Why I Choose to Follow the Laws of Kashrut

When I began my conversion to Judaism one of the first things the rabbi had me do was to eat Kosher.  He said it was not necessary but he wanted me to give it a try and see what I thought.  At first I had to read every label and think about everything I ate.  Over time however eating Kosher became an everyday norm.

Why do Jews eat Kosher?

Jews follow the dietary laws described in the Torah.  The laws of Kashrut are mentioned three times in the Torah, making them important.  The Torah states which foods are permitted and which are not.  The rabbis interpret the phrase, “A kid shall not be boiled in its mother’s milk,” as meat and dairy should not be eaten together.

Is There an Easy Way to Keep Kosher?

An easy way to begin eating kosher is to follow a vegan diet.  Vegan diets exclude meat and dairy, therefor making it easier to follow without having to think too much about it.  One does have to think about what things are cooked with and cooked on when eating out if planning to follow a kosher diet.  For example grills that vegetables are cooked on may also be used to cook meat or prohibited items.  Cooking meals at home guarantees you know where your food is cooked and what it is cooked with.  Allowed items can be added if you so choose.

How Does Eating Kosher Add to my Jewish Experience?

Eating kosher for me reminds me of my beliefs every time I sit down to a meal.  It is something I think about on a daily basis, not only on Shabbat.  It makes me think about everything I eat.  It is one of the things that makes me a Jew.

The only thing I miss since I began keeping kosher is pepperoni pizza, but that is a very small price to pay for finding where I belong.

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Me Too

I am one of the many women who have experienced harassment only to have my complaints thrown to the wayside.  The man who harassed me was a member of my synagogue.  He and his wife invited me to stay with them for a while as they knew I did not have a place to stay.  I was excited that members of my synagogue would be so kind.  I was in the process of conversion and I was hoping to learn how a Jewish household was run, how to prepare Jewish food and celebrate holidays.  I thought I might be able to help them out as well as their house and yard were big.

The first few weeks I was there they were away on a cruise and I watched their dog.  Upon their return they became different people than the ones I had met at synagogue.  They had always been friendly and kind.  Now that I was living with them they suddenly changed.  They began taunting me with things they found out about me.  Nothing bad, but these were things that only my landlord who had sent me into homelessness would know.  I realized they must somehow know her, probably through the senior services office she had worked at.  A friend invited me out for a drink on my birthday and I was treated as though I was a minor, even though I was 54 at the time.  I was told I wore children’s clothing, they insinuated that my ex’s family only pretended to like me, and on and on and on.  It got worse instead of better.  I knew through experience not to over react and leave, as I had no where to go.  They knew this, and it was winter in Seattle.  I bit my tongue at all of their verbal abuse and weathered out the winter.

The abuse was not only at home.  He was active in the same political groups that I was and tried to sway their opinion of me for the worse rather than the better.  This had an impact on my employment as the people involved in the political groups were also my employers.  At Torah study they mocked me and carried on theatrics to make me look bad.  I had no idea why they were doing these things to me and I was very hurt by it.

I moved out of their house and their abuse continued at political functions and at synagogue.  I decided I could no longer be a door mat.  I went to a demonstration at a Macy’s store by employees.  I decided to join them as I had once worked their and agreed with their objections.  While I was in the picket line he showed up and eventually walked up to me.  I told him in a calm tone of voice, “I am going to ask you nicely to leave me alone.”  He tried to say something and I repeated my words.  He walked off and I hoped he would respect my wishes.

Instead of respecting my wishes, his abuse became worse.  The theatrics at synagogue continued, and he and his wife constantly insinuated that I needed to be made homeless.  The only reason I could think of that they acted this way was my former landlord. A convention was held in Seattle over a weekend.  He tried to approach me, and I reminded him I had asked him to leave me alone.  At one of the sessions he sat across the room from me, which I found acceptable.  He them moved to a seat next to the woman I was sitting with.  I reported this to the convention staff, yet he continued to harass me. At a meeting of the King County Labor Council he signed that he was going to take my seat away from me, which he was successful at doing.  He took away my career at the union.

