Monday, May 31, 2010


My memories of Israel play like that of a faraway dream, cast in fictional characters and faint story lines that make it hard to believe they ever happened. It’s become a distant fairytale that comes alive only in the horizontal position when my eyes are shut tight. And just like dreams are hazy and made of fairy dust, this dream is vague and sometimes I could feel it drift away.

There’s this one memory, though, unreal as they all are, but still vivid like yesterday.

We’d gone dancing on one of those Rosh Chodesh parades through the Arab quarter of the Old City. It was magical, complete with music, soldiers and mechitzas.

I’m not the hippie kind. For one thing, I’m too grounded to fly and for another, I shower.

But this time, I felt my knees buckle, and I didn’t want to fight it anymore. I didn’t want to think or feel. I didn’t want to be slave to my emotions or get tangled up in cold logic. I wanted my soul to run on autopilot. And this time, I don’t know how or why but I wasn’t afraid to let it.

The memory of dancing with my eyes closed in the dark Arab market was indescribable, so indescribable, I believe the only way to have done it justice would have been to lock it in a capsule, so you could see for yourself.

I was moving like I was air, dancing, like I could fly. Tens of girls surrounding me, arms entwined, moving to the same beat, like we were connected. I didn't want that moment to become another. And I stopped and stood still for a while. To catch my breath. But also to commit every sense of the experience to memory.

Every beat of the drum, every leap into the air, every skip of my heart, and swell of my soul. To remember what it was like. The smell of freedom, the tricked silence and the taste of wild abandon that it left on my tongue.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Anoop Kumar Must Die

I met Mr. Kumar at the JFK airport. Two short hours later it was clear as day: Anoop Kumar had to die.

When I first met him he was nothing but a gentleman. He asked me how my day was, kindly took my heavy suitcase from me, lifted it into his yellow cab and opened the door for me. Very chivalrous, he was, that Anoop. Very kind. That is, until he wasn’t. And then he wasn’t at all. Especially when he was calling the cops on me…That was the especially mean part.

I don’t want to go on, so I’ll tell you this: Anoop tried to take me for a ride. Literally. And metaphorically. And instead of taking me the regular route from the airport to Ch, he took a longer one resulting in a meter totaling fifty five bucks. And in all my years of taking cabs to and from JFK I’d never paid more than forty. So I’d only brought $40 with me. When he heard that little piece of news is when he called the cops. And when I heard that he was doing that I called the cops to let them know he was holding my suitcase hostage and not letting me leave.

Prior to the name and cop calling, our dialogue went a little something like this:

Anoop: You pay me now!
Me: I’m sorry (sniff) I don’t have any more money.
Anoop: You not leave until you pay me.
Me: (bawling) I can give you forty. That’s all I have. Please let me go.
Anoop: No way.
Anoop: I’m calling the cops.
Me: Then I guess I’m calling the cops too. Take that, stupididiotjerk.

To make a long, tearful story short, the cops came. And there we were on President and Albany; Me, Anoop, five NYPD, and half of the President Street residents. Guess what? After all that, making me cry and like a good half hour of keeping me hostage he agreed to taking $40. Like what else was he supposed to do. Well, on the condition that I don’t complain to his boss.

And that, my friends, is how I came to the conclusion that Anoop Kumar had to die.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rabbi Mushka :)

My article appeared on the Aish website several weeks ago. I’d written it in my journal after my first encounter with the Kotel. I wrote about what prayer means to me. And what it was supposed to mean. A lot of people picked on the line “Is God our BFF?” Either because they were upset that I’d used an abbreviation that they were unfamiliar with or because they were perturbed that I’d insinuated God was nothing more than a girlfriend I take out to ice cream.

Out of all the comments, this one is by far the awesomest one. Mostly because I’ve basically wanted to be a rabbi all my life, and no one would let me. I think I may start having my friends call me Rabbi Mushka.

Are You There God? It's Me, Mushka.

(22) Anonymous, May 6, 2010

Is God our BFF?

Rabbi, with all due respect, you make G_d sound like a "prayer ATM" machine. G_d didn't creat us to just "ask" for things, he created us to fellowship with Him...when we kneel before Him, or stand at a wall, it isn't the "wall" experience we're looking for, it's the relationship that our ancestors had with Him that we strive for. Prayer is about RELATIONSHIP..if He gives us the desires of our hearts (see Psalms 37:3-7) it's because we are now in rigthteous standing with the L_ord. He's a "friend", like He was to Father Abraham. G_d is not some cosmic mystery...He has always desired a personal relationship with us, you as a Rabbi should know this. That woman you described is a person I can relate to (except for all the dramatics-but, we all express ourselves differently)..I have been very moved to tears, when in prayer (fellowship) with G_d, and I feel His presence each and every day..He answers my prayers, and often He does not answer my foolish ones or ones He deems that are not His will at that particular time. Rabbi, "Prayer" in its "purest form" is fellowship with the Most High of Israel, and in return for that fellowship, yes, He can be your "BFF", and His gift for allowing Him into your life, is PEACE, beyond human understanding. :)

