Hey OOTOB readers,
Haven’t blogged in a little while – for good reason. Here’s what’s been up.
Mazel tov! My half-birthday was last week, on February 26th. This means I now own forty, by virtue of being more than halfway through it. Here’s forty… so far.
of old stuff
(if you haven’t needed it yet, you probably won’t).
So forty is
learning to accept and love yourself
whether you radically change or not
because this is the you God gave you
and it is the you you need to be.
So forty is
acceptance of self.
a new chapter for family
and young ‘uns
to hug you and remind you that you do, in fact, know everything.
A this-is-your-forever-family awareness
so forty is
loving and identifying unconditionally with my family.
finally, arriving at that station called “gratitude”
where, because you’ve actually lived a bit of life
understand – though sometimes need reminding –
that your life, while interesting, is full of
and that if you blink you’ll forget.
So forty is
understanding once and for all
that you are not your body
but your soul
and that your body will probably continue to decline
but it’s okay,
you never were your body in the first place
so forty is
I am my soul
remembering that old friends will always be there for you
and that old memories are so fun
such a gift
that old friends will never judge you
and that making time for them is not optional
but a soul-need
and maybe you have a little more time for them now
so forty is
starting to realize how grown-ups make terrible mistakes
and that if you’re not careful you can make them too
so you’d better work on that
before you become one of them.
So forty is
looking my husband in the eye
and understanding that he is my soul-partner for life
no matter what
and that forever really does mean forever
and understanding that together
we can handle anything God throws our way
so forty, then,
is a renewal of all those words we said when we were twentysomethings
but only now understand their import.
And forty is
realizing that is takes a village
of family, friends, faith
and mostly God
loving me forever
holding my hand for keeps
as I walk through this journey
that is at once all mine and that of my circle of support
including all of them
only I can live forty
to the highest heights.
I know it’s been kinda quiet on the blog of late. Can you say “kids not in camp or school”? OK, now say it ten times fast. It’s hard.
Anyhoo, figure I’d give you guys some exciting updates.
For one, I’m in the process (actually my daughter is – yay for tech-savvy kids) of creating an E-book of some of my posts. WITHOUT THE COMMENTS, cuz that was somewhat emotionally and legally controversial. Basically, all the posts categorized under “Why Orthodox Jews Do What They Do” (which is probably what it’ll be called) will be collected, sorted by topic, and self-published. It’ll be on Amazon and all that fun stuff, and I’ll let you know when it’s all ready.
Second, I’m working with Mosaica Press to publish a real-life book. It’s a very exciting project that I’ve been working on for about a year now. It’s a women’s prayer book, with the traditional Hebrew/transliteration/translation on one side, and, on facing pages, my contemporary musings based on the themes of those prayers. I’ve actually included some home-grown prayer musings here and on Facebook.
Here’s an excerpt of how to use my book:
The Hebrew prayers, as written thousands of years ago by the
Men of the Great Assembly, are as potent and laden with layers of meaning as
ever. They contain the richness of
prophecy, the spirituality of holy people, and the universal relevance of the
ages. Yet, for many, this language is a locked garden. Whether Hebrew itself is a foreign language,
or whether it’s the concepts and references that are inscrutable, some have not
been able to access the beauty and meaning of this gift called the “siddur” –
the traditional Hebrew prayerbook. The composers of these original Hebrew words intended to
create a vessel into which we, the users, could pour our own intent and
experiences. They are a starting point,
and an invitation to us to personalize them as the words move us. On any given day, I might find myself struck
by a new insight into these words. This work is intended to be a portal to that world. I invite you to read the contemporary
prayers, which I offer as a window into how the prayers strike me
personally. Use them as an informal
meditation or, hopefully, as a bridge to eventually try out the Hebrew, with a
new and fresh understanding of the theme behind the ancient words. Use them during formal services at the synagogue,
to move and inspire you as you pray. Use
them at home when you feel a moment of gratitude or longing. Use them right when you wake up, or perhaps
just before you end your day. Or maybe
when you light your Shabbat candles, you will open this book and find something
that inspires you.
In other news, I turned 40 three days ago! I am still in birthday mode, since August 26th is my birthday on the Gregorian calendar, but in the Jewish calendar, my birthday is ches Elul (the 8th day of the Hebrew month Elul) which comes out this year on September 3. Which means I get over a full week of celebrating (kidding, kind of)! Feel free to wish me a happy birthday and tell me
how wonderful I am how wonderful this blog is some kind of happy birthday blessing.
Ta ta for now – see ya when the kids start school!
