There are times when the world sends you a message. Everything aligns and it’s very clear to you what you must do. Your question is answered. I got such a message the other day, the end of Yom Kippur.

There’s a lot of back story to this so it maybe yet another tl;dr. I am affiliated with a congregation where I pay dues, celebrate all my life events, all my family and many of my friends are there and it is “my” congregation. But on the High Holidays, for many many years, I davened elsewhere, at a only-for-the-High-Holidays congregation. Long story why, but I did and my son and I loved it there. Not only did we belong, we were integral to the functioning. But as many things do, it ended. No more congregation. My son and I went to “our” congregation for the next HH. But to our dismay we found although we loved being with our friends and family, we did NOT like the liturgy, not at all. What to do? So we went to another HH congregation that used the liturgy we preferred. We had no friends, no family there. Just each other. It was okay. Not great. But we had each other so we continued. This year my son lives in another state and could not come back for the holidays. I went alone. I was lonely. I GO to services in part to “belong”, to feel a part of the community. This year I was lonely and realized it wasn’t working for me. I had a few choices. “My” congregation. The congregation in town where I know lots of people and they use the similar liturgy but…. not so fond of other things. The minyan congregation – a break-away from the in-town one where I probably know a lot of people. I sat at services and missed my old congregation. Really really missed it. Trying to figure out what to do, where I should turn.

So where’s the world-message? I had a friend, Victor, at our HH congregation. Victor taught me a lot about prayer, customs. He too was integral to that congregation. We’d not seen him for years. He’d been in very poor health. I searched his name and found his obituary. Four years ago. Sigh. It’s the first time, however, in all these years that I actually took the action to try to find him. Then, just before the holiday started I stopped at the store for some bread and there was Lucille – another integral member of the HH congregation. That’s two messages coming through the ether.

I went to the morning services and the one person I knew there since my childhood did not come. :( So the one bit of ‘family’ I was anticipating wasn’t there. I sat on my porch in the afternoon and debated returning for the closing services. A woman walked by, turned back, walked up my walk. It was Susan, also a member of the HH team. :) We chatted and laughed and reminisced and agreed we missed the “old team”. She was going to the minyan service. On impulse I asked “can I go with you?” She said of course! And off we walked. When I walked in, there was yet another member of the “old team” – Alice. Susan had told me Alice would be there. The message, however, was WHERE Alice was sitting. She was next to my very good friend Amy!!!!! They were sitting in front of my friend Judy. As I sat down, and looked across the room, there was Pam. *smile* The liturgy was familiar and friends were there. I was HOME. I was so happy and so comforted. For me, it completed the holiday.

The world sent its message. It was very clear. It’s time to move to the minyan and find the community and comfort I used to have. I don’t have to be told twice. Isn’t it satisfying when you find what you sought? Thanks, world!!!


It’s Erev Yom Kippur. This is a holiday I have always loved, despite all the traditional jokes about fasting = suffering. I have always tried to reflect and repent of things I’ve done wrong in the last year. I resolve to do better – and I think of specific behaviors and relationships where there is a lot of room for “better” and what “better” entails. I love the feeling of cleansing my spirit of negativity, hate, anger, cruelty. I try to embrace a positive outlook, a commitment to acting in a way that brings about tikkun olam, not just to the world as a whole, but specifically to the micro world about me. *smile* Because of course, the world DOES revolve about me, right? Oops. Back to reflection and repentance. And a warning to you, dear reader. This post will probably be in the too-long-didn’t-read category. Yom Kippur does that to me. :)

I read a post this year that captured SO MUCH of how I feel about the holiday, and what I’ve tried to do. I don’t think I was ever quite as “obnoxious” as the author (“Eventually I grew into a slightly less earnest, hopefully less obnoxious human, but the rituals of Yom Kippur still held a special place in my heart.“) but I certainly have sent many an email in the last several years asking for forgiveness for any harm or wrong I may have done that person.

