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Rabbi Angela Buchdah

Our God has given every person and every tribe with a light within, a powerful divine spark. If we fan that flame with fear and hatred, it will become a consuming fire. And if we hoard that light, cultivating it only for ourselves, only for our tribe, it ultimately will fade out.

But if we take up our unique light, as a tribe that knows the heart of the stranger –
who will stand up for the Other –
and love the stranger –
and shed our light where it is most needed –
we can live up to the prophetic charge to be an Or L’Goyim.
A light to the nations – starting with our own great nation.
We Jews were chosen for that very purpose.
All the rest is commentary.
Let us go and live it.


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I am amused that Nazarites had to avoid all grape products

Not just wine

But the parsha also says just, straight up grapes 

Like, the act of even eating a grape is so decadent that it breaks your vow! 

That’s just hilarious to me and because of sleep shenanigans I don’t have the energy for even more d’var than that 

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I have been very ill and am only now finally getting treatment that works (maybe? we’ll see). 

Within the last two months my thyroid function became clinically relevantly low because of Hashimoto’s disease (which tbh is probably still ongoing) AND I have been going through a bad flare of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a disease I did not previously know that I even have. It is a connective tissue disorder and for all intents and purposes I am being treated as if I have it, even if the diagnosis will take another two months minimum to be conclusive. 

I have been struggling with extreme, increasing fatigue and pain in my fascia and joints. Studying torah has been impossible simply because I cannot focus on it AND study for school too in one day. 

However I have started taking hormones to compensate for my damaged thyroid and I started a new pain medication yesterday that can finally take an edge off of my pain. With new vigor I am going back to my studies, bit by bit, and increasing my religious life at the same time. 

Some positives: I have not missed a single kiddush since the first one I documented here. I made myself some candle holders and bought locally produced bee’s wax candles to make it more special. While I have to work every other Shabbat, when I don’t have to I make the day special and am strict with myself to rest. I prepare cold meals in advance, I do not touch money, I do not do work, when possible. I try not to travel during Shabbat either. I think and pray a lot and when I am well enough, I study a bit about Judaism and Torah. 

I have gone vegetarian for the sole reason of stopping to mix meat and dairy, as well as avoiding non-kosher meat. So far so good on that front! 

I am dressing modestly as much as my health allows (I cannot always tolerate the heat, generally it comes as a sudden heat flash and I am forced to take off layers until I am wearing only a t-shirt, even if it’s in public. I try to dress accordingly.) 

I am covering my head, which to me, with myself, is an important symbol of modesty. I wear a hat, again, as much as my health allows. 

I am involved in a jewish discord group and learn from them every day. 

I am involved in my jewish community, attending every holiday as it comes (I attended Purim, the Pesach Seder and Shavuot so far)

I am going to go to Hebrew summer school, even though it means postponing other, important plans. I am serious about this conversion. And while I may be forced to take things at a slower pace than I want, I am getting so much joy and peace out of it that it is worth it to me. 

The secretary at my university told me that she sometimes has to deal with students who don’t want to come to classes or prefer partying to school. She wondered out loud about how I on the other hand wish I could make it to class but simple physically can’t. 

I do not wish to be seen as that kind of inspiration and pushing. But I am stubbornly moving on. I hope that anyone who reads this who is struggling understands that if you tried and failed, that’s not a moral failing of yours. Try again, try a different pace, try a different approach. 

If I am not converted in 10 years, I am ready to work towards it for 10 more. That is how important this is to me. 

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For what it’s worth, and in my calmest explanation possible at this moment:

If your takeaway of #TheAnneFrankDiscourse is that somehow, queer Jews on Tumblr (like me, or @surprisedentistry, or @half-sassed, or @jewishcomradebot, or MOST of the other people who are getting A LOT of undue shit lately) are part of some Shadowy Nefarious Plot to make Jews and Queers hate each other and foment large-scale biphobia or homophobia to… some kind of political end that hasn’t really been clearly expressed in any of these scaremongering posts but is clearly quite feared by a lot of these panicking non-Jewish people, then I need you to do three things:

1) Think about whether your kneejerk reaction makes sense. (It probably doesn’t, so proceed to step #2.)

