In 2001, I became a blogger. It was a core aspect of my identity until life got in the way. I wasn’t particularly successful. Like most folks, I didn’t think branding or audience size were the reasons to write. I wrote because I have to. My soul thinks in paragraphs, speaks in poetry, moves with music. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how soul nourishing it is to blog. And now I’m back.
While I am the first to acknowledge my brokenness, I do not intend to write solely about the Dark. I named my blog what I did because I have a deep belief in Lurianic Kabbalah. The material world exists because the Divine made space for the other. The vessels holding in the Light shattered. Each of us is uniquely broken and our life’s work is to acknowledge the brokenness within and work to repair it. By repairing ourselves, we repair the world.
I am a forty year-old full-time student. Sometimes, the weight of my age, the weight of my curved turns in life, the non-existent through-line of my life, my over-dependence on hyphenating nouns, all of it weighs me down. It is far too easy to look in the rear view mirror. So yes, I’m in my third year of school, studying to become a rabbi. I’ve hesitated to start writing because I want a complete message to share with the world. As an incredible movie reminded me, the journey is more interesting than the destination.
My soul’s first language is Judaism. A dozen years ago, I found the human words to articulate why this ancient wisdom clings to me. My Uncle Paul introduced me to Rabbi Mordecai Finley and Ohr HaTorah. Rabbi Finley taught me the deep mystical and ethical undercurrent of Jewish life. He co-founded a seminary designed especially for mid-career transitions. And now, I am a student at Academy for Jewish Religion, California. I have the incredible opportunity to swim in the seas of depth.
To be clear: Judaism is the site of my deepest love and my deepest hurt. I was rejected because of my family’s precarious financial situation as a teenager. I was cast out in college for expressing Palestinian solidarity. My rabbi committed suicide. I spent a decade in the wilderness. And then, I got thyroid cancer. A year after my treatment ended, I decided to ignore the voice in my head telling me I’d never be accepted at a Zionist synagogue and joined my uncle for Shabbat services. Over the last dozen years, I’ve reclaimed my Jewish identity, developed a personal connection to the need for the Jewish state, a love for the existence of Israel, and a deep pain at the divisions in the American Jewish community.
Mussar and Kabbalah, ethics and mysticism, are my roadmap. Judaism allows me to grow into a better version of myself each day. I’ll never be a saint. I might never fully conquer my anger, resentment, and loneliness. HaShem willing, my days will honor the souls around me and the soul within me. I strive to be a vessel of holiness and I invite you to join me on the journey.