Blog: For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Jews... Or, Much A-Blog About Nothing...

Monday, May 21, 2007


Just stopping in to say that I won't be stopping in (probably) much in the next week or so. My younger brother is graduating from high school, and many of our relatives are going to be in town, so this coming week is going to be even more of a cleaning spree than the past week and a half has been. Oy. I will try to keep reading everyone else's blog while I'm on hiatus but that may not happen. Don't worry this isn't goodbye forever, or even for very long, just a week or so.

Also, my aunt Lois passed away this morning at 8:30 a.m. She lost her very long and tough battle with cancer after fighting and hanging on for almost 7 years. I will miss you.

Until soon...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hebrew Names...Or, I stole this from Elie

The following is a comment I left on Elie's site. I'd link to it but blogger is not letting me put in links at the moment. Pfft!

Very interesting topic, indeed. As a ger (in the process) I don't have parents or grandparents or anyone to name me. I go by Hila because my dear friend from Israel, Keren, said that I should have it as my Hebrew name because it means "halo" like an angel's halo--and that it fits me not only because my "real" name starts with an H, but also I am very blonde much like the gold of the halo of an angel, and that also my personality is very sweet. I'd say she was just sweet-talking me but I don't know what that would have gotten her ;-)

This past Shabbos I was having a chat with some friends and somehow my Hebrew name came up. All the rest of my friends said, no no we should give you a different name. So now the new rabbi (Ed. Note: by new rabbi I mean the potential replacement rabbi for our Hillel) and everyone is all about finding me a Hebrew name.

Addition: The rabbi asked me what kind of name I was wanting, if it mattered if it started with the same letter as my "real" name, etc. I said I wanted something with meaning, something representative of my personality and my own journey to Judaism. He suggested several lovely names, as did some of my close friends, including Noa, Ora, Hadassah, Nediva, and Zahavah. What do you all think? Please post opinions/ideas/suggestions for potential names in the comments section or e-mail me :-)

When my conversion is complete, I am not sure whether I want to take the traditional ____ bat Avraham Avienu v' Sarah Imenu. It's not that I don't want to be known as a convert/ger/ Jew-by-choice, but because I think I would feel a deeper connection if I could have "adoptive" Jewish parents. Maybe the rabbi and my tutor. Just a thought.

What are your opinions on that bit as well? I know it is a somewhat new and "controversial" thing but I read about it in Anita Diamant's book "Choosing a Jewish Life" and it struck me. I don't want to offend anyone, and of course I would be beyond honored to have Abraham and Sarah as my spiritual parents, but part of me also feels like I would have a deeper connection to everything if I could "adopt" Jewish parents. Let me know what you think, I value all of your opinions and insight!

-Hila (or ???)

Monday, May 07, 2007


So right now I should be studying for finals. Buuuut, I don't want to. So I'm taking a break.

I don't really have anything too insightful to post at the moment. I'm stressed about school and everything, sad about the fact that many of my friends are graduating and will be moving away, and in general in a sort of ticked-off mood.

However, that being said, I do know that I have much to be grateful for (this seems to be a recurring theme on my blog :-))

I am excited that one of the staff members at my university's Hillel has agreed to help study with me under the supervision of an out-of-town (but not Out Of Town) rabbi so that I can finally get this whole conversion thing underway. This year has been so busy that I have not been able to organize any sort of formal classes or anything, and I have been frustrated to say the least. A big problem, as I have mentioned before, is the fact that I live in the middle of the cornfields and therefore don't have access to a large Jewish community. But I am lucky because the woman that I am going to be learning with is in the process of becoming an ordained Cantor in the Conservative movement, and has been teaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Hebrew classes since she was an undergraduate, so she has a very in-depth knowledge of Judaism. Okay, so she's not an Orthodox Rabbi, but she just about could be...Y'know, if there were women rabbis in Ortho Judaism ;-) yeah, that's a comforting thing. I can't express how much I love learning about Judaism, how much time I spend looking through bookstores at all the books about Judaism and adding to my library, and how much joy it brings me to be among all of the members of the small but vibrant Jewish community here in the Midwest. I thank Hashem every day that I am able to learn and grow more, even if it is unconventional ways.

In other news, the JLIC couple that has been at our campus for the past three years is leaving, and I sad to see them go. I have grown very close to them and will miss them immensely. They won't be too far away, though, so hopefully I will get to visit. The potential, for lack of a better word, "replacement" rabbi was in town for Shabbos this past weekend and it was very nice to get to visit with him. What a funny man! He was able to relate to us students so well that it was if we had all known him for a long time already! He was making jokes with us and telling stories as if he were a college student himself, yet he had plenty of insightful questions and comments. We were sitting around after Shabbos lunch and somehow the topic came up about my conversion, and it was just so awesome how enthusiastic he was about talking to me and learning about my "story." I felt like he was genuinely interested in talking to me and getting to know me, as well as all of the other students, and that was really touching. We are all crossing our fingers that he chooses to come to our Hillel and not somewhere else!

