Friday, January 29, 2010

I Did This...

I made these choices. My parents will tell you it was because it was my need to be modest and cover a body I was always self conscience about, my own lack of self-esteem about myself as a person, or even my need to feel like a part of a group. I sought out Lubavitch. I connected with their dogma, and no matter where I could have been geographically, I would have always found a Chabad House. I cut myself off from the world. I don't know my reasons. I have many ideas as to why I did this but none that I can see as being a good enough reason to walk away from life.
As a young child I was always interested in religion. I love learning about other cultures and their religious perspectives.I suppose as I look back now if I had lived in a community where Buddhism was prevalent, I would have become a devout Buddhist. I have always looked at the world in a very idealist manner, often only looking at the good and refusing to see the bad. When I decided to be "Lubavitch" I only looked at the good and refused admittedly to not see the bad or even recognize the possibility that there was bad. I can now see the error in my ways.
When I think about God and religion, I have a hard time with the dogma that is often imposed upon myself and others as a way to honor God. Now we know from my other posts that I am in no way interested in honoring God at this time. However, there was a time in my life when I did want to honor him. "Lubavitch" taught me how to honor God. Or I should say how they honor God. I now realize that everyone needs to honor God in their own way. How am I honoring God if I am doing something that I do not agree with, do not understand, or that does not make me happy.
In Judaism we are each connected to God and have a part of him inside of us. Everything we do or say is directly connected to God. And it is for us to decide with God how our lives will play out. The only person we have to answer to is ourselves and the only being we have to answer to is God and he will essentially understand our choices. However, in "Lubavitch" there are more connections than just simply to God. One is expected to not only answer to God, but to the Rebbe and to the community. I respect both the Rebbe and the community but I do not feel that I have to answer to them. I no longer feel a connection to the Rebbe. I think his teachings are beautiful to read about but not to live by. And I now see the contradictions to the life I was living under the Rebbe's teachings. I also respect my community. However, I do not fit here and I certainly do not feel I should have to answer to them. This is not the shtetl and this is not a dictatorship. I have free choice and others cannot make my decisions for me, and no longer can I let that happen. I will respect my community but I will live my own life.
I have taken time to talk to many people from all walks of Judaism about the Rebbe and "Lubavitch." One of the hardest things for me to understand is Moshiach. As a "Lubavitcher," I was taught that the Rebbe would be Moshiach. However it clearly states that Moshiach will be a living person. The Rebbe is dead. Someone said to me recently that all "Lubavitchers" believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, as if you must think that or you can not be "Lubavitch." For years I had always understood that there are those that believe this and those that do not. However, while discussing this, I was told that those who are "anti," still believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, they just do not agree with all the craziness. IE sitting around the Rebbe's chair, which is empty to get Kos Shel Brocha. Guess what he is not there and cannot give it to you. Nor will he walk through 770. I was also told that while living, the Rebbe was a definite candidate to be Moshiach. However, I did not know we were holding elections for Moshiach, if that were the case, can we get this over with already. I believe that the Rebbe just like other great rabbaim was a tzaddik. However, I cannot connect with the controversy.
I was a young innocent child when I became lubavitch. I was brainwashed. I love Chasidus, but I have come to a conclusion that Chasidus is just the same as any spiritual work whether it be Buddhism or Jainism. It's a motivational teaching that has many good aspects but practically those teachings are simply a guide. NOT A LAW. No where does it say that living according to Chasidus is Halacha. I have now come to the realization that Chabad is a beautiful theology and commentary on life and Lubavitch is a cult. Yes there I said it and it may anger those who are close to me. But "Lubavitch" took me in and is now prepared to spit me out. All because I no longer fit in. The only difference is that I can walk away and still appreciate some of what I have learned. I have learned to be a good person, but "Lubavitch" is not the only way to be a good person. I can still be a good Jew and not be "Lubavitch."

