Heart-Shaped Star

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My birthday is coming up on Tet-Vav Tishrei which falls on September 27 this year. And yes, it is Tet-Vav and not Yud-Daled as some people keep telling me. I was born at night, after the stars came out, so that makes it the next day, that is Tet-Vav. So there!

As usual, the full moon is the most important thing for me on my Jewish birthday. Since the time I started observing the cycles of the moon in relation to my cycles and my body, it became imperative for me to see the full moon of Tishrei every year. One year, there was a sandstorm on that day which completely blotted out the moon, and I was utterly depressed and riding an enormous tidal wave of rage. I wrote an angry entry in my diary and nearly tore through the page with my pen.

Last week, we once again had a crazy sandstorm that was so bad it made it hard to breathe. Pregnant women, children and the elderly were advised to stay indoors, with the windows closed, and the AC working overtime. Since no rain would fall for another couple of months, I feared that the sand would persist all through the month and I will once again be faced with a faded smudge of white on a diarrhea-tinted night-sky on my birthday, and my levels of pissed-off-ness would go right off the charts.

But now that the dust had indeed settled, here’s another thing that might ruin the moon visibility on my birthday: the full lunar eclipse which is set to take place in the early morning hours of the 28th. That’s cutting it really fucking close, and I hope to the Goddess and the moon angel that I will be able to see the full pearly moon before it turns to red (as they say it does during a lunar eclipse).

Also, I wonder what it means, if it means anything, in terms of astrology. I never really put my faith (or fate for that matter) in horoscopes. But I do believe that the moon and the stars and the planets in our galaxy affect events on our planet in some way. I think horoscopes are a poor indication of this phenomenon, but it does happen somehow. So I wonder what the lunar eclipse will bring forth.

I also recently found out that there is in fact a connection between the Zodiac system and Judaism. I don’t know why I never realized this before. I mean, if anything, it is so obvious that Libra would fall on the Jewish new year. This is a time of judgement and of justice. The Goddess measures our good and evil deeds on a scale, just like the Libra, and we atone for our sins on the Day of Atonement in order to tip the scales in our favor. I’m not sure what the other Zodiac signs mean in relation to the other Jewish months, but this Libra timing is too perfect to be a coincidence.

The moon has been dark earlier this week. I think it will start peeking sometime tonight as a thin crescent that I like to call a fingernail clipping. Hello moon! Welcome back!

Peace, love and still a proud Libra!

Pride in Jerusalem

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I think that everyone around the world already heard about what happened in Jerusalem yesterday.

I was there. I’m still trying to process what happened. The same thing happened in 2005, by the same guy who did the stabbings yesterday. It seems as though no lessons were learned in 10 years.

The march started out at Independence Park. Everyone started marching with a drum circle, music, laughter, dancing, waving flags while shouting and chanting slogans for tolerance, love, diversity and equal rights.

Suddenly, police cars and ambulances rushed through the crowd. Cops on scooters and on horses, or in police units, vans and cars, and on foot urged people to the side and proceeded to the scene of the incident. As word passed down, within minutes everyone knew that a man with a knife stabbed some of the marchers. The music died down almost immediately, the chanting, the dancing and the laughter too. The rest of the march took place in absolute silence. The thousands of marchers were all in shock. Some scattered marchers tried chanting “A gay person marches and is not afraid,” but these were all drained out by the screams of the sirens.

People talk and they say that now that the community knows that being proud and “flaunting it” is dangerous, we would know better than to take it to the streets and instead stay at home, in the closet, in the dark, and let all these hate mongers drag  the rest of this country into the dark as well. This was not a parade. Jerusalem has no floats with half-naked men dancing around. This Pride march in Jerusalem is there for the very struggle of the LGBT community. The only thing being “flaunted” is diversity, beauty, light, courage, pride and love. Lots of love.

I, along with the rest of the LGBT community in Israel, say fuck that. These incidents are exactly the reason why Pride must keep going, year after year. This was the recurring message in the speeches given yesterday. We must fight darkness with light, and we must fight hate with love. A former Knesset member, Nitzan Horovitz, came out a few years ago, and has been a supporter of the LGBT community’s fight for equal rights ever since. He was one of the speakers yesterday. His words were so powerful and resonated so much with what I was feeling, that I couldn’t stop crying during his entire speech.

