Friday, January 18, 2008

Baby, you can drive my Ukraine.

I'm on vacation and there is a lot to report:

Image of a car being towed on our street:

Police officer sits in car and makes the announcement on a bullhorn loud speaker:
"If this car is yours, you better come and move it or we will tow it."
waits 5 seconds.

"If this car is yours, you better come and move it or we will tow it."
waits five more seconds.

"If this car is yours, you better come and move it or we will tow it."

"If this car is yours, you better come and move it or we will tow it."
"If this car is yours, you better come and move it or we will tow it."

Said person who owns car - fails to hear the announcement (note: we do not often stay within shouting distance of our cars when we park them) and car is towed away. We consider claiming the car - as it would make grocery shopping much easier. Alas, car is now towed and we will continue our shopping pursuits with a "Shuk Cart" that we are told everyone uses in Israel - except it appears only Rabbinical students and 90 year old grandmothers actually do.

In other news...
As part of my schools "Former Soviet Union Pesach Project," I'm going to be leading Passover seders in Simferopol, Yivpatoriya, and Sevastopol, Ukraine. I'm grateful for your support - to donate, make sure you specify "FSU Pesach Project Jen Gubitz"

In other news...
I cannot wait for my next taxi ride because...
Hartman to Ordain Orthodox Women Rabbis

More to come on the trip to Istanbul - stay tuned for stories about Cuban Jewish Communist Spies, four visits to Starbucks and more!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I learned yesterday that a close childhood friend passed away unexpectedly. We were raised together in Fort Wayne at our Temple among about 10 kids in our age group, running the halls of our synagogue during the Torah service our parents kicked us out of because we could not keep quiet, attending Camp Joe Levine Jewish Day Camp together, Hebrew high school, and youth group events. While our mom's played Mah Jong, I remember doing arts and crafts and playing other quiet games, David was always so nice to me - a far cry at the time from the other crazy boys our age. I remember nagging my parents regularly to make plans with his family so we could hang out.

David and I even went to prom together - though attending different high schools, the proms were held down the hall from each other and we ran back and forth all night long. I just found some of the pictures while cleaning out my room before my parents moved to Knoxville. It could be argued that we were quite a spiffy looking couple.

He ushered me into college by inviting me over to his fraternity regularly, sending pledges to pick my friends and I up from our dorm so we could go hang out with them. Its possible that we shared in a few underage beers together along with Lev, another one of our childhood friends. David met his future wife early on in college and they were married just last year.

Being reminded that death as a Jewish milestone is another part of my future work sheds a different light on what it means to become a Rabbi. I think I will constantly wonder why bad things happen to good people, a question pondered for centuries - and I will join the continuum in searching for a reason that seems impossible to find.

This Indian proverb has stuck with me for years

"When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced.
Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."

There is no question - the world will cry today and always.

Rabbi Shimon once said, "There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty. However, the crown of a good name is greater than all of them."

Zichrono V'Livracha, May David's name and memory always be for a blessing.

Click here for more information on Judaism, death and mourning.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Musings on Turkey Sandwiches, Equality and Sneakers...

May its memory be for a blessing...
From death comes life...
Please take a few moments to reflect on the short life of my sneaker...

In other news, Papa Bush is in town and I live in the security triangle. Surprisingly, I don't feel any safer than I did yesterday. In Bush's honor, they closed my school because it is located next to his hotel and cars are not allowed to drive on that street. As a result, our last final was a take-home test. I made it a "take-Cafe" test and have been sitting in a chic cafe on Ben Yehuda street from where I write at the moment. At one point, I needed to take a trip to the bathroom and asked a woman next to me to watch my stuff. However, I realized that the wireless internet might reach to the bathroom, so I took my mac with me. It was a delightful time.

Other musings:

I believe in equality and that woman should be able to do the same things as men if they want. When I was little, I wanted to walk around with my shirt off and pee standing up like my big brother, but I got over each of these desires to be equal to him. I don't consider myself to be a raging feminist except for when the following interaction occurs.

Yesterday in a cab -

Jen: How are you?
Cabby: Baruch Hashem, Thank God! (Note: Cabby shows no other indication of being religious.)
Jen: 13 King David Street, Please.
Cabby: Are you Reform or Conservative?
Jen: Reform. How did you know? Do I look Reform?
Cabby: Its the Reform school where we are going, right?
Jen: Yes.
Cabby: Why do you have to call yourself Reform? Why can't you just call yourself Jewish?
Jen: Well, in Israel, I'm not considered to be a religious Jew and I'm definitely not secular either. Besides, the distinctions are different in the US.
Cabby: So what. I pray to God and want the world to be a good place. And I'm just Jewish.
Jen: Sounds like you are a Reform Jew.
Cabby: NO!
Jen: Yup, you have all the qualities of a good old Reform Jew!
Cabby: NO!
Jen: YES!
Cabby: Why do you have to go that school? Who cares if Orthodox makes you pray behind a wall? Women already have so many responsibilities - why can't you just be happy with that.
Jen: Because I want to be a Rabbi.
Cabby: Why can't you just be the wife of a Rabbi?

Oh no he didn't...
Oh yes he did...

In other news, I'm heading to Istanbul on Sunday...I expect it will be a great time...except my Tourist Visa is expired, so if they don't let me in, its possible that the only Turkey I will be seeing next week is on a deli sandwich...

Congrats to Leslie G for joining the same sorority I was in during college - Sigma Delta Tau. Now that we are finally sisters, we've decided to finally let her know that she's really adopted.