Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A bald-faced truth :)

Yesterday, Gov. Cuomo re-opened the State of New York based on the state's 70% vaccination rate,  removing all COVID-19 pandemic restrictions except for three:  face-masks are still required in health-care facilities, in schools, and on public transit.  Last night was the first time since April 2020 that I walked down the hall to the compactor room without wearing a face-mask.  It was a literal breath of fresh air.  :)

I may continue to err on the side of caution, though, when I'm in a public indoor space for more than a few minutes.  I might keep wearing a mask in the laundry room and when shopping, just to be on the safe side.

Other decisions await.  Should we continue to shop online for most of our vitamins and gluten-free goodies just because we can get them delivered to our door for free?  It's bad enough that we have to schlep to Manhattan or Eastern Queens to get kosher meat.  Why not make our lives easier when it comes to other foods that we can't get at the local supermarket?

Then, of course, there's our synagogue.  The president is calling board members to ask them when she can  schedule a meeting--we have to decide when we're going to start having services back in our building, among other things.  We're far too small a congregation (with rarely more than 15 attendees at Shabbat morning services) to be able to run hybrid/all-access services--we can't afford to pay a non-Jewish staff member to host a Zoom service on Shabbat for the few folks who'd still prefer to stay on Zoom.  That's a shame for our favorite 99-year-old, who's been a regular on Zoom, but probably won't be able to join us for many services next winter.  :(  And there's also the interesting question of what we're going to do about High Holiday services, given that we can't afford to hire a second cantor to lead some of the services.  We gave our cantor a break last year by scheduling a half-hour break between the various services on Yom Kippur day.  I'm not sure how well that would work in person.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Happy 44th Anniversary to us!


Here I am with my favorite punster.  I keep him around for the entertainment value.  😀💓

Thursday, June 10, 2021

An older adult's adventures in eating

One of the most reliable ways to figure out that one can no longer eat a certain food is to eat that food and see how badly one's body reacts. 😮

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Upsetting but true--for many Jews, Judaism is a cult of the dead :(

 This afternoon, we ran into another member of our synagogue, and they were very upset about the fact that we still haven't gone back to praying in our synagogue building.  They won't use Zoom (for reasons that they did not explain), and complained bitterly that they'd been unable to say the Mourner's Kaddish prayer for over a year.  "You know that I'm only a member of the synagogue because I need to say kaddish for my loved ones."  They wouldn't accept anything we said about our sanctuary being too small (and poorly-ventilated) for us to be able to safely separate those who'd been vaccinated from the few "anti-vaxxers" in our synagogue.  Nor would they have been interested in knowing that one of our "regulars," a health-care professional who wears a mask for at least eight hours every workday, refuses to return to in-person services until they can pray in synagogue without a mask.  This congregant wouldn't accept anything other than the resumption of in-person services in our synagogue building at the earliest possible date--so that they could drop in once every few months to say kaddish.  They seemed to be blissfully unconcerned about the needs of the congregation as a whole, whether those needs were to try to ensure the health and safety of all or to make sure that there'd be a minyan for the *rest* of the congregation.

How is one supposed to respond to Jews whose only connection to Jewish ritual observance is to recite prayers commemorating the deceased?

Monday, June 07, 2021

Dan l'kaf z'chut (give the benefit of the doubt): I may have been too mean to Zoom davveners :(

In a recent post, I complained that some folks davvening (praying) on Zoom " . . . just stare at the screen and don't follow the usual Jewish tradition of moving their lips when praying--they look as if they're watching a television show."  It occurred to me later that there might be logical reasons for this non-participation.

One might be that people are disheartened and/or depressed about praying on Zoom instead of in their synagogue building with other congregants.

Another reason might be that, particularly among non-observant Jews, many folks simply don't have enough of a Jewish education to know how pray in Hebrew.  Let's get real--how many people are willing to spend literally decades teaching themselves to davven (pray)?  In addition, it may well be that Jews who pray largely, or entirely, in English (or whatever is their native language) simply aren't aware that most Jews have a custom of moving their lips when they pray.

