Monday, October 30, 2006

Here's a Jack's-Shack-style round-up of links to my Sunday posts

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Praying for rain--and meaning it

When your entire country's welfare depends on the water level in its largest lake, you tend to take the prayer "mashiv haruach u-morid hagashem, Who makes the wind blow and the rain fall" pretty seriously, as Jameel reminds us.

Art in high places: Trep discovers "touches of color"

Have a look at David "Treppenwitz" Bogner's delightful view.

Congratulations to "Curly" and his proud parents

See here. Mazal tov to Curly, and his proud parents Mark/Dr. PT and Mrs. Balabusta and siblings Fudge, Mo, Larry, Iguana, and The PT, as he lays tefillin for the first time.

(Link>)Shira attempts to enter the 21st century: Here (I hope) is a video of the first dance that I ever choreographed

Hey, it works (more or less)!

Here's the first dance that I choreographed to Mark's music
See also this post, about the creation of this dance, and this one, about its first performance at "Girls' Night On". Enjoy!

Don't forget to check out more of my YouTube goodies, etc.--see my Nov. 5 and 18, 2006 updates below!

For those of you who clicked on the link titled "Discretion is the better part of wisdom" (in a later post) and were surprised to end up here, or who clicked on the link in either of the later posts titled "Good luck trying to be disrcrete on a blog," please note that, as a precautionary measure aimed at helping me keep my job, I haven't told anyone at the office that I blog. Therefore, I'm very nervous about leaving photos or videos of myself, or even links whose wording indicates that such things exist, visible at the top of this screen, lest they be seen by anyone in my office when I check my blog for comments. (And no, I never publish posts or reply to comments published on my blog from my office computer.) That's why I deleted the "embedded" video (the kind with a visible screen) that was originally part of this post. To see the video, click on the post title/hyperlink, which will take you right to it. That's also why, the next time you see a post title that includes a word such as "discretion," "discrete," "subtle," "Just between you and me," or the like, you should click on the link(s) that are included in the body of the post to see something interesting. I still have three more of my dance videos to upload. :)

Sunday, November 5, 2006 update: Here's a video of another one of my dances, courtesy of Mark's music. Mark wrote about this beauty here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006 update: I just got authorization from Lenny Solomon to make the dance that I choreographed to his song B'yado available for public viewing on YouTube. B'yado is from the Shlock Rock album Songs of the Morning (also known as Shirei Boker), which can be bought at the Shlock Rock webite. Thanks, Lenny! Enjoy, all!

Some fun comments from the choreographer:

In my dance to Mark's Ki V'Simchah, can you spot the American Sign Language? Hint: One of the hand/arm gestures, repeated twice, means, "tree;" the other, which I describe as a "compound sign," shows soil sifted between the fingers followed by a sign depicting a large, flat surface, and means (I hope--I'm over a decade out of ASL class) "field."

Watch the spins in B'yado closely: I confess to being very proud of the fact that my feet land exactly on the notes when I spin. (It ain't easy, lemme tell ya.) Also, those readers old enough to have watched the Jackie Gleason Show (and/or young enough to have seen it on DVD, if it's available yet) should be able to spot what I call the "And away we go" maneuver, swiped straight from that master of comedy himself.

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Tales of tzniut (modesty), or the lack thereof

Here’s an Orthodox manifestation of the problem, which Shifra describes as the “Hot Chanie.” Check out her two posts on the subject, which have a veritable legion of commenters.

Here’s an example of a non-Orthodox version: The Bat Mitzvah girl wore a top cut in a wide, deep V that exposed her cleavage. My first reaction was to be floored that a Bat Mitzvah girl would wear something that I consider so inappropriate. My second reaction was to be equally taken aback that it apparently never occurred to her parents that such a low-cut outfit was inappropriate.

When I was a girl growing up in a Conservative synagogue, one didn’t go to shul sleeveless, barelegged, or even in red, which was thought to call too much attention to oneself. Now, some seem to think that anything goes.

I think this is a manifestation of a cultural shift. In my younger days, it was considered unprofessional for a woman to dress in a manner that called attention to her body. For the most part, conservative clothing that deemphasized the female figure was de rigueur (though mini-skirts were the rage, back then). Nowadays, either that’s not a case, or the understanding of what calls attention to a woman’s body has changed. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the women on the television newscasts, whether anchors, sportscasters, or meteorologists, almost all seem to wear clothing that exposes a little cleavage?

