Shabbat Recap — Blessings, and L’Mitzrayim?

I’m very glad I made it to shul today, despite the horrible raw (and slippery) weather — when I was traversing downtown, a lady slid beside me and almost crashed into me. I’m very glad she didn’t, because then probably both of us would have gone down, and that wouldn’t have been good on a number of counts.

The service was good — I really like the Rosh Chodesh blessing when the rav does it — that man has an exceptional set of pipes, and his voice is particularly well-adapted to Jewish liturgical singing (in the same sense that Nina Simone’s voice is perfect for jazz).

There was also a nice kiddush afterward with smoked salmon, salads, and various other things (hey, I like food as much, maybe more than the next person!), and a technically-meat cake (baked in a meat oven, according to M, the lay kashrut expert). Funnily enough, in the kitchen afterward where I was helping to clean up, M. stopped one of the women from filling up a slow-cooker liner with (even cold) water, on the grounds that you can’t do that on Shabbat. The woman said, “I did not know that.” I said, “Yeah, M, I learnt that from my giant set of books on the halacha of Shabbat, which I’ve read already,” and she said, “You have? Good for you!” Then I said to the other woman, “According to the book, you’re allowed to fill up something to soak it if you’re using the water for other purposes, so you can kind of direct the water into it, but you can’t fill it up directly. You have to sort of do it ‘accidentally-on-purpose.'” They laughed. Go me. I’m learning this stuff!

During the kiddush, we had a guest speaker come in, who happens to be the archivist for the local Conservative congregation (and by extension the whole kehila), and talk about some local Jewish history, particularly pertaining to a landmark legal case here in Canada that helped overturn restrictive covenant deeds (in 1951), where one of the people involved was local. The archivist noted that Mitt Romney’s parents had at one time owned property in the contested development, and someone said, “I guess covenant deeds didn’t exclude Mormons, huh?” and everyone either sort of laughed or went “Ooooh…

The rebbetzin also invited me to come to a “women’s lecture night” that includes a dinner, and said that since I had lost my job, I could pay a donation of whatever I could afford rather than the full price (which is ridiculously cheap at $25; I was expecting it to be at least twice that). I’m going to take that as a step forward in terms of being integrated into the community. It’ll be nice, assuming I’m not living elsewhere by then.

Which brings me to my titular reference (l’Mitzrayim means “to Egypt”). I told the rav that I had lost my job about six weeks ago and that it was looking very likely that I would have to relocate. He said he’d make sure I was referred to another rabbi there (eases my mind) and then gave me a personal insight. He said, (and I think this deserves a really big lehavdil) “It was in G-d’s plan that Joseph went to Egypt, but there was no way Joseph would have gone to Egypt of his own accord. If it had required him to be dragged there in chains, G-d would have caused there to be chains. As it was, the only way Joseph would go there was for there to be a famine… G-d has arranged for your own personal famine and shortage.” That’s not quite his exact words, nor is it the whole thing that he said, but what he said did manage to move me almost to tears. He has quite a talent for that when it comes to me.

I always feel slightly weird emerging back into the “secular world” after one of these powerful experiences. (I actually wish I could just walk home and be alone with my thoughts, although today was really not a good day for me in terms of walking; I had to stop a couple of times and shake out my bad leg, since it seemed to want to be painful and sore. But now is also not the time for me to consider an intra-city relocation. *sigh*)

Then I went home and got under the covers with a couple cats (who follow the lenient ruling regarding pets and Shabbat) and slept until well after motzei. I made Havdala and then ate something, then called my mother, and now I’m writing this and listening to Marvin Gaye.

More days like this, please. Also a new job, while You’re at it. ^_^

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Gettin’ Control Freaky

As my job hunt goes on (and on), it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll have to leave my current city of residence and move to Toronto or the Kitchener-Waterloo tech triangle. (No, I will not even consider moving to Alberta and working on Tar Sands-related jobs. Don’t even ask.) This is causing me anxiety (when am I ever not anxious?*) regarding my conversion process. I haven’t even started formally studying (although G-d knows I’ve done enough reading on my own) with the rabbi here, and all of a sudden I’m looking to have to begin the petition process all over again.

Does anybody ever have a smooth conversion to Judaism? Anywhere? Ever? Asking for a friend.

On the upside, if I get this new job I’m angling for, I’ll be working quite close to a large Jewish neighbourhood, which would be good for me Jewishly, although Torontoishly, the location could be better. ^_^

My friend DA would advise me to just let it go and let G-d sort it out, but being this sort of passive passenger in my own life frustrates me to no end. I guess this is the central issue I’m supposed to work out in my life right now.

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* The people who raised me are Scottish, and if there’s anything of the commonalities the Scots do even better than the Ashkenazim, it’s “doomin’ an’ gloomin’.”

Synagogue Attack in Jerusalem

My heart is breaking today.

