The Play of Emotional Insecurity and Pull by Elisabeth Schilling

It is not easy navigating the world with fragile boundaries, self-worth, and a potential history of manipulations. I often seek wisdom in spiritualities and unfamiliar religions because I need a substitute for the childhood traditions I have abandoned as a raft mid-stream. I am attracted to fashioning another raft, this one not pre-fabricated but gathered over some time by reaching for branches and tendrils. I am never confident about my assessments concerning relationships, and I mostly avoid going very deep with people anyhow or keep my head down so as to go unnoticed or divert the interest of others because I don’t yet know how to have healthy relationships that entail elements of balance or stay more-or-less in the middle way. It is awkward and fumbling to do life on one’s own, and I am hardly a victim. I completely admit that healing is within my purview and I simply have not tried hard enough, or that I just need to accept that no relationship is perfect and one cannot exactly have pleasure without pain, and so allow my body to sink into the underwater worlds and be taken by the sensory suctions of sea urchins and stings of jelly fish. Perhaps a relationship can also be one of peace and calm passions where those involved keep their attachments in check. I guess that is possible. 

Continue reading “The Play of Emotional Insecurity and Pull by Elisabeth Schilling”

Home: A New Pesach Reflection by Ivy Helman

In ancient times, Pesach was one of three pilgrimage holidays, the others being Sukkot and Shavuot.  According to the the Torah, Israelite men were required to travel to Jerusalem to bring offerings to the temple. Supposedly, this reconnected these Israelites to their religion, to each other and to the deity.  Participating in these pilgrimages brought about a deeper sense of community. In short, three times a year, Jerusalem became a home away from home.

What an interesting and quite awful definition of home: a male-only community focused on slaughtering animals to atone for sins.  Did ancient Israelites think that this religious obligation actually created a better home than where they lived most of the year? Or, was it just a religious obligation?  Did anyone bemoan the massacre of the animals?  In a related fashion, was Pesach alienating for women and children? Did the ancient Israelite home become less important during these festivals? Did women and children feel left out of their own religious traditions if they didn’t live in Jerusalem?  What did they do for Pesach?  Continue reading “Home: A New Pesach Reflection by Ivy Helman”

Thanksgiving, Pies and Remaking Tradition by Marie Cartier

Dear FAR readers—you will be reading this blog the day after Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays. It didn’t used to be—but it is now.

Over twenty years ago, I remade this holiday for myself. At that time I was in my late thirties and was just coming out of almost a decade of healing from a very rough childhood. I spent a lot of time in those early recovery years yearning for some kind of magical “family” I thought “everyone” had. Once I really opened up about my story, however, I realized everyone doesn’t have any one thing.  We all have something different—and everyone has a story.

I decided to create a ritual—I didn’t intend for it to turn into a tradition, but it did. Continue reading “Thanksgiving, Pies and Remaking Tradition by Marie Cartier”

Breaking Down the Concept of Arranged Marriages by Vibha Shetiya

13327613_10208448645447348_6913754683590458893_nOne of the first things my American friends and family ask me when they learn I used to be married to an Indian man is: was it an arranged marriage? I understand the intrigue, the bewilderment and even horror that the phrase “arranged marriage” can conjure up in unfamiliar Western minds. Images of forcing women to marry strangers encountered upon the street or child betrothals or women being dragged to the wedding site to be married off to mustachioed men are likely to flash before one’s eyes. While such incidents may have occurred from time to time, and in the past, as with child marriages, the long-established concept of “arranged marriage” is very different and not as frightening as may seem.

Traditionally speaking, proposals materialized through word-of-mouth – family and friends recommended a good alliance, or a parent would approach someone directly or indirectly to ask for a daughter or son’s hand in marriage. Even then, personal histories were well researched into, before both parties decided to “see” each other. Marriages in India continue to be alliances between families, and so it is important to check into family background – what are the parents’ and siblings’ occupations? How much does the prospective groom earn? After all, he may be the sole earning member of his family and may not be able to provide for his own family once he starts one. Is there a history of crime or mental illness? This investigation makes perfect sense in a society that is community and family-oriented, and wherein joint family situations are still the norm, especially in smaller towns and villages. It is thus imperative that everyone try and get along. “Arranged marriage” is certainly not synonymous with an “Oh-let’s-just-get-rid-of-our-daughter” arrangement.

Continue reading “Breaking Down the Concept of Arranged Marriages by Vibha Shetiya”

Passover and the Exodus: A Feminist Reflection on Action, Hope, and Legacy by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Durham, Hahn Loeser, John CarrollLast week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in the news again, but not for reasons you would expect.  She, along with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, penned a feminist essay about the Exodus title “The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover.”  Finding this story was exciting, especially because I am so drawn to the Exodus story (the intrigue and curiosity of which caused me to return to school and study, as one of my main areas of focus, Hebrew Scriptures – along with Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern History).  Now women’s roles in this story are being elevated thanks to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Holtzblatt.

Before I discuss the message and the importance this message brings, I think it is important to know an important fact about Justice Ginsburg.  Ginsburg is not observant, but does embrace her Jewish identity.  When her mother died, she was excludedRuth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_portrait[1] from the mourner’s minyan because she was a woman; an event in Judaism that is meant to comfort the mourner, brings a sense of community, and is considered obligatory – a means of honoring our mother/father.  This important event left an impression and sent a loud message that inspired and influenced her career path – she did not count – she had no voice – she had no authority to speak.  No wonder her life and career focuses so much on women’s rights and equality.

As many of us know, the story of Exodus is focused on two things 1) Moses and 2) liberation from the bonds of servitude and enslavement; women are rarely discussed.  In the essay co-authored by Ginsberg, women are described as playing a crucial role in defying the orders of Pharaoh and helping to bring light to a world in darkness.  In the Exodus event, God had partners – five brave women are the first among them, according to Ginsburg and Holtzblatt.  These women are: Continue reading “Passover and the Exodus: A Feminist Reflection on Action, Hope, and Legacy by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

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