Monday, April 24, 2006

Context and intent.

This week's Torah portion is about uncleanliness. Leviticus, about leprosy (biblical leprosy, which is not necessarily literal leprosy). Then we segue into various discharges.

Yom HaShoah is also this week. Tomorrow in fact, and so I'm considering the synchronicity of these things.


Okay, I wrote that last night, and then I set this aside to eat dinner and get organized for my week. So I'm sitting here now, staring out the window, and thinking about the fact that today is Yom HaShoah. That I should write something about my grandmother, about all the scary things I learned about the Holocaust, about seperation and division.

And the only one I can think to write on coherently is the last.

Jews sometimes seem like a nation of seperation. Some of it is inherent, some of it is invented, and some of it seems like it's reactionary.

First there are the laws. Laws like kashrut and tsniut. These are inherent seperations, meant to divide us from "the nations". To keep us from socializing with, or being influenced by, the ideas of non-Jews in a way that is harmful to our spirituality. They draw heavy dividing lines between what is Jewish and what isn't.

"Legally" we also have heavy dividing lines between men and women. In Orthodoxy, it seems as though those seperations are particularly pronounced, but even in Conservative belief they can crop up.

Then there are the invented seperations. Seperations like judging someone based on their day school (or lack of one). Seperations like "I wouldn't go to *that* shul". (Yes, it's a joke, but it's a joke because it's true.)

Then there are the reactionary seperations. Living in our own little neighborhoods that are primarily Jewish. Yes, it provides the things we need like a kosher grocer, but it also has the function of isolating us from "them".


And yet, as hideous and evil an act as it was, all the Germans wanted to do was isolate us from them, so that we wouldn't taint their perfect picture. Hitler's goal could be seen as a refining of the Jewish spirit of division. Picking out that which is unclean, unfit, un-Jewish. (He picked out what was un-Aryan, but I think you get the idea.)

So what I'm thinking about today is division. About how Jewish division is different from Nazi division. About where the lines are drawn and why we draw them. I think that a distinct Jewish culture is important, but I can't articulate why we should protoct that division and yet not expect others to question it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is it dialogue if you're talking to yourself...?

(So I was writing a brilliant post about internal musings and Jewish community and stuff, and then annoyingly my bank's website crashed my browser and I lost all of it. Don't expect this to be anywhere near as brilliant as the original. I'm sorry!)

So I applied for ROI120 (Return on Investment 120. Lots of good explanation at the site, but the summary is that 120 is an interesting number for a lot of reasons, and I suspect 120 people are way easier to invite than 613. Do you think 613 people even applied? Wouldn't that be cool? We could make t-shirts with the halacha on them, etc. etc.)

Anyway, participating in the forums on the site, and stuff like that set the wheels in my mind to turning. And now, here I am...

(I just took a break to save. The internet gremlins will not eat my post a second time.)

Things I'm thinking about, in no particular order:

* I haven't been as good about keeping this blog up, or about keeping up with the J-blog world, as I want to be. Sometimes it feels like the way some people have a shul they call home, that I can pull up a little corner of the internet. I don't have many conversations yet, in blogs, but the ones I do have been worth their weight in gold. (For example, a little over a year after reading Renegade Rebbetzin for the first time, I lit Shabbat candles for the first time.)

* Imagine the minhag that could come from an internet Jewish community... Coffee could be declared kosher for Passover. (Is it? It's made of beans...) Instead of candles, maybe we'd all plug in our USB lava lamps. I know I'm being silly, but it drives at the heart of an issue which I'm weighing out. The internet community of Jews is a real community. How do you flag participation in that?

* I've never been to Israel. I'm scared that I'll get invited to the conference and be too afraid to go. That would be the farthest I've ever been from home. (I would never not got if I got the invitation, so I guess I just fear my fear. But everything good comes with a little fear, right?)

* I still don't read Hebrew, much less speak it. Will people make fun of me?

(I took another break, found a diet Coke, came back, letting myself think some more... Probably boring to you to know my day's events, but there you go.)

I don't want to get my hopes up about going, but I want to go so bad I can taste it.

Ah well, gonna post this now and finish my last hour of work.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Looking for things to write about...

And I read the news, about Hamas lauding a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. My heart breaks over this stuff.

I've tried so hard to get into the terrorist mindset (no, not literally). I've watched all kinds of films, and read all kinds of books, and I just don't understand. How can you think that dying for a country is more important than life? How can you believe that G-d wants you to destroy other people, living human people?

If I sound passionate and naive, maybe it's because I am. Maybe naive belief is all I have left. I honestly do believe that Jews should be a "light unto the nations", and I believe in my position "as the daughter of a king" as a Jewess.

And I don't know. Maybe I could really, truly believe that G-d wanted me to kill, if I read it and heard it over and over again all my life... But the Islamic fundamentalist mindset comes from a desert harsh mentality, a religion of the roads between oasis (oaisees? oaisises?). Maybe that's why they believe, they kill, they maim.

But tonight, when I pray, I will pray for all Jews. I feel as though my desires are so small compared to the needs of the world.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Am I becoming a real Jewish woman?

