Every Star, Every Galaxy, Every Grain of Sand

There are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way alone. That’s just the Milky Way, though. It’s hard to know exactly how many galaxies exist in the universe, but the estimation is about 100 to 200 billion galaxies. Mah rabbu ma’asecha Hashem doesn’t seem to cut the awe of these statistics. Every star is a huge ball of energy, with precise chachma. Every star required a creator. Every … Continue reading Every Star, Every Galaxy, Every Grain of Sand

Thoughts on Tisha B’Av

I hope you all had an enjoyable and meaningful fast and now sit satisfied and full as you think back to your inspiration. I wanted to share one thing I gained this year. I am in Camp Nageela right now, a camp for girls who are interested in expanding spiritually. As you can imagine, Tisha B’Av is a little different when girls have no concept … Continue reading Thoughts on Tisha B’Av

When Torah Comes to Life

I never thought of leyning – the ritual chanting of readings from Tanakh during synagogue services – as a possibility for me. As an Orthodox Jewish girl, leyning was supposed to be the domain of the boys. It was deemed immodest, non-halakhic, and – the greatest taboo of all – “Conservative,” for a girl (even as part of women’s tefillah) to read from the Torah. High school exposed … Continue reading When Torah Comes to Life

How My Life Changed in 90 Seconds

Jerusalem, Israel – November 20, 2012

 

Shema Yisrael. (Hear O’ Israel).

The words that I rushed through this morning.

Never again will I do that.

Why?

Today was normal. Well, not totally normal. For one thing, I was in Israel, in Jerusalem. That’s definitely something special, and it is not something that is usual for me. I live in New York, and I am a proud American citizen; however, Israel is always on my mind and in my heart and soul. It also wasn’t a normal day in Jerusalem for me. Most of the time when I’m in this holy city it’s for vacation and to visit family. However, the purpose of my visit this time was to choose a seminary for myself for the following year. The day was not routine, but I was having a wonderful day learning about the particular seminary I was visiting.

That all changed very quickly. Sometimes, it takes just a short amount of time to make the largest impact on our lives. Sometimes, it’s not about the years you spend at a certain school or the hours you try and decipher the meaning of a text. Sometimes, your life can change in the blink of an eye, and the most formidable experiences for you will happen so quickly you have to take a step back and realize what just happened. That is what I intend to do, and I invite you to listen in on my thoughts. Continue reading “How My Life Changed in 90 Seconds”

Should I Be Jewish Just Because My Parents Are?

The following is a question submitted by a Maidelle reader:
My parents decided to keep Shabbat and kosher and send me to a Jewish school and all that stuff. How can I enjoy Judaism if it’s just a tradition from my parents? As I grow up, I need to grapple with the decision to take religion or observance for myself. I don’t know.

We asked another one of our readers, Chaya Freeman, to respond, here is what she had to say:
I’m probably your age, so I’ve been thinking through the same question. It’s a funny question, the type I like to flick off with a simple answer that doesn’t make much more sense than the question does. I tell myself, my mother is Jewish, and therefore I am, too. A sheep is born a sheep because its mother is a sheep, and I was born a Jew because my mother was born a Jew.

But the question is a good nudnik question and it doesn’t leave me alone. Sure, being born to a Jewish mother is a sign that I am Jewish, but it’s not the reason I am Jewish. Continue reading “Should I Be Jewish Just Because My Parents Are?”

God is Always There

God is always there
Waiting for you to stretch out your little pinky so that He can tug on it and engulf you in a never-ending warm hug
God had a treasure house of blessing to shower you with all you needed to do was place your hand on the faucet
You just had to whisper God’s name and He would have sat beside you wiped your tears and when He’s with you your life problems are as simple as typing the wrong letter and having to press the backspace button
God had your salvation waiting from the day you left the womb like an exquisite show waiting for someone to lift the curtain Continue reading “God is Always There”

Good Bye Steve Jobs.

“Your time on this earth is limited, don’t live someone else’s life, live by your vision.” – Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

I am sad as I type this up on my shiny white MAC laptop. Steve Jobs passed away this week. I didn’t know Steve but I was fierce in my defense of the holy MAC when debating it’s merits to PC fans. I saved up patiently until I could afford my very own MAC and now carry it around like a prized accessory. Yes, it’s more expensive than the other brands but as I surf the net without fear of stumbling onto a virus and enjoy the beauty of it’s design and programming, I know it’s worth it. I shop at Forever 21 and will buy designer knockoff sunglasses for five bucks on the street but when it comes to my laptop, I want the real deal. Continue reading “Good Bye Steve Jobs.”

Deborah, The Strong Woman Judge

I was privileged to hear Elie Wiesel, the famed Holocaust survivor and author of Night, speak. His topic of discussion was Deborah, a strong woman judge who saved the Jewish people in ancient Israel. Of the sixteen judges that served in pre-monarchic Israel, only Deborah was female. She was also a prophet, one of seven women prophets recorded in Tanakh (the Jewish Bible), that communicated directly with God.

The Text Her story is recorded in Judges 4 and 5. After the Jews sinned, God sent Canaan to subjugate them as punishment: Jabin was the king, Sisera the army general. After the Jews asked for forgiveness, God sent Deborah to save them, telling her to command Barak, the Israeli army general, to fight against Sisera, as he would win. He requested that she come with him, and she did, and the Jews won the battle. Sisera fled to the tent of Jael, who killed him by nailing a tent peg into his temple. As a result, the Jews were able to become autonomous again. Judges 5 is the Song of Deborah, describing the war and its outcome in poetic form. At the end, Deborah mentions Sisera’s mother, waiting for a son that will never come home. After Deborah’s victory, there was peace for 40 years. Continue reading “Deborah, The Strong Woman Judge”

She Saved Our Souls

In Shemot 19:3, God told Moses to prepare the Jewish nation for the giving of the Torah, beginning by saying, “So you shall say to Bais Yaakov and Bnei Yisrael.” In the Torah, the Jews are usually identified simply as Bnei Yisrael; why does it also say Bais Yaakov? One commentator explains that God was referring to the women of the Jewish nation with the words “Bais Yaakov.” When Sarah Schenirer created the first school for Jewish girls, she named it Bais Yaakov after this reference in the Torah. The mother of the Bais Yaakov movement, Sarah Schenirer established the first formal Jewish education for girls, effectively saving the religiosity of Jewish women and the Jewish nation at large.

Sarah Schenirer was born into an Orthodox family in Krakow, Poland in 1883. As she grew up, she was always bothered by the deficiency of Jewish schooling for girls, noticing the assimilated practices of her friends with concern. “Watch how the girls pray; totally without motivation, as if it were forced upon them. Some are here to please their parents…others, as if God needs their prayers,” she wrote. She realized that the dearth of girls’ religious education led to their assimilation. It was only after hearing a lecture about the woman’s venerated role in Judaism that she realized she had to do something to save the Jewish woman. Continue reading “She Saved Our Souls”