Well, I think that's about it for my random, brain-dead ramblings... Time for my mush-brain to get back to studying!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bleeding Heart...

The first draft of a poem I wrote yesterday is below. Let me know what you think! ;-)

Bleeding Heart
I read a book once, about women who lived only to build one another up
To fulfill in each of them a sense of belonging, love, and worthiness
I have wondered about these women, even though they are fictional characters
Wondering if they could exist, in part, in me

I feel a kinship with all of these women, but most of all, with the one called May
Named for her mother’s love of the Spring months
Representative of hope and rebirth
With a heart so full it seemed to consume her

I sometimes think that I am May
I feel the pain of those who suffer so acutely
It is as if I too am suffering

A bleeding heart, someone once called it
If other’s hearts bleed, then mine floods
Gushing wildly with the tears and pleas
Of those who are downtrodden, oppressed, and heartbroken

May died of a broken heart
So filled by the sorrows of the world
That she simply could not hold back the dam
And the floodgates opened until she had drained all of her very being
Emptied out to God and humankind alike
The sacrifice of a pure and gentle soul

Sometimes I think that I, too, will die of heartbreak
That I cannot bear to hear and see the suffering of my people
All people

My heart is full of love and compassion
To the point where I think it should burst
Yet it is weighted with the chains of cruelty, dehumanization, and prejudice
It is my daily struggle to balance the love and the hate of the world with my heart
Before the chains around it will tighten
And cause it to simply burst into a thousand pieces

Leaving my once compassionate and caring soul
An empty chasm of apathy…

The Secret Life of Bees

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven't been posting really regularly lately. I promise I'm still here. It's about to be finals week, though, so there has been lots to do. On top of all that, there have been several emotionally draining events and issues going on in my life to add to the stress load. *sigh* But with God's help, I will get through it all.

Spring really is the season of rebirth and new beginnings. Some things in my life have been ending, and others are just beginning. Yesterday was the last day of my Women's Empowerment Group, a bittersweet meeting of 8 strong women who have come so far over the course of this semester, yet still have so far to go. We have listened to each other's joys, sorrows, pain, and healing. We have worked to build one another up when those in our lives were unable to help. We have cried together, laughed together, ranted and raved and been angry together. These 7 other women have shown me the beauty that lies within every woman. The strength they have shown after overcoming horrible trauma and abuse is incredible. Each of us has expressed feelings of despair, loneliness, and weakness. Yet we are not weak. We may have long paths of recovery, discovery, growth and healing ahead of us, but we are not weak, for just by being able to come together and share our very deepest emotions takes tremendous strength.

The two leaders of our group asked us to bring something that empowered us to share with the group for the last meeting. Some women brought mementos and reminders of positive things, some brought poems and quotes that inspire them even in the darkest of hours. One of our leaders brought a box of beautiful stones, each one different, for all of us to keep to "remind us all of the uniqueness of this group, that will never be the same again, to keep each other with us always, as a reminder that though this may be the end of one thing, it is the beginning of many new and positive events. Even if you do not remain in touch, each of you has one of these stones, and you all know what they stand for. Keep them as a reminder of the rock of strength you all are, and have been for one another."

Then our other leader said that as a "final activity" we were going to do something different (normally at the end of the group we do focused breathing and/or meditation) She asked us to pair up with someone, face them, and take turns repeating the following: "You are a beautiful person, and I am so glad that you are in this world."

It probably sounds cheesy, even a bit cliche, to say that I cried yet again at this moment. How can such a small thing mean so much? I don't know why that felt so great to hear, and to say, but it did. Somehow it was a concrete affirmation of the love and friendship that I have found in these women, and in others in my life. I've posted before about how I am a firm believer in the "small things" yet somehow I had forgotten just how much of an impact those things have on me--I had become too focused on doing them for others.

Anyway, I have probably bored whoever is actually reading this to the point of being semi-comatose, so I'll stop. I just wanted to make this post to express my feelings. Writing really is cathartic, isn't it?

I want to end with something one of the women in my group said right before leaving, something she hoped that we could all take with us. As she went around the room giving us hugs, she said "Whenever you are feeling like you are at your lowest, that everyone is against you, remember love. Remember love in whatever form you feel it. But always remember that you deserve love, and you are loved."

So from me to all of you out there: You are loved.