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 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 😀 ❤
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
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.
I’m loving learning Jewish music. Today it’s Salaam by the band Sheva
I love this song and I know some amazing people at Congregation Bet Haverim that sing it a million times better than I ever could and I am also not trying to be Mavis Staples. I’m just so EXCITED that I can now sing and play it on the guitar.
My summer of music continues. I’ve been expressing myself more with music these days and finding inspiration in Jewish prayers and text to express my frustration with all of the violence in the world. I find myself in a unique position of learning to be a rabbi, learning what it means to be a leader in the Jewish community, and feeling like an outsider in the Jewish community, because no matter what I do, I am often not seen as Jewish or somehow seen as less than Jewish. And many of the Jews closest to me whom I love dearly will never understand what it is like to be a black women/person in America and turn on the television, Twitter, Facebook, etc and see people that look like me being killed. I feel broken and often feel hopeless, so what do I do…I pick up a guitar which seems to help.
Please bless those in need of healing
May the one who Blessed our Mothers
who Blessed our Fathers
We need you to hear our cry
The God of Wholeness
The God of Wonder
Please teach me and give me strength
El Shaddai Adonai
I need you to heal the world
And make it right
I want to live in a world full of song and hope
Where my children can play and not have to cope
Please bless us and give us healing
HaKadosh, HaKadosh, HaKadosh