Searching for a way to bring light and meaning to the upcoming Jewish holiday?
Here’s a great resource from the Society for Humanistic Judaism:
As Baal Teshuvas, we had done everything right, even choosing to make aliyah so we could guarantee our kids a Jewish education. That dream dashed after a year completely opposite of what we’d expected, we came back home to a bad economy and dwindling savings, a good chunk of which went to a year of yeshiva tuition for our older kids. It was that year back in the US that I began seriously questioning everything. I couldn’t understand how people could do everything right, and still have to suffer. There was no logical god-centric reason why our little family, unable to get decent paying work in our professional fields, was facing the possibility of losing our home. Yes, we had the requisite college and graduate school degrees, the training, the experience, and the exemplary resumes. But God wasn’t with us. When we finally admitted that we might need some temporary financial assistance to hold us over until we had steady work, my faith was already waning. It was with a mix of shame and anger that I called social services in order to find out how to proceed. How could we have done everything right and still be forced into poverty? My rabbi told us that we can’t always understand the ways of God. But that wasn’t good enough for me. If there was a God, I thought as I prepared yet another tight budget meal of pasta and sauce for our family of six, he was horrible and ineffective, and he had no place in my life. I was done.
I had never been angry enough at God to go against what I thought were his wise teachings. But after my second miscarriage in three years of trying to start a family, I was not simply depressed like the first time. This wasn’t just a random fluke, not only was conceiving a struggle (we had gone through several cycles of clomid before conceiving the first time), this time, when a miracle had happened we thought, and we somehow had conceived on our own without any of the drugs, this time, God had failed. I can’t remember exactly what procedure/test we were doing, but we were again staying overnight at a hotel close to the fertility clinic so I could walk back and forth on shabbat (fertility treatments require precise timing, for there to be a chance for it to work). Shabbos morning we woke up to the rain, and as we trudged through the wet cold streets, I started to explain to my husband, that I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t deserve this, I had tried my best with every halakhah that I thought was important, even though I didn’t follow chumrahs, I didn’t believe that God nitpicked and condemned for little things. God was supposed to be merciful, kind, but he wasn’t. When we finally arrived exhausted at the clinic, instead of going right up to the receptionist and explaining that I couldn’t write on shabbat, I took the pen and wrote down my name to check in. I didn’t want to explain anything. Afterwards, my husband (who had never been orthodox, but followed the rules at home for me) offered to go back to the hotel by himself and get the car. It wasn’t yet motze shabbos, but I let him check us out of the hotel, and before dark we were driving back home. I had had enough.