Tag Archives: community

Letting Go

When you first hold your baby there’s a multitude of feelings that flow through you – exhaustion, love, awe, a tremendous sense of responsibility, even fear.

What no one can prepare you for is when you have to start letting go, loosening the apron strings, so your kids can grow up and become adults, responsible for their own lives. It seems to happen in an instant, overnight.

It’s not as if they turn 18 and suddenly BAM! that’s it, bye bye parents. It’s a gradual letting go.

But it’s hard. You need to give the kids space to learn, opportunities to grow from, the ability to make mistakes that they can learn from. Ima cannot come rushing in to save the day every single time. You learn to bite your tongue, to accept decisions that you might not fully agree with. But how can we trust our children if we don’t give them the opportunity to be trusted?

This balancing act seems to become harder the older the children get. I am not a dictatorial mother, but I am a mom who likes things done a certain way and expects her children to behave appropriately. However, I have to have faith in the job I have done in raising the kids. They are not an extension of me, they are themselves, people in their own right. Children deserve a chance to figure out WHO they are. As parents we need to be there to support them, to love them unconditionally, to be a voice of reason when necessary. As the kids get older, they need you in different ways.

It’s so rewarding watching them grow up and mature, yet bittersweet in a way – they will soon leave home, headed to live their own lives. It’s what we want for them but it’s so hard to let go.

So Proud of Her!

Last week The Jewish Week announced its list of “36 under 36” – the top young innovators who are changing the landscape of Jewish Life. Below please find the article that was written about one of these innovators, Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse. I connected with her thru Twitter and Facebook many moons ago, and finally had the honour of meeting her and her husband in person at #Tuvivah’s wedding last month (probably the most tweeted Jewish wedding ever). The energy that this young lady gives off is truly something to behold, and I know that Susanne is going to go very far in life.

Susanne tweets under @JewishTweets and under her own personal handle of @susqhb. I love learning more about Judaism this way – every day there is a little shiur (lesson) in 140 characters.

Susanne – congratulations, mazal tov, may you go from strength to strength!!! Looking forward to reading more about you and the amazing things you have done and will do for our Jewish community.

Here’s the article:

Social media rock star

Julie Wiener

Associate Editor

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse

Several numbers structure Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse’s life. There’s 613, the number of mitzvot that Orthodox Jews like herself observe. And then there’s 140, the character limit on Twitter, where Rosenhouse spends much of her workday.

As founding social media coordinator for the Manhattan-based National Jewish Outreach Project, Rosenhouse, whose handle is JewishTweets, tweets about 12 times per day on myriad Jewish topics. For many of her 8,000-plus followers, Jewish Tweets provides a “sense of community” and is their main link to the Jewish world, she says.

Rosenhouse’s tweets range from trivia and news to questions intended to spark discussions about Judaism (“What was your seder like growing up?”), links to articles and blogs from all over the Web and suggestions of daily Jewish “actions” to take.

Some recent tweets: “It was today, Rosh Chodesh Sivan in Hebrew Year 2448, that the Jews arrived at Mt. Sinai & prepared to receive the Torah!” (May 14, 9:22 a.m.); “Action: If you have a friend or family member in need, find a discreet way to help, such as giving food you ‘over-bought.’” (May 13, 5:32 p.m.)

She answers questions about Judaism (many of which she refers to rabbis), helps connect Shabbat hosts and guests, and reads the posts of the almost 5,000 people she follows. “I don’t want to be followed and not follow back,” she says. “You can’t engage people on Twitter if you just spout, spout, spout.”

She also serves as a program officer at NJOP and was one of the volunteers who helped launch ParnasaFest, a Jewish job-networking event.

Rosenhouse grew up in a Reform but “Chabad-friendly” home in Orange County, Calif. She chose to go to Yeshiva University’s Stern College, where she was one of only a handful of public school grads, because she “loved the idea of a dual curriculum.”

Recently married (she met her husband, also a baal teshuvah and YU alum, through the online site SawYouAtSinai), Rosenhouse lives in Washington Heights and, believe it or not, also has a personal Twitter handle: Susqhb. “It tends to be very Jewy, but I also tweet about things like movies.”

Bet you didn’t know that… Until six months ago, when she got a Droid (“I have Verizon, so the iPhone isn’t in my clutches”), Rosenhouse did not own a smartphone, doing all her Tweeting from computers.

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May your strength be straight.

Sometimes being the grown up sucks. A lot. Don’t you ever want to just throw a tantrum like a toddler, and have a warm pair of arms to just hold you tight until the ugly mood has gone away? Don’t you ever get tired of “wearing the big girl panties” and want someone else to make all your problems go away?

We are going through some stuff right now, for sure. Thankfully it’s not health related nor is it relationship related. Me and the KoD, we are rock solid. He continues to be the best thing that has ever happened to us – and I fall in love with him deeper and deeper every day. No matter what is going outside of the two of us, BH we don’t allow it to affect our USness. It’s such a bracha.

