For those of you wondering why the stream of posts has whittled down: for the last three weeks I’ve been in Israel, at my dad’s bedside. Dad became aggressively ill, was hospitalized at Carmel Medical Center, and deteriorated so quickly and alarmingly that he’s now been for about ten days in the ICU. He suffers from a rare lung disease called BOOP (bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia), is connected to an ECMO machine as well as a ventilator, and we’re now at the stage where experimental treatments are attempted. My mom and I are experiencing shock and grief, supported by wonderful family members and friends, and visiting the hospital when we can. The staff is professionally superb and incredibly kind – truly, we’re so fortunate to be in the care of such angels. I’m also getting a real education in obliterating the past and future, dwelling a lot on the Four Noble Truths, discerning which connections and actions are gold and which are garbage, and reading Ivanhoe to my father at his request before he was intubated. I think it’s no coincidence that he was drawn to an epos of bravery and combat.
Where to get news: One thing I’m finding is that it is exhausting to respond to individual queries for updates, even when they come from the sweetest friends. So, my friend Valerie kindly made a resource for us, where you can read the latest news on my dad in both Hebrew and English. You can subscribe to get updates. I try to update frequently because I know how much everyone loves my dad and worries about him.
What is helpful: hugs and supportive outreach without expectation of reply. If I think you can help, trust me, I will contact you if I haven’t already. Prompt and effective follow-through if you have been asked to help. And, offers to take professional things off my plate.*
What is not helpful: wild medical diagnoses/prognoses/suggestions based on your friends/relatives/things you read online, fatalistic talk (whether Jewish or New Age) along the “everything happens for a reason” lines, burdensome diatribes, efforts to get me to do work obligations.
Beyond all this awfulness, a small piece of news on my part is that I’ve been accepted to the Jewish Studies program at the Graduate Theological Union and intend to start school next fall, on top of my full-time job, as part of my long-term plan to seek rabbinical studies and ordination in the secular humanistic tradition. My spiritual interests are helping me frame this horrendous experience and I’m glad I at least got to tell my dad about this before they put him to sleep and intubated him (he was happy, and we even got to study a page of Gemara together one night before he was moved to the ICU.) This is just to say that future posts will be more diverse in topics, as I expect my new academic journey to inform them as much as my current line of work.
*If you were expecting any professional dealings with me this summer, be it LSA, the animal rights workshop, the animal liberation conference, etc., everything is off. I’ve done the best I could to follow through with cancelations and replacements; I’ll just say that the ease of canceling everything for the summer was incredibly instructive regarding the illusion that any of us is super important or irreplaceable. If I’m supposed to grade your exam or paper, I promise you I will do that (and in fact am nearly done.) If I’m supposed to get back to you regarding the impending publication of FESTER, I will do that as well. Everything else will happen in due course.