When my father died of cancer at the age of 30 (13 years younger than I am right now) my 28-year-old mother was left alone with three small children. My brother was eight, I was six, and my little brother was three.
Exactly two years ago, at the close of 2014, I wrote a post about that year. It was a gut-wrenching year full of bad news and sad moods. Since that time, I find myself getting especially reflective this time of year, looking back on the year and deciding what I want to say about it.
In my neighborhood, there used to be four large Orthodox congregations: Heights Jewish Center, Young Israel, Green Rd. Synagogue, and Chabad. There was also an ad hoc congregation that had begun in a home, called “Zichron Chaim.” It was commonly referred to as “the shteeble,” which is a Yiddish word for “little house” and refers to a small, organic, grass roots congregation, loosely formed and typically without a rabbi, that meets in a home and then sometimes, if it grows, migrates to a more spacious space.
Elyse Goldstein, in her recent piece, “Why I’m Not Fasting on Tisha B’Av,” makes a number of thoughtful points regarding the upcoming national day of Jewish mourning. I commend her for her principled and intentional living and would like to respond with my own take on some of her themes. She says:
For the past ten days I’ve been a participant in a “Nourish Your Soul Telesummit.” Each day I’d get an email, and a posting in its corresponding Facebook group, that a new interview was up and available for listening. Each day one interview would broadcast. The interviews were conducted over the phone by professional storyteller Devorah Spillman and broadcaster Joelle Norwood. They featured ten inspired and inspiring Jewish women. Each morning on my daily walk I’d click over and listen. Today was the last one and the interviewers became the interviewees.