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Rededication

I’m exhausted. I’m (very) tempted to hibernate until spring; to fall into a sea of Christmas movies and jigsaw puzzles and coloring books and naps with the dogs. The schools in my area are preparing to go fully virtual this winter, in case the Covid surge hits us the way it’s hit the rest of the country. I feel like I’ve been running full out the past few weeks at synagogue school, hoping to make it to winter break before the wave inevitably hits.

There’s a deep weariness like cement in my bones, and I feel like my soul has taken a battering too, with the anxiety leading up to, and now out of, the presidential election, and the stress of Covid and how it impacts teaching; it feels like my soul and not just my body is black and blue and tender to the touch.

“Oy.”

I think we’re all feeling that way this winter. It would be nice if we could rest at home until the vaccines are ready for mass distribution, and then Santa and the reindeer could bring doses to every house and apartment and sprinkle fairy dust over all of us, instead of making us go to the doctor for a shot in the arm, or two.

“No fairy dust yet, but I’ll keep checking.”

One of the main themes of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, along with celebrating the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, is the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was used for profane purposes (like, an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within the walls). The word Chanukah itself means dedication, and, not coincidentally, this is often a time of year when we start planning our goals, or resolutions, for the coming year. But I’m not ready.

I keep thinking that I need to rededicate myself to knowing my limits, and respecting them; that I need to stop believing that I have to be someone else; someone who can multitask, and work eighteen hour days, and write three novels a year. I’m not that person, and no amount of beating myself up is going to change that.

But it feels impossible to move from constant self-improvement efforts to some semblance of self-acceptance. I feel like the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, before the Maccabees came in to clean things up. And just like with the Temple, before I can re-dedicate myself to moving forward, I need to really look around and survey the damage, because there may be miracles hiding in the wreckage, canisters of oil that will last eight days instead of one, for example, or other sources of light that have been in hiding. I can’t just turn my system off and on again and expect it to reboot.

“I think I see the light!”

I’m going to continue lighting the Chanukah candles each night, and hope that the growing light gives me inspiration, or at least some peace. But, I’m not ready for re-dedication yet. I need rest and presents and joy, and then more rest, before I can re-dedicate myself to the sacred tasks of my life. I think the dogs will be okay with that.

Night one
Night two, with help from Butterfly
Night three with Miss B
“We’ll think about it.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

70 responses »

  1. I hope you find the inspiration and peace you need

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  2. You are not alone. I think all the world needs rest and presents and joy right now. Thanks for your truthful words.

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  3. I love your idea of Santa bringing the vaccine. If only. . .

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  4. I feel like you, Rachel, the only problem is how to hibernate in summer! Happy Chanukah!

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  5. I wish light and peace for you during Chanukah. This covid thing is getting lots of us down. Remember you are not alone!

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  6. I hear you! I’m often beating myself up for not being productive when I’m off work. But with chronic pain issues, I lack the energy, & even when I don’t lack energy, it often adds to the pain. I remember when I used to be able to work 50-70 hour weeks between jobs And sometimes I believe those who’ve called me lazy instead. It’s frustrating when you want to be more & do more than you feel like you can. … … Hopefully you can find some recharge before the new year begins!

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  7. I think you have the coolest menorah.

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  8. You speak for many of us with this post, Rachel. P.S. Love your menorah! Happy Chanukah!

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  9. This post really touched me. I feel that, like you, “my soul is black and blue and tender to the touch”. I also found your words: “before I can re-dedicate myself to moving forward, I need to really look around and survey the damage, because there may be miracles hiding in the wreckage” inspirational.

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  10. The light from your menorah is very beautiful.

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  11. What a beautiful menorah. I hope the light helps you to find a way to refocus for the year ahead. Stay well.

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  12. On the seventh day, God rested. I think it’s okay that we also take some time to rest and refuel after this troubling year! Although I always start my Christmas Day with acts to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this year that will be my main focus throughout the day! And I think God will be okay with that, too!

