Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Senator Lieberman, I presume

This evening, Joe Lieberman came to Pittsburgh, to my synagogue, to help swing some Jewish voters over to Kerry. Being the roving reporter I am, I was on the scene, notebook in hand, and boy was it fun.

I got to my shul about 10 minutes before Lieberman was scheduled to arrive -- he ended up being about a half hour late. One of the event organizers took down my name and told me I would have the chance to ask Lieberman some questions before he spoke, which was a pleasant surprise. While waiting for Lieberman to arrive, I schmoozed with the Chronicle photographer, and with some journalists visiting from, of all places, Croatia. There were about four of them, and one was trying to teach the others some Hebrew. He was instructing the others to say, "Boker Tov" to Lieberman, until I pointed out that "Good morning" wasn't really appropriate at supper time. I recommended they stick to "Shalom."

In the meantime, what seemed like half the Jewish community was gradually showing up at the shul, and several people stopped to ask me if I was there on "official business."

Finally, the senator arrived, and was quickly ushered out of sight to allow him a few minutes to collect himself (he was coming from another campaign event). When he came out, he walked over to where I was standing and said, "You must be Susan Jacobs." I blinked, I gulped, I nodded, I smiled. My stomach did a little dance.

Now, clearly this was one of those carefully finessed political moments, where his staff had told him just a moment before that he would be speaking to a reporter named Susan Jacobs, but boy was it flattering to have Joe Lieberman introducing himself to me.

Thankfully, I was able to collect myself enough to ask him the two questions I had prepared. I asked if he thought that Kerry had lost a lot of the Jewish vote to Bush this year because of the perception that Bush is good for Israel. He said we'll have to see, and said Kerry is better on other issues that are important to Jews. Then I asked if he thinks the election will be as close as the polls are predicting. He said, "I hope not. I don't want the country to go through what we went through four years ago again." That was it. I thanked him, and then he moved on to the Croatian team before going into the social hall for his speech. I didn't try to ask him anything more substantive because I knew I wouldn't have much time with him, and because I knew he probably wouldn't say anything that candid anyway. And, I knew I didn't have the nerves to speak to him for more than a couple of minutes. I was happy just to listen to what he had to say.

He spoke very well -- lots of Jewish references thrown in, and the audience, for the most part, really ate it up. It was lots of fun, and getting to cover it made me feel really important.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Very grateful

This past week, my former employer laid off about 10 people in what they are calling a "financial reorganization." In the press release they provided to us at The Jewish Chronicle, they said that several other positions had been eliminated through attrition. I firmly believe that my old job was one of those, which further leads me to believe that if I had still been working there this week, I would have been laid off as well.

A couple of people have said to me "you were smart to get out when you did." While it's true that I had known for a long time that the organization might downsize, and I knew I had an expendable position, it was really hashgacha pratis (divine providence) and not my own cleverness that saved me from unemployment.

Over the course of the last year, I had been casually job hunting online from time to time, and had sent my resume to a couple of places, but nothing looked particularly promising. And then, in August, the editor of The Chronicle called to invite me to apply for the associate editor position. If he had not called (which was very flattering), I would not have even known the job was available.

Ironically, I struggled quite a bit with the decision to change jobs -- in part because the old job offered certain benefits that the new job does not have. Ultimately, I reasoned, "Maybe this (the Chronicle job) is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. If I turn down this opportunity, I may never have another one like it." I also knew that I would feel really, really stupid if I turned down the Chronicle just to be laid off eventually.

I never expected to receive such a clear confirmation that I made the right decision. I feel so blessed to not only be working, but to have a job that I am enjoying so much.

It gives me a lot of comfort to look at life's situations and feel that G-d is guiding us along, and arranging circumstances in a particular way. There are so many times in life that it is easy to feel that G-d is denying us something (or many things) that we want very much (even feel we deserve). I have those thoughts plenty of times (especially with regard to not being married yet), but at least this week, I feel so grateful, and so blessed.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Quick update

No, I haven't given up blogging. It's just that the Jewish holiday season has a way of wreaking havoc upon one's routine.

I had a wonderful, lively, Simchat Torah. If you are an Orthodox woman in search of a shul where the women also dance on Simchat Torah (rather than just watching the men -- I'm still not sure how watching people dance qualifies as fun), then come to my shul next year. We dance up a storm. One of my friends came to visit me this year on the promise that Simchat Torah would be very leibedick and fun, and I think her expectations were more than fulfilled. A good time was had by all, as they say. And at my shul, that means non-alcoholic fun. [I'm not sure where many shuls and yeshivas find the justification for boozing it up on Simchat Torah, but according to Rabbi Daniel Wasserman (my local Orthodox rabbi), there is absolutely no source for it, and in fact, drunkenness is a sin.]

In other news, work is still going well. I had four articles in this week's paper, and received many, many compliments over Yom Tov. It's really nice to be appreciated, though I must try not to let it go to my head.

And, last week I finally finished a free-lance piece for Sustainable Pittsburgh, an organization for which I write periodic pieces on environmental/development issues. It was one of those things that never had a definite deadline, so I put it off until I was utterly embarassed by how long I had been procrastinating. It felt very good to get it done.