2) Go back and read what was actually said by the queer Jewish people who #startedthediscourse by going “Um, please don’t use labels for this murdered child that she never used for herself; using labels for ANYONE that they didn’t use on themselves isn’t cool, and perhaps especially so if they’re, yk, a murdered child.There are a lot of people who are legitimately bicons. Anne Frank is not one of them, and it’s really disrespectful of her legacy to call her one. And it’s even more disrespectful to speak over our voices as living and breathing queer people in the community with you, fighting alongside you, trying to make you understand our intersection of marginalization.” After almost 10 days of this, we owe you no assumptions of good faith arguments or of kindness. If you’re STILL arguing about any of it, you’re either trolling or straight-up antisemitic. Those are your choices.

3) I need you to really look at your own latent beliefs about Jews, and why you think we would have a vested interest in… whatever evil -ology or -phobia you think we do. WHY do you think we’re part of some shadowy plot to control a cultural narrative? Who told you Jews do that? Why do you think it’s true? What would you think if someone told you that about another marginalized group? WHY would you assume that queer Jews are any less valid than queer people of any other marginalized ethnicity or race? Are you conflating Judaism with religion instead? Do you think Judaism is the same as Christianity, and therefore must be biphobic or homophobic, deep-down? What are you entering these arguments in #TheDiscourse with as your background assumption that makes you so resistant to actually listening to what queer Jews have to say? (And why the HECK do you WANT to have been targeted in the Holocaust??? Seriously, explain this to me, because I do not understand.)

Then I want you to remember that this all started because Wednesday was what should have been the 90th birthday of a girl who was murdered at fifteen years old. She may have grown up to one day love women, or men, or both, but we will never know, because she never got to know. She was beautiful and brilliant and funny and talented. She loved her friends and fought with her mother and believed in the world until it gave her a very good reason to stop – and then she did stop believing in it. And she was Jewish. And that was all that mattered, in the end, because it is what got her killed. A fifteen-year-old girl died alone and was thrown into a pit and we’ve still never found her body. Please just let her rest.

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What’s the appeal of Conservative Judaism? Liberal Judaism I feel like I understand, it’s for people who would have become Unitarian Universalists if they’d married a gentile, who want a faith that demands exactly what their atheist and agnostic liberal progressive friends do. Orthodoxy I feel like I understand. It’s people who think they’re doing things the way they’ve always been done, like the covenant says to do. Conservative Judaism is like Lutheranism or Anglicanism, it’s like going halfway serious heretic and then stopping for no coherent reason.
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Kirsten Fermaglich, ‘A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Naming Changing in America’
There were several Jewish judges who did indeed reject the petitions of Jewish name changers or who at least soundly scolded them for what the judges perceived as betrayal. Judge Aaron J. Levy of the New York Supreme Court, for example, granted Everett Levy’s petition to change his name to Leroy but chastised him angrily for his pursuit of economic gain: “He is wholly ignorant of the fact that the Bible tells us that the Tribe of Levy never worshipped the Golden Calf. Let the application be granted to that his people might well be rid of him.” And another judge, Louis Goldstein, outright rejected the Brooklyn salesman Louis Goldstein’s petition to change his name to Golding: the judge’s own success, he stated, disproved the petitioner’s claim that the name Goldstein was “un-American, not euphonious, and an economic handicap.” Indeed, one scholar has argued that Jewish name-change petitioners attempted to avoid having their petition heard by Jewish judges.
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Reminder that the wlw couple who got DOMA repealed were Jewish. Banning the Magen David from a pride parade just because Israel also uses it is ignoring the fact that Jewish wlw gave American queer people the right to get married, and also ignoring the fact that the Magen David has been in use as a Jewish symbol for over 1000 years, long before the current Israel was created. Banning a symbol that serves as an icon of our Jewishness because of the conflicts going on in Israel is both anti-semitic and completely ahistorical.

Goyim reblog but don’t add anything.

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there is a picture of Keanu smiling with Netanyahu. And even if he’s just being polite in public, if he had some decency he’d make a statement denouncing him and his war crimes afterwards. Yeah the evidence of his Zionism is thin but you really can’t twist a picture of him smiling with an evil man.

I found the pics, and no, not a good look at all.

But, I want to reiterate, Zionism is not a bad thing in theory. Saying Jewish people do not deserve their own state is ignoring the literal thousands of years of persecution they’ve had to go through. Again, I’m no expert but I have seen and heard Jewish people talk about it countless times.

And another important thing to address is that you saying pictures exist is the closest thing to actual evidence I have seen about this. People cannot go around claiming things without receipts and sources, that is something we have said multiple times on this blog.

Also, this expectancy that a celebrity must call out a country is somewhat unfair because it’s not something applied to everyone. Rihanna’s current boyfriend is an extremely wealthy Saudi Arab, but no one is expecting her to start condemning the human rights violations Saudi commits.