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  13. I can relate to that feeling of complete weariness. The stress of this past year has piled on pressure in everyday life. Vaccinations started here last week. I should be due mine soon after New Year. It might be something to make 2021 a year to look forward to, but there are still over 500 people dying in England every day from the virus.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  14. An absolutely timely post. Every evening I find myself dropping off to sleep (there’s been a few times when I intended to watch a film and put it off out of sheer weariness, quite unlike me), and it seems just part of a general fatigue. My holiday back in May was cancelled by Covid and it would have been my first vacation in two years, so yeah, maybe that’s a part of it too. And working from home since March couldn’t have helped.

    I have wondered whether its an actual health issue or just Covid fatigue, hopefully its just the latter. Your post is timely then because it reminds me I’m not the only one, I’m sure most people all over the world are just feeling a bit numb right now. Anyway, here’s a virtual hug from me and give those lovely dogs of yours a cuddle too.

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  15. If only Yeshiva Girl was available not exclusively at Amazon.

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  16. Rachel, hibernation would be good. Just being away from the news of the day would be serene. Keith

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  17. Rachel, I’m reading a lovely and lyrical book called Wintering by Katherine May; it talks about wintering as a physical practice and wintering as a spiritual/emotional one. Hibernation is one of the themes, and her thoughts and your align….

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  18. Everything the person in the white house has done since the election to usurp Democracy and remove the rights of anyone who does not agree with him has left MY soul black and blue. I never thought of it that way, but it fits how my insides hurt every time someone starts to talk about his latest efforts.
    May the light that Chanukah brings help illuminate your way into 2021 and may you sort out what you enjoy doing apart from what you feel you must do to be better. You’re already very good just the way you are.

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  19. The Jews made me in everyway. Happy Chanukah to the world, Thank you for being the Light!

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  20. Rachel, you capture the essence of the combined weight of the election and Covid so well here. Let me encourage you to follow your bliss and dedicate yourself to: “…knowing my limits, and respecting them; that I need to stop believing that I have to be someone else; someone who can multitask, and work eighteen hour days, and write three novels a year. I’m not that person, and no amount of beating myself up is going to change that.” Cheers, Lindy

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  21. I was so moved by the picture of Butterfly and was glad she was sharing in the candle light. Adrienne Rich has a great poem ‘Diving Into the Wreck” which speaks to your condition I think. You might find it. I read it at 41 and it really put words to the exploration.

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  22. I guess rededication reasonably connects to a plan of action, though I think there’s rededication of the heart as well and maybe first. And why could that not involve rest or even hibernation? Not forever but for reenergizing. The menorah you have in the photographs is pretty, as are the dogs. Happy Hanukkah!

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  23. You put into words how so many of us are feeling. My wife is a teacher and is teaching in-person, at least for now. Chanukah and Christmas are upon us, but it seem perfunctory that we celebrate. Time will tell how things pan out, but all we can do is to keep trying to stay of good cheer… as difficult as that is.

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  24. It’s a very tough time isn’t it. Hang on in!

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  25. Pingback: Lighting Chanukah Candles With Electric Bulbs – Immanuel Verbondskind – עמנואל קאָווענאַנט קינד

  26. “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” 😴
    “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” 🛌💤💗

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  27. Chag sameach Rachel, rest up and find those miracles hiding within!

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  28. Feelings completely understood, Rachel. And I love the Chanukah menorah, btw–it’s beautiful!

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  29. …. efforts to move from constant self-improvement to semblance of self-acceptance. Powerful. I think I may have goten stuck on the latter, and failed the former.

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  30. There is time for everything.
    The time will come when we wake up and it is completely a new day.
    Take courage and keep faith.

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  31. I hear you on the need for rest! I wish the world could have stopped for a bit–all of us giving financial respite while we waited out the storm. Am hoping many have taken this time anyway to chart a better path forward.

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  32. I think I’m getting used to staying in. Isolating. Being away from people. I don’t know what the old normal was, but will the new normal be more distancing from people? I’ve been quite unmotivated and lethargic for years, but this past year is setting new records for that. I’m a slug! Do I do it so I can beat myself up about it? I am committed to surviving this, so that’s my excuse for this last year. ‘Oy.’ ‘I’ll think about it.’ 🙂

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  33. You are a wonderful person. Just be you – the person God created you to be. You don’t need to live up to human expectations – we humans are all flawed. We need answer only to God and with your sweet spirit and heart for service, you make him smile.

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