Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Ben Spielberg
1. Sit down. Nobody writes blogs standing up.
2. Choose your writing instrument of choice. As I’ve grown up with computers, I prefer my laptop. Our elder writers are uncomfortable typing because they are reminded of the tiring berating of Mavis Beacon. They opt for pen and paper. Never disclose personal information in pencil.
3. Pretend to analyze the past blogs from the week, but get stuck on the “Popular” and “Recent comments” sections of the Jewish Journal. Become disheartened the other blogs which get thousands of hits per day, and then discover a fire inside of you that will blow all of their blogs away. Lose that fire within the first paragraph, and become disheartened until the blog’s completion.
4. Perform a brief 4th step. Think about the past transgressions you have performed this week. Where have you missed the mark? Cross out everything that you are not willing to discuss in public.
5. Ask yourself whether living righteously is “worth it,” in the end. Remind yourself that the questioning of vague concepts will get you nowhere. Your deadline is approaching rapidly.
6. Decide whether you want to write a standardized, four paragraph blog, or make some type of list. People love lists. Get distracted and create a to-do list for the day.
7. Congratulations, you have decided to write a list. You have now afforded yourself the opportunity to avoid complete sentences and appropriate transitions.
8. Realize that your blog has very little actual content, especially regarding redemption. Think of something that will tie in this theme.
9. Peer through the window of my office and gaze at Beit T’Shuvah’s Zen Garden. There are residents engaging in therapy--breaking through their traumas and learning to engage in a life of recovery. They are able to surround themselves with people of similar experiences in order to live a full life. Watch a few minutes of these metamorphoses from a distance.
10. Recognize my own gratitude, shrouded in the doubt of making a deadline. Thank yourself that you have enough faith to not be swayed by the impulsiveness of step #5.
12.13.13 at 11:50 am | Life is messy! This truth is lost on most of us.. . .
12.6.13 at 2:19 pm | Last night, as we were getting ready to go to the. . .
12.5.13 at 10:12 am | Every year at Thanksgiving dinner, my entire. . .
11.29.13 at 11:12 am | As we celebrate Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, I keep. . .
11.22.13 at 1:38 pm | As I sit here this morning, 50 years to the day. . .
11.15.13 at 12:38 pm | I have been thinking about this week's Torah. . .
12.13.13 at 11:50 am | Life is messy! This truth is lost on most of us.. . . (76)
2.25.13 at 2:00 pm | Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions. . . (36)
11.8.13 at 10:31 am | Tonight and tomorrow mark the 75th Anniversary of. . . (14)
March 5, 2013 | 11:22 am
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Michael Welch
If you’ve read my past blogs (and I’m certain you have) it is evident that I consider myself quite the esteemed columnist. I am admitting the self-indulgent spin that exists within my frenetic blogging. And yes, I think very highly of myself, so much so that I’ll use “And” to start a sentence. When we are reminded of Tuesday we don’t think of Ruby’s or elections we think of “the dubious Irishman’s” blog. We think insight, wisdom, precious gems, and unnecessary information sprinkled about in 300-500 words. There’s not a better way to complete a Tuesday than to take a gander at JJ in hopes of finding brilliance and language embracing each other just as Tristan and Isolde beautifully managed to through the dark ages.
I confess I have elevated my writing. I have tried to dazzle you with pen and ink. I have spent more time and effort on the idea of blogging for myself than for redemption. I believe I may have lost my way in the quest for appearing intelligent, charismatic, and relevant, when in reality I sound as foolish and manufactured as a street vendor requiring a disclaimer, warning you that a less skilled man with even lesser skills of writing is begging you to give him attention and will blog about anything to do so.
Both of these paragraphs are true. It’s classic grass roots addiction. I’m not that much but I’m all I think about. It’s being righteous and pithy, while displaying humility and regard. I talk about my split often; I blog about it often. It’s important. It keeps me “in the game,” afloat, present, and true. When I first heard about “the split” I thought it referenced a personality disorder. I already find myself in many of the diagnoses of the DSM-IV but I never saw myself in the schizoid column. I knew I displayed behaviors that were polarized, but I was not willing to claim ownership of that being a part of who I am. It caused shame - I was bad, and couldn’t believe that I kept resorting to lying/stealing/cheating/hiding. I didn’t get it, I didn’t want to behave that way, I felt awful and my life slowly began to shift into a soulless non-existence of my own making.
