It’s a new year.
Jewish New Year began on Monday.
I love when things start on a Monday, it just feels right!
And it’s time to take stock.
In taking stock, I thought about this year-long abandoned blog.
How I left a serial of writing, mid-story.
How I had let my lessons go.
How the creative writing had slipped.
And I thought…
I had a break.
And now it’s time to get life back in hand.
So much has happened in the last 12 months.
So very much.
The world has shifted and life has shifted.
For me, personally.
And for us all, collectively.
So, I thought, now is the time for Rabbit Ash to reappear with some teachings.
I tried a new shul this year.
I figured I may as well…
You know, find out who’s around, what’s around, see where I feel like I fit.
It was a lovely, welcoming experience.
The rabbi introduced herself to me before the service and told me that she was the first female rabbi in the UK.
The chairperson of the congregation was a woman who came to chat with me.
Their cantor was a woman.
And, to complete the set, there was a woman blowing the shofar.
It felt right to me.
As I sat there, in this predominantly female congregation, wearing my late godfather’s tallit over my feminine attire.
It just felt right.
This past year I have felt a lot of rage.
It’s been about a lot of things.
Politics and the state of the world, generally.
Gender disparity and the need to constantly point it out.
Sexual discrimination, violence, abuse and how much of it we have all been through.
Personal frustrations within my own life.
You know, the usual.
But, despite having spent years of my life learning to control my anger, lest it control me, I am quite content to continue feeling this rage.
Well, I’m content to feel it while I need to feel it…
You see, sitting in that shul, I felt safe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never felt in specific danger in shul, but I felt safe being there.
I was surrounded by women and I felt safe.
My rage wasn’t required.
I could sit there, I could feel at peace and I could feel calm.
But the minute I got back up to street level, I could feel things change.
It was there, ready for battle, whenever I needed it.
I walk down the street and I’m more and more conscious of the fact that I always move out of the way when meeting people coming in the opposite direction.
In my internal poll of other people’s responses, 90% of men will not move.
Will not yield.
Will not courteously stand to one side.
Will not even make eye contact.
So my rage comes out.
I refuse to be moved.
Just because I’m smaller in size.
Just because I’m “weaker” in gender.
The rage starts there.
But it doesn’t end there.
I’m being catcalled and I don’t ignore it.
I have my personal space invaded and I don’t ignore it.
I’m in conversations when people say offensive things and I can’t ignore it.
Politics feels like a farce with no end, so I have to engage with it – I can’t ignore it.
Some days it feels like I’m going to war with the world, but I won’t ignore it.
The rage propels me forward.
It’s a rage that stems from gender inequity and it flows outward from there.
So being in shul was such a nice relief.
Such an unexpected quieting of the rage.
It was everything that I need from that holy day.
And the self-reflection that I usually experience at this holy time of year will mean so much more.
The lesson for this week?
Anger is toxic.
But rage can be constructive.