Bottom line:  Stop being so judgmental and hold the criticism, Shira.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Life on Zoom, part two: Camera quandary

 Copied from a Facebook post on the Dreaming Up 5781 group page:

Laurie Zimmerman
May 24 at 10:48 PM
I’ve been leading services mostly from my attic all year. Now that we’re moving towards hybrid services with Zoom, my tech committee wants to know whether I want a laptop/iPad in front of me where I mostly fill the zoom box or 1-2 cameras further back that show more of the synagogue behind me. Any thoughts?
. . .

Sam Blustin
I think it would really depend on your goals and what kind of experience you want to create for those online. We have two cameras mounted in back, but the shots are super tight on the leader to mimic the intimacy of the zoom shot. We wanted it to feel the same even as others joined in person. I also want pretty static shots and not changing often for the same reason. I want them to feel like they’re fully in the room, and frequently changing reminds them that they’re not actually present (in my opinion)

    • Reply
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    Laurie Zimmerman
    Sam Blustin This is helpful - thanks!

    • Reply
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  • Shira Salamone
    Sam Blustin , you read my mind--I wish every online synagogue service used static shots, instead of fancy "cinematography," which I hate because it really wreaks havoc with my kavvanah:  [Here, I included a link to my previous blog post, Life on Zoom: Keeping up appearances--or not

    Shira Salamone
    Sam Blustin, this may seem irrelevant and even irreverent, but it's neither--Fred Astaire had the right idea. "Over his 35-year film career, Astaire performed in 31 movie musicals. He changed the way dance was filmed, insisting the focus be on the dance steps themselves, using a stationary camera shot—rather than the then-popular technique of frequent cuts and a constantly roving camera." (See As a veteran Israeli folk-dancer, I find it no end annoying when a videographer zooms in on a dancer's feet or face, because dance is a full-body art, and the videographer is showing off *their* art rather than that of the dancer's. Same with fancy camera work during a synagogue service--whose "show" is this, the cantor's or the cameraperson's? Cameras should be *showing* the service, not *changing* it into a television show! If I wanted to watch a movie, I'd go to Showtime, not to shul! As a davvener, I want to feel "fully in the room," and that's impossible when the videographer is, in my opinion, just showing off their *own* skills rather than focusing on the baal/at tefillah [prayer leader] and/or darshan/it [person giving a sermon/presenting some learning].

    Friday, May 28, 2021

    Life on Zoom: Keeping up appearances--or not

    Some of us have become quite camera-conscious as a result of being on Zoom.  Honestly, I so dislike the way I look on Zoom that I actually bought lipstick for the first time in about 30 years.  Here's my latest attempt to look semi-presentable on Zoom:

    On the other hand, I've finally resigned myself to leaving my webcam in one position--if my head disappears from view every time I stand up for the Amidah prayer, so be it.  And I'll confess that I've given up dressing up for evening Zoom services, unless it's our own synagogue's Zoom service--I just stay in my jeans, though I do try to wear one of my nicer t-shirts on Fridays.

    Other people have gone in the opposite direction, losing all concern with how they look.  Some folks remain seated throughout an entire Zoom service, though they would never do that when praying in a synagogue.  Others just stare at the screen and don't follow the usual Jewish tradition of moving their lips when praying--they look as if they're watching a television show.  The worst story I've heard, though, was of the poor soul who apparent forgot that they were on Zoom and were caught onscreen in their underwear in the middle of a service, with the minyannaires all unmuting to shout "Turn off your camera!!!"

    Synagogues have been all over the map on Zoom and/or livestream.  I mentioned some interesting issues in my post about "the tail wagging the dog."  More recently, I've noticed some serious challenges regarding the presence of cameras in sanctuaries.  Some cantors/cantorial soloists/synagogue singers have become so concerned about connecting with their online congregations that they play to the camera(s) and forget to, ya know, look at their siddurim (prayer-books).  In other congregations, the cameras have swallowed the services.  :(  It's one thing when arrangements are made to have a split screen showing the synagogue musicians playing their instruments safely in a different room or balcony while the clergy conduct the services on the main floor of the sanctuary.  It's quite another when the videographer(s) superimpose translucent shots of the musicians over opaque shots of the clergy.  How much more intrusive can a videographer get?  How is one supposed to maintain one's kavvanah (focus, intention, devotion) through such distractions?  What do these videographers think they're doing--filming movies?