This is not democracy and it is not Judaism. The Goddess does not create people to kill and be killed. The Goddess loves us all, and She is the only one who has the right to judge us. I don’t care about the abomination statement in the Torah and how homosexuals should be killed. I care that we are human beings, and all we want to do is love. And I also know that if the Goddess was a person, She would march right alongside us.

And yes, I am straight and yes I do say “we” because this is a struggle that we must all take part in. We must recognize our privilege in this society as heterosexuals and join the Pride march as a march for tolerance for all people, all races, all genders and all sexualities. Nitzan Horovitz also said that we must fight this aberration because this affects us all, Israeli Jews and Arabs, black and white, religious and secular, gay and straight. The stabber did not discriminate either. He stabbed anybody he could reach, regardless of whether or not they were gay. I saw one of the injured people in the hospital today. He’s straight, he went to the march with his girlfriend to support this struggle. This is a “we”. We’re all in this together.

The LGBT community in Jerusalem is made up of Israeli Jews just like the rest of us, and they are deserving of equal rights, human rights, love, health services, tolerance, respect and justice. This is not just a struggle for survival. It’s a struggle for the preservation of democracy and against the people who supposedly do these acts of violence in the name of religion.

One of the marchers said in an interview to the press that this is something that happens on Tu Be’Av, a holiday of love, a few days after Tisha Be’Av, a day of mourning the destruction of the Temple, where Orthodox Jews fast as a sign of mourning. She said “This fast is worthless.” Because if the Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam, hatred between Jews, this is what is still going on today. This act of violence carried out by an Orthodox Jew, who may have very well fasted on Tisha Be’Av, completely obliterated any hope of reconciliation between Jews. This fast was not worth shit.

It was wonderful to see the new group of religious homosexuals marching along with us, and even arguing with the other religious Jews standing on the sidelines. While the sideliners were screaming and spitting at them, the religious homosexuals stood their ground and bravely fought back.

Diversity is what characterizes Jerusalem. The rainbow flags that painted the streets of Jerusalem yesterday proudly represent this diversity. So why did these colors all fade to blood-red? We all saw the blood on the pavement. This is Jewish blood. These are innocent people. The only abomination in this march is the terrorist who infiltrated it. You cannot be a hater and call yourself Jewish. This is not Judaism. I refuse to accept this monster as a member of the Jewish community. Whatever happened to “love thy neighbor”? Why can’t these assholes live by that?

When I came back from the march, my husband said he was practicing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” on guitar. And this was totally fitting because despite the rampant homophobia in this society, the LGBT community will keep on fighting to the end.

Peace, love and Ahava Ge’avah

PS – I am currently selling some Alternative Jerusalem postcards on my Etsy shop. The ones that were made about Jerusalem Pride are sold as a fundraising effort. All proceeds will be donated to the Jerusalem Open House, the LGBT organization in Jerusalem. Please support this initiative and buy the postcard.

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Kosher Lite

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I haven’t started my Passover cleaning yet. Does that make me a bad person?

Does it also make me a bad person that I choose to stick with the regular chametz dogfood I have and not force Diamond to make do with kosher for Passover dogfood that she may not even like?

Back in Canada, during Passover, we kept Buxy’s food outside our garage door. It was still in our private property so technically it was still in our house and it was still chametz. But that was because it was in the Exile, and if we went to the pet store and asked for kosher for Passover dogfood, the clerk would look at us with a puzzled look that said “Kosher dogfood? These Jews have gone nuts.”

And you can never get your house COMPLETELY chametz-free, can you? Especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t clean the crevices between the floor tiles with a toothbrush, or buy kosher for Passover toothpaste that tastes like sandpaper, or eat matza shmura that tastes like newspaper. Give me some good old rice-cakes and be done with it.

Back when he was still my boyfriend, my husband asked me if I would still kiss him on Passover if he were to drink beer (made of wheat and most definitely chametz).

“Uh, DUH!” I replied with a hearty laugh. I may keep the basic kosher for Passover rules, but not kissing my lover because he had a pint is stupid.

