Monday, August 10, 2009

NHC Institute 2009: Some stories


After my mother's death on June 12, I debated whether it would be appropriate for me to attend the NHC Institute, at which there's certainly plenty of partying and socializing between classes and workshops, especially in the evening after dinner. One of my best friends talked me into it. "If nothing else," she said, "you're guaranteed to get a minyan for Kaddish." A truer word was never spoken.


Every once in a while, I get spared the dubious privilege of embarrassing myself in public simply because I don't have time to open my big mouth and stick my foot in it. Being clueless also contributes nicely to my occasion bouts of "foot-in-mouth disease."

There we were, singing away in a group, when one fellow got up and announced that he was going somewhere else to do another kind of singing. It was only by good fortune that I didn't have time to ask him where else people were singing before he added the explanation, "I'm going to be a bear."

Blogging has its uses, not only in terms of the Jewish information that I've picked up, but also, occasionally, in terms of the secular knowledge that I've acquired. Some months ago, I was reading a post about Israel, and a commenter signed a comment "Bears for Israel." Bears for Israel?? Well, obviously, I was missing something. (If we had arrived at last summer's NHC Institute in time to attend the opening "ceremony," and had seen the performance by the individual known as Bear, I would have understood the meaning of the term, but alas . . .) So I did an Internet search for "Bear, slang" and came up with this explanation.

Oh, that kind of, ahem, "singing!" Holy Moses, it's a good thing I didn't get a chance to ask!

(Speaking of my cluelessness, this post is related, though it's not about Institute stories.)

"The fleishig diet"

Erica and I were joking about being in "mixed marriages." Her husband, Richard, will eat in kosher restaurants only, while she'll eat cold food in non-kosher restaurants. I said that I'd stopped eating non-kosher meat about a decade ago, but that my husband is getting there the long way--he's becoming a "fleishig-phobe" (afraid to eat meat)* lest he be unable to have "coffee and" (coffee and a pastry) later. So Erica told us about some folks she'd known years ago who'd gone on "the fleishig diet"--they'd made sure to eat meat (fleish) every six hours, so that they wouldn't be able to eat (most) junk food.** The diet had worked for one young lady until she'd discovered the joys of peanut butter.*** :)

*I swiped the idea of "fleishig phobia" from an "Everything's Relative" cartoon by Jordan Gorfinkel published relatively recently in the New York Jewish Week, and probably in other Jewish publications, as well.)

**A high proportion of junk food is has milk in it, and many Jews who keep kosher wait six hours between eating fleishig/b'sari/meat (any product containing meat or poultry) and chalavi/dairy (any product containing milk).

***Peanut butter, being a meat-free, milk-free food, is permissible for eating after either meat or dairy foods, according to the laws of kashrut/Jewish dietary laws.


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