Nevertheless I stayed curious; I gravitated towards the architects who taught me how to heal the split. Through conversation, failure, and accomplishment I can identify who’s running the show. Others too, can learn from this seemingly difficult concept. It’s a constant struggle. I still struggle with my split, that’s the point. The struggle keeps me fresh and engaged, for if I ever decide to give up it is evident who resides with the power in this multi-dimensional relationship. I’m not interested in letting go of my soul, I’ll be cocky cause it’s me; I’ll be worthless cause it’s also me.
March 4, 2013 | 12:25 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Yeshaia Blakeney
This month has been full of loss. I wrote this poem in response.
We dream of beginnings without endings, blessings without sorrow. Life without time, a soft spiritual impression a divine secret dwelling in our hearts, a yearning for an eternity of returning to G-d. And life feels it's opposite, temporal, sorrowful, anxious and mysterious, burying the eternal secret under layers of fossilized sediment. We are in constant conflict, a battle being pitched on a razors edge between ultimate meaning, and complete absurdity. Our knowledge ends at the beginning, at the birth of the universe in the realm of the created. But what do we know of before the beginning? The DNA of infinity plants its seed in our world of perpetual beginnings. And what of endings you might ask. We know nothing of them, we know only life and creation, delineation between the is and the is not is the invention of creative imagination, and in reality there is no opposite to eternity, no opposite to oneness, only G-d, only creation, only expression. The rhythms of beginnings and endings are harmonious movements in a song with no end and the crescendo is the accumulation of humanities hope for ultimate redemption. Beginnings are echoes of significance, the bursting out of G-ds voice in reality the endings reminders, that there is much more. Beginnings are that impossible uncontrolled laughter from a glimpse of too much truth, endings are endless tears because everything matters, (and it is too much to bare). So we reach now... Tears at the endings for where we have been, laughter and hope for an unwritten new beginning.
March 1, 2013 | 9:43 am
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Much has even said/written about Seth MacFarlane and his taste(?) in jokes. While it is easy to blame the host, the producers had the last word, so the anti-Semitic Ted and the tasteless way of making fun of others (there were no shanty Irish jokes were there) really fall on the producers of the show. Do they really believe that poor taste and humor stereotyping groups will keep the 18-45 demographic engaged? If this is true, we are in worse shape than any of us knew!
I want to talk about the redemptive quality to the Oscars, however. The top awards, most of them, went to 3 movies that I saw, Argo, Silver Linings and Lincoln. In contrast to Mr. Macfarlane and the producers, these 3 movies were all about Redemption and against stereotyping and scapegoating. Most of us know what these movies are about; I want to view them through a Redemption lens. Argo is the story of one man and the government working hard to save a few. One man risks his life, while a few others risk their reputations and livelihoods to save Americans trapped in Iran in 1979! The Canadian Ambassador risked it all to save people he did not know. This is a story of Redemption by people who had no connection to the people they redeemed except for their human connection.
Silver Linings Playbook is a much more personal and intimate story of Redemption. It is about a family trying to redeem each other and it takes another "outsider" to bring it all together. Jennifer Lawrence, in my opinion, won because she was so realistic in her desire to redeem herself and knew that only by helping someone else find Redemption, would she gain her own. She helps the whole family find themselves, their truth and each other in ways they only dreamt of. Here, Redemption happens because of a connection that is personal and intimate.
Lincoln seems to have both, to me. Abraham Lincoln knew Black people who had been slaves and were now free, he knew Black people who were free from birth. He did not have to pursue the 13th Amendment the way he did, except there was no choice for him. He was a man of faith and a man of Justice. He had a personal connection to Black people and he had a universal connection to Justice. These connections gave him no choice but to pursue the Emancipation of Black people in America and the Redemption of the White people who had enslaved them in the first place!
I am excited that Hollywood is seeing the power of Redemption, making films that tell the stories of different types of redemption—personal, human and global. I am praying that the "powers that be" hire producers and directors who are as Addicted to Redemption as I am.
PS: I hope the Academy redeems itself in who they choose for directors and hosts!