I also don’t use kosher dishwashing soap, or kosher laundry detergent, or kosher body lotion. I say, if it’s not meant to be eaten, it doesn’t have to be kosher. For Passover or otherwise. Next we’ll start wearing clothes made with kosher for Passover fabric.

But there are people that go above and beyond. Like those who don’t put their matza anywhere near salads or sauces for fear that they may get wet and thicken (like bread).

In my family, however, we encourage getting matza a little wet because that shit is too dry and tasteless. So we spread everything on it, from cooked tomato salad to chocolate spread, and sometimes we also break it into a bowl of milk with some sugar and get kosher for Passover cereal!

And being Sephardi, I totally dig kitniyot (legumes, I think?). Again, rice-cakes is where it’s at.

Apparently, ganja is also considered kitniyot. So yay for being Sephardi!

Peace, love and kosher rat poison.

A Feminist of Valor

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and for the occasion, I wrote a status on Facebook wishing the female variety a happy day. Seriously, I did nothing that involves feminism and female empowerment except for that.

Since yesterday was Sunday, we had metal night at Blaze. I thought maybe I should put on a powerful song by a female metal band as a tribute to IWD, but nothing came to mind. And they already played Arch Enemy with Angela on the lead, so yeah. Nothing more than that.

It got to a point where I started fantasizing about one of the dudes there making some sexist comment, just so I can say something bitching like “Number one, I’m a feminist. Number two, today is International Women’s Day. Number three, I may be small but I’m much stronger than I look, and you should watch your mouth or you won’t have any more fucking teeth left in it!”

But the guys at metal night are nice dudes. And they know I’m a feminist. And they know not to make any sexist comments when I’m around because I could leave them as bloody as I get when I’m on my period.

Come to think of it, I haven’t done too many feminist things lately. There was a Vagina Monologues presentation by the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center on V-Day, but I didn’t go because I was out of town. So instead, I called up the JRCC and donated the equivalent amount of a VM ticket price, 80 NIS, so that even if I didn’t go to the show, I could still contribute to the fundraising efforts.

That was it.

Right now, I’m reading a book about Witches. I don’t mean a horror story. I mean a book on the actual pagan faith. It’s got a lot of feminist elements in it, and I find it utterly inspiring. So if that also counts as a feminist thing, then I’m also doing that.

RosiePlus, I’m also going to my very first mikve (ritual bath) today as a prerequisite by the Rabbinical Council for having a proper Jewish wedding. I promised my penpal friend, who is writing a comp zine on periods, that I will contribute a piece on the mikve once I experience it. I will write it in conjunction with my feminist beliefs and how this holy monthly ritual can be seen as a tremendous source of female empowerment. So I guess that’s another feminist thing.

While I’m on the topic of religion, my husband-to-be and I received a wonderful gift by one of the people who will not make it to the wedding. It was a Sabbath set including candle holders, a kiddish glass, a couple of prayer books (including one called Eshet Chayil – A Woman of Valor – with chants and hymns for the woman of the house. Yes, still totally feminist!), and my favorite – a cutting board for motzi bread! This last one is a super fancy board with a bread knife on the side and a tiny built-in bowl for salt. I’m so excited about it, I can’t wait to invite some friends over for a Sabbath dinner, and get a chance to use all that awesome stuff.

And since my man always relegates the kiddish and motzi to me, this soon-to-be-married feminist will be the one to do all the chants and all the prayers for the Sabbath dinner, and this time with a headscarf.

May be kinda reform, but you don’t get any more feminist than that!

Peace, love and Wednesday, March 11, 2015, Kaf Be’Adar, Tashaah.

Saved by the Divinity

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The war in Israel is still going on and the anti-Israel world is still going shithouse. As if this wasn’t predictable.

But I recently realized something amazing. If I had been accepted to that German internship that I applied for last year, I would be in Germany now, along with other Israelis who may very well be extreme leftists and a group of Palestinians who may also be anti-Israel, and I would be in the midst of an extremely charged political climate which causes Europeans to gravitate to the anti side rather than the pro. And I would be utterly miserable. I mean,  in devastatingly sheer and complete misery. And I would be in it for a full six months. That’s besides the fact that I would worry myself into psychological oblivion thinking about my family in Be’er Sheva under constant fire and missing my boyfriend and my dog.