I take my time spent worshipping and studying Torah at synagogue very seriously.  Having someone like him constantly harassing me was devastating, especially after what happened with the union.  I complained to the synagogue staff about his behavior.  nothing was done and the behavior continued.  He sometimes acted like a small boy pestering a playmate and he often had a grin on his face.  The continued harassment began to take a toll and was causing depression.  Instead of being a victim I decided to take action.  I tried to serve him with a restraining order.  The police said they were unable to find his house.  I went to court anyway and the judge did not do anything.

I finally moved away from Seattle, for many reasons, that being one of them.  I am still dismayed at all he was able to  do to try and destroy me.  I spoke up and complained about what he was doing to me, something I would not have done in the past.  No one would help me, they continued to support him and treated me like I was a pain in the ass.  Members of my synagogue signed that they were going to make me homeless.  Retaliation for speaking out.

I have not in my past accused a man of harassment.  It took a lot of courage to speak up and to try and do something about someone who was not only harassing me, but trying to destroy my character and good name and was successful at it.  I spoke the truth and was treated as a nuisance.

I am glad the women of Hollywood have been more successful than I at calling out bad behavior and that action is being taken.  Nothing makes one feel so small as to have the courage to speak up and then to be ignored.  It is time that we stop ignoring those who speak up.  I was not sexually abused, but harassment is harassment.  I think in horror about those who are sexually abused and ignored.  It is an ill our society needs to fix as it leaves permanent scars.

What is Causing Widespread Homelessness?

In this day and age to have to rent instead of being a home owner puts you at risk for becoming homeless.  In the city of Seattle some crooked landlords are creating and adding to the problem of homelessness.  Being able to charge higher rents may be the cause.

My story begins in 2009 when I rented the basement apartment from a woman named Hla Yin Yin Waing (aka Wang Helmstetter).  I made the mistake of not insisting on a rental contract, which I will never do again.  Our verbal agreement began with an agreed upon amount for rent and the stipulation that I would pick her children up from school and watch them until she arrived home around 6PM.  That would give me the day to work on my photography business, which I was trying to start after attending fine art photography school.

 

Wang Wang

Unfortunately Wang began asking for more and more favors until I was waking the family up at 8AM, helping get the children ready for school, driving Wang downtown to her job at the senior services center and driving the children to 2 different schools.  I then had to pick them up and take them to their after school activities, come home, cook them dinner and wait for Wang to get home around 9 or 10.  It was a full day and did not leave me time to work.  All of this was done for free and she demanded rent.  At first I could pay with my unemployment money, but when that ran out I had nothing.  She demanded more and more and I felt I had to do it to keep a roof over my head.  I had never  been homeless.

I reopened my unemployment claim and began paying her rent again.  I told her I could no longer be a nanny to her children as I needed to look for work.  That is when she really got ugly.  She intentionally flooded my apartment, which began to smell from the water damage.  She told me when it happened that she was not going to help me.  it was an attempt to get me to move.  She began putting pressure on me about what I was going to do when my unemployment ran out.  She began with holding my mail, coming into my apartment when I was and was not there.  if I had a date or plans she would call me and say she was coming home late.

I finally moved to Denver to get away from her controlling behavior.  My nightmare with her did not end there.  She started a campaign of hate against me stating to people that I owed her money, that I was crazy and convinced people that I need to be held back so that others more worthy than I can fill job positions.

I have mostly been homeless since that time.  I moved back to Seattle in 2013 where I was harassed by Asians on a daily basis.  I was hit on the back of the head on the bus by an Asian man, I was ran off the road, harassed on public transportation and a bus driver refused to pick me up until I started standing in the road so he would have to stop or run me over.  My complaints to police went unnoticed.  Public transportation finally put up signs against harassment.

An elderly couple from my synagogue let me stay with them for a while.  At first I thought it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I soon learned otherwise.  They began emulating my landlord whom I believe they met through senior services where she taught classes on how to do to others what she did to me.  They knew things only she could have told them.  They tried simulating the flooding of the basement, which ended up almost getting me killed as I was going to plug in a hair dryer but at the last minute change my mind.  Had I done so I would not be here now.  I do not believe it was intentional, but the flooding was.