    How will some of the synagogues that have become heavily dependent on cameras readjust once they go back to in-person or hybrid services?  And how will congregants readjust to having to actually participate in the services?

    See Life on Zoom, part two:  Camera quandary

    Thursday, May 27, 2021

    One of those days (sigh)

    Yesterday, I stupidly left too late to get to my doctor on time, and had to reschedule my appointment for a month later.  :(

    Then, when I bit into a candy that I'd bought for consolation, I felt something so hard that I knew it wasn't safe to swallow--and when I spit the hard object into a tissue, it turned out to be that darned dental crown that had already been glued back in twice.  :(  :(

    Today, I told my dentist that, if he didn't figure out how to keep that darned crown glued into my gum where it belongs, it would be a classic case of "three strikes, you're out"--I'd find a new dentist.  You might say that this could be his "swan song."  :)

    Central Park

    Pond just north of Central Park South

    Sunday, May 23, 2021

    Our recent trip to Bear Mountain


    RFK (Triborough) Bridge, close up

    Bear Mountain Bridge
    (Yes, I have a thing for bridges)
    Tower at Bear Mountain summit,
    followed by three views from the top 
    and one from the bottom

    Many thanks to my husband for being the designated driver--after four rounds of eye surgery, I'm no longer qualified.  But I'm very fortunate to have enough vision left to enjoy gorgeous views such as these!

    This is what can happen when there's no in-person Kiddush :(

     I wore a new dress yesterday when I was co-leading our Shabbat morning services on Zoom yesterday, and no one even noticed.  

      Zooming is rough on my ego.  :(

    Wednesday, May 19, 2021

    The lack of a national healthcare system costs millions in lost tax revenue

    There has been some talk on Facebook about employers who underpay their employees being responsible for some people choosing to stay on unemployment benefits rather than returning to work. If you can make more money from unemployment benefits than from employment, why work? That says a lot more about employers than it says about their employees. 😠
    But I haven't heard anything about a related problem: people who deliberately remain unemployed or underemployed because they can't afford to pay for their own healthcare and must carefully maintain their eligibility for Medicaid. This has been going on for years. Have I missed something, or, if not, why is no one talking about this?  
    Been there, blogged that four years ago: A hidden cost of the lack of guaranteed health-care coverage

    Sunday, May 16, 2021

    Thoughts re Megillat Rut/Book of Ruth

    The most shocking verse in Megillah Rut is this one:
    "So she stayed close to the maidservants of Boaz, and gleaned until the barley harvest and the wheat harvest were finished. Then she stayed at home with her mother-in-law." (Megillat Rut/Book of Ruth, chapter 2, verse 23)
    Let me get this straight--Boaz knew that he was a "redeeming kinsman," but he let Ruth glean through the entire barley and wheat harvests and didn't make a move to give Ruth or Naomi any *long-term* help until he was "shot-gunned" into it? What's so heroic about letting two widows beg for food between harvests?

    Tuesday, May 11, 2021

    Can I sue the Sages for damages from davening? :)

    I've stretched out the sleeve of my long-sleeved tee-shirt so badly from pushing it far enough above my elbow to lay tefillin that I'll have to consign the shirt to the rag pile.  Yep, I dipped my sleeve in my dinner two times in ten minutes.  (Ha-laila hazeh sh'tei f'amim--on this night, we dip twice?!).  So nu, can I sue?  😀

    I'm back--my new computer has arrived!

    My desktop stopped working before I could finish placing an order for a new one. 🙁. And our son, despite hrs of work over 2 days, couldn't resuscitate his ancient laptop. 🙁 He did, however, tap into his network and conclude that I'd get a better combo of quality and price online than in a store, even though both the Dell and the HP sites are a pain. I borrowed my husband's laptop just long enough to buy an HP with what our son assured me are decent specs and a half-decent price--it was shipped last Monday (after my Friday order), which was a serious factor in my choice of comps. Our poor son volunteered for the set-up honors, because he knows that I'm clueless about both hardware and software.