Some will say that the more relaxed attitude is an improvement, that attitudes toward women’s dress used to be too prudish. Others will say that our standards of modesty have become too lax. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Since I don't often publish six posts within three hours, I'm providing you with this handy "links list"

Thanks to Jack of the Shack for giving me the idea to publish links to a number of posts on my own blog in one post, to make those posts easier to find.

I wouldn't want you to miss out on any of this good stuff, most of which consists of links to other bloggers' good stuff, so just click below to read all six posts in the order in which they were published.

Better late than never: Check out Chana's Sept. 30th post, "Alone for a Shabbos"

Ochel, ochel everywhere, but not a bite to eat

Ochel, ochel everywhere, but not a bite for me

Tonight's better-late-than-never link #2: Treppenwitz's October 16th "Small acts of kindness"

AidelMaidel is back--with good news

And, last but not least, here's my 500th post(!):

A fellow "square peg": Psychotoddler guest-posts on being an MO in a black-hat world

A fellow "square peg": Psychotoddler guest-posts on being an MO in a black-hat world

This is a must-read, especially for those who, like me, don't quite fit: Mark paints quite a vivid picture of what it's like to be the only Modern Orthodox guy in a right-wing Orthodox community.

Mark, you get the honor: Assuming that I haven't messed up the automatic numbering in my Word archives again, this is my 500th post.

AidelMaidel is back--with good news

See here. I wish my "blogmother" the best of luck.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tonight's better-late-than-never link #2: Treppenwitz's October 16th "Small acts of kindness"

David Bogner's/Trep's "Small acts of kindness" is a real beauty. To quote commenter WestBankMama, "Now you have proven for all time why Hashem makes people who do everything at the last minute . . ." Tze u-l'mad--go and study.

Ochel, ochel everywhere, but not a bite for me

Ah, the joys of working for a non-profit organization.
A person from one of our offices in a different borough of New York City, who happened to be making the rounds of our office, had the, um, interesting timing to hand me three memos to type, with my boss's authorization, exactly three minutes before I was scheduled to leave for the day. If the person had been from our location, I would have ever so politely told him/her to take a hike, er, come back this morning, but . . . To make a long story short, between typing, editing (far be it from me to leave not well enough alone), formatting, etc., I missed my Ulpan Hebrew class. And what did I get for my efforts? (No, obviously they're not going to pay me overtime--non-profit organizations, as I've been known to kvetch/complain before, are equally unprofitable for their employees.) What I got was the person's heartfelt thanks.

I've been working for this organization for five years now (four as a temp.). This isn't the first time that I've worked hours beyond the officially closing time of our organization in order to complete a project by the deadline. And yet, in all these years, I've never been offered dinner. No one's ever offered to order in so much as a slice of kosher pizza. It's bad enough that they can't pay me overtime. But it borders on insulting that my hard work ain't even worth a slice of pizza.

Ochel, ochel everywhere, but not a bite to eat

Okay, I’ll stop being a wiseguy and translate: ochel = food.

DovBear published a post about Rosh Hashanah (New Year) on his blog, and I noticed that people kept commenting on how hungry they’d gotten, waiting until after services to eat. So I e-mailed him about that, and we had an interesting discussion:

Me: What's the halachic problem with eating a no-bread snack before shul on Shabbat and/or Yom Tov? I don't get it.

G'mar Chatimah Tovah.

DovBear: You aren't supposed to take care of yourself so to speak before you take care of God so to speak. The rule is if it is something a king would serve on his table you can't eat it before you have davened

(and this is true every day of the year)

Me: That's no big deal on a weekday, but on Shabbat and Yom Tov, you're essentially supposed to "fast" all morning? So "fasting" is both assur [prohibited] and er, chayav [obligatory] (?) on Shabbat and Yom Tov? Sorry, I can't make much sense of that. How the heck can one call Shabbat oneg [a delight] when one is hungry? And this is "v'samchta b'chagecha [You shall rejoice on your holiday]?" Okay, maybe I'll drop the strawberries and just eat the hard-boiled egg (with blueberries, which I eat for medicinal purposes and which are sour half the time anyway). That's not exactly food fit for a king.

