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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March 3rd, 2010
I’ve heard in the past about some fanatic church-goers who show up to funerals, to communities of gays, blacks and Jews, and protest their existence. I’ve ignored this news as ignorance, almost laughable. Recently, these same folk showed up outside a Jewish music festival to protest, what else, Jews. Is it just me, or is this ultra bizarre? What kind of faith teaches their members to be racist, full of hate and narrow-minded? And then to go out of their way and march it out? Is this a kind of faith anyone should belong to?
If you don’t believe yet how outrageous this group is, visit their home site, Domain Name: http://www.godhatesfags.com. I cannot make this stuff up.
And here is a photo of a Westboro child holding the signs…
Honest to G-d, it hurts me to even put this image up.
What do you think about this group? Honestly. Is there room for hate and bigotry in religion? What’s their deal? Maybe someone can fill me in.
February 26th, 2010
So I hear it’s lent time. My best friend gave up chocolate (I could never!). I was thinking about the idea of food in Judaism and how it plays such a huge role — especially around laws of kosher and holidays. More recently in the Jewish tradition, a popular movement to become vegan has developed.
Blogs such as The Jew and the Carrot and heeb ‘n’ vegan have formed a loyal following, and many Jews request vegan as opposed to kosher restaurants (because vegan eating actually is kosher). Plus, one of my interviews at The Jew Spot Chloe Jo Berman runs an incredible site about vegan living called Girlie Girl Army.
To be honest, despite all this excitement, I never jumped on board. I did the vegetarian thing before until I found out I can’t have gluten, so meat it was. When I did it though, it was more out of experimentation than an ethical, moral reason. But now, reading up on why it’s ethically immoral to eat animals (I promised myself I wouldn’t read this but did anyway!) I’m kind of thinking us human creatures are pretty heartless when it comes to the …
February 23rd, 2010
When I was in middle school hanging out by the local shopping plaza, I saw these two kids (a year younger than I) riding their bikes around. Don’t ask me why, but I had this sudden urge to talk to one of them. Just that one. But I had nothing to say. He was younger, I never seen him before, and he was with his friend I was with mine. So I just kept walking, and looking back every now and then as if making sure he’s still there; Okay.
A few minutes later this kid got hit by a car crossing the highway by the shopping plaza. People started running to his side, cars stopped, and at that point I was the furthest one away. My friend and I went over and saw a helmet on one side, a smashed bike on a completely different side.
Why did I have this ridiculous urge to talk to a complete stranger? Why didn’t I just say hi, anything, that would stop him for just one second before he got onto that highway?
I bring this up now because right by that plaza, for years, were flowers, stuffed animals, and crosses in his commemoration. But …
February 22nd, 2010
Did you read Sunday’s Modern Love column this week in the New York Times Style section?
A woman on a yearlong voyage studying the Prophet Jesus in Islam rendezvous with a French novice monk. They feel an immediate connection to one another, but can they fall in love? Author Stephanie Saldana writes a great piece on this experience titled “Signs, Wonders and Fates Fulfilled.”
I’d love to hear what you think about this column. If you have stories about yourself or a friend who turned back from becoming a nun, priest or monk for a different kind of love, a romantic love, I’d love to hear! I’m sure the rest of us would too.
February 19th, 2010
Can anyone here reading this post fathom the idea of turning off their phones, laptops, and putting away the car keys for one night and one full day every single week for the rest of their lives? This 25-hour cleansing period sounds like some sort of reality show experiment, and I wasn’t willing to sign up to try it out. But I was looking for a way to meditate and self-reflect in Judaism, and there it was — Shabbat. Just that, a 25-hour resting, meditative period. I loved it.
Shabbat, for those who never experienced it, is not something that is purely a Jewish concept. It is in biblical text that G-d created for six days, and on the seventh He rested. The Jewish religion took this idea very literally, and every Friday to Saturday sundown religious and cultural Jews alike stop. They just stop and put their lives on hold for a little bit. The outcome? Well, try it out and you tell me.
How to observe a Shabbat: Borrowed from www.SabbathManifesto.org.
1. Avoid Technology
2. Connect with loved ones
3. Nurture your health
4. Get outside
5. Avoid commerce
6. Light candles
7. Drink wine
8. Eat bread
9. Find silence
10. Give back
Tonight, Shabbat starts at sundown. …
February 12th, 2010
As much as I’d love to be eloquent when it comes to speaking Torah, it’s difficult when one, such as myself, slacks reading the holy text, going to Torah classes or synagogue. But, with my love of email and all, I get my dose of inspiration through the newsletters of my favorite rabbis. One of these is Rabbi David Wolpe who recently wrote a post about just this, yearning to learn:
Knowing where to find information is not the same as possessing it. Each fact we learn is arranged in the matrix of all we already know. One who knows how to Google “Shakespeare sonnets” cannot be compared to the one who has memorized Shakespeare’s sonnets. The latter carries the words with
him. The former is an accountant of knowledge; he knows where the treasure is, but it does not belong to him.