    My new computer *finally* arrived yesterday afternoon (four days later than originally scheduled), and our son spent hours getting it set up, sitting me down and making me do my own downloads so that I'd know how, and helping me reorganize my files. It's a pleasure to be back on a full-sized keyboard instead of having to type with one finger on a cell phone. Many thanks, and yay!

     We now return you to our regularly-scheduled posting.  😀

    Monday, April 19, 2021

    Had shots, can travel: We went to Central Park together for the 1st time in over a year!

    Our original plan for yesterday was just to take a long walk and enjoy the buds of springtime, but we got a pleasant surprise--our buddy Alex the folk-dance leader was already leading his Sunday-afternoon folk-dance session in the park!  So not only did we have a lovely walk, we also got to go folk-dancing for the first time in over a year!  We were so out of practice that we were practically tripping over our own feet, but we had a grand time anyway!  So now we know what we're going to be doing every Sunday afternoon when it's not raining and the temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  :)

    Friday, April 09, 2021

    I just ate my first post-Pesach chametz, believe it or not

    Home Free Crunchy Vanilla Mini Cookies.  First ingredient:  Gluten free whole oat flour.  Those cookies and gluten-free oat challah are about the only chametz foods that I eat year-round.  :) 

    P.S.: They're vegan.

    Friday, April 02, 2021

    Kvetching about "cardboard:" Pesach can be a problem for those with digestive problems

    If you think *wheat* matzah tastes like cardboard, you should try gluten-free *oat* matzah!  :( 

    I'd love to follow the ruling of the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Law and Standards that it's permissible for Ashkenazi Jews to eat kitniyot.  But my late mother was always very hesitant to bring new foods into her kosher-for-Passover kitchen, even after kosher-for-Passover versions became available, because she believed quite strongly that Passover food was *supposed to* be different.  Since I can't eat wheat all year round, what's to distinguish Passover from the rest of the year for me--Ma nishtana *ha-ochel* ha-zeh . . . (How is this *food* different . . .)?--if I eat rice and kasha/buckwheat as always?  It can get annoying, and even painful, to eat no baked goods other than gluten-free oat matzah and potato-starch-based crackers and goodies when that kind of matzah tastes terrible and white potatoes aggravate my arthritis.  Thank goodness--and/or South American Indigenous People(s)--for quinoa!  I love a good Seder, but I'd be happy to skip Chol HaMoed Pesach and the last day(s) of Pesach altogether.  :(  Oh, well, what's another few days of "cardboard" between friends.  :)

    Thursday, April 01, 2021

    The Strange New Doctrine of the Republican Party (by David Frum for The Atlantic)

    Wednesday, March 31, 2021

    What would Jewish celebrations look like without the assumptions of female servitude?

    Copied from Facebook:

