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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish’

Happy Rosh Hashanah 5772

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I can’t believe it’s already Rosh Hashanah again! Nevertheless, here we are. A very happy shana tova (happy year) to all my Jewish friends out there. May you have a sweet and healthy new year and be inscribed in the Book of Life. Now let’s go party!

Categories: Religion Tags:

To My Atheist Friends

September 1, 2011 18 comments

A link to a page called “How to stop your kids from becoming Atheists” flew around a couple times this morning on my Twitter feed. I decided to ignore it, as it wasn’t aimed at me directly, but then I thought about it and decided to actually respond to it. Or rather, respond to years of such little links and comments read and heard from people I consider friends or close acquaintances. This isn’t a rant, this isn’t a retort. This is a response.

You decided you do not believe in G-d, and I decided that I believe in G-d. Your decision does not make you any smarter, insightful, wise, accepting, or educated than me. Neither does mine make me all that in relation to you. When you say general statements about believers, remember you are including those who are your friends, those whom you respect and respect you, among them. That means me, Daniel, the guy you play games with, go to school with, chat online with, joke with, even sometimes share a true memorable moment with.

I don’t mind that you’re an Atheist. I honestly don’t care because that is your choice. I respect your choice. I will even talk about our choices, how they differ, how they may even be similar in some ways, and not have a problem with it (heck, in many cases I’d welcome it). It’s your choice and I respect it, especially if you are my friend, even if I don’t believe the same way. That goes for Atheist, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or Pastafarians. I only ask you do the same.

I am a convert to Judaism. That means I chose my belief, and I did after a really hard and intense–painful, even–struggle with myself about belief in G-d and me as an individual (and frankly, it’s a struggle I continue to be engaged in every day). But even if I wasn’t, even if I’d been born into observant Judaism (or Christianity, etc), my point remains the same. I am not an anomaly, I am simply an example, just like how you reached your decision to be an Atheist isn’t the same as that of others.

“But, Daniel,” you may ask, “what about the Westboro people, or the Jihadists, or the [Insert Religious Extremist Group Here]?” What can I tell you, there’s shitty people in all walks of life. What about Atheists that believe all believers should be killed (I’ve actually heard this, don’t laugh)? I’m sure we’re both groaning right now. Listen, these people are out there. Let’s not be like them, then.

I don’t need you to apologize for tweeting that link today if you did, or for any comment you may or may not have made in the past. I honestly don’t. I also don’t want you to police what you say to be politically correct. Just be aware of what you say, what you forward along, and understand you might be hurting someone you actually esteem.

Categories: Editorials, Religion Tags: , ,

Happy Rosh Hashanah

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Tonight starts Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and with it the High Holy Days. Damn, a whole year went by already?

I haven’t had a chance to blog about the start of this new semester at the university, or about the fact that I’ve been going to the gym practically daily since then as well. It’s been very busy.

In any case, I wish all the Jews out there a happy and blessed new year. And a happy new year to all of Creation as well – Rosh Hashanah is as much about all of G-d’s creation as it is about the Jewish people. Maybe one day I’ll talk about that more.

Shanah tovah umetukah!

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Inexplicable Justice

I got this message this morning from Chabad.org, and it impacted me. Over the past few days the thought of cancer has been firmly on my mind, between Mother’s Day, my game in progress, and news from a few people I follow on Twitter who are going through their own ordeals at the moment and whom I wish them strength. This message speaks to all of this:

Inexplicable Justice

By Tzvi Freeman

Not all suffering can be explained. There is pain, sometimes, that is not punishment and not repair.

True, we were given Torah, a G-dly wisdom containing the secrets of all things. But concerning these things even Moses asked and was told to be quiet, to cease to ask. Because there are some things that even G-dly wisdom does not explain. Because they cannot be explained.

We can only know that whatever happens is from G-d, that G-d is just, and that He does not desire suffering.

But until the end of days, we will have to suffer the ‘why’.

I can’t claim to understand all of it. I can’t claim to say I’m fine with it all the time. But I accept it. I accept it because I do believe that all that happens is G-d’s doing and that ultimately it is all for good, even if my limited understanding is not enough to see how. I rage against the dying of the light, but in the end I let the light go as is His will.

To those who are going through their own ordeals, maybe this will give you some measure of strength. Maybe not. But it is something that we should keep in mind all the time.

Gam zu l’tovah. This is also for good.

Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

A Meeting With The Kalever Rebbe

February 17, 2010 3 comments

I’ve met a fair number of rabbis during my time as a Jew. Most of them are regular people who have dedicated their lives to studying G-d’s Torah and helping people out perform mitzvot. They lead normal lives and have the same kinds of issues most people do, except they face them with this admirable confidence in Hashem. What’s more, I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t also impart that joy they have to others. I also know there are some rabbis that transcend even the rabbis I have known, that make them seem in comparison as normal as I seem next to a rabbi. These are rabbis that have achieved levels of connectivity to G-d that are truly astounding. We call them tzadikim, which can be translated as righteous. Today I met such a rabbi.

I can’t tell you anything about the Kalever Rebbe; before Monday I had never heard of him, or seen his picture. Understand, there are a lot of Chassidic groups each with their own Rebbe, even if the one most people know of is Chabad-Lubavitch. But I saw that the Kalever Rebbe would be visiting FIU for one day, at a time when I could drop by for a visit. I’ve been going through some spiritual stuff lately and I figured meeting with a tzadik would be good (my wife concurred).

Long story short, he was delayed from the 12 PM time he was originally scheduled to have been on campus, but after my class I walked over and was able to see him.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe something earth-shaking, a spiritual sledgehammer to the chest, based on accounts of meetings with other tzadikim I have heard/read. It was nothing like that. It was actually about as mundane and simple a meeting as you can imagine: him in a chair at the head of a conference table, me standing to his right, us sharing some words. He shook my hand and didn’t let go until we were done, and he’d pat it for emphasis pretty much every other word. He gave me a few blessings, and gave me a very simple, almost elementary, answer when I told him what I’ve been going through. A smile never left his face.

It took only a few minutes. I walked out and went on with my day. But it was subliminal, and without any effort, he imparted me with some of the peace that seemed to hang around him like fruits on a tree.

There was nothing extraordinary about our meeting, and that’s what I found most extraordinary.

Categories: Religion Tags: ,

Kosher Seattle Travel Article

January 26, 2009 3 comments

I wrote a quick guide for the kosher traveler to Seattle, Washington for Yeah, That’s Kosher!, a kosher travel blog. The article is now up and you can go read it.

Seattle, WA

“Seattle seduces,” our friend Patricia said no more than three hours after we had landed at Sea/Tac Airport and had driven through the city on our way to a coffee shop in Queen Anne Hill. From this high vantage point, Seattle spread out in organized chaos, contained only by the shores of Elliot Bay and Lake Washington to the east and west respectively. The Space Needle pierced the sky, an unmoving sentinel guarding the northern end of the city, while to the south, snow-capped Mt. Rainier played peek-a-boo with its ward 70 miles away. “I could certainly get used to this,” was what I said, taking in this view, that prompted Patricia to speak her prophetic words.

[…] we found [in Seattle] a remarkable city with an abundance of personality, a multitude of activities for all kinds of visitors, and a very appealing destination for the kosher traveler.

Read the article.

Elation over my article aside, I love this website because it is dedicated to helping the kosher-observing Jew travel to more places beyond the New York/Miami worn-out route. I have a couple more ideas for articles, including Orlando, FL and even Miami (with a different twist), so expect to see more announcements like this from me.

Categories: Travel, Writing Tags: , ,