As I stood at the top of the steps of the pool of warm water, I could feel my feet tingle with anticipation. The feeling slowly enveloped my body, moving steadily up my legs, to my core, my heart and my mind. The feeling did not agitate or annoy, it was like a blanket of calmness and serenity. I stood at the top of the steps looking down into the mikvah. I took a breath and descended slowly until I stood fully in the water.
I'm a self-proclaimed book worm. Since I could read, my default setting has been to research anything new at the library before implementing it. However, adulthood has taught me that some of the best lessons are learned after acting and truly living, which is why Rabbi Yanklowitz's perspective so resonates with me. Even so, I always start new adventures by studying.
The reality is, one never knows whether someone else is suffering from an acute illness. A broken leg is obvious; a broken spirit, not so much. Many of us contend with invisible illnesses, whether physical, such as Multiple Sclerosis or chronic migraines; or mental, like anxiety or schizophrenia.
Lifelong learning, however, can be easier said than done. For many, as they enter adulthood, with its competing demands and obligations, setting aside time for learning – and especially for Jewish learning – can be challenging indeed.
On this Tu B’Av, may we all seek out those people who are on our team through despair and delight, who can forgive and seek forgiveness, who see us for who we truly are and support us on the journey to becoming whoever we will someday be. And if your Valentine’s Day candy stash has run out, send those you love a note of sweetness and gratitude instead. Happy Tu B’Av!
A common sentiment among Jewish-affiliated teens seems to be, after your b'nei mitzvah, religious school is over, right? Sure, you might come back for confirmation in a few years, but there's no real reason to stay involved. You're Jewish. You know that, your family knows that, and your friends know that. Staying involved is kind of a waste of time. Right? Actually, no. Even if you've had your b'nei mitzvah, there are benefits to staying involved with your Hebrew School and your religious education.
Whether it is a lucky bracelet or a hamsa keychain amulet, superstitions believed to bring good fortune or ward off the bad are almost universal. They are the inspirations for a provocative new art exhibition: Magical Thinking: Superstitions and Other Persistent Notions.
Tishah B'Av is a day of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples. In recent years, it's also a day to mourn other tragedies that have darkened Jewish history - the Romans putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, mass murders of Jewish communities during the Crusades, expulsions from England, France, and Spain in the Middle Ages, and the Holocaust.
For the past two years, it has felt like much of what we have valued was sinking and all we could do was watch and grieve. But if we really look back, we realize that there is so much we've learned.
As the sun sets on these long, hot summer days, plans begin to return to school. Buying new clothes and a backpack, but perhaps the most important transition is the one of the child walking into a new classroom and starting a new school year. It can be scary for them and for you!