L’Shana Tova (To Everyone Else)

Wishing you and yours a sweet and good New Year. May the good things be sweet, and the sweet things be good.

Me, apparently I get to spend at least the first part of 5775 looking for a new job…


Pre-Shabbat Tuneage

This is kind of where my head’s at today.  (Yes, this does have something to do with events across the pond, as I have two grandparents from Scotland.)

New Kit

Converting to Judaism can be an expensive proposition.  There are a lot of items you’d probably need, along with the textbooks, which tend to be on the expensive side (because textbooks always are, and textbooks for a tiny niche market more so).  If you’re adhering to Jewish concepts of modesty in dress (tzniut), you may also need some new clothes, although there are ways of repurposing things you already own.

This post is intended to be a non-exhaustive list of things you might have to purchase or otherwise obtain.  (I by no means have all of these things, not all of them are strictly necessary for everyone, and nobody is suggesting that you need to get all of these at once.)


Your curricular books, as recommended by your rabbi
A siddur (prayerbook)
A chumash
A TaNaKH in book form
A bentsher or several (in case you have guests).  The standard Orthodox one is the NCSY.
Haggadot for Passover


Long skirts (knee-length or longer, depending on your community standards) for women
At least one kippah for men (I presume most men have several so they can change them out and clean/launder them periodically), and a clip to go with it, assuming one has hair
Shirts with sleeves that go to or past the elbows (depending on your community standards)
Camisoles (women) for repurposing shirts with necklines that are too low
Shell tops (women) for repurposing sleeveless dresses etc.
Sleeve extenders (women) for repurposing shirts with too-short sleeves
A nice outfit (or two) for wearing to shul
Comfortable nice shoes for wearing to shul (heels not recommended and not commonly worn in Orthodox circles due to walking to shul and much standing during services, also for tzniut reasons)
A repertoire of collared shirts (men and women); men may wish to avoid white shirts for semiotic reasons
Legwear for under skirts (I can’t wear nylons due to an allergy, so I favour plain-coloured tall socks, or cotton tights in the winter — NB:  Some rabbis do not permit women to wear tights under skirts, but given the climate here, there’d be riots.)
Plain white underwear for wearing at certain times in the month (women, not sure if this is strictly required, but strongly recommended by some authorities)
Tefillin (phylacteries) for men (in Orthodox circles, women don’t wear these)
Tallit (prayer shawl) for men (in Orthodox circles, women also don’t wear these)
Tallit katan (arba kanfes, four-cornered garment) for men (most non-Orthodox Jews don’t wear these, and some Orthodox Jews don’t either, as they attach tzitzit directly to their shirts), or kosher tzitzit
Non-leather shoes (for wearing on Yom Kippur) — many Jews also wear white
A kittel (mostly married men, non-Orthodox men generally don’t wear these as far as I know)

Religious Articles

Mezuzot for every doorway in your home (consult with your rabbi as to what constitutes a “doorway”), save the bathroom
A kiddush cup for Shabbat
A Hanukiah (menorah) and candles or kosher oil to go in it
A seder plate for Pesach
Candlesticks for Shabbat and chagim
Shabbat candles
Havdalah candles
A besamim box (for storing spices that you smell during the Havdalah ceremony that ends Shabbat)
Candlesticks for Shabbat candles
Havdalah candles (braided wicks)
Challah cover
Honey pot for Rosh Hashana
Matzo trays and covers for Passover
A ritual handwashing cup (natla)
Building materials and decorations for a sukkah (not required for single women)

Kitchen Goods

Dishes and cutlery for meat and dairy, and Pesach meat and dairy (you can kasher certain types of dishes for Pesach, but not others; consult your rabbi)
A double sink, or dishwashing basins for meat and dairy
Dishwasher racks for meat and dairy
Dish-drying racks for meat and dairy
Pots and pans for meat and dairy (you may be able to use the pots and pans you already have for one or the other, although some pots and pans cannot be kashered; consult your rabbi)
Kitchen utensils for meat and dairy
Knives for meat, dairy, pareve, and preferably a dedicated bread knife
Glass drinking vessels (under the laws of kashrut, glass is non-porous and does not absorb “taste” from food that might touch it by way of your mouth, so can be used with both; some stringent kosher-keeping Jews keep meat and dairy glasses)
Plenty of clean tea-towels for drying hands after netilat yadaim and for drying dishes
Tablecloth for Shabbat
Tablecloth to differentiate meat meals from dairy meals
A dish brush for washing dishes (if necessary) on Shabbat
A Shabbat food-warmer or blech
An urn for hot water for Shabbat (for making tea/coffee, etc.)

