Sep 25, 2011

An Unanticipated Start to Renewal

This week, we begin the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, holidays that are juxtaposed with a bittersweet sensation of happiness and reality. The book of life, the book of death. At this time every year, I beg for new beginnings, for insight, for clarity, and it's an appropriate time of year because it's also the season of my birthday, which happens to be Rosh Hashanah on the Hebrew calendar and September 30 on the Gregorian calendar. I'd really wanted to do something jazzy like Kate did for her birthday, where she listed tons of awesome facts -- known and unknown -- about her from the most minute to the deep and meaningful. Had I written that post a month ago when she posted her's, I probably would go ahead and post it anyway, but I can't put myself in a mindset of cataloging and celebrating these 28 years of life that I've been given. But I'm distracted.

Ever since I was a kid, I'd always wanted to be married by 27. I'm not sure why, but it was some kind of goal that I could work for and 27 seemed like enough time to sow my wild oats and then settle into a life of marriage, have kids and be someone's wife. So I hit that goal, with four months to spare.

What I never anticipated, however, was being divorced by 28. I also never anticipated moving back to Denver -- where I lived six years ago for a summer at The Denver Post -- alone.

This blog has watched me on a unique journey into and through Judaism as a convert, and now, I suppose, it will document what it means to be a single, converted, divorced Orthodox Jewish woman pushing 30 living in the Rocky Mountain state.

Why Denver? Well, I didn't have this blog back in 2005, but if I did, you would have heard me sing the praises of Colorado as the healthiest place on earth. The moment my wheels hit Colorado, I felt the need to eat healthy, to be healthy, to feel healthy. I went through a heartbreak there, but it didn't smack me in the face like it did elsewhere, because I was mentally and emotionally healthy. I was able to cope and move on. When I lived in Denver, I went running and walking, I ate fresh vegetables and maintained a mostly vegetarian diet, I explored the state, I got out. I did things. I was happy, I was healthy, I was positive about my future and confident in who I was. Everyone keeps telling me Denver's a horrible choice because there are no single frum folk there. To that, friends, I say, "I'm not interested in dating at the moment. Seriously?"

Why not Israel? Divorce is a big enough shock to my system right now. I need a change, so I'm starting small with a move to Denver where I can regroup, clear my head, and find some inner peace. The balagan of Israel is too much for the tender state of me right now, so stay patient. I haven't ruled it out. After all, the world is my oyster at this point.

What happened? As much as I know y'all want to ask this question, and as much as I want to answer it, this blog isn't the place for it. Evan (aka Tuvia) and I are divorcing amicably after spending most of our marriage trying to make things click into place. Not everyone works out in the way that you think or hope they will, and that's the crapshoot of life, folks. I was at an all-time emotional low when the decision was made, and since then -- a mere couple of weeks -- I've already started to feel like there's a silver lining in this. Gam zu l'tovah. (Even in this there is good.) Just know that Evan and I gave it all we had, and the marriage didn't work out.

What now? Well, I'm on the hunt for a Denver job. So if you know someone, let me know. I've applied for a few, and one responded that I'm overqualified, so I'm afraid that this is going to be a constant refrain that will frustrate the bejeezus out of me. As for school, it's on hold for now with the option to return in the spring, but I'm not sure what's going to happen there. I think in the past year, I outgrew what I thought the program could provide me. I want to continue learning, so maybe I'll hop off to Israel to seminary or something. Seriously, world = oyster. But right now, I really need to find work in Colorado -- so help a Jewess out!

I suppose I have a lot to think about, and you're all along for the ride. Why I chose to uncover after the divorce, what the Denver community is like, and, most importantly, what do I want out of life?

Thus, the High Holidays -- a time for renewal -- couldn't have come at a better time. Or maybe HaShem had this all in the books. After all, everything happened so quickly, the move, the divorce, everything. I felt almost forced to be in Denver by the High Holidays, and it has happened. My 10Q email arrived the day of my get and reminded me of what I foresaw in 5771, and it was foreboding in a way. What is HaShem trying to say to me? And what does it all mean?