I'm sharing the secrets of my matzoh ball soup with a good friend who is deprived of the usual tutors for such things. (It's not her fault. She's Catholic.)

Is this how I tell I've arrived in the Tribe?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dual covenant theory. Also, South Dakota.

I've been having a long time argument with my significant other about whether or not the Supreme Court is actually going to dismantle Roe v. Wade. This argument has been ongoing for the entire 6 years which we have known each other. He maintains that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the decision too many times to take it down. I think that if enough of the anti-abortion movement gets up in arms, they'll have no choice.

So of course, South Dakota has me extremely worried. (And now I just read that Missouri is considering a similar law.) I live in California, and I'm pretty sure that, as we joke, the godless heathens will ensure my right to an abortion for as long as I live here...but that doesn't make what's going on in other states right. Especially since they are using these ordinances to define (in some cases in the state constitution) where life actually begins. And it's at conception.

I'm pretty sure G-d didn't intend for us to legislate that. I'm pretty sure if G-d had meant for life to begin *at* conception, He would have given us asexual reproduction. We could have sprung, fully formed, from our parents and into the world. If we needed a growing phase, I'm sure G-d could have designed that in.

(I believe in evolution. I also believe that G-d made sure that evolution was going according to his ultimate plan. I believe that dinosaurs are real, that the world is billions of years old, and that most of the Torah is meant to teach us lessons, not literalities.)

But more importantly, I'm wondering how long until a miscarriage becomes a crime? How long until it becomes mandatory that if I become pregnant I have to stay home from work because the stress could cause complications in my pregnancy? I read the infertility blogs of my fellow Jewish women, and I wonder if someday the neo-con Christian Right will punish these women for not producing the babies they were expected to. Because the emotional punishment that they're already suffering (while unfair) isn't enough.


All this talk of the neo-con Christian Right of course brings me to Jerry Falwell. His retraction of anything the J-post has said implying that he thinks Jewish people can go to heaven makes me laugh. Partially because I don't believe that anyone has a monopoly on heaven (I'll talk about that in a minute) and partially because it's humorous to me that between him and Pat Robertson they're just doing everything they can to hold on to Israel's support without saying that it's got a legitimate reason for being.

(I don't believe anyone has a monopoly on heaven because I believe that if you work to be close to G-d in the way that G-d has been revealed to you, that's all it takes to get in. Do your best to be a worthwhile human being, try to figure out what your talents are and use them, and be willing to accept that there is something greater than yourself in the universe. Maybe that makes me a bad Jew. If so, well...I'm okay with being bad in this one arena.)

It's times like this I wonder why G-d lets his name be used to justify so much hatred and deceit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stuff, and trying to be better about posting...

I've been bad about remembering to post. I should set an alarm to do that. Alternately, I could just log into my email more often, see that someone has commented, and be prompted. Or something.

Anyway, I achieved mutual link status with the Jewish Bloggers ring, so I have to worry about posting now, or I'll lose what audience I have.

Also, was notified that I have been added to Soferet's blogroll. Whee! I've been a big admirer of hers for some time, although I don't know if I've ever commented to that effect. The idea that a woman is taking ownership of the Hebrew language in such a way is overwhelming to me...and she's a smart, artuculate, well written (and I assume spoken) woman. It's rad.

Anyway, I've made my first cholent. I burned the bottom. Is that normal?

More seriously, I have my podcast setup ready, including iWeb (I did mention I use a mac, right?) so I can post right to a website. Just need to figure out who I am going to host it all with, and then, G-d willing, I can get started on my podcast. The one I've been envisioning will begin a dialogue amongst Jews, women, and podcasters. (My ego knows no bounds.)


Of substance:

Major life events upcoming, etc. Dealing with the third anniversary of the death of a parent is weird. I expected to be better this time around, but it's been worse. Like I can really see all the missing pieces now. It's...strange. I'm not sad exactly, but I am.

Lashon Hara is a killer, by the way. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my runaway mouth, although I've been so much better recently. Is it wrong to tell someone when you witnessed a thing? I don't really know where the boundaries are, I just know I have to find them, and soon, before I say something which I really regret. Unlike RenReb I don't have to preserve my "anonymity", but for that very reason I hesitate to illuminate the situation any more than I have already.

I'll write more soon. If you end up here, and have an idea for something you'd like to see addressed in a podcast, feel free to leave a note!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Shiurim, and thoughts thereon...

So, I think there need to be more podcasts in the world. Today on the bus on my way to work, I started my newest of my "resolutions", which is that I would try to listen to a shiur or other Judaism related thing during my commute at least once a week.

I downloaded a few from Classic Sinai (, but I'm a) put off by the sarcastic tones of the rovs which I've heard so far, and b) at a loss for what to do when the eight I've downloaded are all listened to. I mean, I don't want to listen to the same eight for the rest of my life, you know?

And Aish audio, while a good idea...well, I don't have the money for it, and I still think maybe I'd like more women's topics, and women's specific stuff to learn, at least for now.

So maybe I'll start putting together something with all my questions, and at least start a conversation in the J-Podcast world.