DB: Raw fruit is probably ok.

And there are all sorts of other outs. Ask your local rabbi.

So I asked my local rabbi.

He said that, before praying, one is permitted to have nothing that might be considered even part of a meal. Therefore, one may have black coffee or tea with sugar. One is not permitted to add milk.

But rabbi, I’ll starve on Shabbat!

He said that one is permitted to say the brachot (blessings) over the Torah, then the three paragraphs of the Sh’ma, then have a snack, but not a meal. Mezonot (grains or grain products other than bread) are permissible (I didn’t know that), but bread is not (I knew that). You may have milk, too. (No such luck—I’m a bit lactose-intolerant.) But you are not permitted to have a hard-boiled egg, because that’s considered a small meal.

So, in other words, I can eat all the junk food that I want, but I’m not allowed to eat anything healthy like, ya know, protein?

We settled on a rice cake smeared with almond butter, which killed both birds with one stone—it gave me a smidge of protein without any “real” mezonot. (Since rice is not one of the “five species” of grain mentioned in the Torah—wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt—I’ve never really been sure whether one recites the brachah/blessing for mezonot, non-bread grain products, or the shehakol blessing for miscellaneous foods over it.) In the long run, I’ve found that the easiest permissible snack is a handful of nuts and raisins, with a “dessert” of fresh blueberries.

So, for those of you who were wondering, that's what I ate for most of Sukkot. Every day for lunch, I had a bag of raisins and nuts, on the assumption that anything bought from a newsstand is, by definition, a snack, since kiosks that sell newspapers don’t sell meals. And every time I ate dinner at home instead of in a sukkah, I made a meal of snacks such as the aforementioned rice cakes with almond butter topped with raisins, a handful of baby carrots, and fresh fruit. I didn’t eat any bread or “real” mezonot outside of the sukkah.

I've been trying to publish a couple of hyperlinks in this post for almost half an hour. Ya think maybe if I attempt to insert them all the way down here, Blogger will stop refusing to publish them? I promised DovBear that I'd link to his blog, so I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.

Better late than never: Check out Chana's Sept. 30th post "Alone for a Shabbos"

Stern College freshman Chana spent a Shabbat alone in the dorm, and got a taste of what life might be like for a single adult of post-college age.

"I think I understand now about why we give hospitality to others, and why it is necessary. Because to live in that silence day after day would be too unbearable, too frightening, too disquieting. Even with books.

To come home to nothing, to go out knowing that no one is waiting for you...what does that do to a person? All kinds of things, I would think. Of course, that's why some people stay away. They go to bars, or to restaurants; they spend time with people whenever they can.

I have a new understanding of what it means to be alone, as opposed to being lonely."

Recommended reading.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Condensed-matter physics--say what?

Our son wants us to check out the websites of some of the schools to which he's thinking of applying for graduate studies in his newly-chosen physics specialty, condensed matter. Does he truly believe that I have any idea what he, or any of the websites, is talking about?

As we would say in Yiddish-inflected English, when it comes to physics, I don't know from Adam.

Or, in this case, I don't know from atoms.

(Shira quickly opens her umbrella to fend off the volleys of rotten tomatoes. Incoming! (Splat!)

:) :) :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eek! The DVR didn't record last Friday night's Battlestar Galactica!

I've asked the poor hubster to try to figure out what happened, so that it doesn't happen again tomorrow night. Meanwhile, I've read the episode summary on SCIFI.COM. Under the circumstances, spoilers, after the fact, for last week's episode would be appreciated. Thanks. (I assume that Baltar turned out to be human--it would just be too easy to explain away his behavior if he were a Cylon.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Help wanted with a mitzvah time-management problem

This is the fifth Sukkot during which I've worked for this organization (the first four as a temp.). And this is the first year that I never went up to their rooftop sukkah even once.

It all started a few months ago, when I decided to try to pray Shacharit (the Morning Service) and Mincha (the Afternoon Service) every day.

It didn't work.

For pretty much the same reason that I never ate in the office sukkah last week:

I need "time off for good behavior."

It sounds terrible, I know, but that's how I feel.

