“Ipsa scientia potestas est.” ~Knowledge itself is power.
Posted byMiss Poison
Posted onNovember 19, 2014
Posted underInspiration, Knowledge, Power, Quotes
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“Ipsa scientia potestas est.” ~Knowledge itself is power.
“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” ―Anaïs Nin
*I received this via e-mail this morning. I could not have said it better myself! I have had ENOUGH of the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish sentiment throughout Hollywood, throughout social media, and in pretty much every direction in which I turn. If people can’t professionally do their jobs and stick to what they know, then they should not be throwing around political sentiments that are entirely uneducated views. 100% credit to Ms. Ragen. Bravo!*
This is What You Are Really Telling Us
By Naomi Ragen
I’m not sure the people who need to hear this will ever hear it, but I want my conscience to be clear that I said it to them.
Dear Human Rights Activist, Leftist Liberal, Crying-for-the-poor-children, Israel-hating, Hamas-forgiving, marcher, celebrity, news anchor, journalist, writer, media star, politician, head of state.
We have seen you marching along the streets of Europe, America, and the Middle East with your signs and kfirs and Palestinian flags. We have heard you screaming to whoever will listen that Jews and Israelis are murderers, war criminals, and baby killers.
You think you are telling us who we are. But actually, you are telling us who you are.
1) You are telling us that you are ignorant.
That you don’t understand that Hamas is a terror organization that took over a territory that Israel removed all its settlers from a decade ago, and with good will turned over to the Palestinians, and that in return the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, a terror organization, to rule them, and that Hamas has been logging bombs at Israeli civilians trying to kill them ever since.
2) You are telling us you don’t really care about Palestinians or their children.
Because by supporting Hamas, you are supporting the use of Palestinians as human shields, the use of Palestinian children to dig terror tunnels in which 160 have died, and the summary execution of Palestinians by Hamas thugs whenever they open their mouths to protest the use of their homes, schools, mosques, or hospitals as weapons caches and missile launching sites.
3) You are telling us that you are in favor of genocide.
Anyone who does not support Israel in this just war against Hamas, who is a genocidal terrorist organization that clearly says in their charter they want to destroy all Jews, is in fact in favor of genocide. You are telling us that you not only agree with the idea, but the practice, as Hamas is now attempting (without much success, thank God) by bombing Israelis and attempting mass murders and kidnappings through countless underground tunnels created only for that purpose. You are telling us you don’t think Israelis have a right to live and defend their children by fighting back. You are telling us you want us dead.
4) You are telling us that you hate Jews, not just Israelis.
Because otherwise, why would you march along, support, and agree with people who beat up Jews, shoot Jewish children, destroy synagogues, and smash Jewish businesses all over the world, just like the Nazis?
5) You are telling us that you are a racist and a hater.
Just one more of those evil, ignorant, bigoted, small-minded people who hate people they have never met because of their race and religion.
6) You are telling us you are ill-informed, uneducated and/or too stupid or too lazy to read history books. Because by taking up the stance of the Nazis without even understanding in whose footsteps you are following, you are revealing you don’t know where those footsteps led, and the millions and millions of people like yourselves who died because of it.
7) But most of all, you are showing God who you are and the evil that is in your heart.
For that I pity you. Because we Jews believe that God is compassionate and forgiving. But we also believe that if people repeat the same evils as their forefathers, then God’s compassion ends for them, and the time for punishment begins.
You are not the first ignorant, bigoted, racist, hateful people to stand against the Jews. But you just might be the last. By joining your voice and your body with those who hate justice, who love violence, and who follow in the footsteps of the Jew-haters throughout history, you are singling yourself out for the punishment that befalls all such people in history sooner or later. Check your history books on that one. Every people that hated Jews eventually became extinct. The Jews survived.
Looking forward to your next march, your next petition, and your next newscast to see who you are. We already know what you are.