Hla Yin Yin Waing is now the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called the Center for Ethical Leadership.  I believe this organization conducts classes on how to do to others in Seattle what she did to me.  I know this from a Facebook post where she and her organization were recommended for just that sort of thing.

if people are being manipulated into leaving or eviction, that is causing the number of homeless to rise.  She is emulating Ang Sung Suu Kyi the leader of Myanmar who uses the same techniques to control the muslim minority there called the Rohingya, where a genocide of these people is now occurring.

If we want to end homelessness we need to stop supporting organizations that are creating homelessness.  Before you donate money to an organization be sure you know what they are actually doing.  In looking at the Center for Ethical Leadership’s website the explanation of what they do is vague.  Be sure an organization can provide concrete figures and results of what they provide.

Let us make 2018 the year we begin to end homelessness.

When Life Hands Me Lemons I go for a Run.

It’s that time of year again, the holidays.  The holidays are full of excitement, extra activity and emotions run high and low.  It is also the season of fattening food as there is always a reason to eat in the month of December.  It is this time of year I pull out my running shoes and start running again.

The Benefits of Running

Running has many benefits.  It does not matter how fast or slow one runs, the benefits to your health are many.  The primary benefit is your heart.  Take your resting heart rate before starting your running regime by sitting in a chair for a few minutes and then put your fingers to your neck and feel your pulse.  Count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply it by 4.  That is your resting heart rate.  Take it again 2 weeks after running for at least 3 times per week.  It should be a bit slower.  Keep taking it and watch how your resting heart rate slows down.  That is the most amazing thing running does for your body.

Second, running tones the muscles in your legs, abdomens and arms.  One day a woman asked me what the bumps were in my legs.  I replied, those are my muscles!  A great way to prepare for wearing shorts in summer.

The best part of running is it reduces stress and anxiety.  The holidays and just life in general can produce moments of great stress.  After an hour of running the endorphins kick in and I feel like I can accomplish anything.

I live in southern California and run on a path with a view of the ocean.  You can choose to run almost anywhere.  Pick a place with beautiful scenery that maybe you would not ordinarily see or visit if it was not for a run.  I personally run without music.  It lets my brain focus on the scenery around me.  While I am on a run I can mentally work through almost any problem in my life.

Setting Goals

One thing that keeps me interested and dedicated to running is to set goals.  I will challenge myself and sign up for a run in the future.  I then spend time preparing for the run.  I do not worry about how I will finish, but rather so that I will finish.  As long as I cross the finish line I am happy.

Start small, sign up for a 5k.  Once you are comfortable with that, push yourself to something farther.  I never thought I would be able to run even a 5k and now I do so much more.

Eating Health

Eating healthy makes running easier, so without trying too hard I tend to naturally eat healthier when I am preparing for a race.  I tend to focus on eating small meals several times a day as running can increase your appetite.  I eat a lot of protein and fresh fruit and veggies.  Protein keeps you full longer than carbs, although carbs are necessary to give you energy.

My next goal is a half marathon in June.  Time to start preparing.

Dreams

Have you ever woken up from a dream that seemed so vividly real?  You are left wondering what it all means.  Our dreams can be an insight into what is going on in our subconscious.

The definition of the word dream

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has a list of 4 different definitions for the word dream:

  1.  a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep
    • had a dream about climbing a mountain
  2. an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: such as
    a a visionary (see 1visionary 2a) creation of the imagination daydream 

    • the dreams of her youth
    b a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality reverie 

    • walking around in a dream
    c an object seen in a dreamlike state vision 

    • a man that was her dream come true
  3.  something notable for its beauty, excellence, or enjoyable quality
    • the new car is a dream to operate
  4.  a strongly desired goal or purpose 

    • dream of becoming president
    b something that fully satisfies a wish ideal 

    • a meal that was a gourmet’s dream

What do our dreams mean?

If one can remember their dream or dreams they had the night before, interpreting them might be a good exercise to get in touch with their true self.  The following are some examples of dream interpretations from howtolucid.com .

