My first Synagogue experience at Temple Sinai in Sarasota.

It is completely normal for me to double, triple, quadruple up on events or plans when I go out of town, especially if I haven’t been out of town for a while. This trip was no different. Since I was going to be in Sarasota for the boat show Friday during the day, I decided I should see what synagogues are down there so I can attend Friday Shabbat. I picked Temple Sinai and I’m 100% certain that I made the right choice for my very first experience.

I have been to every single church service you can imagine… Free Methodist, Baptist, Pilgrim Holiness, Pentecostal, Catholic and who knows what else plus all some holidays spent at the services…. but this was my first time ever stepping foot inside a temple/synagogue. It was breathtaking. Of course, we live in the 21st century where we have millions of photos and videos at the tap of a finger, but absolutely nothing compares to walking inside of one. Being there physically, mentally.

Everyone welcomed me with open arms. I was so happy to be greeted with so much love and kindness, and by SO MANY OF THEM …. at the same time… asking all of the questions! But, it was lovely, and my Friday night was certain made.

The service I attended wasn’t a normal one—the night was basically dedicated to the teachers there at the temple as it was a teacher/staff appreciation. But that’s okay, because it reminded me how much I miss all of my teachers and how much I used to shower them with ‘Happy Teacher Appreciation Day/Week’ emails way back when.

Temple Sinai’s service included a lot of singing… which I absolutely love. I recognized the phrase “Baruch atah, Adonai” that I hear a lot from Central Synagogue’s services when I watch/listen to them online.

It is often scary and awkward to be the only one in a large place that doesn’t know the language that the group is speaking/singing. However, that wasn’t the case for me that night, even though I didn’t know any Hebrew (other than those few recognized words). My feeling was more of a… wow, I can’t wait until I can learn the language so I can join in. “I wonder when and how fast and what I need to do to learn?” That was one of my moments on how I knew I am on the right path. Pure bliss… I tell you. I’m sure it’ll be like when I first had to start reading Latin for choir… that I still know how to read to this day, and I often (silently) thank my choir teacher for making us learn those massive masses. But I digress.

Overall, I can’t express my gratitude enough for them welcoming me in their Temple and making me feel completely at home. Literally. I absolutely love Temple Sinai. I am hoping to make it back at least once a month if not once every two months to attend Friday Shabbat. I mean Sarasota isn’t too far away if you really look at it, and I enjoy the place… so why not??

The Very Beginning of my journey to Judaism.

The Very Beginning

Nearly every single day of my 31 years of being an old soul on this Earth:
I have been searching endlessly for what my heart wants,
where my soul belongs, and what my life’s purpose really is.
Reading and questioning everything. Why this, why that? What if this, what if that?
I’ve created this realm of philosophical thoughts that led me
to wondering why this often ignited flame inside me dies out?

I am in a much different place than where I was born..…
I broke away from those roots at 21 with a different mindset
by walking down the road less traveled, and I never looked back.
Growing older—supposedly wiser—only harmed me in some way.
My soulfulness of my wondering youth and the youngness of my mind
was nearly erased by the every day menial problems.

Last year in December, around Hanukkah, my soul was screaming.
After not being successful to distract myself with anything else,
I walked down to the local Menorah lighting ceremony on the first day.
Something about being there was magical—I saw a flame that didn’t die.
A million of my dreams as a teen have been realized, but why, I ask:
during the most fulfilling moments of living….there’s still something missing?

The night before my aunt died, I told her a secret: I discovered Judaism.
I told her she no longer had to worry about my soul. I finally found where it belongs.
This is my journey, the one that I will wholeheartedly embrace,
the one that I will choose to carefully walk—not run, skip, jump, hop—and practice
often, for this is something that deserves my true attention and patience.
I cannot ever take this moment for granted because I have found my spiritual home.

My aunt, being of a different religion, replied “A good place to start your spiritual
journey is Judaism. Jesus was Jewish so you can’t go wrong starting there.
Follow your heart and look to God. He will answer all of life’s questions.”
That answer provided me with the stamp of approval.
I sent my letter out to the universe, to the world, to God himself
that I was ready to take on this new responsibility of finding out who I am.

I’ve spent so much time being blinded and sidetracked by the clutter in life,
and in turn, I have missed some of the best moments that could have been.
There are years shaved off my life that I can never get back.
Depression swallowed me whole in the darkest days of my life,
and what I would have given at that time to close my eyes and never wake.
But, I had forgotten: both the good and bad in life serve us with life lessons.

Just this week, I cut back on TV shows, and looked to finding synagogue feeds online.
I found one in New York and I instantly fell in love with this Rabbi’s sermon:
“Gam zeh ya’avor. This too shall pass.”
How true it is that with every breath we take and move along the day, the moments shift
from bad to good and good to bad, back and fourth like a pendulum…
always leaving room just enough for an action or a reaction.

Time is sometimes a lie that we rarely take seriously, and living in the moment
just doesn’t exist anymore when people’s hearts aren’t pure from distractions.
We think we have time to say what we need to say, or do what we need to do,
but we don’t… and we’re almost always gone, even if we’re there in present day.
I’ve had many people—and moments—taken from me as I’ve come to love them.
It’s the constant reminder that nothing is ever permanent.
And to trust the thought that everything happens for a reason, no matter what it is.