Real education instills a desire for knowledge, not merely the tools to acquire it. We are shaped by what we know and what we yearn to know. The Talmud tells us that as a young man Hillel was so desperate for words of Torah that he climbed on the roof of the study house to hear the discourses of his …
February 8th, 2010
Two Fridays ago, I packed my bag with some of my cutest sundresses and SPF 15, and set flight for the Virgin Islands. Little did I know I’d experience one of the holiest places I’ve ever been to. This place I now call Heaven on Earth never drops below 72 degrees, even in the middle of the night. The sun is always shining, and people are always smiling. You can even swim among the sea turtles in the middle of their waters, and see more star than sky at night. I was blessed to have been there.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing people who know they live in G-d’s creations. “This is yours,” said one taxi driver. It is, isn’t it? Almost every few roads we passed had a church, or fences with graffiti saying “G-d makes everything alright” or car decals that say “Reliance on G-d = success.” It’s as if everyone there doesn’t question G-d existence, but knows He exists because it’s just too gorgeous a place to have been created by random.
Instead of falling in love with my tan (got an awful sunburn) or prancing around in sundresses (wore mostly t-shirts and shorts), I kind of just
January 27th, 2010
I’m getting ready to set sail for the Islands in a few days, and I couldn’t help but ask myself the question: If I were stranded, what three things would I want with me?
To my surprise, the answer was not so difficult – a Trader Joe’s food market, a Barnes & Noble bookstore (with a Starbucks, of course) and a really rad, super adventurous guy to share my time with. That, to me, was more like an ideal life situation than a survival hypothetical. I thought it was too easy. So I tried to think harder but the answer didn’t change. What I didn’t ask for, even after reevaluating, was a Bible or a synagogue. How come?
If you were on an island, all by yourself, what three things would you want with you? Would you ask for a Bible or Church, or both? And if so, why? What would you sacrifice in its place?
I’ll be thinking more about my answer while I’m sipping daiquiris in the middle of the sand. I look forward to hearing what you all say when I get back.
January 15th, 2010
Tonight is Shabbat, and I’ve been thinking about how to prepare. I’m not making a big fancy dinner, or going to synagogue. But I want to do something to feel that I am part of this tradition dating back to Genesis.
Every Friday night, Jewish women who observe the Sabbath light two white candles and say a prayer. In Hebrew, they pray to G-d for their family, their house guests, for Shabbat and are given time to silently add anything else on their minds. I remember the first time I tried it on my own. I tried really hard to remember the Hebrew by heart, but couldn’t, so I read it instead. I prayed for a non-Jewish friend who was going through a hard time. Then I stopped and said Amen. The coolest part about it was that it wasn’t about me. I felt I had power to tell G-d what to do and who to look after. I also thought about how if thousands of other women are in their homes saying the same prayer at the same time as me, G-d has to listen. It was amazing to be part of something like that.
Since then, my prayers have gotten …
January 5th, 2010
I watched the movie Nine the other day, starring some of my all-time favorite actors and actresses Kate Hudson, Marion Cottilard, Sophia Loren and of course Daniel Day-Lewis. Daniel plays Guido Contini, this seductionist movie maker who somewhere between creating movies and living the life of fame gets lost between reality and cinema (based on the true story of). I thought the film was highly intense, emotional, and displayed an interesting struggle of religion’s role on one’s humanity.
After the scenes of the mistresses, the women half naked dancing on stage and the poor wife who watches it all happen, a flashback of Guido’s childhood getting slashes from a priest for watching a woman do a striptease of sorts was the memory the movie chooses to go back to. At some point after the success of his career, Guido meets the Pope for spiritual guidance. He is unhappy, miserable even, with his life of mistresses and excess. The Pope tells him he is a huge fan of his movies.
More recently, I have been intrigued by the role religion plays on sexuality and vice versa. I thought this movie drew an interesting introspection into how religion can scare us …
December 27th, 2009
Growing up, I used to talk to G-d all the time. I had these long conversations with Him at night. Looking back it was probably only-child syndrome. I needed someone to tell all my ups and downs to, all my wishes, all my thanks.
One time when I was 11 years old I asked G-d for curly hair. I saw this blonde girl on TV with the coolest curls ever and I kneeled by my bedside like they do on TV and prayed, and prayed. Lo and behold puberty struck, and I was gifted with the frizziest, most unruly set of curly hair. Even my long-time hairstylist since I was six did not know what to do with it. Thanks G-d. I never doubted His existence since.
Sometimes it feels G-d actually does listen. Sometimes it does not. Lately, it’s been harder to communicate with him, almost like having an awkward conversation with an old friend after a falling out. More like a falling out where neither party really knows why they stopped talking in the first place.
The past couple of weeks I haven’t lit candles on Shabbat. I haven’t kept Shabbat at all really. I haven’t prayed. I’ve …
December 21st, 2009
This past Saturday there was a blizzard here on the East Coast. I wouldn’t have minded really. I would have sat around in my pajamas and drank myself into a hot chocolate coma. Only this Saturday was special. I was organizing a concert expecting 300 to arrive, only to find out the two headlining bands canceled and people were too scared to drive in.
