Shema. Hang Ups All Up in My Head.

I’ve got this hang up when I go to Friday night services at temple. I like closing my eyes during the shema. I feel closer to myself, closer to God maybe, when I sing those most sacred words in the privacy of my own head. But that meditative, personal moment is always interrupted when I start to worry. Is everyone else opening their eyes? When should I open mine? I can’t be the only one with my eyes shut! What if I miss the moment when everyone sits down? I’ll be standing up alone. This is what the inside of my head looks like. It’s filled with what do I look like to the outside world thoughts. In a moment when I want to get in my head for some peace and introspection, I end up deep in my head filled with hang ups.

I do this a lot. What will the other runners think if I show up to an Indy Runners run, don’t know anyone, and run all by myself? What will my Facebook friends think if I post one more picture of my freaking dinner? Will the lovely couple who owns Nicey Treats think I’m nuts if I show up to their truck one more time for a dreamy popsicle? Do I look like a complete amateur when when I pull out my fancy camera and attempt to take a picture?

Of course, no one is paying that much attention. Most people are just wrapped up in their own world, because that’s just how people are. Maybe human nature to pay attention to ourselves first?

Self consciousness. I’m overcoming it. Comfort and confidence in your own skin. I started to learn how it fit on me at camp as a kid. Not comparing or worrying about looks. Every time I get on my mat in yoga I leave that farther behind. It’s about what works for me. For you. Then I’m pretty sure somehow you’ll end up looking like the best version of yourself to everyone else without even trying, without any hang ups.

On Friday night I stood in temple and sang the shema, eyes closed.

When Current Events Get Personal

Hiking in the Negev in the south.

Hiking in the Negev in the south.

I want to get a little current events with you, because this one current event has been heavy on my mind the last few days. In 2007 I went to Israel on a Birthright Israel trip (that’s a free trip for anyone Jewish ages 18-26 who hasn’t been on an organized trip to Israel yet). I was Jewish before I went to Israel. I’d been Jewish for almost 23 years. But I came home with this renewed passion for my religion, for Israel and for the connection I found there. Duh, that’s what Birthright is supposed to do. That’s what they tell you will happen when you go to Israel. I did not even believe them. But it did happen. I felt at home the instant I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv.

Masada at sunrise

Masada at sunrise

Now I work for an organization that promotes Judaism in my city, that promotes Israel, and that helps remind people why it’s awesome to be Jewish and help each other. I have been glued to the news the last few days. Glued, you guys. I felt sick when words of rockets streaking towards Tel-Aviv and┬áJerusalem┬ástreaked across my screen. I can’t fathom the thought of having to sprint to a bomb shelter multiple times in a few days. The anxiety-ridden worrier inside of me can’t breathe thinking about how I would round up my animals, keep them safe, how I would keep track of my loved ones. This is happening in Israel. Way too often. Israelis (and Palestinians in Gaza, too, to be fair) are living in fear.

Women at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Women at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

This whole situation has become very real for me this time around. I know people in Israel now. I have developed a much more personal connection, deeper than I even had after Birthright, through my involvement with Israel at work. So here’s the deal. I do not care where you stand politically on the situation between Israel and Gaza. If you are a good, kind person the thought of people suffering, being in danger of dying for just being who they are, their lives being disrupted because of where they chose to make their homes, the country they love and live in being threatened to be wiped off of the map because of hatred, please just send some love, some thoughts of peace, some strength to this part of the world.