How are you?

June 17, 2009

Frum people don’t believe in responding to this question with an answer of how they actually are. All they will say is “Baruch Hashem”.
I think it is a specific custom among newly BT people, even if they are talking to a secular person they will say “Baruch Hashem”. You are allowed to say “Thank G-d” instead in case you didn’t know.

Here are a few explanations I have gotten when asking why people don’t answer the question:

-We have the concept of Gam Ze L’Tova (all for the good) so even if our day doesn’t seem so great, it really is, and besides its a gift from Hashem. We shouldn’t go around complaining obviously. If we are having a “bad day” we should not answer “Bad, Baruch Hashem” and we can’t leave Hashem out of the picture!!!

-“How are you” in the Frum world is like wassup in the secular world. I don’t really want to know wassup. I’m just saying it as a greeting. People say “What’s up?” then smile and keep walking. Nobody tells you what’s actually up. How are you is the same way. People aren’t asking how you are… they are just saying hello.

I am kicking both of these reasons out and think when someone asks you how you are you should answer.

Here is a solution to both those qualms : just say “Good, baruch HaShem” or “Good, thank G-d.” Becuase no matter how you are it’s good, ultimately.
This solves the second qualm too because nobody has to respond to your extra word. It takes no time to say.

Personally, I only ask how you are if I actually want to know.

Mincha at the Kotel

June 7, 2009

I’ve been to the Kotel about a dozen times. The first time I went I was mad that there were no English siddurs left. The second time I brought a note. But until the last 2 times, I didn’t know any formal prayers and kind of just said Hello to G-d and asked for whatever it was I really needed at that time. 

I went to the Kotel on Shavuos along with what I heard was 100,000 people. I was half asleep (sunrise) and a few dozen Birthright girls were around me whining that it was cold or crowded or boring. I davened Shachris and yes, it was meaningful.

But it was just more meaningful for me when I went to the Kotel a few days ago, right around 5 PM, perfect timing for Mincha. There weren’t many people there, and I was selfishly happy about this. 

I approached the Kotel and it was picturesque. There was plenty of room for me to get very close and I even got a chair for Ashrei. It wasn’t too hot but the sky was that color blue you only see in Israel. It was amazing.

I said Ashrei with no distractions and started with Shemoneh Esrei. It was completely silent and peaceful like it normally only is in the middle of hte night. Right before Modim about 6 African women ran up to the Kotel right next to me and fell on their knees. Sidenote, this isn’t racist…they were speaking French and wearing African style clothing… 

While on their knees they start screaming things about Yeshke. They were so loud that almost everyone around completely stopped davening. They were convulsing and in hysterics. It would have been disturbing no matter what they were saying because they were loud. We all know that prayer is a personal thing and while kevunah is important you aren’t more pious than the next guy if all you are doing is bothering those next to you. Prayer is INTERNAL. But anyway the Yeshke crap I didn’t want to hear. I am not exaggerating when I say that at least 30 women were staring right at them, maybe trying to figure out what they were doing.

I was the first to shush them. I couldn’t help it. I believe that we should be able to hear our own prayers aloud and I was having to literally shout to do so (while I normally whisper). I didn’t want to start a chain effect and disturb the people next to me. 

But I did! I mean it was a gentle “Shh!” and they were yelling.

I am wondering if it was the right thing or not. For Hashem’s Kavod, I would say yes… (and my sem teachers I asked agree)… because this was obviously idolatry. (I’m talking about the convulsions and the screaming Yeshke Yeshke. On the other hand it might be a Chillul Hashem… but I feel like that doesn’t matter when you are a few hundred meters from the Holy of Holies. Opinions?

A Day of Rest in the City that Never Sleeps

May 24, 2009

Sometimes for Shabbos I go to Monsey where everybody is frum except for the Hispanic cleaning ladies. Sometimes I stay other places, where I see a lot of cars on Shabbos. But this was my first Shabbos is Gashmius City, I mean Manhattan.

First I was walking through part of Gashmius City to get to where I’m going for Shabbos dinner. A man walks up to me and my friends and says,

“Hey are you ladies Jewish? I want to marry a Jewish lady, ya’ll so beautiful!”
We just smiled nervously and walk away. I mean what do you say?

We had Shabbos dinner and I must say it was absolutely beautiful with an amazing family. But then we had to walk back.