  • Water related dreams can mean you feel overwhelmed or unsupported by your loved ones.
  • Getting chased almost always means you’re just feeling in danger or under pressure. You might need to look at what’s stressing you out most in life.
  • Demons and monsters tend to mean you’re looking to change aspects of yourself. If you keep seeing YOURSELF as a demon, you need to think about what you don’t like about yourself, and change it!
  • Falling is a dream symbol that means you’re thinking about letting go of something you’ve been holding onto for a while now. It could also mean that no matter how hard you’ve tried at something, you keep failing at it and you need to let it go.

Getting in touch with our true selves

If you are interested in interpreting your dreams to become more self aware, keep a notebook and pen next to your bed.  Upon waking right down what you remember about your dream or dreams from the night before.  There are many websites that can help you interpret what you remember.  There are also a number of dream dictionaries and there are dream apps.  Good luck with your interpretations and I wish you all sweet dreams.

 

 

Los Angeles Rock n Roll Marathon

On​ ​Sunday​ ​October​ ​29,​ ​2017​ ​I​ ​ran​ ​my​ ​first​ ​half​ ​marathon​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Los​ ​Angeles​ ​Rock​ ​‘n​ ​Roll 
marathon.​ ​​ ​The​ ​day​ ​prior​ ​to​ ​the​ ​event​ ​I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Convention​ ​Center​ ​in​ ​downtown​ ​L.A.​ ​next​ ​to Staples​ ​Center.​ ​​ ​There​ ​I​ ​picked​ ​up​ ​my​ ​bib​ ​for​ ​the​ ​race​ ​and​ ​attended​ ​the​ ​health​ ​expo.​ ​​ ​After leaving​ ​the​ ​expo​ ​i​ ​walked​ ​around​ ​the​ ​local​ ​area​ ​where​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​a​ ​group​ ​of​ ​people​ ​going​ ​up​ ​an escalator.​ ​​ ​I​ ​asked​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​what​ ​was​ ​going​ ​on​ ​and​ ​she​ ​told​ ​me​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a​ ​surprise​ ​free​ ​Black Eyed​ ​Peas​ ​concert​ ​and​ ​to​ ​go​ ​on​ ​up.​ ​​ ​I​ ​took​ ​the​ ​escalator​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​next​ ​floor​ ​where​ ​I​ ​was​ ​given an​ ​orange​ ​bracelet​ ​that​ ​lights​ ​up.​ ​​ ​After​ ​going​ ​through​ ​a​ ​metal​ ​detector​ ​I​ ​entered​ ​the​ ​club​ ​Novos where​ ​the​ ​band​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​play.​ ​​ ​The​ ​band​ ​was​ ​there​ ​to​ ​play​ ​for​ ​Comic​ ​Con​ ​which​ ​was​ ​also going​ ​on​ ​last​ ​weekend. 
 
The​ ​band​ ​put​ ​on​ ​an​ ​impressive​ ​show​ ​and​ ​brought​ ​on​ ​stage​ ​some​ ​other​ ​musicians ​that​ ​have been​ ​in​ ​influence​ ​to​ ​them​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Flavor​ ​Flav,​ ​DMC​ ​and​ ​a​ ​few​ ​others.​ ​​ ​Will​ ​I​ ​Am​ ​is​ ​a​ ​very inspirational​ ​speaker​ ​and​ ​likes​ ​to​ ​boost​ ​the​ ​careers​ ​of​ ​others​ ​as​ ​a​ ​way​ ​of​ ​giving​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the community​ ​which​ ​gave​ ​them​ ​their​ ​start. 
 
Prior​ ​to​ ​the​ ​race​ ​on​ ​Sunday​ ​morning​ ​the​ ​runners​ ​were​ ​pumped​ ​with​ ​excitement and giving others encouragement.  I was worried as I had not run in a while due to circumstances in life.  I decided to give it a try anyway.  On the sidelines throughout the course locals cheered us on and rock n roll band played music which made it fun.  The last mile was the hardest even though most of it was downhill.  My legs hurt bad and I did not know if I would make it.  I kept going and pushed through the pain.  After crossing the finish line we were awarded bling along with handfuls of snacks.  Now that it is the day after my legs are still sore, but better than race day.l  In a few days I will begin training for my next half marathon.