It’s also worth pointing out, since I mentioned Saudi; Israel is called out a disproportionate number of times by the UN in comparison to Saudi Arabia. I believe last year the UN criticised Israel six times, and Saudi Arabia zero times. To be so quick to condemn the only Jewish nation out there and for people to be so supportive of that is amountable to antisemitic sentiment.

I’m not trying to defend Keanu Reeves, I’m not a big fan and I’m quite surprised at his sudden popularity.

But I’m deeply concerned by the way people are throwing him under the bus without evidence and are using antisemitic rhetoric (intentionally or unintentionally idk) to do so.

Mod TZ

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The Rabbis of the Talmud (Berachot 8a) discuss the most important things to pray for: ‘For this every righteous man should pray to You and the time You are found,’ (Psalms 32:6). Rabbi Chanina said… ‘this refers to a [finding a nice] wife’… Rabbi Natan said… ‘this refers to Torah’… Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak said… ‘this refers to [a nice] death’… Rabbi Yochanan said… ‘this refers to [a nice] burial’… Mar Zutra said… ‘this refers to [a convenient] toilet.’ In Israel, they said that the [opinion] of Mar Zutra was better than all the others.’

David Sedley

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The LORD spoke to Moses: …If a man or woman takes the vow of a Nazirite, to set himself apart for the Lord, he shall abstain from strong drink, nor shall he eat even  grapes. …No razor shall touch his head; his hair and beard must be left untrimmed. …During his term as a Nazirite, he is consecrated to the Lord.

–Num. 6:1-8 (portions adapted; translation mine)

           My name is Samson, certainly the most famous Nazirite who ever lived. Surely you have heard of me, of course! My name means either “Son of the Sun,” or “Little Sun.” That is because my manly beauty, and the tales of my derring-do, glow like the sun through the pages of Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. As the Lord lives, did I not exterminate a temple-full of Philistines, Israel’s archenemy? True, I lost my own life in the process—that of “bringing down the house”—ha!—but that only adds to my fame. I was a hero-martyr; more’s the pity for my people—ah, now had I lived, longer, now—

           Hah? What’s that? Well, yes: it’s true that I was, unfortunately, attracted to Philistine women; in particular, that minx, Delilah. What, is that so rare these days? How was I to know that she was a double agent for those scoundrels? When she pressed me for the secret of my strength, I eventually gave it up to her: I was growing weary of  my battles against the Philistines, and thought, in my foolishness, that she might act as a go-between for both Israel and Philistia. Why, she might have even been an agent of peace—

           But I was wrong, and paid for it with the loss of both my eyes. Woe! Still, it was fitting that I lose them, for having glanced one time too many at Philistine wenches. My parents warned me, “Marry a nice Israelite girl,” but I did not listen. Perhaps I inherited some of the foolishness of Manoah, my hapless father….

           Still and all, my people, why not focus on my mighty exploits? When my hair was long and my strength unparalleled, I saved my parents from a ravening lion—I tore him apart with the greatest of ease. Bees built a hive in his carcass, and you can believe it. I killed thirty Ashkelonites, and took their clothing, to pay off a bet I had made with Delilah’s other suitors. And, when the Philistines irritate me, I tied burning torches to the tails of foxest, and sent the beasties racing through the Philistines’ fields of grain. Why, the smoke reached to the top of Sinai!

           And finally, I yanked up the gates of Gaza by main strength, and carried them forty miles, all the way to Hevron—ironic, that, knowing the difficulties my Israeli descendants would have with the inhabitants of both places.

           As to the love of my soul—ah, Delilah, Delilah—believe it or not, I still have a soft spot in my warrior’s heart for you. I cannot believe how quickly and easily you turned me in to the Philistine Military Police, after all I had done for you. You were the last beautiful damsel I saw, before my eyes were put out. Women! Who can comprehend them?

           Truth to tell, all of my troubles originated with women—that Philistine wife from Timna, the prostitute from Philistine Gaza, and Delilah—was she Philistine as well, or just allied with them? Inever will know. I realize now—it was my Naziriteship, but also my dalliances with those treacherous females, which inspired me to greater and greater deeds of strength, culminating (of course) in my destroying the Philistine Temple of Dagon. I brought myself, and those wretched Philistine oppressors, an ignominious death—

           Still, it’s true, my Israelite brothers and sisters: back of every warrior is a woman.


Rabbi David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance.

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