Friday, March 14, 2014

On a day like today- with an egg yolk sun, birds calling their lovers, and hammocks swaying between budding trees- I find myself in the uninspiring straitjacket called homework. Unsurprisingly, it makes sense why suicides are the leading cause of death in prison. Solitary confinement is where dreams go to die; its taken all my strength not to crack my laptop in two and let myself be taken over by the hallucinative musk of stuffy lounge.

I decide to regroup, reorganize, and head to Hillel. None of the rooms are open, so I head up to the Beit Midrash. There are two girls sitting and learning a Hebrew book about angels. They leave after fifteen minutes, and I am left lone again surrounded by Rabbis' life works and feeling a bit like an heretic for bringing English shmutz into the sacred cove. 

Rabbi Brittney walks into the Beit Midrash and asks me how I am doing. I say "good, but super busy." "In a few minutes," she says, "I'm leading a lesson in here. I hope that won't bother you." Great, heat radiating bodies, I think. "Of course not, no problem," I say. Oops, did I overcompensate and sound too eager? 

The group slowly trickles in. 

0 kippot + 4 pairs of short-shorts + 1 dude ponytail = Reform roundup. 

The opening icebreaker: Go around the circle and say your name and something you believe in.

5 minutes later: discuss with a person to your  right what prayer means to you

10 minutes later: "I know this is a stupid question and I should know the answer, but why is eating  pig forbidden?"

10 minutes 5 seconds later: Someone says, "My favorite food is pork. Does G-d hate me?"

10 minutes 30 seconds later: I inconspicuously evacuate the Beit Midrash and cry in the bathroom. 

35 minutes later: Someone asks Rabbi Brittney how she feels that other Jews delegitamize her role as Rabbi. She responds by saying she has accepted that different people view her in different ways. For some, she's a Rabbi like any other, for some a knowledgeable lady, and to others still, a tabooed enigma they would rather ignore than confront. Completely composed, she confesses that some students in our Hillel told her that they simply don't know how to relate to her and for that reason shut her out. She is there for them if they ever decide to let her in. 

36 minutes 12 seconds later: I cant make it to the bathroom this time. I hide my naive, Orthodox face

40 minutes later: learning about Rav Pappa. A boy laughs and says that's the "sickest name ever."

45 minutes later: staring at my screen, reading the same sentence, and completely blown away. My pulse beats through my fingertips.


I am so blessed to be part of such a diverse Jewish community. We all struggle with different temptations; who is to say that eating pork is worse than dehumanizing Rabbi Brittney? No one is perfect. You are not disabled- you are differently-abled. Rabbi Britt said she'd let me know when the next meeting is.


Whoever said sitting alone was uninspiring?

Sincerely, 
stuffy rooms reformed


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