Other Household Goods

Separable beds (if married), plus sufficient bed linens to cover at minimum 12 days
Clean hand towels for netilat yadayim
A blowtorch (for kashering certain items with heat)
Plastic covers for isolating kitchen counters or shelves, such as for Pesach

Shabbat Recap — Ugh, Yeah…

No, I didn’t make it to shul again, mostly because when I woke up with my MC Hammer alarm, it was absolutely pouring rain.  We’ve been having a lot of “monsoons” lately; last Thursday there were pictures on a local radio station’s website of someone not too far from me out in a canoe in the middle of their street.

Unfortunately, you can’t carry an umbrella on Shabbat, for at least two halachic reasons — first of all, there is no eruv here, which doesn’t much concern me (yet), and also primarily because using an umbrella is considered to be the same as erecting a shelter, and I really wouldn’t want to do something that flagrant.  My raincoat isn’t really adequate for that kind of rain.

Subsequent events on the weekend made it pretty clear that was the right call, anyway, as I’m now sitting at home, theoretically working, with either a bad cold or the early stages of the early flu that’s going around.  On the upside, it’s really hard to do anything that violates Shabbat when you can’t actually stay awake for more than an hour or so at a time…

Verrrrrry Interestink…But Unworkable

I just had a friend e-mail me to tell me that someone had posted to a mailing list they belong to saying that the lyrics to Shir Ha’ma’alot can be sung to the tune of “Scotland the Brave.” 

As I was raised by Scottish people, I found this amusing and intriguing, and immediately went to check.

Unfortunately, it seems whoever posted that either had the psalm number wrong and was referring to another psalm, or doesn’t know the tune of “Scotland the Brave” actually, because it doesn’t really scan at all.  I’m actually kind of disappointed.

On the other hand, you can sing “Adon Olam” to about a million different tunes, but I haven’t checked if “Scotland the Brave” is one of them.



Shabbat Recap — All The Things, Minus a Few

I didn’t go to shul again this week.  I must stop making a habit of this.  But when I woke up Saturday morning when my “MC Hammer” alarm (“can’t touch this!”) went off, I promptly fell back asleep for about 40 minutes, and then got up and tried valiantly to scramble to get ready.  After I realised it had taken me another 40 minutes just to put on underwear, socks, a dress, and a scarf (hardly master’s level dressing acumen there!), I figured I was too late to make it even by Orthodox shul standards (which is to say people sort of filter in in dribs and drabs, and the starting time is more of a suggestion than a commandment), so I packed it in and went back to bed.

Later on, I read the Shabbat Shacharit to myself, though, and spent a goodly portion of the day finishing up the last few pages of Vol. ד (IV) of The 39 Melochos, which went well.  I actually managed to make it through “the witching hour” by virtue of a long nap after lunch and getting up to go for a fairly long walk around 5PM, and then having another long nap, and then having a conversation with my housemate.

All in all, it was a pretty good Shabbat, even if the Sabbath Queen is clucking her tongue over my lack of housekeeping skills.

I still have to work on remembering to say the brachot when I eat, and I need to get a portable copy of Al-Hamihcya because it is quite lengthy and my ability to memorise Hebrew is limited.  Weird thing about the brachot is, I will often think, “Okay, I need to say ‘she’hakol nihiyeh bidavro‘ with this,” and then not actually say it in two minutes, when I finish heating it up, or washing my hands or whatever.  My brain.  I don’t understand it.  *sigh*  With luck, this will improve once I actually start getting some training on the subject.

(Half a loaf?  At least now I think of it, if not actually do it?)