Archive for October, 2011

Our Gluten Free Family

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Looking back at our selves and asking forgiveness for those we have wronged over the past year is undertaken in the “ten days of repentence” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

One of my favorite ways to look back at the past year is with 10Q whose slogan is: Reflect. React. Renew. Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.

Rereading my 10Q answers from last year and answering the first question, of 2011 I see that my focus has shifted completely. A year ago I was searching for something–a purpose. Wanting more from my life, I decided to go back to school to study nutrition (or medicine). I wanted my life to be slightly different than it was.

Read the full blog post here

To Kiss a Mezuzah

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

10Q is a website that sends you a question once a day for 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You answer the questions online, and can choose whether or not to share your answers.

The site stores your answers each year, so you can look back at your responses from each year, to see how you have grown and changed over time.

Read the full blog post here

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

10Q Project Returns for the High Holidays

For the fourth consecutive year, the 10Q Project, which asks Jews a series of reflective questions during the Days of Awe, is set to go online. Sponsored by the Jewish nonprofit Reboot, the 10Q Project begins Wednesday, Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 7.

Participants in the project are emailed a question a day over the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. At the end of that period, answers to questions about life, future goals, relationships and more are sent into a digital vault. The next year, answers are returned to participants so they can gauge their progress.

In years past, questions probed participants’ family encounters, regrets from the previous year and predictions for the year to come. For the 10Q Project this year, the first of the  10 questions will be sent out to  those who sign up by Sept. 27 at


Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could answer 10 questions about yourself, hide them in a vault on the web and then have them sent back for your review 365 days later? Sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel. It is the website 10Q. 10 days to answer 10 of life’s biggest questions. Inspired by the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, where we take stock of our past year and figure out where we screwed up and what we want to work on, 10Q offers an opportunity for everyone to take an online inner inventory with free storage included.

Read the full blog post here

Spirituality is in the Details

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Question 5: Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s spiritual. For some people, it’s a synagogue or a church or a mosque. For others, it’s a private notion of a deity. For others still, it’s the face of a child in a crib, or the sound of a lover sleeping, or the night sky, or a bird. It’s a highly difficult thing to define and as a result, answering a question about your spiritual experiences can be a highly eccentric exercise. Those who have answered this question in the past have borne out this theory. Last year, one man wrote about learning to build part of his house as a spiritual experience. “I have been generally alienated from work, like many people I know, but when I put the first nail in the first board, it was an amazing feeling.” Another woman wrote about the visits she received from her recently deceased grandmother. “I know that it’s not true, at least in a rational sense,” she wrote, “but they it’s true to me. I heard her voice. I saw her face.” So what was spiritual to you? You can also, if you so choose, focus on the absence of spirituality in your life and whether you think you might want to remedy that.

Has the World Gone Crazy?

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Question 4: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

2011 has been a year where historic world events seemed to have been occurring by the hour, not just the day; tsunamis in Japan, earthquakes on the East Coast of America, Facebook inspired turnovers of governments, the London riots. How have these events effected your world-view and the way you live your day-to-day life? Do you find yourself more engaged with what is happening in the world around you or does it make you turn off the TV, cancel the newspaper subscription and turn inwards? In 2010,  there were a lot of references to the BP Oil spill, to Haiti, to the fight for gay marriage, and the flotilla to Gaza. And while some people feared for the future of our planet,  the reactions weren’t only of fear and despondency. One 10Qer wrote, “The massive earthquake in Haiti. I was really amazed at the way the world pulled together to help out. People from all walks of life made a point to donate money, time, and energy to helping them rebuild. It was incredible to see, and helped to restore my faith in humanity.” This year, what world event would you like to ponder? And has it effected you on a personal level? Has it made you feel more like a global citizen or has it pushed you to pull down the shades and immerse yourself deeper into your community at home?

AJWS President Answers 10Q Question 4

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an “international development and human rights organization driven by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice,” has partnered with 10Q this year. As part of the partnership, Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS answered the fourth question of 10Q:

Question 4:Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Over the past weeks and months, I’ve been shaken to the core by images documenting the horrific effects of the famine in East Africa—a crisis that intensified in July and has since taken tens of thousands of lives. At least 12 million people in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are suffering from acute food shortages and malnutrition.

Food plays a central and sensory role in the lives of most American Jews, particularly during the Jewish holidays. In many ways, food is a map of our history. Meals, recipes and the acts of eating and drinking teach us about who we are, where we live and where we come from. It’s virtually impossible for us to imagine the horror of not having access to the food we desire or to any food at all. So when we turn on the news and see photos of skeletal, starving children, our instinct is to look away. We direct our attention to more manageable problems in our day-to-day lives: a faulty internet connection or a broken washing machine.

I frequently remind people that there are no easy solutions to global hunger; no quick fixes for decades of political conflict and natural disasters. But, as I often say, we must not retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed. Change is possible. Work is being done. Take, for example, AJWS’s long-time partner Northern Aid (NAID)—an organization that has been implementing relief, rehabilitation and development initiatives in northeastern Kenya since 1995. Through an innovative, locally-sourced food distribution program, (NAID) is providing direct assistance to marginalized pastoralist communities and vulnerable female-headed households in northern Kenya. NAID is buying goats and cows that will not survive the drought and slaughtering the animals to distribute meat to over 10,000 vulnerable households. This is providing a livelihood to pastoralists whose entire herds will likely be wiped out. It’s also preventing livestock prices from completely bottoming out and supplying much-needed income to pastoralists so they can support their families.

There is much we can do in the United States to ensure that the world’s most marginalized people have control over their own land and can grow their own food sustainably. We must invest more wisely in agriculture so that the hungriest people in the world are no longer victims of land grabs, deforestation, drought and disease. And we must reform our international food aid system so that small-scale farmers in developing countries can replant decimated crops to benefit local communities.

As I begin the New Year, I remind myself that fighting global injustices such as food insecurity takes time, patience and creative thinking. It is a process that requires leaps of faith, strategic risks and clarity of vision. But this work gets to the core of being Jewish—whether our Jewish identity is animated by food, social values, or ritual. It is work that we must prioritize and for which our energies are desperately needed.