    This morning, I asked a Passover question on my page: What would our cultural celebrations look like without the assumptions of female servitude.
    The thread included some honest answers about women's exhaustion and about the OCD-inducing minutia of some of our less meaningful rituals. It also included, predictably, some men insisting that there is no inequality in their lives because they are amazing partners.
    I wasn't on my computer at all today because I was, predictably, preparing for passover for much of the day (along with my husband, who works as hard as I do, and that's not the point....) So I didn't get to engage in the conversation or explain what I meant. But I just now wrote a comment to elaborate, and I thought maybe it's worth sharing here:
    My point was not to hear about all the men who help out, as nice as that may be (even though for the record, I do NOT necessarily trust husbands' self-reports on how great they are to their wives. I believe it when I hear it from the wives....) Anyway, my point was not for people here to deny the role of female servitude in our cultural heritage, because that's just gaslighting. (If you have never felt or experienced the impact of patriarchal structures in your life, consider yourself lucky.) Rather, I'm suggesting that we think about the effect of these expectations on the way our culture evolved. Because I would like us to rethink the whole thing. Because assumptions of female servitude construct the whole way we mark everything -- pesach, chagim, even shabbat. Everything
    We have designed cultural events that rely heavily on someone -- usually a wife/mother -- devoting their entire life to getting it done so that someone ELSE can enjoy the experience with freedom. (And of course, the entire culture is built on heteronormative paradigms -- single women, non-parents, divorced women, gay couples, don't really exist in the way our culture was constructed for most of its history.) The culture was created to enable a man, no matter how many wives or children he had, to practice whatever religious rituals his religious school determined, completely unencumbered. Even the idea of three times a day minyan outside of home relies on the idea that SOMEONE will hold down the fort at home during that time -- making lunches, getting kids dressed, cooking, cleaning, homework, putting kids to bed. If the people creating the rules of the culture could not rely on such servitude, would they have made such demands like 3x/day minyan? That's my question.
    So for seder, for example, if the rabbis who felt like sitting around all night drinking wine and discussing pilpul did not have servants/women around to do the work of executing their ideas about what seder should look like, would the rabbis have crafted the seder the way it is, with so much kitchen labor and such unrealistic expectations for kids and families about how the meal might go?
    I'm asking, if the people making the decisions about what the culture should look like were ALSO the people charged with getting it done, is this what we would have done? A late, long meal with zillions of rules and weeks of work that induce OCD? Really? Is that the way we would like to transmit our oral heritage? Maybe there are better ways.
    Because I think that if the people doing the heavy lifting and the people getting to enjoy it were one and the same, we wouldn't be doing all this. We might have a more common-sense, easier-to-produce, better-for-relationships event. Maybe go to the park and have some fruit salad. More flexibility and creativity and less indoctrination. Maybe less of that measuring a kzait thing or reading passages about 50,000 plagues that nobody even understands. Maybe daytime and not into-the night. Shorter. Less preparation. Less rules. More compassion. More humanity. Less meaningless rote ritual. That's my theory. It would look different.
    1 Comment


    Our son has a somewhat-related question: He wants to know what kind of religion designs its rules in such a way that the religion can't operate without the help of people of a different religion. He's referring to the so-called "Shabbos Goy," without whose help it would be much more difficult for observant Jews to keep the Sabbath or holidays.

    A world turned upside down: Judaism

    You can read part 1 of this "World turned upside down" series here,  click on the link at the end of that post to read part 2, then click on the link at the end of that post to read this third and final post in the series.


    I'm 72 years old and I never expected to see such radical changes in my lifetime.  But the incredible changes that I've seen in the attitudes of some Jews toward Judaism have been unexpected and disheartening, to say the least.

    Once upon a time, I looked forward to spending my senior years in a thriving synagogue with a rabbi, a cantor, a Hebrew School, and a congregation of several hundred members of various ages, where I would have numerous friends and where I would enjoy watching children grow from infancy to young adulthood.  Instead, I belong to a synagogue that has no rabbi, a part-time cantor whose voice was never good and is getting worse with age, no Hebrew School, fewer than fifty dues-paying members, only two members under the age of 50, and barely a baby or child in sight.

    As I wrote here, many younger Jews have no interest in joining a synagogue, possibly because they find synagogues obsolete.  Here's a ". . . short synopsis of what I've heard [on Judaism Unbound]:  Jewish history has recorded a major "crash" in a paradigm previously central to Judaism--the "crash" resulting from the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem--and the creation, over time, of a successor paradigm--the synagogue and the prayer-book(s).  [My husband adds "and the study of Jewish sacred texts" to this successor paradigm.]  Daniel Libenson and Lex Rofeberg and guests are of the opinion that the synagogue paradigm has now "crashed" and that a new paradigm is currently "under construction."

    Consequences ensue.

