Meaningful Schmutz

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 18 February 2015 @ 3:04 pm

ash wednesday

28 February 1990

Music Theory II

As always, Dr. Arlin strode into the classroom precisely at 7:59am. Only on this particular day, she had a bit of schmutz on her forehead.

It is a darn good thing that I thought to silently count to five before saying anything. Because the poor sod who inquired was on the receiving end of quite the lecture.

In my defense and to the best of my recollection,I had never seen anyone observe Ash Wednesday prior to that brisk, snowy day in February. Given the observance includes ashes placed on one’s forehead by the priest or minister, I imagine I would have noticed it.

Ash Wednesday, for those of the Mosaic persuasion, is the start of the forty-six day period before Easter, commonly known as Lent. If childhood experience is to serve as the basis for my knowledge, then Lent would be the period when one gives up chocolate. Seriously. Every one of my Catholic friends gave up chocolate for Lent — every year. Leading me to the misguided conclusion that (a) Lent was a holiday about refraining from chocolate and (b) Lent doesn’t really work…and it’s better to just do the Ten Days of Repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur.

Dr. Arlin was, without question, the most demanding and most intimidating professor with whom I studied. I also learned more about music theory from her than from anyone else. I learned as well how to stand tall and walk through one’s day while observing a religious behaviour that was unknown to most.

I have thought of her every Ash Wednesday for the past twenty-five years and pray that her Lenten season is filled with meaning and purpose.

*an earlier version of this appeared on Frume Sarah’s World in 2011.


One False Move

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 13 January 2015 @ 4:58 pm

Photo credit: iStock

Photo credit: iStock

I had added an additional hour to my travel time.
I walked slowly on the concrete sidewalk.
I crossed cautiously across the street.

Yet, not a single one of these precautions saved me from the icy brickwork.

What I Learned from Falling Flat on my Face

  1. Falls happen in slow motion
  2. It is really true. As it was happening, time seemed to slow down, yet I was powerless to stop it.

  3. Falls are clumsy-looking.
  4. I am not graceful under the very best of circumstances. In fact, one of the things I love best about my yoga studio is that there are no mirrors. Without mirrors, I continue to see myself (doesn’t get more reflexive than that!) as graceful poetry-in-motion. And taller. MUCH taller. I was horrified this past summer to take a class in a mirrored studio while on vacation and realize that the clumsy elephant clunking about in the back was me.

    Lying splat! on the ground, I resembled a sprawled-out elephant, limbs flaying everywhere.

  5. If one is going to fall, best place to do it is at the hospital.
  6. I had just dropped off a friend for an outpatient procedure when I fell. At least, God-forbid, had I needed medical attention, the professionals wouldn’t have had far to travel.

  7. Humans can be fixed, things can’t.
  8. Yes, this is what I actually thought when I hit the ground. “Oh my God, is my phone OK?” And then, “What luck! My coffee landed butter side up.”

  9. People might truly be good at heart, but that doesn’t mean they will stop.
  10. That’s right; not a single person stopped to see if I was OK. Not. One. And that made me sad.

Today is a different story. Today I am sore, bruised, and nursing a battered ego. Fifteen minutes of ice every hour, ibuprofen, and rest has been the order of the day as I thank God that I didn’t hit my tender head or break something.

And today is the day I decided to always ask someone if they need help. Because even when you don’t need it, it sure feels good to know that someone cares.



December 22, 2014

I’ve been the mother of a child with special needs for nearly fourteen-and-a-half-years. Which kind of makes me an expert. Or so I thought. Recently, I was reminded of what happens when I don’t take the time to step back and better anticipate what can be done to make Ben’s life easier. For that experience […]

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December 9, 2014

I don’t usually cry about the difficulties of rearing a child with special needs. Not because I don’t feel the sadness. But because I’ve steeled myself against it. And because I’m afraid that once I start, it will be too difficult to stem the flow. But tonight, I am crying. I am crying for my […]

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The Reader’s Story

December 2, 2014

Every book tells a story. (That is, after all, the point of a book.) Some books, however, tell a story about the reader. For those of us whose lives depend on the written word for sustenance, we hold especially dear those titles that tell a piece of our story. And for me, The Chosen is […]

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Mission Accomplished: Ted Talk

November 13, 2014

I have a list. It’s akin to a bucket list, I suppose. But it is not about places I want to go or things I want to see. Or, I should say, it’s not just about those things. It’s a list of the things that I want to accomplish. Like learn Yiddish. I want to […]

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Bitter, Bitter Cheshvan

November 4, 2014

With the intensity of our Fall Holy Days behind us, we find ourselves in the month of Cheshvan. Known as Mar Cheshvan, or “bitter Cheshvan,” it is the only month on our calendar devoid of festivals or fast days. And it is for that reason that many have assumed it was given its alternate name. […]

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October 23, 2014

I haven’t been writing. Or exercising nearly as much as I’d like. Or keeping up with friends. Or even wishing them happy birthday on Facebook. Things here in AutismLand have been difficult. For months. Really difficult. Really, really, really difficult. I feel as though I spend my days under the weight of quick sand. Sinking. […]

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#BlogElul 2: Act

August 28, 2014

I am terrible at predicting trends. For example, I predicted Cyndi Lauper would be more successful than Madonna, Tiffany over Debbie Gibson, and never, never would I have thought that nearly the entire world would have jumped on the ALS #IceBucketChallenge. To the tune of nearly $100M in a month. I have a perfect track […]

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#BlogElul 1: Do

August 27, 2014

Elul means different things to different people. As a pulpit rabbi, it is a time filled with intense pressure and infinite spiritual potential. Every waking moment and, truth be told, some sleeping ones are filled with High Holy Day prep. Going over the liturgy, looking for nuances that resonate in a new way, and practicing […]

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