I simply couldn't discipline myself to pray every day. At first, I just skipped Shacharit on Sundays, on the grounds that I needed one day when I could sleep late. But then I found myself conveniently forgetting Mincha, as well.

And then, the war in Israel intervened, inspiring one of the women in the office to start a women's Tehillim group Monday through Thursday.

I was, and am, a founding and enthusiastic participant (though I end up following in the English more than half of the time.)

But . . .

I was already davvening (praying) Mincha Monday-Thursday at the office. Now, with Tehillim group, I'm sacrificing almost half of my lunch hour for the purpose of davvening.

I barely have time to go for a walk (weather permitting), and, if I meet a friend for lunch, I have to sneak out of the office for 10 minutes later in the afternoon and do Mincha at break-neck speed.

To be absolutely honest, I simply wasn't willing to sacrifice what were probably among the very few days remaining in which the weather would allow me to eat lunch in the park in order to spend what was left of my lunch hour staring at the walls of a hut on the roof.

I get up an hour earlier to davven Shacharit. I no longer have time to write checks, clean the bathroom, and/or make dinner in the morning before going to work.

This is exactly what a certain formerly-Orthodox blogger was talking about some time back when s/he said that it was amazing how much more free time s/he had now that s/he was "frei" (no longer Orthodox).

Here's a serious question for my still-Orthodox readers: How you manage to be observant and still have a life?

Confessions of a hypocrite

I was shocked, shocked, when I realized that the minyan picnic that I'd attended in Riverside Park just a couple of months or so ago was held in a part of the park that's not within the eruv.

Oh, yes, I'm so ready to become Orthodox . . .

quoth she, before diving into the subway station . . .

on Shabbat (the Sabbath, when traveling except by foot is forbidden).

I never shop on Shabbat, when spending money is forbidden . . .

except when we used to drive our son to and from college (before he bought a car), and pick up a few things for his dorm room,

and eat out . . .

on Shabbat. (We won't even talk about the fact that we were obviously not eating in a kosher restaurant, which would have been closed on Shabbat.)

I gave my girlfriend a song and dance for carrying a siddur (prayerbook) into the synagogue on Shabbat Sh'mini Atzeret, because we have no eruv in our neighborhood. The next day, Simchat Torah, I got on the subway, with my tallit (prayer shawl) bag hidden in a black plastic bag inside my tote bag, to go to synagogue.

Oh, I am so much frummer than thou.

Hey, at least she walked to shul.

Our son's college graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place at 6:30 PM on a Friday night in late May. There's no way in bleep that it could possibly be over before Shabbat starts, roughly an hour later. And the nearest hotel is several miles away. Guess what?

I am so ready to become Orthodox.


Yiddish, mispoken

I've been describing the time to light candles just before the beginning of Sabbath and Festival evening as "lacht-benschen" for probably over 30 years. The rabbi just informed me that "lacht" means "laughed," and that the correct term is "licht-benschen." Now he tells me?!


!#$%^&*!!!: "Your Computer Has Been Quarantined"

Okay, you don't want me watching videos between assignments, so you've blocked YouTube. Sigh.

You've blocked Blogger?! But blog-hopping is one of my favorite pastimes between assignments! Do you want me to die of boredom?

You've blocked Wikipedia???!!! For your information, wiseguys, I was looking up something for the boss!!!

On the plus side, the quarantine is supposed to last only for five minutes, and sometimes lasts for less.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Simchat Torah etzli/bei mir/at my place

When we first celebrated Simchat Torah in our current local synagogue, I commented to my husband that I felt as if we'd done the hakafot (the explanation is in here somewhere) in an old age home. So, for years, we used to go with our son to Ansche Chesed on Simchat Torah, hopping from minyan to minyan. (It's a pleasure to be able to do all one's shul-hopping within one building. :) ) We stopped going to AC the year that my husband was chosen to be Chattan Torah at our local shul. (Chattan Torah, "Bridegroom of the Torah," is the man chosen for the reading of the last few verses of the Torah [in English, the end of Deuteronomy].) At first, I resented the feeling that my husband and I, being among the few congregants interested in and/or young enough to indulge in singing and dancing, were the unpaid entertainment. But after a few years, I simply accepted the idea that leading the dancing was our role, and thought that we were doing a good deed for the congregation.