For more articles, please visit my Web page at: http://www.NaomiRagen.com
“What we know matters, but who we are matters more.” -Brene Brown
The Only Good…
The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. -Socrates
The Pursuit Of Knowledge
“The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice and the desire for personal independence — these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it.”―Albert Einstein
Author’s Note: I wrote this out of extreme concern for a person’s safety. That’s the place it comes from, so please don’t try and twist it into something it is not. I digress a bit at times, but I feel like I’ve made some very valid points.
Odd Marriage Trends & Idiocy Via Social Media
I’ve noticed an extremely disturbing marriage trend that just plain feels unkosher to me. I can’t describe it any other way than that. Creepy is another word I have to use, because deep within my soul, it just doesn’t feel right. When something doesn’t feel right to me, and it concerns another human being, or more than one human being, especially someone I know, and it involves their safety, I simply MUST speak out and use my voice. I’m generally a pretty quiet person (shocking, I know!), but when something feels so wrong that my brain screams at me to open my mouth, I have to do something, even if “something” is posing the question to my readers.
If a friend told you she’d gotten married to someone after only meeting this person a few times, having spent very little time with him, and that he lived in another country, what would you think? By “another country” I do not mean that he’s in the military or has a job that takes him away for lengthy periods of time, but 100% does.not.live.with.his.wife. Is that bizarre to you, ‘cause it just plain feels unkosher to me.
I’ve often joked in the past with my close friends about not needing my boyfriend/husband/partner with me 24/7, but in actuality, if I didn’t see him for a year or years, I certainly wouldn’t feel like I was in a relationship or marriage AT ALL. If he simply traveled for work at times and we had kids, which required me to stay home for some reason, like their schooling, then I do think it would get on my nerves eventually. A few trips for work a month is no big deal, but years?! Am I crazy thinking there is something not right here?
If a friend told you “I got married and I won’t see my husband for two years…” would you automatically think “Military” or would you be thinking “Mail Order Bride”? I have to be honest, when a man marries someone he barely knows, someone who lives in a country known for its extreme poverty, and he lives in a country on the opposite side of the world, it doesn’t scream “marriage” to me, it screams “Something isn’t right here.” There aren’t just red flags, there are thousands of blinking red lights.
Unfortunately, way too many women automatically believe that you are jealous of them if you pose a question of this nature, as opposed to seeing things from your perspective and realizing that you care enough about them to ask them about this “arrangement” because, in a world where women disappear into the sex trade and there’s rampant human trafficking occurring, you’d be a truly terrible friend if you didn’t speak up and say something BEFORE you find out that this person just went missing “on her way to visit her husband”. There’s not a whole lot you can do once that happens, but in the time leading up to it, yes, you can speak out and make them aware.
I am extremely disturbed by this arrangement a “friend” of mine has and I’m deeply concerned. Not just because she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but because she desperately seeks love and acceptance from others and the way she goes about it, to me, is extremely unhealthy. She believes everyone in this world, at their core, is good. Maybe it’s the detective in me, maybe it’s just intelligence and intuition screaming at me, but I don’t see everyone in this world as predominantly good. I’ve seen way too much evil to believe that every single person walking this planet is supremely good and that each person has nothing, but good intentions. I’m way too smart for that fairytale nonsense. She should be old enough to have some common sense, but she lacks in this department, as many people do. She’s all over the fairytale. She truly believes she’s found her “Prince Charming”. It’s scary, because she is suffering through a lot of health issues and this man is not physically present for her whatsoever. To me, that’s not a marriage.
Normally I would keep my mouth shut & mind my own business, but this time everything was screaming at me to check this guy out. I researched this man she constantly refers to as her “hubby” (God as my witness, a man is only your “hubby” when he lives with you and sees you every single day. If you don’t wake up next to a person every day, it’s not an ideal marriage. Especially during the first year of marriage. God help me if I EVER refer to a man as my “hubby”. Try calling me “wifey”, you’ll be picking up your teeth for the next month. I do NOT do cutesy nicknames or pathetic references to married life and the person I share that life with. If you’ve been married longer than a year and you call your husband “your hubby”, that is your prerogative. We all use different references and names. However, every time I hear it, I throw up a little, ‘cause it’s nauseating. My friends all say “my husband”, or they use their partner’s actual name, they do not use obnoxious references or ridiculous nicknames. Maybe that’s why it is so much more sickening to me, I don’t know.), because I, by no means, think any of this is genuine.
