Oy Vey, Shtisel

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep, so what’s a girl to do when that happens? She shall sit in her bedclothes and write by candlelight about the 3 million things taking over her mind….and then later regretting that she can’t sleep when she has to wake in a few hours to do a full days work. Oy. 

I finally started watching Shtisel on Netflix. [We] were reminded of the show by our Rabbi on the last day of class where he gave a description of the characters and situations. I’m only on episode 3 and have noticed so much. It’s a lot to take in at one time. 

There’s a deep recognization of putting on hold ones dreams in order to please the parents to fulfill their wishes. That’s the part that’s really hard to watch. This is for both romantic relationships (almost like pre-arranged marriages) as well as jobs. 

The expectation of everyone needing to be married and women needing to have kids by say teenage years. Oy vey. 

Another is hiding secrets within a family in order to protect them from or within the community. That’s even harder to watch given the situation in one of the storylines. 

Oy vey – all three of those reasons are why things are so screwed up these days. You think you’re doing the right thing when it’s completely more damaging than anything else. Emotionally. Set up expectations to turn into failures and disappointment. Lack of true happiness. 

I love and appreciate the prayer before food or drink. I hope to get to that point. Maybe not so as much, but a simple reminder a few times a day… Thank you G-d for the excessive amount of tacos I eat or the Coca Cola I really shouldn’t be drinking. (But said in Hebrew!)

When I was being raised into the Christian world, I really never understood why we prayed before food, but now that I’ve found what I’ve found and studied to understand… I do appreciate that and the reason why. I just wish I could have those exchanges with both my grandma and aunt who have passed on. 

I also wish I understood Hebrew so that I could close my eyes and just listen to the show, but I only understand the subtitles in English right now. But watching and paying attention is probably more important at this point, because the expressions on their faces speak louder than the words they say. 

As a (sort of) film person, I also really love the darkened quality of the way the film is shot, and each of the scenes.  

One thing I don’t really want to be tainted is… the level of religious like I was with the Christian world. I want to take in every denomination for what it is and appreciate from all of the worlds. For instance, I could never be as strict as Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad but not as lax as say some Reform and Reconstructionist. I want to live and learn as a Conservative Jew (prayers in Hebrew!)—play and do in the Reform world (I mean, hello, Purim Spiels…)—all while appreciating the heck out of the ones who can keep to the Torah, Shabbat and the 613 commandments more than a lot of others (Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad). 

All I know is that I sincerely love my Jewish life. Do you know how much finding that light within me has done? It’s changed everything. My world has changed. I’m still a mess, but there’s no darkened skies that hold me under the covers for long or no rainstorm that keeps me down. Who in the world would’ve ever thought that I was on my journey to finding my Jewish soul? It’s crazy. All of my life it’s been around me, but I never took that moment, now I’m finding all of these symbols and little hints and just everything. I get it all. 

one light and that’s all she took it 

it took one night 

to fill her soul with so much fire, 

so much desire 

so much… so much.. so much… 

who would’ve guessed the journey 

began there to get her here 

and that she’d dream and wish by 

seeing 11.11, 12:34 and the stars 

at night, all it took was one night 

and that one light that lit her entire soul 

and when she hugs and embraces 

her love, her destiny, she’ll know 

they’ll both know and their hearts will cry 

and sing a song of hope 

and the light would stay lit for all eternity

When I go home, I hope my parents raise their ban against me going in a bookstore because I want to find more Jewish-based books and bring them back with me. (I’m banned because I have told them a million times in the past: I’ll be 5 minutes, and there they are hours later nearly having to drag me out of there by my coat tail. I’ve always been such a bookworm. Ha.) 

Love Always, 

Karen Maeby 

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