Thursday, January 28, 2010


No I am not going to write about A Street Car Named Desire, nor will I write about the second rate beer that I truly adore.
My car is my refuge. No, I am not a crazy car buff and I am not going to write about the specs and details of my car. However, Sine the day the state of Pennsylvania gave me the privilege of being a licensed driver, my car has been my home. Just take a look inside, it is truly lived in. The saddest day of my life had to be when my Saab, aka "Stella" kicked the bucket. My Saab was my home. I did everything in that car. For the sake of modesty lets keep all the thoughts clean. But seriously whenever I wanted to get away, I just got in my car and drove. Whether to pick up my boyfriend or go to Sheetz for a Smaggle. My car was a place where I could just let go and forget about the world around me.
Currently I drive "Bessie" my soccer mom mobile. Yes she is a station wagon fully equipped for carpool. I admit this is about as bad as driving my mothers mini van, but it works. I cherish the time in my car. I can smoke and not care about who is watching. I can wear pants and no one sees them. I can blast "goyish" music and no one hears it.
Today after watching maybe one to many episodes of "Big Love," my new favorite Mormon addiction; I had a thought about why I love being in my car so much. The episode I was captivated by was about how the child bride of the Mormon compound leader was escaping from the compound. She took down her braids and changed her clothes. I then thought about my long drives home. When I am a comfortable distance away from the "compound," I take down my hair, take off my cardigan and breathe. An acquaintance once proclaimed to me, I bet you listen to hardcore metal when you drive, I bet you head bang the whole ride home. Now this acquaintance happens to be a neighbor who is extremely frum and also happens to be a metal guitarist. The funny thing about this situation is that he is completely right. As soon as I feel that I am far enough away from what I feel is my uncomfortable place, I turn of the Uncle Moishe and Journeys tapes and blast metal and head bang for five hours before arriving home. I let loose and shed all memories of the "compound."
My car is my freedom. I takes me away to a better place, where I am happy. It keeps all my secrets and never tells a soul. I will admit I do take advantage of this freedom and often take the long way back from school to the bungalow, but any chance at freedom is worth it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Touch Down Jesus

My first memory of arriving in Ohio, to work at Camp Chabad. Am I the only one who sees the irony?

Hi My Name is Elly And It Has Been 3 Months Since My...

1. Since my last drink?
2. Since my last cigarette?
~I wish
3. Since my last coffee?
~ make that about 3 seconds, and I am ready for my next!

I look around at my friends and I see people who are kind and loving. They take care of me and have become my family. However, while gaining these wonderful friends, I have given up my family. I don't spend time with them, and when I get the chance to see them it is often a quick "hello," followed by me running off to be with my friends. This has been the case for the past few years.
Last night I had an awful dream. I was at my grandmothers shiva.
"Hi my name is Elly and its been 3 months since my Grandmother died." Yes, I feel like I'm a recovering addict. I can't count the amount of times I "relapsed" and tried to call her on the phone. And when I woke from my dream this morning I had convinced myself that I could call her and she would take my fears away. You know sometimes you have a bad dream about a loved one and when you wake up to call and make sure they are okay. Expect in my early morning stupor, without my caffeine boost, I picked up my cell phone, dialed, and realized that no one would answer. That's right now that she is gone, I want to call her. Before she was gone, I was notorious for ignoring her calls or pretending to be busy because I just did not have the patience to talk. My friends make fun of me that I still have my call MomMom reminder in my phone. I think it's sick. Who the hell needs to schedule time to call their grandparents. But somehow the alarm going off every night at 7:45 reminding me to call is a comfort. It reminds me that I am an awful person and should have taken more time for her when she was alive. It makes me want to better myself and my relationship with my family.
My grandmothers death hit me like a train. I can honestly say that no a day goes by that I don't think about the time I spent with her in the hospital. I remember holding her hand and begging her to live. That's right I begged her not God. Yep I'm apparently a terrible person, I did not pray for her. Some of you might this why the hell would a grandchild not pray for their grandparent. But, I just couldn't justify asking God to fix something I knew he wouldn't. Why pray to someone who wont listen.
I have been told by my friends that it is okay to be mad at God. Its okay to talk to him and yell at him for what I feel he has done wrong. But for me that's like talking to the wall. If God cared she would still be here to take care of me. "If God gives life, then he is and Indian giver."
My friends also say that God is not kind he is just. How in the world is killing and innocent person just. There was no due process, and don't tell me it happened in heaven or on Yom Kippur. Sorry I'm not buying it. God sucks on this issue.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Future of Chabad...A Respone to the Article By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