Walking back we pass a million nightclubs with half-naked people outside, blasting music, and even “adult” stores. Then a man walks up to us and tells us that we should wear shorter skirts because we would better that way. Besides wanting to burst out crying, I was mortified.

It was a beautiful Shabbos all together and I want to emphasize that,

but walking through this reminds me that we are in Gallus. I know that most of the people in the clubs were Jewish. I felt so dirty leaving a beautiful home and entering the streets with all kinds of Idontwanttoknowwhat going on. 

How do those sorts of things exist in the same city? Even the same world?

How can the same beings (people that is) do such  chesed and have such beautiful families and a block away people are shooting up the park? Ew ew ew.

So in conclusion we should all move to Israel. The end.

-Tsivia

Kiddush Hashem

May 19, 2009

Today  I sold a textbook back to the book store for $68.50.  When I went to get my money back, the lady only gave me $68.00. Who cares right? Well frankly I have always been a little cheap and I’m really poor, so .50 can add up. But then I realized this was a non-Jewish lady (I think) and I was wearing my Magen David necklace.

I thought about it for a while…This school has so many Jewish people! It’s maybe 30% Jewish, but the Jews tend to be the most active and loud and everyone knows who they are and that they are Jewish. And most of them are ridiculous. 

Jewish people don’t know how much we are watched. When you pay for something and ask for your penny back, they see it as “a cheap Jew” not a “cheap person”. They don’t do this with really anyone else. 

When a Jew commits a crime, everyone knows what religion they are. With a few exceptions (think Mormon ranches in Texas), you rarely see an add that says

Religious Christian robs an old lady.           

Why not? Because people are WATCHING US.

Jews are held to a higher standard. That’s the way it should be. We are special and everyone knows it. 

Where I am from there are no Jews…people know about the criminals, Madonna, and Israel. If you ever meet someone from a nonJewish area it is especially important to make a kiddush Hashem.

This is also especially important on a college campus, where there are only a few of us in skirts or kippas (not and 🙂 ) . People now “those people say they try to live like jews are supposed to live. lets see what they do.”

If they see us curse, gossip, walk around stoned, be rude…etc. They judge all Jews on this.

This has been coming up a lot in my life lately being at COLLEGE….so I thought I would try to get some feedback on it.

Why are Jews held to such a high standard? Obviously religious Jews think we should be, but the nonJews around the world don’t know this…

-Tsivia

Old Friends

May 19, 2009

Yesterday was the first time I have seen my friends from home in a long time (I became frum at college). It was supposed to just be three girls so I could ease into the super relig thing. Instead it was three girls and three of my guy friends. I knew about one of the guys about 2 hours before so I sent him a text. Granted not the best idea but Im bad at this. Anyway I told him that I dont hug boys anymore and its not that big of a deal but I just didnt want it to be awkward. I had planned on just not hugging any of them as to not make it as obvious but when they showed up the three girls came up first and put out their arms. When the boys tried to say Hi to me and tell me that my house was nice I just shruged, turned around, and said yes. Oh and they all noticed. Whoops. Anyway the rest of the night went ok, exsept for the pact to go to Las Vegas when we are all 21. I said I would be the chaperone. It only became awkward when it was time to go. I said goodbye to everyone and then the boy who I orgininally told about the shomer thing came up next to me to ask if we could side bump instead. I kindof gave a weirded out scared look and then I felt bad. On the lighter side, I am still friends with the six of them so I guess that is good.

Oh my life

Meira

Shidduch

May 18, 2009

So this is to add on to the “mom” post. My mother is in a Judaic needle work club and she went to a convention on Sunday instead of helping me move into my apartment in Boston. So there are a few religious people in the club and she knows I like to ask about them. While at the convention she decided to call me. Of course, I asked about it and she starts telling me how there is a frum (now she knows what that word means) woman there that she is trying to talk to. She adds that we was talking to this woman who is a canter and wants to set up a Shidduch between me and her son. My response was, “Mom, she is a female canter, NOT ORTHODOX. I’m not going to marry him” and her response was “Well he’s cute”. OK so my mother only wants me to date non Othodox jews, oh and not marry them.