This year, however, much like the cited post, I find that I am not quite ready to forgive everybody. Perhaps more accurately, I find that I am not ready to BE forgiven. I have 2 friendships that went on the rocks. In one case, I feel that I am the wronged party. In the other, I have been told that I erred grievously.

I’ll start with my sin. I was visiting friends. At dinner, after having shared a bottle of wine, I told the husband my dumb blonde joke while the wife was away from the table. I’d just done something “dumb”, which reminded me of the joke, and it is a very vaguely off-color joke, and I knew my friend (the wife) wouldn’t like it anyway, so I told it to the husband. I prefaced it by saying “oh let me tell you my dirty joke”. It’s NOT really a dirty joke. The punch-line carries an implication (if you “get it”) that is sexual in nature but it’s NOT dirty. It’s a “dumb blonde” joke. (I’m blonde, by the way. Neither husband nor wife are blonde.) The husband may have laughed, or smiled, I don’t even remember. It was a non-event to me. Jump ahead a week or so. I returned home. I sent the wife (my friend since we were 6 years old) an email telling her how much I enjoyed the visit, thanking her and her husband for such a wonderful wonderful time, telling her more about the stress and craziness in my life (which is why I fled to visit them in the first place). No response. A week later I sent an email wishing the husband a happy birthday. No response. Two days later I received an email from her, addressed to my son, wishing my son a happy birthday. That was it. No other message. I picked up the phone and called. She sounded taken aback to hear my voice. I asked what was wrong, what had happened between us. She told me that she and her husband were offended by the dirty joke I had told (please keep in mind SHE never heard it). That my behavior was inappropriate and out of line. That they did not understand why I would tell such a joke. I must tell you now that NO ONE to whom I have related the joke thinks it’s a “dirty joke”. Everyone ELSE has laughed and said – that’s not a dirty joke. It’s a DUMB BLONDE JOKE. Sigh. I apologized profusely. I explained it was never my intent to offend or insult them. That I’d told him the joke because I’d just done something ‘dumb’ and so was being a ‘dumb blonde’ and told him the joke. She was still cool and cold and repeating that they could not understand why I’d ever tell that kind of joke. We ended the call. Immediately I composed a truly sincere apology email, restating I’d never intended to hurt, offend or otherwise insult them. No reply. About 6 weeks later, next Jewish holiday, I received an email. It said “Apology received. Happy holiday.” Apology “received”. NOT accepted. At that point, still deep in the craziness that was my life at that time, something in me broke. Decades of friendship were tossed aside by her because of one 2 line joke. No allowance for my life was crazy, maybe that was why I told such an “inappropriate” joke. No allowance for a bottle of wine at dinner. No allowance for forgiveness. No, my crime was so heinous that I could not be forgiven.

So it’s Yom Kippur. Tradition says that I must ask 3 times for forgiveness from those whom I have wronged. “The Shulhan Aruch writes that if the victim does not grant forgiveness when the offender first approaches him, the offender should return to him, as many as three times. He then earns atonement even if the victim still refuses to forgive. “ Here’s the problem. I no longer want to be forgiven. I have asked for forgiveness. I’m not even listing all the times I feel she has wronged me in major life events and yet I forgave her and moved on. I am obviously still in disgrace as my birthday came and went and no birthday greeting. I don’t want her forgiveness. But I’m torn here between how I try to live, and how I feel. My coworker (also Jewish) has said that what I need to do is forgive myself.

I think, having written this, that I have reached a decision. I AM sorry that I offended her so deeply that she can’t forgive me. I no longer care if she forgives me. But I think that I will write again today, asking for forgiveness. I will be clean, and perhaps she can begin the process of forgiving me as well.

Because my other Yom Kippur story is about learning to heal once you begin to forgive. (I did warn you this would be a tl;dr.)

I had a friend. I thought we were very very close. We shared many interests. We discussed family, work, relationships. Then he stopped talking to me. No emails, no chats, no nothing. No response when I tried to reach him. (We are not co-located.) I was hurt. Extremely hurt. I did not know what had happened, why he stopped talking to me. Over the course of 18 months, we had email interaction perhaps 4 times, each time when I initiated it because of business with/from mutual friends. His responses were terse, to the point, no indication of any former closeness. I was angry. I was hurt. I was confused. I did a lot of thinking.

