Mission Accomplished: Ted Talk

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 13 November 2014 @ 9:05 am


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 learn how to speak Yiddish. And I would love to spend a summer at the Yiddish Farm, completely immersed in Yiddish language and culture. I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Yet it remains on my SomeDay List.

[Yes, some people fantasize about going to Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp; I fantasize about Yiddish camp.]

In fact, most of the items on my list are things I anticipate will not happen until the children are older, Ben is in a healthy place, and I have the wherewithal to carve out the necessary time for each of them.

Giving a Ted talk is on that list.
Or, rather, was on that list.
Because in September, I delivered a Ted talk at Tedx Lehigh River.


Bitter, Bitter Cheshvan

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 04 November 2014 @ 5:47 pm

Image courtesy of George Stojkovic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Image courtesy of George Stojkovic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Yet, exploration into the etymology of the word Cheshvan presents a shocking discovery; we have been mispronouncing the name. The names of our Hebrew months were derived from their Babylonian counterparts. Given that we were in Babylonia at the time our calendar was codified, it makes perfect sense. With Nissan being the head of the liturgical calendar, the month in question is the eighth month. Because in Akkadian, the language of the day, the “w” (vav) and “m” (mem) sounds can interchange, we see that Marcheshvan which is from the two words “m’rach” and “shvan,” would have been “warh” and “shman,” in Akkadian, corresponding to the Hebrew “yerech shmi- ni,” thus “eighth month.” Ashkenazic tradition incorrectly places a break in the name, “Mar-cheshvan.” Our Yeminite coreligionists have retained greater accuracy in their pronunciation “Marach- sha’wan.” Furthermore, Rashi (11th century, France), the Rambam (12th century, Spain, Egypt), and Ibn Ezra (11th century, Iberian Peninsula) all use the complete name, indicating the longer name as the known name.

And yet historical “truth” ought not invalidate the wisdom that might lurk within the folds of folk etymology. For a certain Cheshvan nineteen years ago turned bitter when the Israeli Prime Minister was murdered at the hands of a fellow Jew.

As my hand reached for the handle, the front door swung open . My father’s face was ashen as he met me at the door to deliver the horrific news, praying that I had not been listening to the radio. Yitzchak Rabin, z”l, had been assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Moments before his murder, he stood on the dais and, with pop star, Miri Aloni, sang these words:

…So just sing a song for peace, don’t whisper a prayer; Just sing a song for peace, in a loud shout…

And then, with seemingly-prophetic words still in his coat pocket, the assassin’s bullet tore through him and stole him from us.

Image courtesy of http://www.knesset.gov.il/ Image courtesy of http://www.knesset.gov.il/

The twelfth of Cheshvan. Set aside to celebrate my engagement to Warren with family and friends. What should have been one of the happiest nights of my life was marred by this terrible tragedy. Such an awful, awful night. For me and my family, it was surreal as we numbly maneuvered through a group of oblivious partygoers. The unrequited joy of the evening forever intertwined with a horrific reality.

And though peace seems less possible today than it did nineteen years ago, somehow we must continue to sing and to shout for that peace…

[This originally appeared on Frume Sarah's World some years ago. The sentiment remains the same.]



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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August 5, 2014

#487699779 / gettyimages.com It’s been so long that I can no longer remember what, if anything, I really knew about Tisha b’Av prior to rabbinical school. All of that changed during my first year at HUC in Jerusalem. Just a few weeks into our Israel experience, we were expected to mourn for something that we […]

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Professional Peace-Maker

July 7, 2014

#AB62963 / gettyimages.com I am really fortunate. My life has brought me into relationship with some truly inspiring and amazing people. Individuals who are compassionate. And brave. And filled with conviction. And the belief that they are able to help bring a modicum of peace to our broken world. Andrea Berlin is one such person. […]

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July 1, 2014

Barukh Dayan HaEmet. Blessed is the Eternal God of Truth. We say these words upon hearing of a death. The death of the eighty-six year old grandmother who lived a full and rich life. The death of the eight year old son Who barely left footprints on his journey. The death of the teenagers Whose […]

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Passover is Over: A Reflection

April 29, 2014

This was the year. In 2010, I gave myself until this year to make a decision about kitniyot. Of course, 5774 seemed like such a long way off… After several years of experimenting with the Pesach prohibitions, we have finally found what works best for our family. Rice? Fine. Beans? Fine. Peanut butter? Fine. Corn […]

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Stranger in a Strange Land

April 10, 2014

I think it has to do with Robert A. Heinlein. A dear friend introduced me to the genre of science fiction/fantasy. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke. Among many, many others. And yes, Heinlein as well. Their stories have stayed with me and shaped me. But with Heinlein, he had me before I even […]

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