Personal Reflections

Religion as a Source of Peace?

by Rabbi Amy Eilberg, February 24, 2010
[Eilberg is a member of the Board of The Shalom Center. She was the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She directs interfaith dialog programs in the Twin Cities, including at the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning and the St. Paul Interfaith Network.]

Life in Rehab: What Dies & What's Reborn

After seven weeks since the car crash of longing for my home, I'm finally there--starting a new phase of Rehab.

Saturday was my birthday in the Jewish calendar, and yesterday (Monday, October 12) my birthday in the Western one. Both -- the same day when I was born--are festive days, almost it seems contradictory. In Jewish time, it was the wintry festival of Shmini Atzeret, a time of inwardness when we turn from the showy fruitfulness of harvest to the secret life of the seed gone underground. In American time, it was Columbus Day, memorial of a time when a great outward burst of curiosity and exploration soured into conquest and genocide.

I have been trying to learn to hold these two impulses, inward and outward, not in balance but in a single path: "Explorer Who Can Go Home Again." Since the crash, I have been walking this path in unexpected, unplanned ways: exploring not outward but inward, exploring "new" worlds within my own body and my own heart. My weeks at Moss Rehab brought me into those new worlds. I explore them in this letter to you-all.

Crash #5: Excruciating Pain & Oceans of Love

During these past weeks, since my car crash, I have had two profound experiences I want to share with you:

  1. Brief lightning flashes of excruciating pain,
  2. Long days and weeks of love renewed and deepened.

When I had my surgery for resetting my broken leg, one of the elements—which no one mentioned ahead of time—was that under general anesthetic, to prevent my body's contaminating the operation process with unplanned urination, the surgical staff installed a urinary catheter.

The Crash 4: Thoughts, Rosh Hashanah 5770

Dear friends,

To welcome Rosh Hashanah with some ideas, hopes, and plans - not just the platitudes -- I have posted a video on YouTube.

You can see me, leg immobilizer, turquoise robe, rainbow yarmulke, long white beard, and all, in my rehab-center room. (The beard is even longer than usual because I haven't been able to get to my usual pre-Rosh Hashanah barbering.) I hope you'll watch. And write me whatever thoughts it stirs in you.

I keep asking myself: "Waskow, what are you learning? - about yourself, and about our community, our society, as a whole!"

The Crash 3: A Personal Appeal

Dear chevra,

My heart and soul have been lifted high by the wonderful blessings hundreds of you have sent me, and my mind lifted as well by dozens of thoughtful comments on the different kinds of healing I've been learning. Never have I felt so warmed and comforted by so many.

Now I need to ask your help at the body-level, too.

As I've written, everything I do takes longer than it did a month ago. Even writing, let alone walking.

But the need we have to heal and transform the Jewish people, all our religious and ethical communities, and America—has not slowed down.

The Crash 2: Healing Waskow? Healing America?

I have kept trying to learn from my car-crash wounding and healing.

First, the bare bones so to speak: Turns out I will need an operation on my broken tibia bone, and then more time for rehab. The operation is to happen the morning just before Rosh Hashanah welcomes the New Year, and just as Ramadan is about to end and Eid Ul-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast, is just about to begin.

What an auspicious moment to rethink! (Rethink what? Rethink me! Rethink America! Rethink our planet!)

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