Author Archives: Alicia Jo Rabins

Alicia Jo Rabins

About Alicia Jo Rabins

Alicia Jo Rabins is a Brooklyn-based musician, writer, and Jewish educator. Her band, Girls in Trouble (original art-pop songs about women in Torah) released their self-titled debut on JDub Records, and she is the violinist in klezmer-rock band Golem. A published poet, Alicia has a MA in Jewish Womens Studies and a MFA in poetry; as a Jewish educator, she specializes in creative, meaningful online bar/bat mitzvah preparation.

Dating as a Spiritual Practice

The words “spiritual practice” can conjure up obscure rituals, ancient languages, and near-impossible discipline–not exactly the first association we have with dating. But dating and relationships can actually provide us with powerful opportunities for spiritual practice.

For example: S. just called me in desperation. She’d gone on three great dates with a guy she likes. He seemed to like her too, but he hadn’t called back since they kissed for the first time a couple days ago. Should she call him and ask him out, or assume he’s not interested?
jewish dating
This sounds like a modern problem, and in many ways it is–but it’s also an ancient one. S. is dealing with fundamental spiritual issues: The problem of finding a partner, the relationship between self and other, and the question of where body and spirit intersect. So old and deep is the mystery and challenge of finding a partner that the rabbis of the Talmud wrote that it was as difficult for God to split the Red Sea as to find soulmates for people.

It’s fitting that the rabbis compared matchmaking to parting the sea, because there is an element of miracle and exodus in finding the right partner. To date is to enter a pilgrimage to the unknown–we leave our comfortable, established relationships and head into unfamiliar territory.

Out of Control

Of course, dating involves other people. And once other people are involved, we’re never completely in control. We can control who we ask out, what we say when someone else asks us out, and what we do on a date–but we can’t control how well a date goes, whether someone likes us, or whether we’re attracted to someone. 

Lack of control is terrifying, but it is one of the great spiritual teachers. As long as we are alive, no matter how hard we try to control the specifics of our lives, change will happen–in our bodies, our families, our jobs, our world–and it will often surprise us.

Living with Uncertainty

A good deal of Jewish spiritual practice has to do with acknowledging this lack of control while creating structures to help us navigate it as individuals and as a community. For example, every morning observant Jews give thanks for having their souls returned to them, a nod to the fact that it’s never absolutely certain we’ll awaken from a deep sleep.
jewish dating

Sivivon Sov Sov Sov

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“Sivivon Sov Sov Sov” is known as the other dreidel song–not to be confused with the one about making dreidels out of clay. A dreidel has two sets of letters–outside of Israel, a shin, which stands for sham, or “there,” in the phrase “A great miracle happened there.” Instead, in Israel, there’s a pey, which stands for po, or “here,” since the miracle of Hanukkah actually happened in Israel.

Similarly, “Sivivon” has two sets of lyrics: one sung in Israel, which refers to the “great miracle” as happening “here,” and one that references it “there.”

Sivivon (outside of Israel)

English (translation):
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin.

    A holiday of happiness it is for the nation.
    A great miracle happened there.
    A great miracle happened there.
    A holiday of happiness it is for the nation.

Hebrew:
Sivivon, sov, sov, sov
Chanukah, hu chag tov
Chanukah, hu chag tov
Sivivon, sov, sov, sov!

    Chag simcha hu la-am
    Nes gadol haya sham
    Nes gadol haya sham
    Chag simcha hu la-am.

סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב

חַג שִׂמְחָה הוּא לַעָם
נֵס גָדוֹל הָיָה שָם
נֵס גָדוֹל הָיָה שָם
חַג שִׂמְחָה הוּא לַעָם

[PB]

Sivivon (in Israel)

English (translation):
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin.

    Spin, please, spin like this and that.
    A great miracle happened here
    A great miracle happened here
    Spin, please, spin like this and that.

Hebrew:
Sivivon, sov, sov, sov
Chanukah, hu chag tov
Chanukah, hu chag tov
Sivivon, sov, sov, sov!

    Sov na sov ko va’cho
    Nes gadol haya po
    Nes gadol haya po
    Sov na sov ko va’cho!

סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב

סב נא סב כה וכה
נס גדול היה פה
נס גדול היה פה
סב נא סב כה וכה