like family. According to the website, “The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.”

There are no strict rules to this, or consequence if you don’t follow. But it does beg the question, what would happen if we all unplugged for …

March 15th, 2010

Most of us have heard of Elie Wiesel, but not many know there is a female version. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis is a holocaust survivor from Bergen Belson who spends her days reinvigorating faith unto others. This tiny woman has a soul the size of the universe, and who looks as stunning as ever in her age, walks dozens of flights of stairs on Shabbat if need be (can’t use elevators on Shabbat) and travels the world to teach Torah.

If you never heard Rebbetzin Jungreis, you can see her live in NYC as she teaches classes almost every night of the week at Hineni. Her videos about Judaism, spirituality and life can be found at SinaiLive.com. And her books are humbling, to say the least.

I had the priviledge of meeting with Rebbetzin Jungreis (and even helping out with her Facebook presense). Although her devotion to Torah is too hardcore for me to understand, her passion and energy are just contagious. That’s what keeps her going all these years, even after all but one family member passed in the holocaust.

When most of us lose faith after something goes wrong in our life, I’d recommend hanging out with Rebbetzin to …

March 9th, 2010

I’ve seen this time and time again. A Catholic boy, a Jewish girl, and instant attraction. I don’t know what it is, really. Maybe it’s the forbidden fruit? Opposites attract? Or maybe it’s something we just can’t put our finger on. And I’m no stranger to this either. For a long time, I only dated Catholic guys. And when I visited Italy – forget it! I’d be just fine living in a villa with a Catholic husband and my Jewish beliefs.

Just the other day I was watching the reality TV show Millionaire Matchmaker where the client came in and said he felt very strongly about his beliefs, and wanted only someone who had just as deep a connection to Jesus Christ as he did. Well, lo and behold, a Jewish girl walks in and that is thee girl he wants. He wouldn’t even budge.

These types of chemical attractions, though I don’t have data, are undeniable and far and wide. What is it that attracts the two faiths so often? And so what if it does happen?

More recently, a more tragic story on the news shows a Catholic-Jewish divorce where the child has become the pawn of religious …

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