An Update From Jerusalem and Shabbat Shalom

 Good morning from Jerusalem and good night to my friends back in the United States. I’m sitting on my balcony in Jerusalem, watching all of the hustle and bustle as people get their shopping in before the start of Shabbat. I wanted to give you all an update on how things are.  Things are pretty good and I am so grateful to be here with Ariel and Julie, two other RRC students. And to study with Rabbinical students from other colleges, some I’ve known for a while and others are new friends.

I’m studying at the Conservative Yeshiva, in hindsight I’m not sure it is the best fit for me but I’m not sure where a good fit would be. With that said the Yeshiva is great and the faculty really seems to care about how we are doing and they care about the learning.

One of the challenges I’ve been having while living in Jerusalem is the issue of Gender. Religious expression is very gendered in Jerusalem. Men dress one way, women another and I don’t fit into either category neatly. Although my religious expression in Jerusalem would be defined as masculine or male.

I rarely see women wearing kippot and when I do it’s at the Conservative Yeshiva or a progressive synagogue. Women do cover their heads but not by wearing kippot. I am very secure in my womanhood and don’t want to be a man but it’s made me wonder about issues of gender for Israelis who grow up here. What happens if you’re a women, queer or straight that wants to wear a kippot, Tzizit, pants and a tallit? Does one stop being religious? Move to Tel Aviv? Or some other option? These are just some of the thoughts rolling around in my mind. Please discuss if you feel so inclined.

On another note I have been playing a lot of guitar and tomorrow for the first time I will try out leading Shabbat morning services with a guitar. Wish me luck and so grateful to be leading with Ariel and Julie.

In case you missed it here are the latest Jewish songs I’ve learned. Shabbat Shalom Yall

Oseh Shalom – by Yoel Sykes

Psalm 150 / Kol Haneshama

Here is a none Jewish song that I sang after my experience at a Jerusalem post office

I Don’t Want to Study War No More

I watched the second GOP Presidential debate the other night and saw this tweet from Bernie Sanders

This is dedicated to all of the GOP Presidential candidates that only seem to want to talk about war. I don’t want to study war no more. I want to talk about peace and love 😀 ❤


We Shall Not Be Moved

I played this song last night thinking about Ahmed Mohamed and his family. How did we get to a place in this country where a 14 year old boy is arrested for making a clock and showing it to his teacher? I remember when I was a young kid, and I was a pretty nerdy kid, if I did something amazing I would always want to share it with my teacher. The encouragement that I felt from teachers and my school has helped me to succeed in life. My teachers were always happy to share in my joy with whatever crazy thing I was excited about. Thank goodness Ahmed has come out on top. He has been invited to the White House by President Obama

MIT, GOOGLE, Twitter and Facebook have all reached out to Ahmed. Here are a few other invitations

So there is a silver lining, Ahmed comes out on top racism and Islamophobia lose and Texas’ MacArthur High School looks stupid.

We shall not be moved.
We’re fighting for our freedom,
We’re shall not be moved
We’re fighting for our children
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
We shall not be moved

Oh Freedom

Shana Tovah
I came home from Rosh Hashanah services and felt inspired to play. I feel blessed that I belong to a Jewish community that is willing to work through the difficult conversations of race and at the same I’m very frustrated because I often feel like it’s lip service and wonder when will things change.

Racism is ugly and nasty and does not look like it did during the time of slavery, it does not look like it did when my grandparents or when my parents were growing up. Racism is a different animal today but just as ugly and nasty.

I opened up the book to Rise Up Singing and O Freedom jump out at me. I started thinking about the birthday of the world and the violence this past year and the more things change the more they stay the same, all of that swirling around my brain make this the perfect song for me at this moment.