Stay tuned, folks. It's going to be an interesting 5772.


frum single female said...

wow . im sorry to hear that you are back in the singles scene. i wish you a sweet new year of new beginnings.

Mottel said...

Sending continued good thoughts your way.

Ms Kvetch said...

Hi, I have been reading your blog for awhile as I struggle through the conversion process. I wondered if all was as it should be over the last few months. Sorry to hear of your heartbreak.

{ T G L } said...

Wow Chaviva, those are some monumental and earth-shattering changes! I wish you hatzlachah through all of them. May your personal new year and the New Year give you strength and peace to do what you need to do to take good care of yourself.

L'shanah tovah, chatimah tovah!

This Good Life

Jordan Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am so saddened to hear what you're currently dealing with-nobody deserves that. I'm sure you know that G-d has a great plan, and I think you are off to a great, new adventure.

Denver is my hometown! I nearly jumped for joy when I read that you're moving out here. It won't be the same as Teaneck, that's for sure, but you will love it. Denver's Jewish community is growing non-stop. Plus, there are few things as refreshing as that crisp, Rocky Mountain air. :) I hope you find a place of healing in the good ol' C-O-L-O.

I have been reading you since the beginning and I am so happy you are letting us continue on this journey with you. Prayers and good vibes are coming your way!

Lisa B. said...

Hey Chavi, I was afraid this is what you would tell us. I'm so sorry that your marriage didn't work out, but you were wise to call it quits before reproducing. I wish you all the best on your journey to physical and mental health (one doesn't do much for you without the other)! I'm studying to become a health coach, so let me know if I can help you in any way. New beginnings are exciting and wonderful, and I know you'll make the best of them. Shana Tovah!

Batya said...

משנה מקום, משנה מזל
Mishaneh makom, mishaneh mazal.
Change of place, change of luck.

Lots of blessings. Enjoy the upcoming 3 days to spend on the spiritual.

Lori said...

Very sorry to hear about what you are going through Chaviva. Will be thinking of you and have a Good New Year, Shanah Tovah!

Anonymous said...

I wish you beyond the best of luck. I wish that for you both. One thing I want to share...

Four years ago, in a similar situation, all I wanted to do was leave my highly emotionally charged Chicago and go home to New York. Then a friend asked me, "Are you really willing to give up where you are, and the millions of people who are there with you, and the many people there who love you, and your part of the life you've built, and go away, all over one thing?"

I said yes for three months. Then I stayed. Now I can't imagine ever leaving Chicago.

Shana Tovah!

Anonymous said...


I'm very sorry to hear what happened, but I also agree with "gam zu l'tovah."

Like all of us, I don't know you personally, but from reading your blog I think I have gotten to know you, and I just admire you for all the things you have gone through. I want to send you my support and I want to agree with you that the details should remain private. K'siva v'chasima tova and I'll be following you in the coming year.

Anonymous said...

Big changes. I wish you the best in the coming year.

Shades of Grey said...

I am also very sorry that you are experience such troubles in your life. Though the challenges may seem daunting, I know you are a very strong, determined individual who will recover in time and continue to grow and succeed.

I wish you yishuv hada'as (mental clarity) and menuchas hanefesh (spiritual serenity) as your continue your journey.

Kesiva v'chasima tova, and may you know no further sorrows. said...

Good luck and good thoughts for the next step of your journey. :)

Shoshana (Bershad) said...

Stay strong, Chavi!

I hope you find a good job, new friends, and great opportunities for self-fulfillment and spiritual growth.

Maya Bery said...

Drat, it ate my comment (stupid OpenID).

Chavi, I'm so sorry to hear that your marriage did not work out. I would hope that nobody has the gall to question publicly or privately how much effort the two of you put into trying to fix things, and I'm upset for you that you even have to include such a disclaimer, but I suppose that's life in the public realm of the internet.

