Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Treif candy, kosher dancers, etc.—anything to take my mind off of the office

The company that makes my favorite candy has been sold—Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews are no longer kosher. :( I’m heartbroken.

I stayed home today, claiming illness, which isn’t far from the truth—between anxiety and asthma, I didn’t get much sleep last night. My doctor is off, so I’m waiting ‘til Monday.

Meanwhile, let me tell you something about our glorious evening last Sunday night at an Israeli folkdancing session in honor of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. For openers, we had a grand old time. Even though my asthma’s been kicking up lately and I wasn’t able to dance as much as I would normally, I got a kick out of watching some really great dancers. In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut, and because the session was honoring the memory of the recently-deceased great Israeli songwriter Ehud Manor (composer of, among over a thousand songs, “Bashana Habaa”), practically every Israeli folkdance teacher from the general vicinity showed up. Ruth Goodman, Danny Uziel, and Howie Goldman were there, along with Zvi "Tatcho" Hilman, imported from Israel. I got a particular kick out of watching Zvi dance with Ruth (who usually dances with Danny)—Zvi was getting his jollies trying to see how many times he could make her spin during the partner dances. :) (I should only be as lively as he is when I get to his age.) And in between dances—and even during the dances—people were playing the instruments that they’d schlepped especially for the occasion. Zvi and another guy were trading licks on whatever-those-hand-held-Middle-Eastern-drums-are-called. A wonderful time was had by all.

One thing I noticed was the different “hashkafot” (approaches) among those dancers who were clearly Orthodox. For openers, I guess this group has a mekhil (lenient) approach to the observance of the semi-mourning period known as Sefira, which runs from the second day of Pesach (starting at the second seder, for those of us who live in the Golah/Diaspora) until Shavuot/Feast of Weeks. Then again, from what I already knew and what I’ve been reading on the blogs, there seem to be any number of interpretations of when and how one is supposed to observe Sefira. Is it permissible to listen to music, as long as it’s not live music? Are there times during Sefira when some will listen to music and others will not? That seems to be the case. All I know is that, with men in kippot and skirt-wearing women with sleeves below the elbows (the married ones with their heads covered) participating in the festivities, it was interesting to see who was dancing with whom. One kippah-clad man was dancing with his baseball-cap-wearing wife while some of the other dancers took turns passing their little baby around. On the other hand, two skirt-clad women, both with sleeves below the elbows, danced only with one another for every single partner dance. Those two followed what would normally be standard procedure for a person trying to learn a new dance, dancing on the outside of/behind the circle for every single circle dance, unless they could couple up with another woman on each side, to avoid holding a man’s hands. (For an explanation of shmirat negiah, the observance of the prohibition against physical contact between members of the opposite sex who are not members of the same family, see http://shomernegiah.blogspot.com/). I was fascinated to see the different ways that Orthodox Jews approached the issue of “mixed” dancing.


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