I thought about friends to whom perhaps I had done this very behavior myself. I tried to think what I might have done to warrant this reaction. I tried to think of ways to let go of the hurt and blow to my self-esteem so that I could heal and move on. I hurt. And hurt. Finally last Yom Kippur I decided I would send him an email, asking for forgiveness. I spent WEEKS composing that email to make sure it said exactly what it was meant to say, and not an emotion more. It was to clear the slate. If I had indeed done something so egregious, I needed to apologize and be forgiven even if I did not know what I had done. If I had not done anything and it was HIS mishegas, then I would be clear as well. I sent the email. It is a year. I’ve had no response. But I finally began to heal. I can think of him without wincing. Even better – mostly I don’t think about him at all. When I think I might be slipping into worrying and fretting about what I did or didn’t do or WHY???, I am able to take a deep breath and say, I have moved on, that is in the past. I have tried sincerely to make amends. I have forgiven myself for whatever I have done or not done. I have forgiven HIM. I do not know why things happened as they did, but I do not blame him anymore, I have let go of the anger for the hurt. I am healing, because I have forgiven him. “Finally, the Sages also emphasize the importance of granting forgiveness to others. The Rabbis teach that one should not be “cruel” by refusing to grant forgiveness to somebody who offended him. A person who willingly grants forgiveness to others will earn God’s forgiveness for whatever sins he may have committed.”

To me, this is what Yom Kippur brings. It is my chance to repair the rips and tears in my life. It is my time to let go of anger. It is my time to accept people for who and what they are, and free myself from my expectations of how they should behave. It is my time to clear my slate as best I can and to hope for a better year to come.

An easy fast and Chag Sameach! And to everyone, member of the tribe or not, G’mar Hatimah Tovah (May You Be Sealed for a Good Year in the Book of Life).

Note: quotes on halacha:© Copyright 2010 Torah Learning Resources.
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I read an article in the paper yesterday. The header was “A Toxic Work World“. As I skimmed the first few paragraphs, it appeared that the article was going to talk about how the workplace has become extremely stressful for EVERYONE, not just this segment or that group. The first few paragraphs talked about how everyone, no matter where they are on the socioeconomic spectrum, works well over 8 hours a day, often without overtime pay. There is talk that stress is an epidemic. The people best suited for survival in such a “toxic work world” are those who are young, healthy, wealthy and not responsible for caring for any other family members who can’t care for themselves.

I thought “YES! Here is an article that describes me, my friends, my coworkers, and just about everyone I know. Maybe there will also be a suggested solution.” Not so much, unfortunately. The article did state that the working day model in this country is built on an out-dated social structure. As I understood it, we need to change how we structure “going to work”. The article also stated that the upper management and executives to whom these results and suggestions were made had no interest in that report. They wanted to hear something that said keep the status quo but throw some sympathetic-sounding amelioration program into place.

I was annoyed by that article. Very annoyed. At that moment I devised the Ahuva-presidential-campaign-platform. I offer it to any candidate. :)

Let’s start with the premise of “less”. CEO’s, presidents, and other high-flyers can take a pay cut. I’m not talking about the perquisites. Those are what put the “fun” in being “on top”. I mean basic salary. How much? I don’t know – 5%? Because your perks undoubtedly cost way more than 5%. Take that 5% and HIRE MORE PEOPLE. Gee. If we had more people doing the work that needed to be done, wouldn’t that actually solve a lot of other problems too? Think about it. Stop hoarding the money at the top in salaries and in dividends to investors, and hire more people. The great 99% more people. Yes – I’m personally willing to make less in my investments if it meant more people got to work, got to have income, got to have health coverage, got to have self-esteem, got to work fewer hours so they could be with family.