In response to the following article...
Ok...Lets begin,
1.This article is completely grammatically incorrect...yes I admit that I don't pay attention to my own grammar but this is awful.
2."horizontal expansion - opening more Chabad Houses and sending out more rabbi-emissaries - or it will begin focusing on vertical expansion.By vertical I mean affecting the world media, governments, the broader culture and the non-Jewish world - areas where Chabad has had little to no influence."--How about inward expansion...we could avoid the Taliban tznius situation if we start focusing inward instead of outward.
3."But for all that, Chabad remains utterly unknown to the vast majority of Earth's inhabitants. With the exception of the tragedy in Mumbai, Chabad appears in the news mainly through its own press releases."... I beg to differ...what about all of the menorah lightings at government building and in Washington DC, I am sure I have seen these on the news, then again anyone who does not have access to the news would feel that Chabad doesn't have exposure because THEY CANT SEE IT!
4."From their early teens, Chabad youth are volunteering huge amounts of personal time to strangers. Rather than spending Jewish holidays in the comfort of family, young men and women travel the world to assist Chabad emissaries in staging Passover Seders and High Holy Day services. Why is the secret of such successful youth motivation not being exported?"...I am all for community service during the teenage years. My highschool required it and I feel it is very important. However, NO teenager should be pulled away from their family especially during the holidays. I have spent numerous holidays away from my family many of the participating in Chabad meals and helping shluchim, I don't regret this, but I wish I had the family time back. I also feel that if Chabad was focused more on the teen family relationship and less on sending kids away for whatever reason (possibly because they have too many kids), fewer teenagers would be "frying" out.
5."Low birthrates are decimating Western countries. The New York Times Magazine devoted a cover story last summer to “Disappearing Europe,” exposing how the deplorably low birthrate in France, Russia, Britain and Scandinavia means that the people of Europe are quite literally disappearing, the principal reason being the high cost of modern living. But Chabad continues proudly with large families, insisting that scarce resources be put into raising kids rather than buying Prada handbags."...Speechless...utterly speechless...I suggest all of the women wearing Tory Burch boots and pushing bugaboo strollers while their kids hang out of them and run down Kingston Ave like banshees, reevaluate their priorities so Chabad can make a blanketed statement like this and now sound like hypocrites. ... See More
6."So why isn't Chabad publishing treatises on how parents can learn to love having children more than prospering careers?"...Career...What's that?

7."And how often do we see Chabad men stringing women along for years without marrying them? Chabad men and women look forward eagerly to the commitment of marriage. So where is the advice for a world in which the culture of womanizing and increasing female commitment-phobia leads to so many lonely singles?"...Where do I start...I've been strong along, and so have many of my friends and ironically enough by Chabad men. I don't see why its a problem to get to know your spouse before you marry them? Can someone explain this one to me?
8."Chabad uniquely raises women who are strong-willed but uniquely feminine and nurturing. That's saying a lot in a culture where the original feminist dream of women being taken seriously for their minds has sadly ended in the exploitation of female sexuality to sell cars and beer."...I have a brain, I was not raised Chabad. I respect my body and myself and I am extremely strong willed AND last time I checked, I am not using my sexuality to sell cars or beer. I have seen many Chabad women who are not strong-willed, feminine or nurturing, specifically nurturing. Yet another blanketed statement.
9."Chabad has answers to so many of these modern dilemmas. Yet it continues to be known only for the most practical outreach rather than its formidable wisdom. Want to buy a mezuza? Go to Chabad. But want a more spiritual life? Deepak Choprah is your man."...WHAT? I could have gone to Deepak Choprah...Why didn't anyone tell me this? Why in the World would they put this statement in the article do they seriously want us to have pity on them because people want their help and not necessarily to learn Tanya? Isn't the whole goal of Chabad to bring Jews closer to Judaism...if that is the truth than we should be happy with putting up mezuzas.
10. "While Christian evangelicals have taken over the airwaves, attempting to convince us that the solution to the disintegration of marriage is opposition to gays, Chabad continues to operate shofar factories and erect Hanukka menoras. These things are profoundly important, but not to the exclusion of promoting Chabad as a profound collection of ideas that can rehabilitate one's family and rejuvenate one's spiritual life."...Since when do we compare ourselves to Evangelicals and what in the world does opposition of gay marriage have to do with shofar factories. This whole paragraph doesn't make sense and should have never been published, at least not in the current format.
11."Even Chabad's greatest admirers praise it for its outstanding work rather than its outstanding wisdom."...Then stop concentrating on putting up mezuzas and start concentrating on teaching can't have your cake and eat it too! But I promise cake tastes better if you make a bracha!
12."THE SAME is true with politics. True, Chabad is not a political movement, nor should it be. But should Chabad really have no say when it comes to school choice, the tuition crisis and how not one dollar of religious parents' hard-earned tax money can go to even the secular departments of parochial schools? And does Chabad really have nothing to say about the genocide in Sudan?"...Does Chabad have anything to say about anything...I'm sure if the people of Crown the Heights had something to say about any of this they would. Clearly they have enough time to complain about how not tznius their neighbors are...(see last weeks article.) then they should have enough time to complain about the above stated issues. ... See More
13."Part of the problem has been the failure on the part of modern Chabad to create, with some exceptions, notable writers and thinkers, which is curious given the rebbe's towering reputation as an intellectual. The movement has become focused on creating fund-raisers rather than orators, builders rather than writers, outreach professionals as opposed to philosophers, and rabbis who know how to put together a minyan as opposed to keeping a marriage together."....HALLELUJAH, we are finnally saying that somewhere we may have made a little bit of a mistake and should have been educating our children to be productive members of society would will be givers and not takers. (yes Mama, I stole that line from you!)
14."Both are, of course, extremely important. But a movement that focuses only on horizontal expansion risks becoming ossified in more-of-the same predictability. Innovative thinkers and charismatic teachers will not arise in Chabad so long as there is thought-conformity in the movement. Yes, Chabad is an halachic movement, and it is to be expected that its intellectuals always conform to the norms of Jewish law. But a thinker must also be allowed broad leeway in challenging conventional norms rather than fearing ostracization for doing so. After all, the rebbe himself was arguably the most broad-minded Hassidic rabbi of all time. Sixty years later, let's embrace his example."...Are we finally admitting how important it is to embrace the "different" Lubavitcher, the boy who doesn't want to learn in Yeshiva, but can write or play music, or the 28 year old girl who isn't married but is an amazing lawyer.
My comments may offend but, well I speak my mind. I will be honest this is the worst written article I have read in a long time. Maybe if we embraced the boy who writes not learns this article would have been better written and made more sense. I was appalled by the first half of the article but toward the end I changed my mind! Clearly something is starting to make sense if Chabad is writing about the need for educated young men and women, and not just Torah educated at that!

