Rucheli's Writings

Readings, Ramblings, and Religious Rantings

Shabbos with the Schroeders October 11, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 12:05 am
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This weekend was the clash of the titans… Science vs Religion, acted out in a single Shabbos dinner. The setting was an unassuming house just a few blocks from Mayanot, at the home of Dr. Gerald Schroeder and his wife Barbara. While much of the battle was acted out in books that filled his shelves (and mine as well), it was one of the only places in the world where you will hear an observant Jew speak about dinosaurs and evolution at the Shabbos table.

Dr. Schroeder is a personal hero of mine, and if I can follow in his footsteps even a little bit, that would be the culmination of my entire life up until this point. He has his PhD in physics from MIT and has studied Torah for decades, but most impressively he managed to combine the two into a series of books that transforms any preconceived notions about both science and religion of anyone with an open mind.

As an engineer and a born-and-bred scientist, the most difficult part of becoming observant was figuring out what to do with my 18 years of education in the laws of nature. After much bashing of my own ego and humbling of my own intellect, I was able to understand that with our all powerful G-d, anything is truly possible. This doesn’t mean that I resorted to the literally biblical translation of Genesis, with no big-bang, no dinosaurs, and no cavemen. I did have a huge paradigm shift though, and it wasn’t long before I was searching for ways that G-d’s biblical creation and His scientific creation told the same story…

The answers lie in quantum physics.

For anyone unfamiliar with the scientific concepts, I can’t currently explain exactly how it works. But Dr. Schroeder has done a good job of expounding on those same thoughts for those with at least a preliminary understanding of both general relativity and the biblical account of creation. If you’re interested, I encourage you to read at least this article on his website, and if it’s your speed then please by all means, by one of his books 🙂

The fact that I was able to spend a Shabbos dinner with Dr. Schroeder was unreal. Add to that the fact that he was one of the cutest grandfatherly men I have ever met, and that his wife cooks amazing food, and it made for quite the enjoyable evening. On top of that, his son-in-law is the best Jazz composer in Israel (Daniel Zamir), and his wife is the public face of Hadassah International. We were dining in the presence of greatness!

Unfortunately the environment of the meal wasn’t conducive to intellectual conversations… There was a group of about 15 kids right out of high school that were visiting for the Young Judea Year-Course program, so it was never really quiet enough to speak of anything too serious. Dr. Schroeder did however speak a little bit about Carl Sagan and the Cosmos, as well as the verse in creation that speaks of pterodactyls… Yes, you read correctly 😉

I did manage to stop Dr. Schroeder on our way out the door to thank him for having us (myself, Irina my roomie, and Ariela, the other engineer at Mayanot) over for dinner. I also told him that I would really like to keep in touch with I’d like! I can’t wait… as soon as I finish reading his books, you can bet that I will be right back over!


Improv Havdalah August 14, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 11:27 pm
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I ended up staying in South Florida for Shabbos this week. Unexpected. I was down here for a doctor’s appointment and then mom suggested it and told me Lauren wanted to go to our favorite Kosher place when she got home from tour tomorrow morning and wouldn’t it be great if I was there? And it would be, especially since I’ve talked to here twice for a total of about 3.5 minutes in the last 3 months. And so I stayed.

Granted, only later did the ramifications of that decision become clear… Missing Tanya’s birthday party, missing a day at the lake with Sara and Travis, missing Shabbos with Shmuli and Malka… So I’ve come to the conclusion that I must really love my sister a lot ♥

In any case, Shabbos at home always comes with certain challenges. Living in South Florida, food isn’t usually one of them. This week was a little different though since lunch was in the oven at 170° all night and somehow the oven mysteriously shut itself off. And my mom, trying to help, turned it back on. Soooo that food was out of the question 😦 Luckily there was still some deli in the fridge and I made myself a mean sandwich!

Another challenge was the lack of havdalah supplies. I didn’t think about until I woke up 30 minutes after Shabbos was over. Oops. So I said hamavdil ben kodesh lechol and decided to make my own havdalah candle!