Let’s earn less income individually. (Been there, done that, know I can do it again.) HIRE MORE PEOPLE. Having more people in the workforce will do a LOT to reduce toxicity. People could go home at the end of the “official” work day. People wouldn’t have to come in an hour early to get work done. Sure, the downside will be a lot more people all trying to cross that wretched 8 lane double-decker bridge at rush hour, but maybe – another “radical” thought – maybe we could also stagger work hours.

I have nothing against CEOs. I have nothing against money. Truth be told, I’m very appreciative of money. *smile* But I am getting very tired of a work environment where people routinely work an hour past the end-of-day, where everyone is harried and exhausted because their workload is so extreme. I’m tired of a work environment where dollars are “being saved” at the expense of human health and happiness. I know – “if you don’t like it quit and get another job”. Hellooooooo. It’s not about not liking one’s work. It’s about wanting more to life than just work. It’s about being able to savor and enjoy the work being done because it’s not always rush-crisis-hysteria-rush.

There is probably some “ism” that states my proposal more clearly. Maybe there ISN’T such an ‘ism’. It seems so simple to me. Earn less. Heal the world. Heal YOUR workforce. Earn MORE.

/me smiles and steps off the soap box

Update: I don’t know how long this link will last, but someone posted to Facebook about the CEO of a company pulling in a $21 Million salary, while outsourcing 600 jobs to Mexico. Surely she could take $1 M of that and hire a a dozen employees????


I have soooooooo many books that I want to read that I am now HAPPY and relieved when I don’t see anything in the weekly book review that strikes my fancy. I don’t have enough “free” time. *grin* I spent the most wonderful wonderful day last week. I did NOTHING but read a long awaited book by one of my favorite authors/series. I SAVORED that book. Oh yes I did. I sat in the still quiet of the great outdoors and read. And closed the book and looked about me at the greenery and flowers and smiled and thought about what I’d read. Then I opened the book and began reading again. It was paradisiacal.


Just returned from Las Vegas, Nevada. *laughing* IS there any other Las Vegas???? Saturday night was spent at the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street was the original “strip” in Vegas before the current strip – with all the amazing theme resort casinos. Fremont Street has Glitter Gulch. The Golden Nugget. Tony Roma’s. Now a 5 block stretch of Fremont is covered over with a huge arch which hosts an incredible light display every hour. There are music stages in the street, vendors, drinks, casinos, lights, food, and people EVERYWHERE in the street. People dancing in the street. Drinking in the street. Taking a million pictures in the street, because there are dozens and dozens of denizens dressed in costume. The tourists are dressed in a complete spectrum from bathing suits to full coverage and the costumed regulars – well – let your imagination run wild. I loved it. It was when the 2 furries passed me that I realized why I was so happy and why I felt so comfortable. Fremont Street is the closest I’ve ever been to experiencing SL in RL. There are mostly naked people, furry people, oddly shaped people, people in every kind of outfit you can imagine, people in thongs and pasties and high high heels, people with ‘wings’, superheroes. I loved it. I walked about with a huge smile on my face, wishing that I’d had on some of my Ahuva shoes. Most of Ahuva’s outfits are way too tame for Freemont street, but I do have a few that would have had tourists paying me to take my pic with them. *grin* Oh yes – shoes….. *bigger grin* shipped home TWO pair of cowboy boots. Ahuva does Vegas.


I take a lot of pride in my work. I know when I’ve done something that is really top quality and well done. If someone compliments me effusively on work that I think is “meh”, the compliment leaves me indifferent for the most part. I don’t NEED someone to tell me when I’ve done superior work – I know it and it makes me feel satisfied and proud. But…. When I HAVE done something that I know took a lot of work, a lot of thought, a lot of crafting, then when the person for whom it was done takes the time to recognize that, praise it, and thank me – that takes the good feeling to an even higher level. You need to work for yourself and recognize your own worth, but it’s very very nice to be appreciated by people whom you respect. :)


So May 12th is Limerick day….

There once was a lass named Ahuva
Whose taste in footwear will school ya’
Her heels are soooo tall
But she doesn’t fall
It’s true, you know I don’t fool ya!

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