My Facebook feed was going crazy this morning, since that’s primarily how I keep in touch with my Israeli friends, especially now that I don’t work with them anymore. Two Palestinian cousins armed with a gun and some sort of bladed weapons (reports are unclear as to whether they were butcher knives, a machete, or both) invaded a synagogue in western Jerusalem this morning (Jerusalem time) during Shacharit and killed four of the worshippers, and wounded six others. A Druze police officer, the first responder to the scene, has also died of his injuries.

The attackers also attacked during the Amidah prayer, the central and most important prayer in Jewish liturgy. It consists of eighteen blessings (it’s also called Shmonei Esrei, or “eighteen”), first praising G-d, then petitioning for blessings or other intercessions, and then concluding. I don’t know whether that timing was deliberate or not, but it sends a powerful anti-Semitic message just on its own.

The Times of Israel has an article. Here’s another article with some pictures of the aftermath. (WARNING: Very bloody!) I’m including the pictures because they’re very powerful images, and I think they need to be seen.

Of course, it was easy to find the connection — turns out a guy I know from my former job (I met him when I was over there, and worked on some of his documents a couple times) knows one of the dead men. Israel is a small family.

Baruch ha’Dayan ha’Emet, and may the families and fatherless children be comforted with the mourners of Zion, and all of Jewish Jerusalem is mourning today…

Shabbat Recap — Sleeping

I actually really wanted to get to shul this week because this is my namesake parsha, but I didn’t. I’m going to have to figure out another way of setting my alarm, because I wake up for about three minutes and then fall right back to sleep again. Of course, my fibro is fibroing, which doesn’t help. Sleep disorders just don’t help at all. I did fairly well otherwise this week, except for forgetting and turning on the kitchen light just as I was about to feed the cats. (“Big kitty food…and little kitty food!”, although the little kitty isn’t exactly so little anymore, if indeed he ever was. At seven months, he’s about 9 pounds give or take.)

I wound up sleeping most of the day, and I’m about to head back, since I have Hebrew class tomorrow and I simply must get out to pick up a prescription tomorrow afternoon, whether I like it or not.

I’m still debugging. Things will get better once I find another job, almost certainly, but I haven’t had much luck with that so far.

I finally finished the book on kashrut, which was quite stultifying and kind of confusing in places, but does have excellent flowcharts on what to do in case of common “kosher emergencies.”

Things the Books Don’t Tell You

R. Ethan Tucker wrote an article for the Times of Israel describing the halacha around converts’ immersion, particularly regarding female converts. Of course, this is of particular interest to me. I didn’t actually know that many conversion courts require the rabbis to be in the mikveh room with the giyoret while she is in the mikveh water; at least one source I recall reading said that a female mikveh attendant could witness the immersion while the rabbis stood outside (apparently this is the contraposition to Rambam, aka Maimonides), and the local Reform rabbi said that “we don’t make you go in naked.” (I was not under the impression that Orthodox immersions were done clothed.) Other sources simply do not mention it at all. This is an oversight, I think.

I’m sure I have mentioned it before, but this is one reason why, despite not pursuing a Reform conversion, I think Anita Diamant’s book Choosing a Jewish Life is such a great resource — it actually talks about conversion with the female perspective specifically (if not exclusively) addressed. Most other books on conversion I’ve seen so far, while fairly comprehensive, are written by men (usually Orthodox rabbis), who by nature more or less live in a homosocial paradigm, and they seem to ignore the female experience altogether (probably because they don’t actually know very much about it, or it simply never occurs to them).

So to me it’s interesting to see someone actually discuss this, both socially and halachically, as it specifically pertains to women. (Who is going to write the Giyoret’s Guide to Orthodox Conversion? Don’t say “You are.”) If this is at all of interest, do give it a read. Personally, I’m not too concerned about being in water in front of three rabbis, if it happens, as their eyes and/or imaginations are their problems (and anybody lusting after my ratty old carcass has problems indeed), but I can see how lots of other women would find it intrusive, undignified, and contrary to personal modesty (you could argue that one yes or no, I think, either as that rabbis shouldn’t be looking at the naked bodies of vulnerable female converts because of modesty, and also that it’s obviously a special case carved out specifically by the Rabbinic authorities — hmm, do I sound Jewish yet?).

Anyway, I have things to do to get ready for Shabbat, and time is ticking by. Give the article a peek and see what you think!

Shabbat Recap — The Ironic Parsha, or A Nation of Larks

I swear, the rav sometimes targets his “insights” directly at me; or at least it feels that way. A previous time I was at shul, he spent the whole “insight” geeking about language. This time, for Parashat Vayera, which talks about Isaac’s birth and the Binding of Isaac (Akedah). Twice in this parsha, the text repeats that Abraham (a far more Godly person than I will ever be, surely) got up early in the morning

…which is precisely the thing I haven’t been able to do with any regularity since being laid off. Nice one, HaShem. Point taken. Ouch.

Unfortunately, I am by nature what chronobiologists call “an extreme owl.” Morning people are “larks.”

