Monday, July 30, 2007

listening to

yosef karduner, shir l'maalot. (a song of ascents.)

I lift my eyes to the mountains,
from whence will come my help?

there is a blind dog on my lap.

Friday, July 20, 2007


sometimes I forget that there has to be a world outside of the books I read.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Jews and Chinese Food, and Other Stories

Jews and Chinese Food
Today (tomorrow, actually, but we are American so we celebrate holidays a day before their actual date) is my bubby's 82nd birthday. We went out to eat, but, being who we are, had to drive 45 minutes to Cherry Hill, New Jersey* to eat at MAXIM'S glatt-kosher middle eastern restaurant, glorified and renowned by their weekly ads in The Jewish Exponent, Philadelphia's Jewish weekly. My mom was thrown by the Chinese-sounding man who answered the phone, but hey, this is America, anyone can answer a phone in a glatt-kosher middle eastern restaurant. My mom and I got to the restaurant first and were seated. We opened our menus and were shocked (shocked!) to find that
MAXIM'S glatt-kosher middle eastern restaurant was no longer MAXIM'S, having been bought out three weeks prior and recreated in the form of LIN'S glatt-kosher chinese food restaurant, now bringing the total number of kosher restaurants in the Philadelphia area to ~11, of those, ~4 Chinese places. Seems a little exorbitant. Dear readers, what is the attraction between Jews and Chinese food? Is it Newton's unstated fourth Law of Motion?

Other Stories
1. 'Twas just me and me mum for Shabbat. Was sad and quiet. No singing.

2. Finished Gaiman's American Gods. Really enjoyed it. He is mamesh smart. Reminiscent of Joyce and Joseph Campbell. Now working on Reading Lolita in Tehran but looking forward to going to the library.

3. a snippet of tonight's gmail-chat conversation with kate:

me: did you like the part about rachel? [in the last post]
Kate: LOL yes
me: it would be so perfect
Kate: omg that would be great
me: it's perfect! they're american- baseball is the american national pastime; and have both made aliyah!
Kate: he's canadian
me: OH.

4. Currently learning how to drive. Beware, people.

* not to be confused with French Hill (Jerusalem) or Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh) or Thornhill (Toronto).

Friday, July 13, 2007

shabbat and baseball

I was worried that in coming back to America, Shabbat was going to be far less wonderful and shabbistic then in Israel, much like my general view of how life in America would be compared to life in Israel. I've learned that comparisons in this matter are worthless, not needed, and without contribution to my general well-being. (Which are basically three different ways of saying the same thing.) I've lost my focus of this thought* so shall move on.

Shabbat at home. Me and my parents.
On Friday my mom goes food shopping and gets the challah and then comes home and cooks it. We live about fifteen minutes driving from the nearest shul, so we stay at home. in the hour before shabbos starts I run around and put in the timers for the lights and tape the lights in the bathroom and make sure I have food and set the table. Before my mom and I light candles, I get changed and then we ask my dad to turn off the tv so we can light. My mom lights her big candlesticks and then I light my little candle dishes and we bless and hug. Then we sit down to dinner right away because we have no blech to keep the food warm. My dad ordered some NCSY bentchers from the ArtScroll catalog, and we open and sing Shalom Alechim. I sing the first part of Eshet Chayil (a woman of valor) aloud, and my dad reads it in English, pausing to analyze each verse and comment on how well it applies to my mother. It's really cute. Then my parents stand and bless me-- my mom's Hebrew is better than my dad's, so it sounds like a round when they do it-- and then they each kiss me and go back to their seats. I stand up and do Kiddush, the blessing over the wine, drink some, and pass the glass to my father. Then my dad and I get up to wash and he makes the blessing over the challah. Sometimes during the meal he'll tell stories about his grandfather, who fought with General Pershing against Pancho Villa and also was helped build the Lincoln Tunnel. When we finish eating, we bentch, saying the grace after meals. We do it all out loud. Then we try to sing some songs, but I am absolutely horribly tone deaf, my mom only remembers some songs from when she went to Camp Ramah when she was 13, and my dad didn't grow up Jewish so he has no memory to recall. We start thumbing through the pages of the NCSY bentcher, looking for songs we know or that my parents will be able to learn from me despite my lack of tune. I turn to "kol ha'olam," (all the world is a very narrow bridge), but my dad thinks that we should be able to know all of the songs and starts making up his own tune to the first one listed, "av harachamim." after a minute he gives up and consents to learn "evdu." When I try to teach my parents another song, my mom interrupts to tell me that I really should get voice lessons. (thanks ma.) My dad says, every week, that we need to make a CD with all of these shabbos songs so that we have a bigger repertoire for the next week. Finally giving up on singing, we retreat to different parts of the house and do our different things.

hm. I realized that I just about described the average Friday night happenings in a religious Jewish home, and therefore that this post may seem somewhat silly. But this is my house, you see! My house and my parents and my life and we are doing it together. We've done bits and pieces before, but never all this, and it is mamesh wonderful to be doing it all together with my parents.

(in other worlds)

My bubby called me a few weeks ago to tell me about an article she read in the local Trenton paper about Israel's new baseball league. It's a great thing, this Israel Baseball League. Interesting staff. The commissioner is the former American ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Daniel Kurtzer. Professor Andrew Zimbalist, the "pre-eminent sports economist in the United States" is on the Executive Board Committee, and Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, is on the Advisory Board. Besides boasting such a well-known staff, the League claims to be the "League-of-Choice for the premier international baseball player." Though the League focuses its recruitment efforts on Jewish ball players (players of "Jewish extraction"), men do not have to be Jewish to join up.

I enjoy attending baseball games and sitting in the stands and cheering on my team and always hoping that I would be chosen for the in-between-innings entertainment or that my seat number won a free car wash. However, these American games are lacking when it comes to inter-inning entertainment. My friend Rachel recently went to an IBL game at Kibbutz Gezer, near Laturn, and highly enjoyed that the 7th inning stretch was replaced by a 5th inning mincha break. I think I'll email Rachel's boyfriend and suggest that he take her to the IBL game with the "Wedding Day" theme, "
when the baseball field plays host to any couple that wants to get married and the league provides the rabbi, the chupah, the wine, the glass, even a piece of wedding cake to all fans in attendance, ending with a gala fireworks display – all free of charge to the lucky couples." I mean, poor students, free wedding...

* Listening to the Matt Nathanson free-at-noon concert on wxpn. He's pretty funny. I was going to go- have ticket and all- except life happened and Dad got sick and the dominoes fell. Matt Nathanson's new song, "Car Crash," sounds a bit like Snow Patrol's "Headlights on Dark Roads."
I like listening to people talk. When my computer worked and I used itunes, I downloaded the great speeches in history podcast and would listen to them while I wrote essays on the Rambam's view of prophecy and India-Israel foreign relations.