Monday, November 30, 2020

Our new version of a nice long walk

Yesterday, when we got to the Junction Playground, we decided to walk through the playground and exit from the 96th Street entrance instead of the Junction Boulevard (95th) Street entrance.  Knowing that the weather would be rotten today, we then got into a debate about how much farther we wanted to walk to compensate for being locked indoors for at least one day.  My husband wanted to go as far as the Grand Central Parkway, about 19 more blocks.  But I've managed to injure one knee and both ankles over the years, and I was nervous about walking back from such a distance.  So we settled on walking just another three blocks further than usual, to 98th Street, and got our exercise for the next day or two.  Here's the view.

A view of the Junction Playground from the far end.

This is our new goal for long walks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Proof of effort :)

 Yes, we walked all the way to Junction Boulevard (95th Street) and back.

Here's the street sign, as viewed from our temporary perch in the playground, as further proof:

We try to walk to Junction Boulevard as often as we can.  But if worse comes to worse, we can turn left, instead of right, at the corner of our block, and walk to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway overpass at 69th Street instead.  Junction is over 15 blocks away, so the round trip is over 30 blocks.  The BQE overpass is, well, 5-10 blocks away--I don't want to reveal our exact location--so the round trip is well over 10 blocks.  It's not much of a substitute for Israeli folk dancing, but we're grateful that we're well enough to get there and back.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Not on my watch :)

Me to a fellow congregant, upon their request that the Prayer for the IDF be added to our Zoom services:

"It's bad enough being cut out of Hebrew prayers because Hebrew is a gendered language, but I'll be hanged if I'm going to be cut out of English translations.  Attached is the version that we're going to be using, starting next week."

And here's the congregant's response:   "Shira strikes another blow against the papacy, uh, patriarchy."

Yep.  :)

Prayer for Members of the Israel Defense Force

May the One He Who blessed our ancestors forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, - may God He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is God He,  preserve and rescue our fighting people men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may God He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

May God He lead our enemies under their sway and may God He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is Hashem, your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.

Now let us respond: Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Internecine warfare: Jew against Jew, for the 4,564 time :(

Once upon a time, there was a Conservative synagogue with a big, beautiful building but a shrinking membership.  In an effort to retain their home, the congregation tried to persuade a local Orthodox synagogue that was in similar straits to rent their chapel, with, of course, access to the main-floor bathrooms.  They even offered to build a separate entrance so that the Orthodox folks would not be seen entering a Conservative synagogue, heaven forbid.  But the Orthodox, presumably concerned about how they'd be seen by other Orthodox synagogues and organizations, declined the invitation.  In other words, they wouldn't even pee in our bathrooms.  :(  Please pardon that snarky remark, but I'm bitter.  As a result of the Orthodox synagogue's refusal to rent our chapel, we were forced to sell our big, beautiful building and build a much smaller replacement that doesn't have enough room for, say, a nursery school that might attract younger members.  As for the Orthodox shul, they may, technically, still exist, but they haven't held a service in probably at least a year.  It serves them right.  😠

Fast forward more than ten years.  I recent listened to a podcast, and, out of curiosity, checked out the website of the synagogue that had sponsored it.  Much to my pleasant surprise, I saw that the website of this Conservative synagogue, which is a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, includes a webpage for the Orthodox kehillah that meets in its building.  

This congregation is about as far "out of town" as you can get.  Why can't we do this in New York?  When I was growing up in a Conservative synagogue in south Jersey, we didn't have time for some of the nonsense that I've encountered in New York City.  I heard that we had one member who was Sefardi who attended our Ashkenazi shul because, frankly, where else was he going to go?  There were exactly three Conservative synagogues, one Orthodox synagogue, and one Reform synagogue in the entire county, and all of them were Ashkenazi.  And I never heard of intra-Ashkenazi prejudice until I moved to New York City when I was in my early twenties.  Litvak against Galitzianer?  A German-Jewish family scandalized because their daughter married a Polish Jew??  There aren't enough Jews in this world for this kind of nonsense.

Similarly, there aren't enough Jews in this world for Jews of different denominations to deliberately avoid one another.  Orthodox Jews--please stop looking over your right shoulder. 😢 

As for us non-Orthodox Jews, let's try to stop being so judgmental. 😢 

There aren't enough Jews in this world for divisiveness. 😢

Friday, November 20, 2020

Abandoned by my "descendants"--how it feels to be a Zionist senior

I've already written about Jewish Anti-Zionists here, but I've never talked about the emotional affect of knowing that, as a fellow congregant once put it, "There's no such thing as a Zionist under 40."  

While there may very well be Zionists under the age of 40, I, myself, haven't met any in years.

