Training Wheels Off

I have this thing about selling back books. Some (admittedly ridiculous) part of me feels like selling them somehow removes the deposited knowledge from my brain. And yet, as an avid reader, I always forced myself to go through a biannual purge of my bookshelf. I don’t want to think about the results if I didn’t. The TV show Hoarders comes to mind.

As you might imagine, over the course of ten years, I have managed to acquire quite a few books about Judaism. I’d estimate around 100. Many of them were various authors’ attempts at a Judaism 101 text, and thus redundant after the second or third purchase. But there were also texts on Jewish prayers. Jewish history. Jewish philosophy. And even after my tenth Judaism 101 purchase, I was always amazed to see how this author’s presentation of the Jewish calendar, or this one’s explanation of a ritual object just made so much more sense.

These were always too precious for me to consider as candidates for the purge. They represented some sense of Jewish authenticity and Jewish identity for me, I suppose. I may not know an answer to a question, but chances are I could locate one shortly! I’m dedicated, can’t you see? I’m taking this process seriously! I love books!

I’m moving soon. In an effort to make that task as easy as possible, I’ve set myself tasks for each weekend. Today’s was one of many looming purges. When I looked at my bookcase though, I knew I felt differently about my Jewish library today.

I knew it was time to take off my training wheels. I’ve been coasting confidently for a year now. I am a Jew. I don’t need to prove that to anyone, but especially not to myself. I’ve marked Jewish time and kept Jewish space. It was a bittersweet realization and recognition of how far I’ve come.

I’ve culled my library. What remains are reference books, siddurim, and a few favorites I couldn’t bear to part with. The rest were toted off to Half-Priced books. And I didn’t even hesitate when dropping them off.

Today I learned that a decade of Jewish education is worth $42.

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It’s probably time to clean the cobwebs off

So, something like 2 months ago, I said I was going to update soon. And I lied. Not intentionally, of course. More like life happened.

My dad was suddenly unemployed. My parents were four months away from losing their home as a result. The home I grew up in. The home my parents will probably live in until their deaths. The one “assett” they had. They were angry at each other. Stressed. Afraid. It was miserable.

My employer for the last two years had finally received permission to open my position for permanent hire. And two days after I was told I was selected, the position was put on budget hold. Indefinitely. I had 2 months left on my contract before I was also facing unemployment.

Now, either one of these could probably be dealt with minimal stress using family, friends, and community for support. But receiving both bits of news within a week was really hard for my family.

And now, so many weeks later, we have received two good pieces of news within seven days as well: we’re both employed permanently again.

This means I get to move in with the Boy.
This means my parents are not going to be homeless.
This means we can sleep without worry.

Modah ani.