Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Postcards to My Younger Self

Posted on | November 26, 2012 | By Shoshanna Silcove | 8 Comments

Dear 11 year old Shoshanna,

Hashem made a strange and wonderful miracle! It’s hard to believe it but I am writing to you from your future. I want to let you know that you’re not abnormal to be searching for meaning in life. I know you feel different. I assure you that you’re not alone. One day you’ll meet people who’ll know exactly what you are looking for. I could tell you what you’re missing but it wouldn’t be good for you to find out before you’re ready. You may not be able to grasp this yet but you actually come from a very long line of truth seekers. Do not despair!

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

I don’t believe in miracles. This is like some science fiction story only it’s really happening, right?

It sure is a relief to hear I’m not the only one who asks these kinds of questions. I have no one to share my inner thoughts with. I sit up at night and think about how mommy died when I was only five years old. I wonder what happens to a person after they die, but there’s no one to talk to about this. Whenever I bring up the subject they say they don’t want to talk about it and tell me not to be so gloomy. Everyone tells me that I should concentrate on the things that girls my age should care about like clothes, parties, and passing my exams. I do care about those things too, but isn’t there something more to life? No one seems to know. Mommy comes to me in my dreams. Sometimes I feel like I may be going crazy because it is as if she is really in the room with me while I’m wide awake. It’s scary yet comforting at the same time. Why do people die young?

Kindly,
11 year old Shoshanna
—————

Dear 14 year old Shoshanna,

This year you’re not going to complete the eighth grade of Temple Beth El’s religious school, nor will you go through with the confirmation ceremony. You’re going to quit before the end of the term. I’m giving you a warning that our stepmother and daddy will not be happy about this. They’re going to give you a very hard time. Then they’ll try to entice you to go ahead with it by promising you a new dress and a confirmation party. Nevertheless, you’ll stubbornly refuse to give in. You’ll stand on principle, displaying a trait that will persist into your adulthood. The entire family will protest but, in the end, you’re going to get your way. My advice to you is to be glad they’re going to give in to you so don’t rub their noses in it and just live and let live, please!

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

That is the best news! Yay! No more Temple! It was torture going to those boring religious school classes. I went every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon after school, and every Sunday morning since I can remember. All I learned was how to read phonetic Hebrew and the biography of Theodore Herzl. There is only one honest teacher in the entire religious school and that is Mr. Levy. Mr. Levy made me realize that Judaism, like all religions, is a bunch of hypocritical nonsense. He explained that the Jews in Biblical times were primitive and superstitious. The parting of the Red Sea, for example, never really happened. It was in fact the Reed Sea and the Jews simply walked over it when the tide went low. Every educated person knows that it’s all myths and legends.

By the way, have you figured out scientifically yet how I can be writing to myself from the future?

Kindly,
14 year old Shoshanna
—————

Dear 20 year old Shoshanna,

Although you spurned your Jewish roots years ago you are going to soon experience a certain Jewish awakening. Be forewarned however, this awakening will arise from a sense of alienation. You have already begun to notice the anti-Semitism of the progressive political movements on campus. This is not just your “Jewish paranoia”. Sadly, this is very real. My advice to you is not to ignore your inner voice when it tells you that something feels like persecution.

And by the way, there is no scientific explanation for this. As I told you, this is a miracle.

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

I am so glad you told me this! Lately it seems to me that none of my professors or friends, even the Jewish ones, think Israel can ever do anything right. Aren’t Jews people too? I am made to feel uncomfortable when I express some Jewish pride. I would like to learn more about the history of the establishment of the State of Israel and examine all perspectives.

Kindly,
20 year old Shoshanna
—————

Dear 24 year old Shoshanna,

You’ll begin to notice that most of your friends are quite conflicted about their role as women. You’ll start to question your own future. You’ll find yourself wondering about G-d. You’ll feel deeply conflicted but keep this all to yourself.

Take my advice and do not accept that job offer with that organisation in Israel. Trust me when I tell you it will be a disaster.

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

I am not so sure I like hearing this from you since it sounds a bit ominous. Can we make this time whole warp thing disappear, you know, like on Star Trek or something?

About the women’s role issue—I am so confused! Most of the women I know are too, but will never admit it. The feminists I know spend their days commiserating about their miserably mixed up love lives. No one I know can stay in a long term committed relationship. I would like to have children one day. Some of my friends have given up on commitment altogether. Some are planning on having kids on their own. That’s definitely not for me. I wish I could find a life partner but I don’t think it will ever happen and that makes me sad. What will become of me? The biological clock does eventually run out!