I probably should have panicked, and cried. I almost did. But luckily I stayed calm, after a few choice words to the one band’s manager for canceling an hour before the show.
The truth is though, despite everything out of my control going wrong, it was out of my control. We can plan with one another, but we can’t plan with G-d. In Kaballah, we believe that “This too is for good.” That when things blow up in our face, and all our plans change without consent, that G-d is preparing us for something great. I really felt that way as my partner-in-crime Annie and I got the show going, with 100 people who arrived trekking through a blizzard, to be there supporting the show.
We ended up with some great performances, including Dusty Brown who arrived on last-minute …
December 16th, 2009
In celebration of my blog The Jew Spot‘s Two Year Anniversary, along with my best friend Annie’s YouSingIWrite.com, we are throwing an amazing charity concert in New York City this Saturday night, December 19th, to raise money and awareness for To Write Love On Her Arms (www.TWLOHA.com).
TWLOHA is all about helping young people who have lost hope and are on the verge of suicide or coping with depression. The organization has made great waves and have been highly publicized for their amazing work. We’re here to acknowledge this organization for doing what all of us spiritual people do, which is celebrate life and help others in finding meaning and purpose too.
The concert will feature four amazing bands plus guest appearances from up-and-coming celebrities. Details are on the flyer. Please rsvp on our Facebook page HERE. You can purchase tickets on the page as well.
I hope to see you there. If you have any questions, please write to me at email@example.com.
December 14th, 2009
So Chanukah, the festival of lights, started this past Friday night! Yay. Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays because it requires the least amount of thinking. Each night you light a candle, eat a potato pancake, receive a gift and go to bed. Somewhere in between you count your blessings and the miracles in your life. Overall, it’s a non-threatening eight nights.
This year I started off the holiday a little differently. Perhaps it’s because of my blog and new association with the Jewish world that I was invited to some of the more interesting holiday parties. Such as the one I attended Saturday night called Menorah Horah — a burlesque performance with Jewish women dancing with dreidels and menorahs. Sounds absolutely ridiculous, right? But it may have been one of the best educational experiences I’ve had about the holiday, and how else would one get a packed room of hipsters on a Saturday night for a Chanukah event?
For example, I learned the century the story of Chanukah is based on (Second Century BC), the type of oil which allowed the miracle of the candles to burn bright for 8 days (olive) and the Hebrew word …
December 6th, 2009
Today I discovered Tony Robbins on Twitter. Tony is a motivational coach who tours around the world shaking people up with his universal truths. You can watch his video here. I was struck by his quote “Let others lead small lives, not you. Let others argue over small things, not you. Let others cry over small hurts, not you…” I guess it came to me at a time I needed to read it, but now I’m kind of obsessed with the guy. He’s becoming my personal rabbi — though not Jewish at all, I don‘t think.
I like Tony because he inspires people in the place they need inspiration. He helps people build physical strength, emotional stamina, spiritual fulfillment and find the relationship or career they desire. He gets crowds from around the world to hear his story, and helps them see the world differently; larger. He has a foundation to feed the hungry. And his words are so simple, but so obvious that they hit even harder. These basic words make me wonder what has happened in our lives that make us think so small.
It’s funny, as I watch Tony, how much I can’t help but think these lessons …
November 22nd, 2009
In May, I wrote a piece about a new website called Shaindy.com. You may remember reading the article “Unkosher Sex” here on Busted Halo. The article and the interview with the founder got a lot of attention, and a lot of response. But more than love or hate mail, I got a lot of “Well, what do you think?” mail.
For those who are unfamiliar, Shaindy is a website created by an ultra-religious Jewish man which ultimately fosters extramarital affairs. This website is tailored to the religious Jewish community, who not only seek affairs, but are involved in forums which speak of the benefit of having extramarital relations plus a section to upload pornography which can only be viewed as a member. Luckily, I was given VIP access.
Some of you right now are asking how a religious man can justify creating such a platform? I asked those questions too which you can read on my blog at The Jew Spot. Sadly, the guy wasn’t just looking to sell something, he was looking to fill a need — one that was very apparent when you search the term “frum” in Craigslist’s casual encounters. How does he justify it?
November 16th, 2009
Stand up. Sit down. I’m standing now for hours at a time – exhausted, and famished. Repeat. Repeat. In Hebrew and in English. Clop your heart for the following sins. I am clopping my heart to sins I did not commit or did not feel sorry for committing. Take time for the silent devotion. I pray on my own terms. But I am still exhausted, and famished, and unmoved.
Yom Kippur may just be the most difficult holiday. It’s a holiday of transcendence. It’s for letting go of the past and moving toward the future a slightly better person. It’s about asking for forgiveness from G-d, from others, and most importantly from oneself. But this year I felt nothing, and it made me question my faith. Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. Or maybe it’s that I didn’t understand the Hebrew. But I don’t think that was it.
In a book I just read entirely not related to Judaism or religion, there was a quote referencing the Buddhist thought that there are six billion doors to heaven and we each have our own. I thought that was profound, and beautiful. And not at all antithetical to Judaism –