Hanukkah 2014


Seventh night of flaming light in our home.

Watching the women dance in the flame,
playing their instruments, background to the light.
Gratitude, always Gratitude.

Marsha and I have been through a mighty test.
She diagnosed with cancer, survived the brute
chemo radiation hell.
“If one survives this burning, cell killing poison
they must be meant to live,”
I commented to one of her doctors.
He just smiled.

Me losing my oldest and last sister.
We used to be three.
Issue of same mother and father.
Womb blood, blood of childhood fights, blood
of Mine.

There at her death.  Holding squeezing her hand
to let her know my presence.
She did.
She squeezed back even as she gasped for air
in her last days.
Every last bit of her strength was given up to breathe.
Every last bit of her strength squeezed out of her
each hour each minute
she fought
for air.
She fought for hours
till finally
the rattle
the tell tale sounds of the end.
I held onto her hand to the end.
Until it was over.

I’ve been Blessed with
Being Present at the death of
both of my sisters.
Blessed with holding them
long after their last
breath.

What a year we’ve had.
I am grateful that we can give light to Women Playing
silent tunes
with these miracle flames.

 

Prayer Written for my B’Nai Mitzvah Class

Marsha & I are taking a B’Nai Mitzvah class, with our Bat Mitzvahs scheduled to take place Saturday, July 26th (2014).
Our Temple, Beth Chayim Chadashim (http://www.bcc-la.org) happens to be the very first, yes folks, the world’s FIRST gay and lesbian (and bi and transgender) Temple in the world.
Rabbi Heather Miller who is leading our class has asked us to create a prayer.  Easy for me because I pray to G-d daily, several times a day.  
If you’ve read some or all of this blog, you’ll find several prayers which I’ve written over the years. Here is a new one:

My Dearest G-d
Barauch Ha’Shem
My Dearest G-d
Yod Hai Vov Hai
Adonai
Shekhinah
El Shadai
Ha Shem
Help me to love You with all my heart and soul.
Help me to realize that loving You is the MOST important thing in my life.
Thank You for my life, for my wife – the woman who completes me –
for my health, home, family, and friends.
Thank You for the Creation of this Dear World.
Thank You for making me a Jew, for creating me in Your image, and for sustaining me in all that I do.
Amen

Flying to the End of the Earth One Day

I am still moving in with Marsha.
Post wedding, I have time to go through old files and…
lo and behold, came across a ditty from years and years ago.
A quarter page of Frances Stern Nutrition Center letterhead cut neatly to make scrap paper.
(more about Frances Stern
Nutrition Center in a future post)
On the back of the scrap letterhead, I’d written the following:

Flying to the end of the earth one day
      I beheld Golden Irises…
Diving to the floor of the deepest sea
      somersault seahorses dance with me…
Listening to the stars as they fade away
      I can hear angels laughing.

I’m sure that I did NOT write this…..but for the life of me, I can’t recall where these lines came from.

Does anyone know?
I think it’s beautiful.

Our Wedding Cake created by Joanie & Leigh’s Cakes

Needless to say, I have been quite occupied in the past year!

I met Marsha Epstein on J-Date (Jewish Dating) back in January, 2013.  We met face to face on February 22, 2013 and my life hasn’t been the same.
We wed just one month ago on March 16, 2014.
I can honestly say, that I have never been happier in my entire life.
 
Now that the wedding planning is over, I will have time to write and continue to share my heart and thoughts with whomever happens upon this blog.

Poem written by Lucille Clifton


“i am accused of tending to the past”
       by  Lucille Clifton


i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands.  i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch took it to breast
and named it
History.
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names an dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

[Lucille Clifton b. 1936 d. 2010, was a phenomenal poet who wrote about feminist and African American themes.]

Waking Confusion

I awake in my bed this morning, not yours.
My legs search for the luxury of your warmth in vain.
Back and forth your house mine.
Were it not for precise schedules long discussed
written down
schedules not remembered
without a book
we could not track whose bed we sleep in.

One, two nights at the most we sleep alone
else the hunger for your touch
slay me.

I used to wallow in time

Time…..a commodity 
a cognitive construct 
a shaping of reality
a shaping of sanctity
a figment of our imagination
relative

too little
too late
right on
not enough
too much 
does anyone ever have too much
what to do with it all
waiting
rushing
too busy
just enough

When I am with you
there is never enough
When I am with you
it is suspended
in the exquisite 
present

When I am not with you
I wait
I long for….breathless
I hunger for….breathless
time with you

I used to wallow in time
some days it felt oppressive
the   l-o-n-g   s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s
of sorrow

The sorrow is long past
its intensity will not enable
forgetting

But it now enables 
relishing
sweetness
sweetness
glory in Gratitude
for my Time with you


Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel……Siddur Extracts

Below are two beautiful pieces I encountered in my Siddur at yesterday’s Saturday Morning Service;
written by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

We are a people in whom the past endures,
in whom the present is inconceivable without
moments gone by.
The Exodus lasted a moment, a moment enduring forever.
What happened once upon a time happens all the time.

A thought has blown the market place away.
There is a song on the wind and joy in the trees.
Shabbat arrives in the world, scattering
a song in the silence of the night:
Eternity utters a day.

Profound and Sacred


May our intimacies always be
    profound and sacred.

Profound and sacred sharing of our
Past
Pain
Joy
Fear

Present
Concerns
Hurts
Neglect

Present 
Touch Touch Touch
Lips
Skin
Fingers
Hands

Present 
Laughter
More Laughter
Joy
Tears
Awe

Sacred Calling In The Divine
as witness to what we share
what we Create.

Sacred Sharing
Touching
Lips
Skin
Fingers
Hands

Sacred Praise and Blessing for
         This Gift of You.

The Rotten State of USA Spending to Prevent Disease

I’ll be talking to 60 women tomorrow about my favorite topic: nutrition.  Was asked to speak by one of the women who has previously attended my class, Your Body’s Grace.

In preparation, I decided to include statistics regarding number of fatal deaths caused by chronic disease (the exact type of deaths directly affected by nutrition, or lack of).
Next I looked up number of automobile fatalities.  And lastly, I compared the budgets of the two government agencies responsible for disease prevention, and prevention of auto deaths.  


Here are my very disturbing results (and please note that my data comes directly from government information available on the web):

Traffic Deaths (most current numbers available are from 2011) =
32,300 persons.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration proposed budget for 2013 = $981 million ($981,000,000).
Thus we spend approximately $30,370 for each traffic death in USA.


Chronic Disease Deaths (most current numbers available are from 2010) =
1,513,000 persons.  I’ve detailed this number below:

598,000 persons died from cardiac disease 
575,000 persons died from cancer
138,000 persons died from chronic respiratory disease
                                      (e.g. COPD)

130,000 persons died from stroke
 83,000 persons died from Alzheimer’s Disease
 69,000 persons died from diabetes
 50,000 persons died from renal disease
total: 1,513,000 deaths from chronic (preventable) disease

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention proposed budget for 2013 =
$11.2 billion ($11,200,000,000).

Thus we spend approximately $7,400 for each chronic disease death.

We’re spending 4.1 x more for each traffic death compared to each preventable death.
For chronic disease prevention, we spend less than a quarter of what we spend for traffic fatalities.

Traffic deaths equal only 2% of our chronic disease deaths, yet we spend over 4 times as much money for traffic death prevention.

Something is very very rotten in Denmark (the U.S.A.).