Sunday, December 25, 2011


I hate labels. I've been on a personal journey for a few years now- learning not to be judgmental. Conditioning myself not to judge others' words or actions, to try and understand where they're coming from instead of instinctively condemning them.

My most recent advance in learning how not to judge is to try and get rid of as many labels as I can. I know that many people think labels are necessary in order to function in society. I personally don't. I think people should just be able to be

I was talking to a friend of mine today about the Orthodox community and the labels we use to classify people. "Religious." "Not religious." Most of the time, in my experience, I've noticed that those labels revolve around four observances: Shabbos, Kashrut, Appearance (Skirts for girls, Kippahs for boys), and Shomer Negiah. I've noticed, and it has increasingly made me angry, that the people in the Orthodox community judge someone as "religious" or "not religious" based on whether they keep all, or one, or two, or three of these observances. 

No one has the right to judge your level of religiosity. Especially not based on just four categories. Or five, or six, or seven. Don't let anyone dictate to you what your relationship with God is, because your relationship with God is exactly that- your relationship with God.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's not funny.

The other day I stumbled across this at work:

This was in response to a comment that said, "This is not at all funny. Bullying is not something to joke about." "This" was a post on that said, "It's ironic that Glee is doing an episode on teen bullying since the reason I bully you is because you watch Glee."

Last year, America was rocked by LGBT suicides at the beginning of the year- Tyler Clementi, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown. As someone who was just beginning to come to terms with my sexuality, these suicides hit me hard. This past September, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide because he was being bullied at school for his sexual orientation. My world was shattered. So many people had done so much to try to prevent suicides throughout the past year, I thought- why won't it stop? Why can't we give our children enough hope?

When I saw the above response about bullying, I was stunned. Of course I knew that there are people out there who don't care about the problem of bullying. But was I consciously aware of people who promote bullying and think it's a positive experience in life? Did I know there are people out there who think and publicly (if anonymously) say, that if someone commits suicide, it's a good thing? No, I was not aware. No, I did not know.

I don't know who this commenter is. I don't know where they grew up, who their parents are, what their life is like. But after the shock that came with seeing what they wrote , after the anger that emerged when I realized how unfeeling this person must be, after the sadness that I felt at knowing that there are many others like this in the world- after all that, came pity. For various reasons- because this person was bullied throughout their life, because this person thinks that bullying is the only way to raise a child to live in this world, because this person thinks that being strong is only a result of being bullied.

Bullying is not the answer- not for parents, not for peers, not for teachers. Not for anyone. Especially not for its victims. Bullying leads to depression and suicide- not just for LGBT youth, but for any human being. So be careful the next time you open your mouth to say a disparaging remark to someone- from “Four-eyes” or “Fag,” to “Dork” or “Dyke."

National Suicide Prevention Hotline- 1-800-273-TALK
The Trevor Project- 866-4-U-TREVOR
Depression Hotline- 1-630-482-9696

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Use your words

People who know me very well know that the things I value most in a relationship- any kind of relationship- are honesty and communication. This is a pretty recent development for me, since about a year ago. I learned that being in a difficult situation with a friend is only complicated further when there's a lack of communication between the two people. 
I've become a stickler for it. I'm blunt, I'm open, I'm honest. About mostly everything. If I think a friend is angry at me, I'll ask them about it. If I'm angry or upset at a friend, I'll talk to them about it. Whatever the situation is, I'd rather deal with it openly than play games, because playing games in the past has never been helpful.
There is, however, a catch to this outlook on life, and I've been figuring it out for the past few months. The catch is this: there is such a thing as being too honest. I've learned that once you start being honest, you lose most of your filter. And sometimes that filter is necessary, because you do need to take into consideration other people's feelings. 
This lesson hit home this past weekend, when I said something incredibly hurtful and inconsiderate to a friend on the Shabbos table. I apologized, of course, and the apology was accepted. The lesson was also learned: use your words, but use them carefully. They are the most powerful tool a human being has, and they can be used to do terrible things. So be open, be honest, confront things head-on, but also make use of that filter.