Unfortunately, time has taken its inevitable toll. Last year, I noticed that the number of congregants standing around and talking during the hakkafot vastly outnumbered even the singers, much less the dancers. So this year, I decided to go back to Ansche Chesed, even though that would mean leaving my poor husband (who's the chair of the Ritual Committee) to lead the dancing at such festivities as are left at our local shul. I concluded that I was right to assume that I'd enjoy myself a lot more at AC when the locals begged me to stick around for Erev Simchat Torah (the Evening of Simchat Torah), for fear that they wouldn't get a minyan without me. (If memory serves me correctly, it was partly because we almost didn't get a minyan for Simchat Torah several years ago that the synagogue decided to start counting women for a minyan.) To make a long story painfully short, we got less than 20 people, and my husband and I were the only people dancing. Even my best buddy couldn't join us--her knees have given out. As I said to her, "It's official--I'm too young for this shul." (Have I mentioned lately that I'm 57?) So I went to AC, and danced with Minyan M'at until almost 4 PM. (!) (They weren't even the wildest dancers--the 20- and 30-somethings of Kehilat Hadar were too wild even for me.)

It was an interestingly mixed year for me. On the one hand, I haven't had this much fun on Simchat Torah in probably more that a decade. On the other hand, it was a bit rough on my ego, knowing that, since a number of the congregants of our local synagogue had specifically requested that the hakafot be kept short and sweet, they were probably just as glad that I wasn't there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm about to watch the Battlestar Galactica season opener--here's a quick thought before I catch up

I wanted to post this before seeing the first episode of the third season (courtesy of our son, who set the DVR before returning to college): In case you've forgotten the first season, there's a "wild card" on this show--Is the alcoholic Colonel Tigh's even more drunken wife Ellen a human being or a Cylon?

Okay, now I'll go watch the show. Then I'll join the discussion over at Mark's.

Remind me not to fiddle with the title of a post that I've linked to another post--any change in the wording of a post's title "breaks" the back-link on the other person's post. So let me try linking to Mark's/PT's Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Opener again.

Chad Gadya (of sorts), and other High-Holiday highlights

Bad news/good news
A man comes into the synagogue exactly in time for Yizkor (the Memorial Service) on Yom Kippur and stands in the aisle--with his briefcase. (!) I'm livid that a person clearly long past his teenage-rebellion years would not only care so little about Judaism as to work on the Day of Atonement, but would so blatantly violate the holiday by carrying a business bag into the synagogue.
Then I pull myself back and take in the larger picture: The man keeps leaning across the row in front of us to speak to a much-older woman in the middle of the row. He may be violating just about every rule in the book, but there's one rule that he's keeping--kibud eim. He's honoring his mother by coming to synagogue to say Yizkor with her. The other good news is that he's saying Yizkor with her, not for her. May we see them both again next year, same time, same station.
Bad news/good news
Okay, it's not exactly news that I'm impatient with cantorial "concerts" during the Yamim Noraim. (Yamim Noraim: Literally, Days of Awe, a.k.a. High Holidays or High Holydays). The good news is that not only am I not the only member who's miserable hearing tunes from Les Miserables during Musaf, but some of the folks doing the kvetching (complaining) this year were much older than I. And here I thought that only a young whippersnapper of 57 like me got upset by this narishkeiten (nonsense).