I don't remember who said this to me, but someone once suggested that the reason why younger Jews aren't Zionists is that they think that Jews are safe now.  That's an interesting theory, and I think there's a certain irony involved--in my opinion, the reason why younger Jews think that they're safe is that they've never lived in a world in which they had no place to run.  In plain English, the State of Israel is the escape hatch for Jews in the Galut (Diaspora), but younger Jews don't think that they need one.  Personally, I find their optimism incomprehensible and their lack of hakarat hatov (gratitude) quite upsetting.  People died to give you an emergency back-up, and you don't care?!

But this is what many of us older Jews have to live with.  Our belief in the necessity of a homeland for the Jews is being trashed, and we simply have to resign ourselves to knowing that few Jews in the Diaspora will follow in our footsteps and support that homeland.  :(

Doesn't anyone believe in a two-state solution anymore?

The floor is open.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A dull diet for a dizzy dame :)

I have to cut back on salt because it aggravates my problems with balance.  (Yes, I'm officially "unbalanced." :) )  It just so happens that salt is the only cure I know for the leg cramps that I get from eating too much sugar.  So I have to cut back on sugar, too.  That's what I call "dietary intersectionality."  :)

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Here's our new "Shabbat Kettle," courtesy of old friends

Just before the High Holidays, some old friends of ours offered to pick us up and drive us to Kew Gardens Hills, an area of Queens with a large Orthodox population, so that all of us could stuff our faces with falafel (at the outdoor seating area) and my husband and I could clean out a kosher supermarket.  While we were there, we walked down the block and ordered kosher Chinese take-out for dinner, and while we were waiting for our take-out, we checked out a local appliance store.  Here's what we went home with, along with a ton of kosher meat and some take-out:

After all these months, we finally found a replacement for our hot-water urn!

And the "use" instructions are right on the front label:

It's so nice to be able to have hot tea and coffee on Shabbat (Sabbath) again!  We may not be as traditional about turning electrical appliances on and off on Shabbat as we used to be, but we do try to draw the line at cooking on Shabbat.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

A little relaxation after a tough election--some photos from our recent day trip

We escaped!  :)  My husband and I rented a car for a one-day trip out of town two Thursdays ago to check out the fall foliage in the Catskills.  Here are some photos from Woodstock, New York.

A view of the Catskill Mountains in their autumn glory 

Waterfall in the middle of this old mill town

This is literally a sign of local protest.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

This U.S. presidential election is a referendum on libertarianism

I'm sorry I didn't post this before, but I just thought of it last night.  :(

Let me start by explaining what libertarianism is about, to the best of my own understanding (the full post is here).

"Libertarianism is not a belief in liberty, but rather, a belief in freedom from almost all taxation.  Essentially, libertarians believe that anyone who can't afford to pay for food, clothing, shelter, education or healthcare should simply go without. They hold that the only legitimate role of government is to provide security (police, border, and military). Regulations such as environmental safeguards, labor laws, consumer protection, etc., simply interfere with an individual's right to earn and keep as much money as possible, and should be eliminated."

Trump's approach to the U.S. federal government has been to try to gut it, to eliminate or render dysfunctional just about any federal governmental entity other than the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (and the Internal Revenue Service, because someone has to collect the taxes to pay for these two).

If President Donald Trump is re-elected, I foresee the necessity of radical changes in state governments, on two counts:

~ States will be forced to raise taxes to help pay for all of the services that the federal government will no longer help finance, such as health care, education, and assistance with food and housing for those with insufficient incomes.  The increased taxes will certainly make our lives miserable.  But any failure to increase taxes to pay for these services will result in even worse misery--people may literally die of hunger, lack of health care, or, if they're homeless, exposure to the elements.  Both children and young adults may lose opportunities for education, workers may be endangered by the lack of enforcement of workplace safety regulations, and consumers will simply be ripped off with impunity.  Etc., etc., etc.  It never ceases to astound me that many people see no connection between taxation and government services.  Do they think that the money to pay for these services grows on trees?

~ States will also make many of their own decisions regarding who "deserves" civil rights and who does not.  At stake will be the rights of blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans (First Nations, Indigenous People), immigrants, Muslims, women, the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community, and persons with disabilities.  (Did I miss anyone?)  In some states, abortion will be legal; in other states, it may be a crime punishable by imprisonment.  In some states, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans will be able to vote freely; in other states, serious impediments to voting may (continue to) ensure that most voters are white.  In some states, the gay community will be protected; in others, they may face legal discrimination.  I probably missed a few challenges. 

All I can say is that I hope I don't have to worry about such things.  If Biden is elected, there may yet be a chance to save the United States from devolving into something resembling the original Confederation.  It will be difficult, since so many federal employees have resigned to avoid working in the current government.  But if Trump is re-elected, the federal government as we knew it prior to the current administration may largely cease to exist.

Related:  Only "dominant-class" males have permanent rights.

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