However! As if I needed any further proof of the Mother Goddess’s existence, She saved me from this misery and borderline insanity by making the organizers decline my application for the program. And now I am in Israel, which is truly the only place in the world where I can feel safe as a Zionist Jew and support my troops with pride.

As I am still going to Germany from July 29 to August 7, I will most likely be forced to hide my identity. I am even inclined to speak to my boyfriend in English during our stay in Europe, which is rather upsetting to say the least. But at least it will be for only 10 days and not six months. And then, I will return to Israel in one piece and resume my unyielding support for my country and its armed forces.

May the Goddess see Her Chosen People through it all.

Peace, love and amen.

The Dragon

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“There is no mantra for the Dragon because the Dragon is about self transformation, and self transformation requires emptiness, and emptiness requires quiet meditation.”

This is the way to do it. I don’t know how to explain it but there it is. Most beliefs come about this way or that way, I guess. It just comes to you and suddenly it makes sense. And this is what I felt this past Friday.

It was the day before International Woman’s Day and I wasn’t planning anything feminist in particular. I just wanted to go about the order of my day whatever it may be and wherever it will lead me.

I usually try not to do anything too transgressive when the Sabbath comes in, so my Friday routine follows the order that will most likely keep the most difficult work and mundane use of electronic devices and home appliances way before sunset.

But before all that, I take about an hour to an hour and a half to do my integral Tai Chi exercises – an important part of my Friday morning routine. I recently stopped using the YouTube videos as guides since I know the poses and the movements by heart, as well as most of the mantras. Instead, I put on my Ambient CD, concentrate on my movements, count my reps, focus on my breathing, on my focal point whenever balance is needed, on the horizon far beyond the walls of my living room, far beyond the Wadi in my backyard, but most of all I focus on the Truth or the Dharma that transcends the material world and the empirical senses. The One that dwells in all dimensions of this universe and beyond, within the spiritual realm and all the light and the darkness, the consciousnesses or the voids that can and cannot be expressed by human language or understood by the human mind. The mantras help me a lot in my efforts to connect to this supreme essence.

The Ambient tracks increase this connection exponentially through their experimental sound effects, each one going deeper and getting stranger than the next. Some contain repetitive sound patterns that change only slightly every time they come back. If these sounds were visual, they would look like the waves on the shore of the Kinneret that come in and out in a repetitive dance that changes only slightly every time the moon rises and the tide turns.

The routine closes with a few minutes of meditation. For this purpose, I skip forward to Sheila Chandra’s “Sacred Stones“, where she sings a Sanskrit prayer to Vishnu, followed by the Latin phrase “Dominus illuminatio mea” meaning “the Lord is my Light” and then Amen and Hallelujah. I close my eyes to shut off the mundane world, sink deeper into myself and into my spiritual world. I easily shift the Sanskrit lyrics to adapt it to my Jewish belief. When she sings Vishnu Vishnu over and over again, I hear Elohima Elohima (Mother Goddess Mother Goddess). She who is eternal and everlasting. She who will exist even after the waves on the shore of the Kinneret dry up and the tide no longer turns, and when the moon no longer rises or falls but moves out of orbit and disappears into some black hole. When the constellations move into some unimaginable celestial realm and all human existence will suddenly seem so small, so minuscule.

To close off the routine, I join my palms together, close to the heart chakra, bow my head and say “Namaste” – “My divine spark recognizes the divine spark within all my loved ones and all those within my karmic web”.

Later on that Friday, as the sun was nearing the horizon, I lit the Sabbath candles feeling even closer to the Goddess than I have felt in months. I honor the Divinity and Her Presence, I welcome the Sabbath Queen. International Women’s Day feels much more special when I pay homage to the Trinity which I refer to in female terms – Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Mother Goddess. I keep thinking I want to do my Tai Chi routine outside, in nature, under the celestial drape of the sky, preferably next to a running stream, with a couple of candles sitting next to me in a shallow groove in the earth so that the wind doesn’t blow them out. Being surrounded by the four elements – holy water, mother earth, the column of fire, and the Shechina so tangible and so effervescent in the Jerusalemite mountain breeze – for an hour and a half every Friday will be even more powerful than anything I can experience within the confines of my living room.