It might be genuine on her end of things, she’s a person with a good heart who has been seeking the right person for quite some time, but again, not the sharpest tool in the shed. I’ve never met a man that loves a woman and is willing to live somewhere else for years once they are married, not unless it’s a financial thing and they have a plan to re-locate within a certain time frame, and the time frames are usually short enough that it doesn’t ever raise a red flag. Generally, this occurs in the military or when people work in different countries for a period of time based on their profession. None of this has been mentioned outside of “I’m going to visit him next year and he’s going to visit me the year after that.”, so I think that, as a friend, I should be concerned. I have to go with my intuition here and it has never, not once, lied to me.
Many years ago a friend of mine met a guy on-line. After a few years, they got married. He lived in England, and she lived in the U.S. He had visa problems because he constantly had to go back home due to illnesses within his family. She missed him terribly and when they were unable to get his visa cleared, she finally had enough, got her own, and moved to England permanently to establish citizenship. They’d hoped to be able to do that here, but with his family in one country and not well, and only some of her family here, it was the logical thing to do. We’d been friends for years and remained in touch after her marriage and subsequent move, but eventually we just lost touch. The difference between that relationship and the one I write about today is that they didn’t jump in to anything, they took time to get to know one another. I didn’t have a single red flag when she’d call me about him. In fact, I tried to help her in terms of information at times because she was slightly unsure if she should move or not. Initially during her first three months there, she absolutely HATED it and wanted to come home, but she stayed because she loved her husband, he loved her, and she didn’t want to be apart from him. That’s commitment, and I’m sure most of the married people reading this will agree with me.
One of my best friends has been married since she was about 19. Several years ago her husband’s company asked him to help open a new office for them…in Australia. It was only supposed to be six month, a year TOPS. Her work takes her all over the world, but this time she didn’t want to make the trip. She sent him ahead of her, but after a few months, I told her to just go for a few weeks and see if she liked it. She came back after the initial trip, and when she returned, she ended up staying right up until the last minute of still being able to fly pregnant, which is when they both returned, and months later their daughter was born with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada. Again, that’s a committed relationship. Even while he worked, she still traveled for her own job, but mostly, she wanted to be a supportive wife, which is why she went in the first place. She said she was ok with him being in Australia by himself, but in reality, she didn’t like it. She thought that by staying home, she was being supportive. I am glad I encouraged her to make the trip. They are stronger for it.
I’ve slightly gotten into the red flag thing, but let me expand: If I told any of my best friends that this was an arrangement I had just entered into, or that I was romancing the idea of doing such a thing, each of them would tell me outright that something wasn’t right. They would also advise me to wait until we are both living in the same country before agreeing to marriage. After all, what the hell do you know about this person when you’ve only spent short periods of time with them? Not for nothing, they wouldn’t actually need to tell me any of this because I’m not impulsive and I don’t rush into anything. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, and if I’m going to stand up before God, my family, and my friends and take vows, then I’m truly committed to that person, and he damn well had better be committed to me because I’m not afraid to break out the shotgun, and neither is anyone else I know.