Living in Two Worlds is a Joke!

I like green. It's happy and vibrant. Feelings I haven't had for a long time. My world was completely black and white. And no I am not referring to the black jackets, slack, hats, and white shirts lubavitch men wear. I am mean my life has been either one way or the other. Although I have always for the past seven years, tried to straddle both the secular and religious worlds, one has always been black and one has always been white. However, unlike the Chinese ying and yang, these two worlds did not come together to create perfect harmony. In fact most of the time I had to choose one or the other for fear that they would collide and cause the war of the worlds. Therefore the religious world won and the secular world lost. I gave up friends, family, and life numerous times. My excuses were always I'm too religious to do that when I knew in my heart of hearts that yes I was too religious, but I totally wanted to do whatever fun and creative thing they were doing. I wanted to go out and see the world, I wanted to run free. But, in my world, my screwed up mixture of a world I couldn't. Because I was convince to believe that being religious meant giving up yourself and your needs and to stop having fun. Because the only fun you could have had to be related to religion. Well guess what religious fun, is not so fun. I don't want to sit around and sing songs about how great God is. Cause honestly I'm a little pissed at God for a lot of reasons. But that is an issue for another time. Listen in the word of some 1980's pop song "Girls just wanna have fun...that's all they really want." I want to have fun and well I want to have real fun. Not the kind that involves learning or praying.
-And so it goes....

Here We Go

For the past seven years, I have dedicated my life to being a proud card carrying member of Chabad Lubavitch. I walked away from my life to start a journey that I am not sure I was truly prepared for. When I look back on my journey I have so many good memories. But I also look back and have so many questions. Like why am I doing this? Why am I giving up my life for this? I love Chabad. They saw me and my family when no other Jews would. They helped us learn and gave us a feeling of connection. When I became Lubavitch it felt great. However, as I became a full fledged member my opinion began to change. What the hell was I doing. I mean these people really want me to do this? Wait what I have to do what, your want me to wear what...when I get married I have to do WHAT? All of these questions have been rushing through my head for years and now at age 22 I am going to take the opportunity to answer them...that is before I'm married with ten kids and can't even think of asking such questions.