I don't understand all the Hebrew terminology, and I'm certainly not as much of an expert on Jewish music as Mr. Just-Produced-A-New-Jewish-Music-CD (in memory of his father, a cantor), but I think we're more or less on the same page when it comes to a fondness for the traditional synagogue music know as nusach. (For an explanation, see here.)
Chad Gadya (One "Kid"): Bad news, or rather, sad news
Yes, I know that Chad Gadya is a Pesach (Passover) song sung at the seder, and I also know that the "kid" in the title is of the "baby goat" variety, but really, did you expect me to pass over :) even a semblance of a pun?
This may very well be the last year that I run (something remotely resembling) Junior Congregation on the Yamim Noraim. I got only four kids on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), and only one on the second day. I'm sure she was bored to tears, having to hang out all by herself with a dame old enough to be her grandmother for an hour or so. On Yom Kippur, I took a head-count just before U-n'taneh Tokef, and, seeing that the same poor kid would be stuck alone with me again, simply decided to skip the whole thing. The only good news was that I got to stay in the sanctuary for all of Musaf. (It was a first in many years.)
No kids. The sure sign of a dying congregation.
Hairy-raising happenings
In a congregation with about 3 1/2 people who know how to chant a haftarah (a reading from, usually, the Prophets), to get phone calls both the day before Rosh Hashanah and the day before Yom Kippur saying that the honorees were not going to be able to chant the haftarah is no joke. My poor hubby, who's the chair of the Ritual Committee, had to scrounge up a couple of last-minute pinch-hitters, if for no other reason than that he didn't want to "hog the honors" by chanting any more haftarot than the one that he was already slated to chant.
Good news
The president of the synagogue not only survived a recent mild heart attack, but was back at work in the synagogue office within a week. (Naturally, we told him that he was nuts, but he's one of those "Type A" personalities, the kind who are incapable of sitting still and doing nothing. Layperson's prognosis: He'll die young but happy.)
Good news/bad news
We ate so well over the holidays that I'm now heavier than I've been in about a decade. Eek! But it sure was fun while it lasted. :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I know that a sukkah is supposed to be a temporary structure, but . . .

The time: roughly 9:30 PM

The place: The Upper West Side (a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City), West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, south/downtown side of street, on the sidewalk in front of a kosher restaurant called the "Pizza Cave."

There I was, straight from my Ulpan Hebrew class at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, innocently munching a falafel sandwich in the sidewalk sukkah when I noticed that the workers were literally carrying out the chairs, then the tables, all around me. Then, noch besser (even better), they explained to two women who stopped to peak into the sukkah that they dismantle the entire sukkah every night, store the component parts in the restaurant, and reassemble it again the next day! Next thing I know, I hear the unmistakable sound of velcro being yanked apart, as the workers began removing the canvas walls from the frame! I never bentsched (said Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals) so quickly in my life! Praying at breakneck speed, I went straight from the minimum legal required text (l'olam al y'chasreinu) to the line asking Hashem to rebuild the fallen sukkah of (King) David, lest the walls of the sukkah in which I was sitting fall on my head! By the time I'd made a quick dash to the ladies' room, there wasn't a smidge of s'chach in sight, and the by-then-bare snap-together frame was being unsnapped. The entire sukkah was dismantled in probably less than 15 minutes. This may be one for the Guinness Book of Records.

Monday, October 09, 2006

(link>) Magical Musical Tour: A one-and-a-half-year-old mystery is solved

I was scrolling through the blogs one day, in the merry merry month of May, 2005, when I finally decided that "Resistance is futile," as we science fiction television fans say. That Psycho Toddler guy had been talking about his band for the longest time, so I finally checked out his music website. And found it well worth an hour or so of my evening.

Unfortunately, since I was not the beneficiary of a yeshiva education, I did have a problem with Mark's lyrics--I couldn't figure where all of them came from. I'm happy to report that, over the past year and a half, I've been able to track down the words to almost all of his songs, even "Tzama" (Psalm 63, verses 2-3).

Except for one.

I'm happy to report that I got a "Sukkot present" at our office's women's Tehillim (Psalms) group today--look what I found, when we read the psalms for this day of the Hebrew month, in Psalm (er, Kapitel?) 36, verses/pasukim 11-12:

11. Horeini Hashem darkecha, ahalech ba-amitecha, yacheid l'vavi l'yir'ah sh'mecha.
12. Od'cha, Hashem Elokai, b'chol l'vavi, va-achab'dah shimcha l'olam.

11. Teach me, L-rd, Your way, that I may travel (walk?) in your truth, unite my heart to fear Your name.
12. I will thank You, L-rd my G-d, with all my heart, and I will (give?) honor (to?) Your name forever.

(Translation courtesy of my ArtScroll Tehillim/Psalms Book, with edits by yours truly.)

Now, I have yet another reason to observe the biblical commandment "v'samechta b'chagecha--you will rejoice in your festival."

Hear, here. The usual rule applies--just keep scrolling through the radio blog until you find "Horeini." Enjoy!

Now, if I could just figure out the words to Aron Razel's "Chagiga" . . .

