Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tales from Thanksgiving Weekend

Wheat worries
Reminder to self:  Next Thanksgiving, ask to have your probably-bread-based stuffing and probably-wheat-flour-thickened gravy served on the side!  If the wheat products are served on the side, you can just offer your husband everything that you can't eat.

Showing my age :)
Our son, after my umpteenth trip to the kitchen:  "What did you used to do before there was a 'pause' button?"
Me:  "That's what commercials were for."

For our son's generation, commercials are mostly for fast-forwarding through.  :)

A quick visit to High Line Park
We busted our chops to get the pre-Shabbat (Sabbath) shopping, cooking, and table-setting done so that I could do at least a little something other than prep for Shabbos on the day after Thanksgiving, as it's just about the only Friday all year that my office is closed, other than on Jewish holidays.  The fact that this has been the warmest Thanksgiving weekend we can remember led us to choose some outdoor fun.  It was worth the subway schlep just to see the mural above.

Free-fly zone :(
Despite the fact that our apartment has screens on every window, and even though it's late November, we're still being pestered by well-identified flying objects.  I think--I hope!--I clobbered the last mosquito this morning.  But we're still being buzzed by a fly.  Sigh.

Don't even ask
. . . how much weight I've gain since Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner.  Tonight's the last hurrah of this holiday weekend--we'll be polishing off the cranberry sauce and our last mini-loaf of corn bread (courtesy of gluten-free kosher parve By the Way Bakery).  Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, we diet.

To my American readers, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving feast and weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Garnel Ironheart's reasoned discussion re Open Orthodoxy

"Missing in all this is the underlying concern.  Social movements, as I've written before, always arise in response to a need.  OO is one such movement and given its slow growth in size one must ask: what are its adherents looking for that they're not getting from the traditionally Torah observant?"

This is an interesting analysis from an Orthodox blogger who's opposed to Open Orthodoxy but can understand how this approach might appeal to some in the Orthodox community.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Part of the tragedy

. . . is that the refugees from Syria and other West Asian countries are inadvertently bringing with them some of the very murderers from whom they're desperately trying to flee.

Psalm 82, the psalm for Tuesday/yom shlishi, really jumped off the page when I recited it this morning:

ג  שִׁפְטוּ-דַל וְיָתוֹם;    עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ.
3 Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
ד  פַּלְּטוּ-דַל וְאֶבְיוֹן;    מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ.
4 Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terrorists attacked Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. What's next?

Paris attacks:  What we now know and don't know (New York Times)

There were no "hard" (military) targets at all.

The blood-thirsty terrorists simply aimed to kill as many people as possible.

They attacked a concert hall, a soccer stadium (from the outside, fortunately--a security guard prevented the ticket-holding terrorist from entering, thus saving many lives), and several restaurants.  They even returned to some of the targets to attack them again.

From the New York Times:
"The seemingly synchronized assaults that turned Paris into a war zone on Friday came just days after a bombing targeted a Shiite district of Beirut controlled by Iran’s ally, Hezbollah, and a Russian passenger jet was downed over Egypt. The rapid succession of strikes, all claimed by the Islamic State, suggested that the regional war has turned into a global one."

Eerily, and frighteningly, prescient?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Protective coloration, or under cover, literally

See here.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The wait was worse than the surgery

Four hours!!!! #$%&*!!!!!!!!!!!  All that waiting aggravated my anxiety.

Happy to report that the sedative--Versed?--did such a good job of knocking me out that I remember only about 10 seconds of the surgery, though my ophthalmic surgeon said I talked through the whole operation.  :)  You can't keep a big mouth down, er, quiet.  :)  Very little pain, but blurry vision.  Have been advised not to spend too much on computer, so signing off now.  Shavuah tov, have a good week.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Burger Queen :)

Yeah, it's a rotten pun, but, on the plus side, at least my burgers are kosher, unlike Burger King's.

My mother was a wonderful cook.  Alas, I'm the only one of my parents' children who did not inherit her culinary aptitude.  So I've been stuffing our freezer with beef and turkey burgers in anticipation of my upcoming surgeries.  Plan B--for when we get bored with burgers--is to have fish for dinner.  Plan P is to put the Punster to work making roasted chicken, once we run out of frozen leftovers from my last one.  Gourmet cooks we're not, but we don't go hungry, thank G-d.

This is my last post until after this Friday's cataract surgery.  Please keep Léah bat Esther v'Ozer in your prayers and/or thoughts.  See you on the other side.