Red flags are a big thing for me in relationships. This one that’s bothering me has gigantic Red John sized red flags all over it. I was willing to let it go since she’s happy, until I sent her a response to a message that I found more than a little obnoxious via e-mail, where I basically asked her NOT to discuss anything private with me on my Facebook wall, or via Facebook at all. She responded, via Facebook (Like I said, not the sharpest tool in the shed.), with several different excuses as to why she cannot access her e-mail account from her computer, her iPhone (I’m sorry, but if I cannot access a Google Mail account via my incredibly overpriced “Smartphone”, then I do what any person with a functioning brain does: I get a NEW e-mail address with another company, Yahoo for example, where I CAN access my e-mail, and I let everyone know that I have had to make a change in e-mail addresses for the time being. Simple enough, right? We’ve all done it at one time or another. I myself was gifted with a new Android phone sometime last Spring/early Summer. I activated it on my birthday after Verizon terminated my previous cell after I’d already paid them. The bank got my money back, and despite truly loving my Verizon service and my 4 year old phone, as well as the phone number, I sunk to a new low with this new phone and activated it with Virgin Mobile, a company I’ve never done business with before. In order to use this particular brand, you’re required to attach it to a Google Mail account, so when I was initially gifted with said phone, I created a Google Mail account, despite the fact that I rarely use it. No big deal, it took less than five minutes. It’s not rocket science. I can access my mail from anywhere in the world, Google account or not. Maybe this is an iPhone issue, I don’t know, but I still think what I said is completely valid.), etc., and then told me the big whopper that was something I simply cannot abide by: She informed me that her husband dictates her e-mail to her via FaceTime conversations, so the only way she can talk to me “privately” is via Facebook. Are you fucking kidding me?! Get out the Revenge Red Sharpie everyone, because this one seriously creeps me the fuck out. In what world do they live in?!
Do you let your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/partner read your private e-mail discussions between you & friends that they don’t know and have never met? I ask this in a completely “I’m not cheating” way, because I don’t, nor will I ever. I can understand if you’re just checking their phone to make sure your partner isn’t sending inappropriate text messages to someone else (if you’re the kind of person that does that. I do not.), but outside of that, I think it’s a bit much. I don’t let anyone read my e-mail. I might read something to a person when I am trying to handle a situation that bothers me, or when I want advice about something, but I keep the private sections to myself as any truly good friend should. As much as I give in the relationships in which I am in, and as much as I love, my friendships do not pertain to my boyfriend/husband/partner, so I do not feel he needs to know what I say to my friends or what they say in return. Unless something is said in front of him or directly to him, I believe in some semblance of a private social life. I expect him to have a private social life in many regards as well, and I don’t find that odd, I find it healthy.
I believe in each of us having our own friends, and in having friends as a couple. That does not mean I am cheating or keeping secrets, it simply means there are boundaries in relationships and I don’t cross them. Reading my e-mail to me like you’re some kind of overbearing father figure is not something I would EVER accept or allow, unless I was dead, in which case, have a fucking ball. He’d have to spend the next 40 years of his life deciphering the codes in which my friends and I speak any way, so not only would he be clueless beyond words, he’d get really bored, really fast.
This man, that I do not know and have never met or spoken to, had the audacity to send me a rude message on Facebook (interestingly enough she clearly doesn’t have any privacy considering the message was from her, with his name attached to it. How are our discussions “private” if he has her password to speak on her behalf?) because I was honest with his wife about something so minor, that no person on this planet with an I.Q. above their shoe size would take offense to. She is someone I’ve known for a very long time, and here he is telling me she’s been told not to get in contact with me ever again, and not only can’t he speak English, he can’t spell or write properly either. Considering he’s supposedly from a country where English is the predominant language spoken, do you find that remotely odd? I certainly do. Again, RED FUCKING FLAGS!
Thanks to the idiocy that is social media, people no longer feel the need to send out engagement announcements, wedding announcements, birth announcements, or invitations to anything. They truly think it is safe and completely normal to post their entire lives on social media, but then they wonder why their identities get stolen. and how people they don’t know suddenly know every single thing about them. They wonder why they get stalked. Lets be honest: It’s not because you’re a fascinating creature that people want to be “friends” with, it’s because you’ve lost the ability to keep your private life PRIVATE. Privacy is not a setting, it’s basic common sense. Every single aspect of their lives, from where they eat, shop, live, etc., and a plethora of photos that should be kept private, are there for anyone in the world to come across. Go to my Facebook page, apart from photos of my deceased cats and my new baby, you will not find any personal photos there whatsoever. My best friends (those that have known me for less than 20 years) didn’t even know what I looked like until they landed at the airport when I picked them up the first time they came to see me, and they were all fine with that. If you want to know what I look like, you’ll have to wait for the back cover of my novel, and that’s providing I go the picture route at all. When I say I’m a private person, I actually mean it. It’s not because I am hiding anything, it’s because I have learned to protect my safety and to keep personal things to myself. Do I want an absolute stranger approaching me in public simply because they’ve wandered onto my blog? The answer is an emphatic NO.