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"...who shall live and who shall die..." (from David “Treppenwitz” Bogner)

This is a must-read. Be sure to have tissues handy. And say a prayer for Israel Defense Force soldier El-ro'i Rafa'el’s recovery to continue.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'd love to blog, but my brain's in a fog--major project at my job

Started early, worked 'til late

Sat at keyboard 8 to 8

Stared so hard at my computer

Forgot to do Mincha altogether!

This, the day after the Number One Fast!

Hope this project soon is past

Tonight: Rinse

Tomorrow: Repeat

Life at work's not always sweet

One officemate's leaving town for the Sukkot holiday

So I'll be answering phones tomorrow all day

Which, considering this project is still not done

Will be a disaster--oy, such fun

Not much time to play in the sun

Vei iz mir--Gotta run!

I wrote this during a 10-minute break

Didn't know how long this part of the project would take

I actually left the office after 10:30

This is one dog-tired old birdie



Sunday, October 01, 2006

“Habaita!”: How Israelis help Hashem answer the plea, “Al tashlichénu l’ét ziknah, Do not cast us off in old age”

I’ve been lucky. Only once in my life have I ever been called a “dirty Jew.” And rumor had it that the young punk who called me that (in high school) was actually a juvenile delinquent who’d dyed his blond hair black to evade the police.

My parents were not so fortunate. Born in the 1920’s, they suffered the usual personal insults and financial injuries common in the days before the advent of political correctness and the passage of laws barring discrimination. So the first time they went to Israel, they were so thrilled to find a place where they could feel totally accepted as Jews that they retired early and made aliyah while they were still young enough to enjoy it. And enjoy it they did. My father was an officer in AACI, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. My mother was a founder of a chug (club) for hard-of-hearing English-speakers.

But that was then—they made aliyah over 20 years ago—and this is now. They’re both in their eighties. My husband, son and I visited them in August 2005 because my father is rapidly losing his memory, and my brother (who made aliyah almost 30 years ago) advised me not to delay lest Dad not remember me by the time I got there. Now, to add literal injury to the insults of other age-induced health problems, both of my parents have managed to break a few bones (my mother a few vertebra, my father a few ribs) in falls within the past few months.

So my mother goes trundling off to the local makolet (grocery story, or, as we often say in New York, deli). It’s a large, nicely-stocked store with a fruit stand out front, owned and operated by a family. They treat her very nicely, she says, letting her know which fruits and vegetables are the freshest and which ones she shouldn’t buy. (She tells me that she knows “grocery-store Hebrew”—she can probably name every fruit or vegetable that exists, and that’s just about all the Hebrew that she’s learned.) She collects her purchases, takes them to the check-out counter, and says to the cashier, in her best fractured Hebrew, “Baal choleh (husband is sick).”

Habaita! [Go] home!,” says the cashier, before even ringing up the merchandise. So home Mom goes. The groceries are delivered along with the bill.

Can you think of any place you could go in the U.S. where the cashier would send you home before your purchases had even been rung up just because you said that your spouse was home ill?

Eruv error

I got a leaflet recently from a Manhattan synagogue—I’m sorry to say that I’ve since lost the leaflet and I can’t remember which synagogue—and realized that I’d really goofed! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my Shabbat walks from Ansche Chesed on 100th Street and West End Avenue through Riverside Park to the 88th exit. Unfortunately, it seems that I missed this notation here: 4. Riverside Park, on the east side of the West Side Highway from 72nd Street to 95th Street, is included in the eruv. Portions of Riverside Park west of the West Side Highway or north of 95th Street are not included.” [Red added.] Oops! So today, I performed an experiment—I stuck to West End Avenue, didn’t enter the park until 95th Street, and walked down to 79th Street instead. That’s when I remembered something that I’d learned the hard way, from the good old days when we lived in Manhattan and used to roll our son in his stroller down to our friends’ apartment in the upper 70’s: There’s almost no shade between 96th and 79th Streets in Riverside Park! So if you should happen to encounter a very va-shvitzed (sweaty) person in Central Park somewhere between 100th and 72th Streets within the next few weeks or next summer, that’ll be yours truly, who will just have made the 15-minute cross-town trek from West End Avenue just to be able to go shpatsiring (strolling) under the trees.
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