Here's the rest of this week's pre-surgery post party:
~ Avraham, Sarah, and family--this story makes no sense
~ "Great Balls of Fire"  :) (photo and link to video)
~ Conservative Judaism:  one name, two movements (halachic and, well, not--comments, anyone?)
~ Local color (photo)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Local color

Yellows and Reds, with Green in Between

Conservative Judaism: one name, two movements

I'm posting now, while I still can--my first of two rounds of eye surgery, the cataract surgery, will take place this Friday, and I've been told that using the computer will hurt my eye for a while thereafter.  Here are a couple of other posts that I just published:
~  Avraham, Sarah, and family--this story makes no sense
~  Great Balls of Fire" :).

And now, on with the show.

The Jewish Theological Seminary, formerly the only seminary training Conservative rabbis and cantors, teaches a halachic version of Conservative Judaism.

But not even all their own graduates abide by it.

I've seen JTS-ordained rabbis eat bagels without doing n'tilat yadayim (the ritual hand-washing required before eating bread) and without reciting Birkat haMazon (Grace After Meals).  I've also seen JTS-ordained rabbis make havdalah (the ritual marking the end of Shabbat/Sabbath) without benefit of Minchah (Afternoon Service) beforehand, and, on one occasion, even make havdalah too early, because the rabbi's kid had a party to attend.

As for the Conservative Jews in the pews, I haven't forgotten the simcha (religious celebration) I attended one Shabbat in a Conservative synagogue at which half the people at our table were sharing photos on their cell phones.  We're no better--we traveled there by motorized means, and had one cell phone (turned off) and some money with us, in case of emergency, since we weren't within walking distance of home.

I've certainly known JTS-ordained rabbis whose observance was barely distinguishable from that of Orthodox Jews.  But as for observant Conservative laypeople, my own experience is that they're as rare as hen's teeth.  Even the folks from my own shul (synagogue) who wouldn't travel on Shabbat--mostly deceased, at this point--might buy baked goods from a local bakery not under rabbinic supervision.

So what distinguishes Conservative Judaism from any other non-Orthodox variety? Our congregants prefer a more-traditional liturgy (albeit often egalitarian and often with musical instruments on Shabbat and Yom Tov), we don't accept patrilineal descent, and our rabbis don't perform weddings unless both would-be spouses are Jewish.  Once we give up any of the above, what will become of those of us Jews in the pews who don't want a quickie one-hour Shabbat morning service (with, for example, three-verse aliyot, or only three aliyot, and no Musaf Amidah prayer), and don't want to break our Yom Kippur fast at 4 PM?  And as for our clergy, should we just close JTS at that point and be done with it?

"Great Balls of Fire" :)

Sorry--I've never been one to resist a good pun, so why start now?  :)

Here's the original (video).


Monday, November 02, 2015

Avraham, Sarah, and family--this story makes no sense

First, HaShem tells Avraham that he's going to have many descendants.

But HaShem doesn't bother telling Sarah.  HaShem stands by, schtum (silently), while Sarah gives her slave Hagar to her husband as a "surrogate mother."

Then, HaShem gets on Sarah's case for laughing within herself when told that she'll have a baby even though she's already menopausal.  (I think it would be reasonable to assume that Sarah figured out it was G-d doing the talking when G-d heard her silent laugh.)

Then, after Sarah finally has the promised baby--at least 10 years too late to prevent family conflict--Avraham, that loving father, sends his first-born son off into the desert with nothing but a canteen of water and a loaf of bread.

After which G-d orders Avraham to take his remaining son up to a mountaintop and slit his throat.

Note that Avraham stands up for Sodom, but not for his own son, in the same parshah (Vayera).

Note, also, that after having barely escaped being killed by his own father, Yitzchak (Isaac) doesn't seem to have come home with his dear old dad (leading the rabbis of old to engage in a regular midrash-fest of explanations regarding where he may have gone.)

In this week's parshah, Chayyei Sarah, the Life of Sarah, Sarah dies.  Then Avraham sends his servant to fetch a bride for Yitzchak.  How Yitzchak even knew about this, I have no clue, but he's perfectly happy to accept this "gift" given in absentia by his father--there's no evidence, based on the text, that Yitzchak ever saw his father alive again--as his wife.

Then Avraham dies, and his first-born son, Yishmael, shows up to help bury the father who expelled him.

Where's the logic in this story?  Methinks Spock would disapprove.

Links to some of my previous Chayyei Sarah (Chayei Sarah--whatever) posts.

Protective coloration, or under cover, literally

It has not escaped my notice that some of my male co-workers who wearing kippot (yarmulkes, skullcaps) are not necessarily the most Orthodox of men.  One such co-worker bragged about the place he'd found that sells a slice of pizza for $1.  "Kosher pizza for $1?"  It's not kosher," he replied.  Another told me that his family eats in a sukkah on the first night and day only.  Even I eat in a sukkah more often than that!  I think it reasonable to assume that those men who wear kippot but aren't necessarily observant think that "passing" as Orthodox will serve them well in this Orthodox-sponsored organization.

This post was actually published on Friday, November 13, 2015.
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