Play With Fire

I’ll drink with angels
I’ll play with fire
Take my November
Just leave me desire

I want to
But I don’t
I shouldn’t
And I won’t

I’m taken with the fire
It’s seething and spitting
And yet it’s pulling me closer
Sighing and hissing

Tastes of forever
Sweeter than candy
Finer and drunker
Than the finest of brandy

And I want to,
But I don’t
I know I shouldn’t
So I won’t

I’ll banish those angels
I’ll quench the fires
I’ll be reborn in November
Just leave me desire

Thursday, May 6, 2010

chick lit is great literature

I hate reading. It’s not so much that I hate words, per se, as much as I hate reading them. Especially those really small words that they crowd on tiny pages. I mean, I get the whole "saving trees" thing, but come on...I also really don’t appreciate books that have over 100 pages. Like, seriously, Harry Potter…Twilight…dictionaries, you need to stop.

I don’t know what it is; I just don't like doing it. I mean, I try. I go to the library and take out those books, the ones I’m supposed to be reading. Shakespeare. O'Henry. Blah. Blah. Blah. But I take one look at the first page and want to die. So then I do what any sane person would do. I stop. And read Wayside School Is Getting Stranger instead.

Okay, okay, I’m totally exaggerating. I read. All the time. I mean, I read Glamour. Gossip girl. Jodi Picoult novels- totally fun since all end in a death or an illness, which is nice. But at the end of the day, I guess I read a lot more than I give myself credit for. Who says Gossip Girl isn't literature? And that Louis Sacher isn't the greatest literary giant of our time?

So here goes, my muses include and are limited to...Carrie Bradshaw- ingenious, Joel Stein- hilarious, Louis Sachar- dangerously amusing and, uh… the woman who wrote the Sweet Valley High series.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

crown heightssss

So…I’m making the big move to the Big Apple, or more specifically- and far less glamorously- to the land of Crown Heights (Is it a land? A town? A city? One can never be sure). My friend, A. and I are on the prowl for an apartment, which, I have to say, is no easy task given the fact that I refuse to live in an underground hole and that A, native Crown Heights'er, wants a place, and I quote, “in Crown Heights but not among Crown Heights people.” I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but hey, why not.

So now I spend so much of my free time stalking realtors and speaking to renters (rentees?) I think I’ve almost picked up a bona fide Brooklyn accent. Yesss…

On the phone, this one guy kept referring to the apartment as “cozy”, which everyone knows is realtor code for “an authentic dump”. A tiny, authentic dump, no less. He didn’t confirm this but A. swears she could hear it in the undertones of his responses. Needless to say we won’t be renting the $700 a month, “cozy” studio apartment. Neither will be taking that “cute” pad on Montgomery street, or the “sweet” place down the block, for that matter. In fact, any adjective that can be used to describe a stuffed animal will be unacceptable.

And there I was, all along under the impression that New Yorkers were born with a “what you see is what you get” gene that the rest of us never got. Perhaps that is true for all the other boroughs, but certainly this is not the case in Brooklyn's world of real-estate. Candor is an unwelcome guest in this open house and asked to be left in one’s previous estate.

Call it what you want. Twisting the truth, a healthy “glass half full” mantra, or just plain cunning business, but seriously, come on. Here you’ve got people advertising closet sized dungeons with yellowing walls, having the chutzpah to call them “luxe condos”, throwing in words like “renovated” and “cozy” for good measure and, bam, they got them an ad on

Bottom line?
Apartment hunting in Crown H. is a fools errand.

The Atonement

It’s been 2,000 years since we’ve been sedated
Mouths full of slander
Hearts filled with hate
Dug our own graves in sin
And awaited our inevitable fate

With our swords drawn, we fell to our knees
Alone but united in war
Growing armor over eyes
Growing colder than before

Our eyes were open
But we did not see
We seemed to be breathing
But our hearts did not beat/

On the twenty third of December
The skies cried out in thunder
Car breaks slammed to a halt
Disturbing the peace of our slumber

It was G-d’s cry
He broke our silence
Out of small people
He made giants

What kind of instrument
Could measure the way the broken heart races
What kind of artist
Could paint the terror on our faces

Who can encourage hope
But the witnesses of this crime
Who can mend this wound
But G-d and the miracle of time

Our eyes are closed
But now we can see
Our hearts have lost the facades
So now it can beat

Don’t be scared
We don’t stand alone
We’ve awoken our souls
We’ve finally atoned