Oh my life

Meira

The Signature

May 17, 2009

I am attempting to go to Israel for a year, a couple of months, a day, whatever I can get basically…

I filled out a long application (complete with “autobiographical sketch”) and a million other forms and began the wait. I was told by a lot of BT friends that as a girl you can almost show up in Israel and walk around to the nearest seminary, and if you really need help you can get it. I figured I would be fine–after all, financially I REALLY need help. And my application was pretty good.

The people over in Israel have been very helpful so far but one thing has really surprised me. SIGNATURES. My mom offered to get me a job working with her for the summer. I’d only have to work every OTHER Shabbos. My dad wants me to get an internship in Los Angeles. The last thing my parents want me to do is go to Israel for the summer. Of course they think I have lost my mind, and to an extent I can’t completely blame them. I never asked them if I could go to Israel. I just told them I was going.

This is the problem I faced when the seminary I want to go to asked for my mom or dad’s signature…two seperate times. The first time my mom said sure, whatever. The second time around, she asked how long I was going. “Maybe two months?” This started a huge freak out session.

All I’m trying to say is that, especially for seminaries that are known to have a lot of girls that are BT or converts, it is crazy to ask for parent signatures. I am twenty years old, independent from my parents in all aspects (don’t live at home, get money from parents, or even see them on a monthly basis…) but I still need to get my mom’s signature. 

I have friends that had to run away from home and go to Israel with only their purse and the clothe they were wearing. I realize that if someone is over 21 they do not need a signature. Still we all know that many girls in the frum world are MARRIED by this age. If I was 20, but married, would I still need my mother’s signature? I think a better cutoff age would be 18…when the girls are still living at home for sure, probably don’t have a job, aren’t dating, etc.

What would happen if my mom refused to sign the forms?  Would they not let me go to seminary? Does this make ANY sense? The girls whose moms won’t let them go are the ones who need to go the most.

-Tsivia

Mom

May 13, 2009

So yesterday I got in a fight with my mother. I told her I want to get married and have a life. She proceeded to tell me that I’m too young  blah blah blah. Then she told me I need to date. I told her that dating guys doesnt make sense, it is the same as being friends with them, im not going to like kiss them or anything. Then she told me I should date so that I know if they are going to call me oftenor not. Really mom? I didnt know what to say to her so i just said, “when i have really cute kids you’ll be happy” at which point she not only did not laugh but actually started crying. i dont get it. In conclusion, dont talk to your mother about future (frum) dating plans. Not a good idea.

~Meira

Lag B’Omer

May 12, 2009

Yayyy Lag B’Omer. While the streets of every major city, and every town in Israel, may be full of bonfires and music…

here at college we are studying for finals. No Lag B’Omer celebrations here 😥

I was really excited about Lag B’Omer because I am the type of person that can’t walk to the car without my iPod. I realize this isn’t a good thing. That’s not to mention that a nice BT girl in Monsey told me that iPods aren’t tznius. Nothing seems to be really tznius especially when in college. 

My friends and I threw a dance party with 3 attendees. Because know one else kept the sefira, nobody was as excited about finally hearing real music as we were. They have to study after all. 

Isn’t this exciting? Come on! Now we can listen to Shwekey  and Yeshiva Boys Choir instead of just Six13 and A.k.a.pella! Oh, the excitement!
Ok. Maybe we listen to other music every once in a while. But Ma Ma Ma was definitely one of the first songs we heard.

-Tsivia

Where Two Worlds Meet

May 5, 2009

We drove home from Monsey this week after Shabbos and Malava Malka and it wasn’t until around 1:30 AM that we were near our school. There were three of us in the car, and we were feeling inspire from a great Shabbos and the Jewish acapella we were listening to (sefira!). 

As we got near the school we see the people in the car next to us waving frantically. The car is full of college guys with gelled hair. Our friend in the backseat thought that it was someone we knew, and I thought the guys were telling us about a flat tire or something. We rolled the window down, only to get hit on. 
Guys: Where you ladies going tonight?
Meira: BACK TO SCHOOL!
Tsivia: To sleep!!!

This isn’t a big deal to most college girls, but we are coming from a different place. This is not the world we grew up in, and we have pasts. Being tznius is not an easy thing, and it’s much harder when you feel you are being degraded by random guys on a semi-regular basis.

This is a perfect example of where two worlds that probably shouldn’t meet do, and there isn’t anything we can do about it.

-Tsivia