1) Heat up a large cup of water in the microwave.Improv Havdalah
2) Rummage for 3 leftover Chanukah candles in my mom’s cabinet.
3) Submerge candles in the hot water to melt the wax a little bit.
4) Braid the now-pliable Chanukah candles together.
5) Place the candle in the freezer to reset the wax.

annnnnd voila! Instant havdalah candle!

After some fizzing and sparking and sputtering around for a few seconds due to the leftover water on the wicks, I’m proud to report the candle worked beautifully well and produced an unusually large flame 🙂 So if you are ever in need of a havdalah candle on the run, feel free to use this technique!


First Day Working From Home! August 13, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 5:58 pm

Well, today was my first day “working from home” and I could definitely get used to this!

I needed to come down to South Florida for a doctor’s appointment today. Long story, but basically I’ve been having back issues and I’m not covered by insurance anywhere but the tri-county SoFla area, so here I am. And it was a waste of time. But on the plus side, I’ll be here when Lauren gets home from DCI World Championships.

The other positive side to being in SoFla today was that it gave me a chance to see what working remotely is going to be like. Not bad! 🙂 I have my new laptop that is all set up to connect into work’s network (I love IT!) and I could do a lot of what I needed without any problems. Not only that, I could print straight to the office, so then one of the interns would go get it from the printer and drop it off to my boss for me 🙂 Pretty nice!

Confused about what I’m talking about? Let me fill you in:


So exciting, isn’t it? I’m a very very lucky person, and I’ve somehow managed to keep my job while leaving the country. While I’m in seminary, I’ll be in classes during the morning and evenings… then in the later afternoon during our break, and again later at night if I need to, I’ll be working on my laptop! This basically means that I’ll be able to pay off my trip and schooling while I’m still living there and come hope without (too much) debt!

If today was any indication of what it’s going to be like working while I’m there, I think I’ll be just fine 😉


Life on Mars August 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — rucheli @ 9:46 pm

Here’s a story from a site called (one that answered -or at least started to answer- a lot of the questions I used to have):

“When I was younger, I worked for the NASA program. And I looked for life on Mars. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars looking for life on Mars—for which, if you haven’t been thanked as taxpayers before, let me thank you. During that time I asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ‘Is this right? Can I really do this? Other religions say you shouldn’t search. And the Torah doesn’t say there’s life on Mars.’

The Rebbe replied in Yiddish, ‘Professor Green, you should look for life on Mars. And if you don’t find it there, you should look elsewhere. And if you don’t find it there, you should look elsewhere. Because for you to sit here and say that G-d didn’t create life elsewhere is to put limits on G-d, and no one can do that.’ “


It’s Official! July 29, 2010

Filed under: Headline,My Blog,Travel — rucheli @ 11:38 pm
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One month from today, I will be in New York for a brief stop before my flight to Israel. And it became public knowledge last week that I have (B”H) the unique and amazing opportunity to continue my work as an engineer while I’m in Jerusalem!

I bought myself a new, highly powerful workhorse-ish laptop. Since I’m a contractor, the company couldn’t buy it for me, but I don’t mind… It’s worth it! It should be in next week and then IT is getting it set up on the network and giving my copies of all of the programs that I need access to in order to get my work done. Then, while I’m in Israel, I’ll just log into the servers for a few hours a day to get my work done. I got a US phone number through Skype so that they can call me (and vice-versa) as needed, and I will still have my interns working here in the States for me if I need them to collect any data…

All in all, it’s going to be an amazingly incredible opportunity to work and learn at the same time. I couldn’t think of a better “happy-medium”! Thank G-d it has all worked out so well, hope the good mazel continues!


Am I the Only One? July 25, 2010

Filed under: Featured,Headline,My Blog — rucheli @ 11:36 pm

After spending 12 hours at work today fixing a 30 minute project that turned out to be a hornets’ nest waiting to be kicked, I found myself wondering if I’m the only one…

Am I the only frum female working and living in a man’s world?

I mean really, engineering by definition is only about 13% female in the first place. And the world is only about 0.03% “Orthodox” Jewish. So one would expect that engineering is about 0.0039% Orthodow Jewish. And assuming a 50/50 split male female, that would mean that about 0.00145% of all engineers are frum and female like myself.

The government says that there about 1.6 million engineers in the United States… So .00145% of 1.6 million is about 23…. Twenty three of us?!