*

These last few months–My discovery of Judaism and the beautiful Jewish Culture–has lit my life’s candle so full of love and light. It’s such an intense feeling that I’ve never felt or seen before. When a person knows, they know. I know I have a whole lifetime worth of catching up on, but embedded deeply in this soul of mine, I feel like I already know it… that I’ve walked the path before in another lifetime. It brings up a lot of loaded questions, and I’ll still be searching for answers come as they may. I can’t even begin to explain how it has completed the largest missing piece of my life’s puzzle, even in this short period of time, even with as little as I recognize I know, right at this given moment.

Visualize this: it’s like when you read a very good piece of literature and the words start lifting off the page, turn into music, and suddenly, you’re singing a song you felt like you’ve known your entire life….but you don’t know how, because you can’t place ever singing it because it just doesn’t make sense how you would have known it…and then, suddenly, the music turns into the most beautiful piece of artwork that you’ve ever seen–like a sunset–and you’re just so much in awe that you stand there for hours upon hours just staring at it because it takes your breath away. And you just want to grab some glasses, pour a drink or two, and make a toast screaming TO LIFE at the top of your lungs….because you’ve embraced life like you’ve never done before and you truly never, ever, ever want it end. That’s where I am. And, that’s where you’ll find me.

~ Karen Maeby 2.21.18

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

THIS DAY. Holocaust Remembrance Day….. A very, very, very important day that we must remember. ALWAYS. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

WE MUST REMEMBER THIS PART OF HISTORY EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. 

When I was growing up learning about the Holocaust was a part of history class but I believe I found and read Anne Frank on my own (I know I did a book report at one time on her diary). My mom had a copy, then I asked for my own copy for Christmas.

Unbeknownst to my soul I have always had the deepest connection with Jewish people, the Holocaust, and a feeling for what happened. I have always had an interest in learning more and wanting to help out in some way–to spread the word–to make sure this would never happen again. HOW was the question, how in the world could someone do something so fucking horrible like this? I always wondered. Why. Hate? Why? Just why?! The feelings and emotions I have had as I think about this are still as strong as when I learned about them.

I’ve watched Anne Frank (the movie) thousands of times, and each time, I still cry so hard. I’ve read her diary so many times. I even wrote a book called “Dear Anne Frank” about when I went to DC and wrote to her my experiences, especially what I was feeling when I was at the Holocaust Museum when someone was disrespecting the person who was speaking. I still remember wanting to turn around and smack them and tell them they should listen because it’s really important.

The more someone tries to deny something like this, the more apt it is to happen. The more someone tries to forget this happened, the more it can happen. This is how history is repeated. This is WHY it is sooooooo important to get the word out. To share. To stop what should be stopped before it can happen again. Whether it’s today, tomorrow or one hundred years from now. The signs of hate and bigotry and separation needs to stop! REGARDLESS of what you believe in—-those things are so wrong for a trying-to-be-functioning society. That’s WHY we have the issues we do because people like that STILL exist!

I saw something posted online various places in reference to if her family and her could’ve gotten out and survived…..You think about these things. This had to of happened, her diary left behind, to possibly teach everyone in the future? The people who left anything behind. Then you think, what kind of a difference could they have made if they were alive now? It angers me that there were millions of people’s lives destroyed because of something like this.

I can’t say it enough—-we must remember what happened, and teach those younger than us, so that something like this shall never happen again. TODAY, THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR… we must EDUCATE ourselves on how to surf through those hiding their true soul. We must NEVER lose our identity, we must FIGHT for what is right and for our SOULS. We MUST LEARN to think on our own and be able to sniff out when this will happen again… and we must STOP IT this time!!!!

There is an older based-on-a-true-story movie called Freedom Writers that really spoke to me on many levels. If you’ve never seen it–basically a brand new teacher goes to an “at risk” school that is having so many racial issues. She tries really hard to teach them, all the while they are so used to being disruptive, not learning, drugs, drive-by’s and other things like that from their community. She decides to teach them about the Holocaust, and gives them journals to write their own issues. She helps them change their lives, and teaches them in the meantime to change what they can change to be better. A lot of her students were the first in their families to graduate.

THAT is why I say…

EVERYONE HAS A STORY. 

EVERYONE 
HAS 

STORY 

Get out there and share! SHARE what your heart and soul is telling you! This is the future, this is the only way, the only way people are going to be helped and will learn about anything that is important is by true life stories. Everyone has a story, and 2017 is the time to share it. 

Souls Enlightenment
© Karen Maeby 1.27.17

Our souls sought survival yesterday,
as we’re caught in the middle of learning
the life lessons our ages bring to us
when passed down from generation to generation.

We must learn about our past–
to meet, greet and shake hands with history.
Tell history, share OUR history:
to make sure we don’t live the history, again.

My soul becomes unraveled and my heart
nearly stops—with every siren I hear.
Every moment, are we getting closer and closer
to having our names and our personalities erased
to be replaced with numbers that’ll never define us?

Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children, and to your children’s children. – This is a quote–that I’ll never forget–from a postcard I got at the Holocaust Museum in DC.