    Some Jews choose to pray in independent minyanim or chavurot (prayer and/or study groups led exclusively by members, not by paid clergy), and many of them don't belong to a synagogue at all, even if their services are housed in synagogue.  Others opt for what some call "Off-the-Grid" or "Do-It-Yourself" Judaism, which *I* call "Do It *For* Yourself" Judaism--this group includes both those whose primary spiritual practice (meditation, chanting, and/or "spiritual dance," for example) may or may not involve the Jewish community; as well as parents who hire private tutors for their children, holding Bar and/or Bat Mitzvah ceremonies in homes, hotels or catering halls and completely bypassing the Jewish community.  A third approach involves flipping an old trend on its head:  While some older synagogue buildings were constructed to enable Jews to pray and play in the same place--a synagogue like that was sometimes affectionately dubbed "a shul with a pool"--some Jewish Ys and Jewish Community Centers are now offering High Holiday services and/or Jewish education programming for children, thus becoming, as it were, "a pool with a shul."  :)  Yet another trend is one that I would call, for lack of a better description, "Tikkun Olam" groups--their main, and sometimes exclusive, focus is on social-justice work.

    What all of these approaches have in common, to a greater or lesser extent, is that they ignore Hillel's dictum, "Al tifrosh min hatzibur, Do not separate yourself from the community."  (Pirkei Avot, 2:4)  And that has consequences, too.  Minyanim have been known to find themselves without a home after the synagogue that housed them closed its doors or merged with another synagogue for lack of funds.  The same thing might happen to meditation retreat facilities.  Parents who raise their kid(s) with little or no contact with other Jewish children with whom to socialize might find that their kid(s) lose all interest in any form or aspect of Judaism.  Ys and/or JCCs have been known to merge in order to save money on administrative staffing, in the process changing their names to something not identifiably Jewish and revamping their advertising to target their mostly-non-Jewish users in order to survive financially.  (Been there, seen that.)  And it doesn't seem to have occurred to some "Tikkun Olam" Jews that, while social-justice work is *essential* to Judaism, it's not *exclusive* to Judaism.  To the best of my knowledge, there's not a faith tradition on this entire planet that doesn't do social-justice work.  In other words, Christians *do* strive to help people in need, but Christians *don't* do Kiddush. 

    So we're back to Shimon HaTzaddik, Simon the Righteous, who said, "The world stands on three things:  al haTorah (on the Torah, or, more broadly interpreted, Jewish sacred texts), al haAvodah (on the Temple service, or, more broadly interpreted, Jewish worship), v'al Gemilut Chassadim (and on the practice of acts of piety, or, more broadly interpreted, the practice of acts of service).  I would also add, "the world stands al haEdah, on the community," because without the Jewish community, it would be difficult to sustain any of Shimon HaTzaddik's three.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2021

    Second dose makes dizzy dame dizzier 🙂

    Yay! All three of us--my husband, our son, and me--have now received our second shots of COVID-19 vaccine! Two weeks from today, we're ditching the online grocery shopping and going to the supermarket in person! (Masked, of course.)

    Thursday, March 25, 2021

    A world turned upside down: Zionism

    Start with A world turned upside down:  the United States.

    I'm 72 years old and I never expected to see such radical changes in my lifetime.  But the incredible changes that I've seen in the attitudes of some Jews toward Israel, the Jewish State--or perhaps Israel as the Jewish State--been shocking and disheartening, to say the least.

    I've known for years that there were anti-Zionist Jews in the world.  I just never anticipated that some of them would turn out to be my friends.

    Some Jews of younger generations, among them my anti-Zionist friends, look at the Jewish people and the State of Israel and see no threat to survival for either entity.  As someone once commented to me, "They think Jews are safe."  Why worry about an "escape hatch" when you don't think you'll ever need one?  Perhaps it's never registered with them that millions of lives might have been saved if the State of Israel had existed before the Holocaust.  But all they see is that David has become Goliath.  And some of them would rather kill Goliath than try to heal him.  To paraphrase an old saying from the Vietnam War era, "We had to destroy the country in order to save it."  American Jews accuse Israel of occupying a West Bank that doesn't belong to it.  What hypocrisy!  American Jews ourselves live on land stolen from Native Americans, and even the Native Americans aren't telling us to go back where we came from (as far as I know).  Why can't we try to help Israel become a more just country, instead of tearing it down?

    As for Jews being safe, it took only a little encouragement from a hateful demagogue to bring out the antisemitism that was always lurking among the haters in the U.S.  What makes younger Jews think that Hitler couldn't happen here?