Hey OOTOB fans,
This is the first in a series that I’ll feature occasionally, where I bring you different things I’ve discovered around the web that I’ve found interesting lately. Call it “trending,” or whatever you want – I’ve found it interesting and I’ve decided to bring it to you. Feel free to send me things that piqued your curiosity or sparked conversation for possible inclusion here in future posts.
Firstly, I discovered a whole new blog that, honestly, I’m surprised I’ve never encountered before. It’s called “Ask Tanta Golda” and the concept is somewhat similar to OOTOB. The blogger, Geri Copitch, adopts the Tanta persona, which I find cute, although I certainly do not agree with all her responses. It’s unclear to me what her affiliation is, and it seems she prefers it that way. Check it out and share your impressions.
This video was sent to me by my friend’s mom and it sat in my inbox for like a month (I have precious little time for videos – I read faster than I can watch – plus it was a whopping 24 minutes long) before I watched it. But, man, was I glad I did. It was an immediate share on Facebook, and got a strongly positive reaction there including several shares. You can’t find it by searching YouTube because it’s privacy-protected. I won’t give it away – it’s a first-person account of the son of a Nazi and how he chooses to deal with his painful family history. Seriously, pull up a chair and give this 24 minutes of eyeball time. You will not regret it.
This piece has been getting a lot of attention in the Orthodox world. A few friends sent it my way and I found it both troubling and insightful. Here’s a response from Rabbi Maryles, a Modern Orthodox scholar, and here’s one from Rabbi Shafran, a “haredi” scholar.
MOTHER’S DAY AND RWANDA
To close, I have a Mother’s Day question for you. One of my friends posted this on Facebook:
“Today I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Mothering Day. You do not have to have your own children to make a difference in a child’s life. You also don’t have to be female. Thank you for being in our children’s lives and loving on them – you are our village!”
I love this friend, but this status doesn’t sit well with me at all. Mother’s Day is actually for… mothers. Why dilute this by universalizing it to include anyone that has anything to do with kids? It reminds me of several years ago, when the Holocaust Museum featured a refugee from Rwanda to speak at their annual benefit. While her story was incredibly stirring, I was in shock that the Holocaust message was being universalized, essentially losing an opportunity to hear from a Holocaust survivor. Now, maybe I’m getting a little too worked up over Mother’s Day, which is probably just a Hallmark holiday, but I think that’s why it bothers me so much. It’s the underlying trend to universalize everything Jewish to include everyone and anyone, thus reducing anything specific we’ve experienced to nothing more than a humanitarian mish-mash.
OK, folks. Buckle your seat belts. OOTOB is making some great new changes, and here’s what you can expect:
1. My new domain.
Check out your URL bar. See how it says “outoftheorthobox.com” instead of the “blogspot” domain? Yup, we’re growing up. Cutting the blogspot apron strings and paying our own rent. Whether you find this as exciting as I do, I don’t know, but I’m liking it. I’ll also have an @outoftheorthobox.com email address, which I’ll update on the contact page as soon as it’s live.
2. Spreading my reach.
For a long time I resisted any other social media platform other than my familiar Facebook. I even tried and left Twitter for awhile, and surely laughed that a place like Pinterest would make room for this blog. But I’ve been educating myself on blogging and have decided to join those two platforms – not as myself, Ruchi Koval, but as OOTOB – just to put my blog in front of more eyeballs. I’m building my reach slowly. Help me by finding and following me on Twitter and Pinterest (and Facebook if you haven’t yet done so, where I’ve created an OOTOB page – something else I’ve resisted for awhile), and sharing, liking, pinning, retweeting, favoriting my content there when you like it!
Note: on both Twitter and Pinterest, you can find me by searching for “Out of the Ortho Box” or outoftheorthobo – notice the missing “x.” That’s because they limit your letters. Just click the link above and you’ll be taken to my page.
3. Blog makeover.
It’s time to move off a free template from Blogger and actually get a designer to snazz up the blog. I will definitely stick to orange, my favorite color and an optimistic one, and to the contemporary, clean feel, but I’m going to be adding some fun stuff:
Hey OOTOB readers,
This May, I am going to walk 100 miles along with a bunch of other JFX-ers (and fans of Israel from around the world) to raise money to bring more women to Israel in December with an incredible organization called JWRP.
No, not in one day! Over one month, I’m going to wear a device that tracks my steps – 10,000 steps a day, which is about 4 miles – for a month. Gah!! I’m really excited, and I need some help. Would you, my devoted readers, consider sponsoring me? Just head over here – no donation too small!
Thanks so much!