Several years ago I found one of my cousins on Facebook. I was utterly appalled to see that he had hundreds of family photos posted where anyone could come across them. I could have been a stranger, as opposed to a family member, and it would have been all too easy to do God only knows what because not only were his wife and children prominent in a great many of the photos, but so were photos of his home, his siblings, their children, spouses, and my Aunt & Uncle. Not for nothing, these people abandoned my brother & I completely after my parents died. They are my first cousins, the only first cousins I have. All four of them are married or in a committed relationship, and not a single one knows how to return a fucking phone call or be a decent human being. I did not get so much as a phone call or a condolence card upon losing both of my parents, but when their father passed away, I made sure we were all there before he died, as well as at the funeral, and at the house right afterwards. I spent months calling several of them after he passed away to try to make sure we established relationships, and they treated me like I didn’t exist. You can only ignore me for so long before I lose all interest in you from start to finish. I am embarrassed to share bloodlines and Grandparents with them, but I adore their children to pieces and would give them bodily organs if ever they needed it. That’s the difference between them and me, but I digress.
I generalize a lot of what I write on this blog, and I do it for a reason. Only a handful of you know me as a living, breathing person, have my phone number, or have friended me on different social media sites where I maintain a presence as a writer, and those that do have higher levels of information about me as a person are people I trust not to disrespect that, nor would I ever disrespect them and the friendship they have extended to me. If I’ve exchanged e-mails with you, and you can contact me like a normal person, then that means something. It means you are welcome in my life. Not just my on-line life, but my real, every day life. That is something I honor very few people with because I learned very early on in my professional career that far too many people wanted to be a part of my life for the wrong reasons. In turn, I let very few people into my life, heart, or home. I am a writer and I publicly post some incredibly personal, honest things here, but I also have boundaries to protect my privacy, as should we all.
This entire ordeal with my “friend” feels wrong to me for a lot of reasons, but the main reasons are: I have no respect for anyone that is trying to control another person, and somehow manages to do so from a completely different country. They don’t even live under the same roof! Moreover, I know that when something feels this wrong to me, the outcome is not going to be pretty.
When I have an intense sense of something, I am almost always right. I take no pleasure in being right about things of this nature, but I truly feel she is in danger and I have no idea how to approach her with it. She’s being civil with me, moving towards childishly friendly, but this guy is in her ear and she’s preaching The Bible at me, among other things. Before she met this guy, she was practicing Wicca. That’s a drastic switch in such a short period of time, so I take offense to her responding to the things I write about Wicca because I never abandoned it. Maybe that seems ridiculous or childish, but if you know me, you will understand what I’m saying and that it’s not coming from a judgmental place, merely a place of extreme awareness, as well as extreme concern.
I’m concerned for her safety in going to visit this guy. I do not trust him as far as I can throw him, and I’m pretty sure I could take him. I have no respect for a man that has the audacity to come into my domain and tell me what to say, how to say it, and whom to say it to. No one tells me what to do, I am not anyone’s property. I am not something that needs to be controlled.
For the record, my boyfriend was APPALLED that a man that does not know me would do such a thing. He, himself, would defend me if someone was physically harming me, he’s never let anyone disrespect me, but he knows full well that in pretty much every situation, I can handle myself. He does not have to speak for me. He’s smart enough to stay out of things that do not pertain to him. I do the same. It’s about respect, it’s not about a lack of emotion towards the other person.
He has been a part of my life for far longer than he has been a boyfriend, and much like me, manners are important to him. Facebook nonsense irritates him just as much as it irritates me, and he is not a part of it because he feels it would be detrimental to his professional career. When he sees me dealing with these things, he asks me why I don’t just tell all of these people to go to hell. He doesn’t understand why I navigate it gently. In fact, he thinks this piece is “too soft”. His advice was to be a lot more “in your face”. Alas, there’s a reason I’m the writer and he is not.
