Thursday, June 19, 2003


Thanks again to Joby W. for letting me post his poem.

Well, for a long time now I have been pondering the various elements of connection between thrivership and Judaism. Judaism has always been a place of comfort, "at home" feelings, strength and encouragement. Since the early years of my Jewish education, a connection to Jews around the world and throughout time draws me in. When I read from the Torah or study from pieces of the Jewish literature which spans about 3,000 years, I am continually struck by the similarities between our lives and the lives of those who have come before us. They had joy, hope, sadness, despair, courage, regret, celebrations, community and friendship - just as we do. The texts reflect their lives. Even what isn't visible in the texts reflects their lives. Call me an optomist or call me off the mark, but I absolutely 100% believe that biblical, ancient, rabbinic and medieval women all participated in the Jewish community AND in Jewish literature. They discussed and wrote about their lives. True, we have only scant textual evidence of their writings, but much of that has to do with the keepers of the "offical" texts we have today. Who has kept and passed down those "official" texts of the periods? Men. Now, women are doing more writing, more creative liturgy, more story-telling, more integration of our lives with Judaism, Jewish text and Jewish wisdom (If you want just one site with some examples go to Just because women weren't in "official" positions and just because their voices weren't always heard by the men (their are some women's voices in the so called offical texts) certainly does not mean that they were silent. Judaism has a place for me and my story. It's not out of place. Sadly, it is not unique. Oh, how I wish it were. But, it is not.

When we share our stories with each other (one of the big reasons I started this blog) we create community. A community of presence can be over time (like the Jewish women of ancient or midieval or modern days with whom we resonate), over space (a great beauty of the internet) and across generations. I celebrate my community of sister/brother survivors, those who support us, my friends, my colleagues and those who share with me the desire to change the world. Feeling part of such a community is one of the reasons Judaism has been so important to me. The community of my synagogue and the other kids in my religious school classes was one of the first I knew where I felt comfortable. Public school didn't do that for me, there I felt like an outsider (especially before the last 2 years of high school). So, there is an element of my continuing connection to my Judaism.

Debate and discussion has long been a core componet of Judaism. Ever heard the expression "two Jews, three opinions"? Often used as a stereotype or cliche, it is often true. Judaism does not demand of us perfect un-questioning faith. We find faith, we in fact strengthen our faith with questions and discussions. So, for me to ponder my life expereinces, for me to ponder why bad things happen in this world, why humans are so destructive - - that is part of "doing Jewish." Such questioning gives me room to journey throughout all the parts of my life and to lean on my faith, to ask questions and know that God does not punish me for them, to be reassured that whether or not I find "the answer" that asking itself has value. By being able to question God, Judaism and my spirituality, I can question and challenge where I wasn't permitted to do so in my home. As a kid, questions were okay in my home. Okay, that is if we had the right "answer" and that answer was always whatever my father deemed the right answer to be - even if he said night was day. His was the ONLY acceptable (or even rational) viewpoint. As a little one, I learned fast to live in his box of how he sees the world (I was two when the sexual and verbal abuse started). How liberated I felt to realize, as a young adult, that I didn't have to live in his box anymore. (I didn't really even have to as a teenager but when I lived in that house and for a few years after, I couldn't see it.) Thank God I understand this now. So, now you might understand a bit more why questions are so comforting on so many levels.

I think what I am coming to realize (and what I want to articulate today) is that God, Torah and Judaism integrate quite well with survivorship and thrivership. Judaism helps me feel safe, be safe, be comforted and find courage in my journey from victim to survivor to thriver.

Wishing you community, courage, hope and questions too.

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