Interestingly enough, when he is physically here with me, or if I am there with him, it’s as if NOTHING can hurt me too deeply. I am strong as his strength is infused in me. Almost by osmosis. But put 333 miles between us, and I am easily put adrift once again. Sure we call and email and text throughout the day. It’s never enough though. But my friends, my dear sweet friends pick up that slack. They call and email. They come around with hugs and chocolate and wine. My boys with their effervescence and simple faith are a balm on my soul. They all remind me that I am a strong woman in my own right. I have got through rough times before, and lived to tell the tale. (and how!!)

We are loved not just by our blood family. We are loved by our communities. I cannot tell you how blessed we are to have such warmth surrounding us. Our community here in Montreal and the KoD’s in New York have been so supportive and loving to both of us, to all of us. I guess when your own family is far away you need a circle of people around you to fill that void. The only time I feel alone is when I allow myself that deep wallow in self pity and that is so unnecessary.

Thank you to all of you for reminding me I am strong. Thank you for supporting us through thick and thin. Thank you all for being there for us. May we all celebrate many simchas together.

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Rabbis are guides not dictators!!

I respect my rabbi. I respect the KoD’s rabbi. Until we move, we have two separate rabbis. My rabbi has been my spiritual leader for most of the past 13 years. If I have questions he is the competent local orthodox rabbi that I consult. I don’t believe in rabbi shopping. I ask all my questions to one rabbi. I don’t seek out the rabbi that will be the laxest.  I don’t believe in that. However, when it is KoD that will be doing the asking, he will ask his own rabbi. When we move, the KoD’s rav will be mine.

What I really don’t believe in is running to the rabbi or spiritual leader to ask about every single thing in your life. I live a religious life. I keep as many mitzvoth as I can. I know what it means to live as an Orthodox Jew. Occasionally questions come up – and when I am not sure about halacha I will consult the rabbi. I will not ask him whether the time is right for me to buy a new house, or if my son should be allowed to check his email, or if I should blog about how my husband loves my hair. I will not ask him when I am sick if I should take the medication or pray instead to get better. I won’t ask him if I can go to the movies Saturday night or if it’s ok for me to talk to my friend’s husband on the phone.

Why not? Firstly – because I don’t need rabbinical approval for every single thing I do in this life. I have my own moral compass. I have a brain. I can think things through, discuss with others, and am ok with the majority of my decisions. Not everything we do in life has to have the seal of rabbinical authority. Secondly, do I really think the rabbi wants to be bothered with the minutiae of all of his congregants’ lives? Does he care what brand of Kleenex you use, or whether your laundry detergent sat in a shopping cart where ham sat before? So much of what I hear people have asked their rabbi is narishkeit – nothingness, silliness.

A rabbi is there to teach us, to help us learn and grow. He is not there to control our lives. He is there to celebrate and commemorate with us – hatches, matches and dispatches (births, marriages and deaths); to visit the sick; to pay shiva visits; to help lift us up when we need it; to provide advice and counsel when warranted; to inspire us to be better servants of God. As far as I know, when a man is studying for his smicha, there isn’t a class on “how to control your congregants 101”. Being a rabbi is about encouraging the community to be better people, to be better Jews and to help them get there.

We can think for ourselves. I don’t need a rabbi thinking for me. And I highly doubt he wants to be the one to decide on everything in a congregant’s life.

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CommUnity

I have written before about the positive impact I feel my community has had on my life. I continue to be amazed and inspired by these wonderful people around me.

 

This Shabbat I was alone, my kids were spending time with their other parent. I went to shul, and when shul was over I started walking home, uphill, in the rain, planning to eat a quick solitary meal and go take a long Shabbat afternoon nap, possibly helped by a shot or two of Glenfiddich. I bumped into a friend who was on her way to friends for lunch. She asked me where I was headed and why were the boys not with me. She insisted she bring me along to the friends house for lunch. I felt a little weird, not wanting to impose without an invitation, but I knew these people and I knew it would not be a problem.

 

So we trudged back down the hill in the pouring rain and showed up famished and starving – for more than food, for warmth and friendship too. They were so pleased that I came, thrilled that their guest felt comfortable enough to bring another guest. This family really embodies Hachnassat Orchim – welcoming of the guests. There were a lot of us around the table, and the conversation was lively and stimulating. The food was excellent too. I was made to feel so welcome, that I forgot I imposed myself.

 

It was so much better to join in this meal that to sit at home alone, even though I don’t mind my own company. I even got to sample some other single malts that I don’t stock at home. I still like Glenfiddich the best. When I left their house I had a warm glow about me – and it wasn’t the whiskey. I truly feel blessed that I know such kind hearted people. People who do mitzvoth because they want to, because they feel closer to G-d. I still feel all warm and fuzzy – it’s a great place to be. Life is so good, I am so appreciative of all that I have.

 

Shavuah Tov everyone, may this week be a wonderful week for all of us.