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch-house, I can't participate in the Women's March because it's come under the influence of anti-Zionists, as if the existence of a Jewish State has anything to do with the Women's Movement.  And efforts to reform policing in the United States have been tied to problems with policing in Israel.  It seems to me that even local progressive politics gets connected, somehow, to the Jewish State.  In other words, it would appear that one must park one's Zionism, and perhaps, even one's Jewish identity, at the door in order to get involved in just about any social-justice cause.  Otherwise, you may risk getting sidetracked by arguments over Israel when you originally volunteered to work on, for example, getting more trees and flowers planted on local public property to help make a tiny dent in climate change.

    And this is the world that I have to live in during my later years. 


    Next up:  A world turned upside down:  Judaism


    Related: My Wednesday, February 27, 2019 post, A word about Zionism, in response to an anti-Zionist Jew

    Wednesday, March 24, 2021

    A world turned upside down: the United States

    I'm 72 years old and I never expected to see such radical--or is it reactionary?--changes in my lifetime.  But the incredible changes that I've seen in my own country since roughly the beginning of Donald Trump's first presidential campaign have been shocking and disheartening, to say the least.

    First and foremost, our would-be emperor won the 2016 presidential election by using the classic divide-and-conquer tactic:  Instead of trying to help heal our wounds and bring us together as Americans, he tore off every bandage and reveled in--and profited from--the resultant infection.  Now we can hate anyone we want, and we can say so in public, without worrying about "how it looks."  When I was a kid, my parents threatened to wash my mouth out with soap if I ever used "the N word."  These days, there's a large chunk of the country that doesn't give a d@mn.  When did diversity become a dirty word?

    Second, our would-be emperor tried to destroy the republic from the inside out, quite literally--he made it his personal campaign to dismantle the U.S. Federal government.  Hundreds of hard-working public servants were driven out of the government, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and were deliberately replaced by people who either had little or no knowledge or experience regarding, or were openly hostile to, the department or agency that they were appointed to lead.  I never expected the federal civil service to be treated as if federal employees were personally responsible for trying to ruin the country instead of trying to ensure that it worked.   Full disclosure:  Both my late father and my husband spent decades as federal employees, so I take this insult rather personally.

    Third, our would-be emperor took what should have been a completely apolitical subject--science--and weaponized it.  As a result, thousands of people have died unnecessarily because the mere wearing of a face-mask during an air-born pandemic became a loyalty test, and a large swath of this country believes that climate change is "fake news."   Next thing you know, they'll declare Galileo a heretic all over again.  :(

    (For better and/or for worse, I can't hold Trump entirely responsible for this country's seeming inability to legislate gun control.  Unfortunately, the U.S. has had an open season for human-hunting for years, as tragically demonstrated by the recent mass murders in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado.)

    Trump may be gone, but the poison he laid is still killing this country.  Hatred, distrust of government, and disbelief in science will be here for years to come.

    And this is the world that I have to live in during my later years.

    Next up:  A world turned upside down:  Zionism

    Monday, March 22, 2021

    Freebie week :)

    A few days ago, our grocery shopper/delivery person delivered four three-packs of broiler pans at no extra charge--I'd ordered only one pack.

    Then our favorite online purveyor of vitamins and gluten-free food sent us an extra bottle of vitamin C for free. 

    But the piece de resistance was one of my Pesach (Passover) orders. I'd ordered a five-pound package of white-flour matzah, two cans of plain coconut macaroons, and one can each of honey nut and chocolate chip macaroons. Imagine my surprise when I opened the shipping box and the macaroon cans just kept coming.  I felt as if I'd opened the door to one of those overstuffed clown cars at a circus.  The final tally:   six cans of plain coconut macaroons and three cans each of honey nut and chocolate chip macaroons! 

    The irony is that I'm not even sure I can give the extras away, since both of the sederim we'll be attending will be Zoom seders.  And I can't donate any macaroons to our synagogue to use for kiddush, either, since we're still holding services on Zoom instead of in our building.  I guess we'll be eating macaroons for a good while.

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