I have been wondering about whether or not there is a G-d. I often find myself singing some old Hebrew tunes I learned as a child. I am not at all into organized religion though. I certainly will never go back to the Temple and no other religion attracts me. I got to know Amy the Hillel director. She’s teaching me a lot of interesting Jewish stuff. We went to a rally in Philadelphia and sang ‘We Shall Overcome’ led by Martin Luther King Junior’s son and Avraham Joshua Heschel’s granddaughter. It felt like real solidarity and was so cool!

There are some Lubavitchers on campus and they are a bit weird. This Lubavitch woman sits in the student union sometimes with a bunch of her little kids. Who knows how many she has? The poor woman seems so backward and totally oppressed–barefoot and pregnant! They sit at a table strewn with pamphlets and a photo of some elderly rabbi. I give them a wide berth but Amy likes them. She told me that the photo is of their leader and they believe he is the Messiah. Imagine that! She also told me she got to know the Rabbi professionally and underneath that black garb he is a real genuine person. Maybe so, but as far as I am concerned they are living in the dark ages.

I’ll take your advice about the job in Israel. I wasn’t so sure about going although Amy was urging me to. The pay wouldn’t be so great anyway. I’d rather stay away from the whole Middle East political scene for a while, it’s far too crazy!

Kindly,
20 year old Shoshanna
—————

Dear 26 year old Shoshanna,

You know that new Lubavitch Rabbi that is now hanging around the university student union? Don’t be afraid to talk to him about the questions that have been bothering you.

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

I cannot believe I am actually taking advice from you–I mean from me. I spoke to that Rabbi. I asked him if Judaism believes in life after death. I was astonished to find out it does as I always assumed that was a Xtian thing. He and his wife are nice and invited me over on Saturday. I guess I’ll go. I’ll wear the only skirt I own.

Kindly,
26 year old Shoshanna

Dear 26 and a half year old Shoshanna,

Beginnings are always hard. Right now you don’t know the difference between tefillin or tehilim or between mezuzah or mivtzoim. Nevertheless, this is all so exciting for you! I almost envy you because this period of discovery of Yiddishkite, while so uncertain and wrought with struggle, is also so exciting! Relish these early days! Soak in what Torah knowledge you can.

Kind Regards,
Future Shoshanna
—————

Dear Future Shoshanna,

I finally went to 770. The Rebbe walked in and I watched as the crowd made a path for him to walk through. Then the strangest most unexpected thing happened to me– I cried like a baby. I can’t explain it. What is happening to me?

To be continued……..

Comments

8 Responses to “Postcards to My Younger Self”

  1. Neil Harris
    November 26th, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    No only was this format fantastic, but it was a great post.

  2. Jay
    November 28th, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    Dear past/present/future Shoshana,
    No amount of torah and mitzvos is going to help you deal with the loss of your mother in your childhood. You cried because you are emotionally unstable; the acceptance you crave from others may seem genuine and exciting when you are getting it as a prospective baales teshuva, but it does not last, and “that Rabbi” and all the other Rabbis and Rebbetzins are going to turn their attention to others once you are sufficiently frum. You are not part of their family and you never will be. Therefore, my advice to you is to slow down, real growth in Judaism is a slow organic process. And look into professional therapy in the meantime.

  3. Shoshanna Silcove
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 3:23 am

    Jay, You know nothing about me. I urge you to refrain from amateur armchair psychological analysis of strangers because you could not be more off the mark. And you misunderstood the article. All this happened many years ago and I have been frum for over 26 years. I have overcome all these challenges and more and have lived an extremely successful life without therapy, thank G-d. Torah and mitzvos and Chassidus healed me. Hashem healed me. I am one blessed and lucky woman!

  4. Bob Miller
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    The exchange between Jay and Shoshanna highlights that blog articles and other writings, too, can’t convey the true big picture about a person. Someone reveals a fragment of their personal big picture while concealing other fragments, someone else draws conclusions from the revelation, and then the original writer objects that the conclusions were ill-informed. It makes you wonder how much of our personal world we should share with strangers.

  5. Ron Coleman
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    I agree with Neil that this format was a very engaging technique.

  6. Michoel Kelmar
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    Mark,
    Is there a way to avoid commenters proscribing therapy for other commenters?

  7. Michoel Kelmar
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    I think I meant prEscribe

  8. Mark Frankel
    December 3rd, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Michoel, the only way is to delete the comment, something we prefer not to do, but perhaps it was called for in this case.

  • RSS Shul Politics

  • Get Beyond BT Via Email

     Step 1: Enter your Email

  • Categories