But my spirituality is different from that of the religious women who take advantage of their long bus rides to do their morning prayers or read King David’s Book of Psalms. I don’t like to expose it in such an obvious way. I would also feel self-conscious if I feel strange eyes studying me and my movements in the middle of a park, wondering if I’ve gone mad. It will no doubt distract me, and the spiritual aspect of my routine will be lost.

So this is what makes sense to me. Doing these exercises and reciting these mantras should be done on a Friday morning, with the sun coming through the windows, Ambient music in the background and maybe burn some scented oil or light a couple of candles anyway. And it should be done shortly before lighting the candles. The circle is complete.

Peace, love and a grateful heart is a happy heart and a happy heart is a healthy heart.

A Greater Gratitude

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Some time ago, I had a back and forth comment discussion with my cousin on Facebook.

He posted a status about how people should stop “blessing God” when they’re asked how they are doing. He said they should “bless the bus that took you to work, the truck that didn’t run you over, the army protecting you and your safety…”

I commented on that status saying “The way I see it, blessing the Divinity includes all these things and more, at once. It’s just a simpler, shorter way of an all-inclusive, all-encompassing gratitude, all the while acknowledging the little things as well as the greater ones, the known and the unknown, the beauty and the less, the light and the dark, body, mind and spirit.”

He answered saying that you can’t thank something that cannot be proven and which does not exist.

It got me thinking about how the word “God” fell victim to a material world and to a specie that looks to the empirical senses to explain everything in it.

I explained that there are things in this world that are explained differently by different elements because every aspect of it is a small portion of the truth. And what is truth if not a subjective perception of reality? It’s like the stories of the five blind men and the elephant. Every part of the elephant that each one of the men felt is only a portion of the full thing.

So we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste certain things that other beings can or can’t. And there are other beings that can see, smell, hear, touch and taste certain things beyond what we can.

Belief in the Divine is often viewed by non-believers as stupid or as something that is imaginary. They say that believers are trying to convince non-believers that a red shirt is actually green. But belief is also a subjective perception of reality. Sometimes, belief is all the proof you need. Even if it’s something that does not make sense to others.

Besides, I think that every person in this world believes in something. Even non-believers who say that religious folks made up this “God” because they’re too scared to face this world on their own. They’re too scared of life and too scared of death. But the way I see it, every person believes in one thing or another, whether it’s Divine or not.

Some people believe in money, some believe in fame, some believe in the media, some believe in medicine, drugs, love, sex, hard sciences, anything. I bet my cousin believes in music. Music is his god because for him, it transcends the empirical senses. He doesn’t only listen to music and he doesn’t only play it. He feels it, he lives it and breathes it. If he only played it and listened to it for the sole empirical purpose, it would be devoid of any meaning and any deep significance it has for him.

I also believe in music, and I also believe in art. My friend Casey once said that making art is a prayer to the Goddess. And I couldn’t think of a better way to say it. It rings so true for me. When I listen to music, when I write, when I draw, when I craft and cut and paste, I feel like I’m in another world, the next world, the spirit world, a world that only I can feel because I believe in it. And though art and music are essentially material things, created by artistic material or musical instruments, believing in them and using them to connect to this other world is what gives them their divinity. It is what makes water into holy water. It is what makes an imaginary thing into the truth. What makes a fantasy into a reality. Simple belief. What we all have.

I also told my cousin that since I view this material world as limiting, I don’t like to limit myself to a single reality. I believe there is something beyond that. I feel it. I don’t need to prove it to myself or anyone because I feel it. In fact, if I could prove it empirically, it would reduce its power and would take away from its divine potential. It’s the exact opposite of making the material into divine. It’s trying to make the divine into the material and thus reducing from its transcendence and its ethereal value.

Do I need to prove to my cousin that drawing this drawing or painting this painting made me feel like I’m in another world? No, because I bet he feels the same when he creates his music. So why do I need to prove to him that the Goddess exists? Just because he doesn’t believe in Her, doesn’t mean She’s not real to me. Because She is. I feel Her. I believe in Her. I worship Her with every work of art I make and with every chord I strum.

I bless Her because She blessed me with the power of creation. And that’s greater than anything I need to be grateful for.

Peace, love and the Presence