As my roommate once said, sometimes two people get on the same train at the same stop, only partway there, one realizes they were actually meant to be going in the opposite direction. I wish you a new year full of healing, blessings and renewal.

Shana Tovah to you, and I'm sure you will navigate this new chapter of your life with dignity and grace.

VickiB said...

You're very brave to post this.

Hope the fresh Colorado air brings you the clarity you're looking for.

PamBG said...

I'm shocked and so very sorry for you both. Please know that I send my very best wishes.

As strangeness would have it, my Orthodox Rabbi colleague just moved to Denver to work for what I understand is a reasonably sized community there. I guess you know who you will connect with in Denver for religious community, but feel free to email me at: PamBG1 at gamail dot com. I can't, of course, distinguish various levels of frum but I know he and his wife consider themselves as such.

May you find peace and guidance.

Shoshana (Bershad) said...

Chavi, stay strong!

I wish you a year of healing and serenity.

violarulz/ducksandbooks said...


Wow, I wish I knew what to say other than to offer that I know lots of great, young adult, frum folks in Boulder and that we just started a monthly torah study/shabbos dinner potluck. We're not that far from Denver and I'm sure I could find someone for you to stay with for shabbos. Potential friendly faces are just a $5 bus ride and 40 minutes away!

I'm unemployed right now and have lots of time to help out if you're here already (or whenever you get here). I know I should be offering you support (which I TOTALLY AM), but I'm kinda reaching out to make new friends too. Wow, yes, I just admitted that in your comments.... Anyway, I'm deenajr at g-mail dot com, if you want to reach back. Take your time, with the chagim, we're all overwhelmed right now!

PS- if you don't mind a 90 minute walk to shul, you're more than welcome to crash with us whenever you want! Helps us stay healthy, or something.

Natalie S. said...


Thank you for continuing your usual warm and honest writing. I can't imagine how hard it was to write this post, but I just know it is going to help people out (by providing such a strong model).

You are going to be great! And I can't believe all of Colorado isn't pounding down your door yet!

I'm the same age as you, but I went through a very similar series of events when I was even younger and...a few years later..I'm married again and it is soooooo much more right. Things are just going to get more and more interesting and more and more beautiful.

Sending you more and more gratuitous internet love to cushion your arrival in Colorado. If you happen to overshoot by about a day and end up by San Francisco...well...I think you'll find a fair share of Jews around Berkeley who will be swooning over you and that same Denver outdoorsy vibe. ;)

Mordechai said...

It sounds like you are on a good path. I know very good people in Boulder, at a small ortho shul called Aish Kodesh. The Rav is my best friend and if you ever want to get away from Denver we can connect you. Also know a family in Denver proper... Modern she's from Czech republic. Different path than most. You can always reach me via twitter mrackover - best of luck and I'm gald to read that you sound whole and a little broken but not a lot broken and full of holes.

Anonymous said...

Chaviva, you know that Mama H is always here for you. So proud of how brave and strong you have been and how you are conducting yourself.

New place, new beginnings. wishing you peace in this New Year.

Kate @ said...

A brave post, my friend. You know I'm always, always here for you. Please never hesitate to call, email, text, tweet. I'm thinking of you, praying for you, and so, so proud of your strength.

RaggedyMom said...

Chaviva,may this year bring immense positive, unanticipated growth and joy for you! Your poise in the maelstrom is so admirable. Shana tova, and I know I'll be reading.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Thank you thank you thank you so much everyone for all of your kind words and thoughts and wishes and ... everything. It's been so overwhelming to hear from you all, but in a very good way. I can't thank y'all enough.

Shana tova! Hugs and love and warm fuzzies to everyone!

Chana said...

Wishing you strength and joy in the new year

Redacted said...

Big hugs. May this new year bring you nothing but simchas!

Shana tova!

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