Being in a relationship of any kind, especially marriage, requires a foundation of friendship and respect. It doesn’t mean you hand over every single aspect of your life to the other person, or that you allow them to control you in any way. That’s just plain sick behavior to me, not to mention antiquated thinking.
Exactly how many people are omitting “Obey” from their wedding vows? If you want something or someone to obey you, get a fucking dog. Train it. Throw him/her a bone every now and then, and it’ll “Obey” you. If you expect your 21st century wife to “Obey” you, you definitely won’t be marrying a modern woman. Maybe that attitude will swing in other cultures, but if that way of thinking is working anywhere in this country, get yourself to therapy IMMEDIATELY. Don’t walk. RUN. Subservience and passiveness in women is a huge issue for me. I know for some it is simply in their nature, but I lack the ability to be a “People Pleaser”, and I also completely and utterly lack the ability to be a poor friend.
Far too many women are marrying people they do not know and end up in human trafficking, sex trades, become drug addicts overnight, or they end up dead. Many lose every single dime they spent their lives working for, all in the name of “love”. How can I not be concerned?! Meeting someone on the Internet does not guarantee that he is being honest with you about anything, especially if you’ve only ever been around him, or with him, for short periods of time. For all the Match.com and eHarmony “success stories”, note that you’re not being told all of the horror stories that run rampant through dating sites of all kinds. I’m a very open person, and a lot of the stories I hear are enough to keep me far, FAR away from any forum where I could potentially be meeting someone that has done nothing to earn my trust. It gives you an illusion of safety, nothing more. In reality, it’s about as safe as most bars, except that more and more bars have cameras around as a precautionary measure.
I strongly encourage women to run background checks on guys they’re dating, if for nothing else than pure peace of mind. At the very least, Google him first to make sure he’s not wanted for a crime, and make sure he’s never been to jail for anything questionable. If you live in California, do both a Google search and an IMDB search. Trust me on this one.
Call me old-fashioned, but no matter how I meet a guy, I want to be looking him in the eye when he tells me certain things. I want to be able to see his body language. Once you’ve spent enough time with a person, you know whether or not you feel comfortable enough to pursue a relationship. This does not happen right away, not if you’re smart. I would rather spend time talking to a person and getting to know him as an individual before jumping his bones. Call me crazy, but I like knowing a guy’s middle name, where he was born, what his parents and siblings names are, and what his tells are. Hell, I’m even happy to hear about his Grandparents if they’re still alive. I don’t want a resume, but I do want to know he’s not a piece of shit. If you’re friends with someone, you will find things out so much easier as opposed to jumping into a relationship with them. And at the core of the best relationships are two people who genuinely like spending time together, even if they’re simply reading different things in the same room, you’ll see them glance up at one another and smile. The silence is comfortable, and each person feels safe with the other.
I am a little concerned in posting this because I know I wasn’t Ms. Sweetness & Light here, but anyone that knows me shouldn’t expect me to dump 50 pounds of confectioner’s sugar on something that could potentially be a very serious matter. In turn, this will be available to be read for a short period of time and after that it will be made Private to protect the guilty, as well as the innocent. In the meantime, please tell me what you think.
How would you handle this sort of situation with a friend? And yes, I am perfectly willing to let the friendship end if it means she gets a brain and is kept safe. I would rather she see him for what he really is, than end up a statistic. I have said nothing to her about my concerns because she is not open to hearing anything beyond her own self-involved “bliss”. She thinks he is the greatest thing in the world. Love is blind, sometimes too much so, but love should never be suicidally stupid.
How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”
In the very near future, I will be spending a huge chunk of my time in Israel. It will be nice not having to explain holidays to anyone or explaining why Christmas is just another day to me. For now, in the suburbs of a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood with a good 20 churches in pretty much every direction I turn (I wish I was exaggerating), I am still explaining myself. I have no idea why people still think their religion is the only one that exists on this planet. I’ll never understand it!