Abraham must have been a lark, but I am, alas, not. Judaism seems to prefer larks to owls, although the scholar who stays up all night studying Torah and esoterica is a stock figure in Hasidic stories.

After motzei, I discussed the parsha with a friend, and she said, “What about the people who stay up half the night to do the stuff other people don’t do? Where are the owl mitzvahs?” I concur. Where are the owl mitzvot?

The Canadian National Pastime, Mezeg Ha’avir

So while walking up from the bus stop to the shul (I always make a point of walking a ways up, bad idea this time) I was basically praying someone else would appear so I wouldn’t have to slink in by myself. The street was absolutely empty as far as I could see, and then suddenly, about four other people I know appeared. Wonderful!

Unfortunately, the weather was grim — the digital thermometer on the variety store near the shul said 6C, but it was lying its little electronic face off, I think. It was really cold, raining anywhere from a good stiff Scotch mist to a fairly heavy drizzle, and very windy. I wore this rather voluminous pleated skirt I got from a friend (traded it for a bias cut striped skirt that looked better on her than it did on me, and vice versa with the pleated skirt — I haven’t swapped clothes with friends since I was a teenager! Ah, nostalgia!). Unfortunately, the fact that it was voluminous meant that the wind was able to get at my legs very easily, and I was only wearing tall socks. I really should have put leggings on under my skirt! I was freezing for several hours after I got home, even accounting for eating a big bowl of hot soup, drinking a little l’chaim of amaretto, and curling up under the covers and a polar fleece blanket with the cats. Brr! I guess legging season is upon us again. Bah.

I feel ever so much better with myself for having made it to shul sof sof (finally)! I genuinely like going, but waking up is difficult. I think it would be easier if I lived closer, but that can’t happen until and unless I get another job here in town, b’ezrat HaShem…

My Very First Hate Mail!

Warning:  Antisemitism, illiteracy, and Christian supremacism ahead!  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I really have to wonder about someone who would come on a site explicitly about someone who is trying to convert to Judaism and…uh, have doubts about that person’s religious affiliations.  Then again, this person and their writing is not particularly sane.  These are two different comments, sent to /dev/null because my blog’s having a public comment section does not, analogically speaking, give you the right to come in my house and shit on my Kashan rug, and if you do, not only will you not be invited back for tea and scones, you’ll be turfed out and thrown off my front porch by your shirt collar and one ear.  I’ll thank OP and everyone else to keep a civil tongue in their keyboard.  I am perfectly okay with debate and even criticism, but this is neither. 

I did consider putting this under the fold, but nah, I’m just going to let it all hang out. People need to see that antisemitism still happens, and sunlight is the best disinfectant, and all that. I’d name and shame, but the OP didn’t actually post under an actual name (but calls me cowardly, when I am actually posting under what will be my actual Hebrew name, which is a variation on my actual, legal name), and people who post stuff like this aren’t exactly known for their sense of shame anyway.

These comments were left on my post about the shooting in Ottawa, and makes me think of that widely-quoted line by German playwright Hanns Johst, which I am going to paraphrase as “When I hear the term ‘false flag,’ I take the safety off my Browning.” See? Even would-be converts to Judaism sometimes have Nazis in their heads. But it is such a great line.

It’s throught these fake jew false flags that they will steal our civil liberties and rights as a man! ISIS is Israel and the US and mossad did not create Israeal liars, nice twist, likeyour kind love to do, but it was the rockefeller’s and rat-childs’ who created israel and mossad is simply their extension of their gestapo in germany! THEY LIE! THEY twist words and create confusion, just like this site, that is how you know what they are and where they hide! REPENT! REPENT, to your one and only saviour Jesus Christ!

WOW this site is most definitely a cowardly shill site, spewing propagnada already ! Look at the BS propaganda this site is spewing…”I do hope he left a manifesto somewhere, because otherwise, the speculation is going to send a lot of people haring off after one thing and another, and I see some very real threats to our civil liberties looming, not to mention the possibility of retaliatory violence against one group or another.”, nothing like working with the terrorist’s SHILL who hides like a coward behind this site, but then again ANY site under word press is a shill site for the fake jews who also created this false flag in Canada like they have been doing for years and years in the US and before all wars they created and profited from! Oh and we do committ to right action under GOD, get it, not your masters, shill behind this shill site!

I don’t know exactly how I feel about this. Part of me is kind of angry, part of me is saying “WTF, dude?”, part of me is saying, “Oh, G-d, not this shit again; didn’t I put up with enough harassment from bullying Christians in high school?”, and part of me is thinking, “Wow, I feel so Jewish! So included! I must be doing something right, if the haters are after me already!”

I shared these comments with friend DA, and she said, “What a nut!”

I’m only marginally insane. We don’t cater to the hardcore crazy crowd with TimeCube ratings up in the >0.79 area around here.

Oh, and OP, thanks for proving my point about antisemitic conspiracy theories vis-a-vis the Ottawa shooting (which had nothing to do with IS or anything). I love being right, even if it does require wading through some muck sometimes. I have riding boots. It’s quite all right.