Monday, May 12, 2014


Thursday Blog Project topic for May 8, 2014: The essence of you. Write something captures the essence of who you are as a person.

Part of the reason this post is so late has to do with the craziness of life lately.  However, that is not the whole reason.  The other half of it is due to the fact that I've changed my mind - multiple times -  regarding what I was going to write about for this topic.  Then, today, it hit me when I was listening to a Rabbi speak about Yiddishkeit.  Though I linked that word to Merriam Webster's definition, I am going to use the Wikipedia description of the word right now.  According to Wikipedia (and let me apologize in advance that I'm citing of all things Wikipedia), Yiddishkeit  "literally means "Jewishness", i. e. "a Jewish way of life", in the Yiddish language. It can refer to Judaism or forms of Orthodox Judaism when used by religious or Orthodox Jews. In a more general sense it has come to mean the "Jewishness" or "Jewish essence" of Ashkenazi Jews in general and the traditional Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern and Central Europe in particular.  From a more secular perspective it is associated with the popular culture or folk practices of Yiddish-speaking Jews, such as popular religious traditions, Eastern European Jewish food, Yiddish humour, shtetl life, and klezmer music, among other things."

In recent days/weeks/months I've been hearing a lot of about Yiddishkeit from a Rabbi I quite often hear speak.  He keeps coming back to this idea that the essences of Judaism - there are a few core principles to leading a Jewish life.  One of those principles is kindness.

One of the things that kept me from writing my Thursday blog post last week was a volunteer Uptown Cafe - a kosher meals program for the needy. Unlike a lot of meal programs, this is a cafe style environment where recipients get served their food in a restaurant style fashion.  My role that evening - to wait tables and make sure the patrons were enjoying their time there. 
engagement I had in the evening.  For 2 hours I volunteered at

I have to admit, I was nervous at first as I wasn't sure what to expect and I didn't want to screw up.  I didn't want my table to have a bad experience, as I knew this is something they looked forward to each and every day.  Once I got going things seemed to flow and from what the people I served said, they were happy.

Close to the end of the serving period we were told we could take food for ourselves.  So I did.  After returning the blue tray I had carried my food to the table with and getting a drink I sat down in front of my meal.  Before "digging in," I paused.  I internally acknowledged that I didn't need this meal as I had plenty of food at home... and if I didn't, I could have stopped at the grocery store or restaurant on the way home for more food.  I was grateful.  The meal I was receiving was an "extra" meal and I knew that there was someone out in the community who needed it way more than I did.

Volunteer work has always been very important to me.  I do it as a way to recognize all the blessings I have received in the past, currently have and the ones I have yet to know about.  I do it as my way of paying forward all that I have received in my lifetime.  However, on this particular occasion it was more than that.  It elevated my understanding of the hunger problem our country faces.  It also elevated and reaffirmed my commitment to the principle of kindness and strengthened my Jewish essence.

I look forward to returning as a volunteer at Uptown Cafe soon, and encourage those in the Chicagoland area to volunteer there or for any other meals program for the needy. 

Now that I've written a post that "captures my essence," please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about theirs:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

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