Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

“What is religion?” Part 2

Where’s Part 1, you ask? Here, in a post I had forgotten that I had written.

I’m not actually writing a continuation of that. (Deceptive title to this post, isn’t it?) But there was a huge run on that specific post over the last two days. And I can’t help but notice that this is midterm season at most U.S. colleges.

I don’t think it helped anyone answer their midterm exam question on “What is religion?” or on whether humanism, or Judaism, or Humanistic Judaism, or whatever else is a religion. But, in the event it did, I hope you used proper citation!

In other news, with the big cycle of fall Jewish holidays ended, I’ll be getting back to a more regular posting pattern.

A New Year

It’s December 31, 2014. 2015 begins tomorrow.

As a quick look back, there have been some accomplishments that I’ve personally been pleased with. I co-officiated a wedding for the first time. I’ve published a couple of book reviews in Humanistic Judaism, the “ideas” journal for the Society of Humanistic Judaism. I’ve posted a lot here. I’ve worked, taught, and learned. I think I’ve grown in some areas, and I know I’ve grown in others (ahem, waist-line).

But I have no grand hopes for next year. Enough of this year’s events have been difficult so that if next year is easier, I’ll be pleased with that outcome.

I’d be more upbeat, but sometimes I’m happy just muddling through. Sometimes that’s the best many of us can manage–and there are times when muddling through is no mean feat. 2014 was one of those for me, Mrs. Secular Jew, and Secular Jew, Jr.

So, here’s to a hopefully less difficult new year.

Thanksgiving 2014/5775

It’s been a rough week or so here in the U.S. And it hasn’t been a banner time in Israel over the last few weeks, either.

I don’t mean to downplay the problems out there. There will be no end to problems, which is perhaps a nice subtext for reading (very much out of context and its original meaning) the statement Pirke Avot attributes to Rabbi Tarfon: it is incumbent upon you to finish the work, but neither are you a free person so as to be able to cease from it (Avot 2:16). Continue reading

Of Pills and Panic

It’s astonishing just how finely tuned our brains are–and how small changes in what goes into our brains can change so much about how and who we are.

Back in late April and much of May, Secular Jew, Jr. (“SJJ”) was hospitalized twice in pediatric “stress center” units. “Stress center” is the euphemism du jour for temporary place to put people with acute psychiatric symptoms that cannot be managed at home and that may be resolvable without permanent institutionalization, usually due to substance abuse or severe depression. SJJ is not yet even a preteen, and most of the kids in these units were teenagers, so these were really very extreme places for SJJ to be. But after two stays, in the course of less than a month, the issues SJJ was experiencing seem to have boiled down to medication issues; medications were removed, SJJ stabilized, and things seemed pretty okay.

Until yesterday. Continue reading

The Tefillin Project

A while back, I posted about some of the aftermath of Secular Jew, Jr.’s hospitalizations and illnesses. One of them was that, lacking a “thing” in the morning, I was coming into the office early and doing something that, to the untrained eye, looks a lot like morning davening. I thought I would take a moment to update on that.

I’m not doing that so much these days. There are several reasons that I could point to. With SJJ home now for over a month, and with a regular schedule largely restored, there isn’t the absence of his presence and the effects of the absence–the loss of pleasures, the loss of obligations, etc.–that led me to need to fill the time. And my energy stores are back to their usual level of depletion, which is a contributing factor, too. Continue reading