I am completely respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and their holidays, so long as I am not subjected to them in a means to try and convert me, but my spiritual beliefs and holidays are often met with some extremely disturbing questions, as opposed to the few I have received recently that were honest, curious, and filled with excitement for knowledge. They were by no means offensive. When a person is open and honest, and interested, it makes it so much easier for me to be me, as opposed to feeling like I have to repress my thoughts.
A few weeks ago someone wished me a “Merry Christmas” and received my usual response, which is that I do not celebrate Christmas. This is someone whose establishment I frequent once or twice a month, and not only did she look like I’d just kicked her, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me. I had to explain that I celebrate Chanukah and Yule, and that I am not Catholic or Christian. She was incredibly confused, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me with a wish for a good holiday. Me, I simply like to be clear with people. I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you’re going to wish me well, wish me properly. Don’t make assumptions and please, don’t tell me I “don’t look Jewish”. I don’t even know how to answer that one without telling you off, and because I come from a rich ancestral well of knowledge and an incredibly deep DNA pool, I can assure you that we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We are all distinctly unique, some more than others.
Growing up, Christmas was not a word used much in our home. Not for any other reason than the simple fact that we’re Jewish. We had many Christian and Catholic friends, some who understood and some who did not, that we ourselves did not celebrate the same holiday, nor did we share the same spiritual or religious beliefs that they did. It is extremely disturbing to me that in 2013, any Jew still has to explain themselves.
People like to quote the Bible at me, and they are generally New Testament folk. They’re the kinds of people that don’t realize exactly how “new” the New Testament really is. I, myself, do not adhere to anything outside of the Old Testament. Even that kind of loses me at times. Prayer is an amazing thing, but I like to stick to my own path when it pertains to anything of a spiritual nature. I am not trying to change or convert anyone.
Today is simply December 25th to me. It’s not a holiday, but it IS my Great-Uncle’s birthday. He passed away 15 years ago, but I still remember him very clearly. I remember the last things he ever said to me, and I remember how silent this time of year became after he passed away. For several years prior to his passing, myself and two other family members would try to spend the day with him. Even though he had long since stopped acknowledging his own birthday, he still loved going out to a nice restaurant and enjoying good food, good company, and he told stories like nobodies business. They’re the kinds of stories you want to hear from someone over the age of 80, because you know that no matter how much time passes, you will never hear such stories again.
After he passed away, the tradition maintained in my home on Christmas Day was movies and good food. Either we went to the movies and came home to a really great meal, or we stayed home with a pile of movies and made a meal together. Almost always, it was homemade Italian food from scratch, or Chinese food from the best place in the area.
To know me is to know that I make killer Italian food. It’s something I love doing, but I am just as comfortable making Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and pretty much anything else that I have mastered in all my years of cooking. Nothing is impossible, but I am an epic lasagna failure. It’s the only thing I make that falls apart, so I’ve stopped doing it. It is never inedible, it just never does what it’s supposed to do. Despite a family recipe for veggie lasagna that has been passed down for four generations, I completely and utterly suck at it. It’ll probably be another ten years before I attempt it again. It takes time and patience, and we all know I have no patience.
Over time I have found that people really seem to be offended whenever I clarify that I do not celebrate Christmas. They look at me like I kick puppies, torture kittens, steal winning lottery tickets, and am just, on a whole, not a good person. I look at them with the knowledge that, for over 5000 years, my people have not celebrated Christmas. It’s not on our calender and it’s not in our religious texts. It’s perfectly ok to not share the same religious beliefs. If we did, we’d be living in some kind of bizarre utopia. That’s not a world I can imagine functioning in. Differences make the world go ‘round. We can either choose to come together and learn from one another or we can continue fighting in the name of religion. The choice, however, is generally not ours to make because those that govern our respective countries are a huge part of why organized religion is failing. I could go on, but I won’t, or I assure you, I will offend you.
One year a family friend (one of my brother’s best friends at the time), on leave from the Army, wanted me to convince my brother to come to midnight mass with him. I, personally, do not spend time in churches. It has never been my thing. My brother politely declined, but as his friend became more insistent he finally said “Look, there’s a Jew hanging from a cross in no less than 7 places in there. With that track record, I don’t care to be the sacrifice sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.” We ALL laughed, and no one was offended.
This very same friend asked us about Christmas trees, genuinely wanting to know “If we put up Christmas trees, what do Jewish people do?” Never one to miss an opportunity, I turned around and said “We put up a Chanukah Bush, John.” He nodded and said “Oh, ok.” I said absolutely nothing for a few minutes, everyone was in on it because they’d heard me do this little bit before. Finally, after suppressing serious laughter to the point where I almost hurt myself, I admitted to him that I was just fucking around with him, that there was no such thing as a Chanukah Bush (though I admit, I know some people that put one up because they love Christmas trees, but don’t celebrate Christmas). Again, laughter ensued. You have to really know me to know that I will joke like that with the people that know me best, and that, while inappropriate to some, I am careful what I say in mixed company because I don’t go out of my way to be hurtful to others. I do like to be very clear though, that’s just my way. Humor and clarity.
Approximately 11 ½ years ago, Wicca was introduced to me. It is the perfect blend of a nature based religion steeped in Kabbalistic teachings. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism. If you don’t know what that is, use a search engine. That will explain it more clearly for you.
For me, Wicca was like coming home. It was pretty much everything I had been raised around, especially a love for animals and nature, and the elements. Part of the Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will”. There is no governing body, you govern yourself, and the Wiccan Rede tells you “So long as you are not harming anyone, do as you will. Live your life.” It is laid back and calm, and it brings an extra level of peace to my life. Even my Rabbi is comfortable with my spiritual beliefs. He’s one of the most open people I have ever met, so I feel supremely comfortable being myself and speaking my mind around him. Until I met him, I had NEVER been in the presence of a man of God and not felt judged. However, my Rabbi is unique. He too, is from a foundation of “You’re not harming anyone by being you. Live your life.” In this, I always feel incredibly blessed.
Almost all of my friends are religiously different than I am, and that is beyond ok. I am not sitting in judgement of them or their beliefs. I want them to be their authentic selves, and I can only hope they want the same for me. I have friends that are Jewish and friends that are Wiccan, so I don’t feel spiritually deprived in any sense of the word. We should all celebrate what we believe in and do so with those we love. We should wish the people in our lives well EVERY DAY, not just during the month of December.
So Lisa, exactly how does a Jewish American Wiccan “celebrate Christmas”? Simply put, I don’t. I ignore the insanity of my neighbors, all of whom DO celebrate Christmas, and I go about my day. I will bake Cranberry Orange scones for breakfast, I will do laundry and maybe enjoy a movie. I will play with my fuzzy little Princess. Later on, I will be making a nice meal for the family I am spending my day with. I might even get some writing finished, if I’m feeling up to it. Basically, anything goes. It’s just another quiet day for me. After years and years spent taking care of others, quiet days are something I really treasure.
Wishing you & yours a beautiful holiday season.
Rethinking Mental Illness
I came across this and I do agree that we need to talk about it. It needs to stop being treated like something we can only speak of in hushed tones. The increased rate of suicide in people being treated for various forms of depression has drastically increased over the last few years, and yet, when you tell a doctor or a therapist that you think of suicide often and that you have a plan, they don’t take you seriously unless they believe you need to be hospitalized. The truth is, if someone is going to follow through on suicide, they aren’t going to discuss it with anyone. It’s a very personal, private thing.
I lost someone very dear to me to suicide 20 years ago. One of my brother’s best friends committed suicide eight years ago, less than a year after being discharged from the Army Rangers. I have very close friends that have lost siblings and other family members to suicide, so I don’t find it a laughing matter in any capacity. I, myself, am extremely open about these topics and I discuss them at length in the most direct fashion possible. I detest the stigma placed upon people who suffer from depression, and the labels and whispers that follow in their wake. It enrages me.
Don’t be afraid to get help or to talk about what you feel. Be afraid if you don’t talk about it.