Monday, December 29, 2008

Memes: They're Kinda Hard to Do When You Don't Want to Disclose Your Identity

...but here it goes anyway... :-)
Tagged by DYS.

a) Link to your blogger and list these rules on your blog

b) Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird

c) Tag 7 people (if possible) at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs

d) Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs

Hmm. Okay. First things first: I'm changing the rules. (What are skeptic blogs for if not to change the rules?!) I'm not going to tag seven people. But if you read this, like doing this sort of thing, and want to do one on your blog, feel free, and let me know.

I accepted this tag because of the challenge it poses - sharing seven random/weird facts about myself without making my identity too obvious. While my life abounds with random and weird facts, most of them are so random and weird as to make who I am very obvious to anyone who knows me. So here goes my best shot at more obscure/less obvious random and weird facts:

1) When I was in junior high, I used to blast "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, sit on my bed looking at old photos, get nostalgic for my childhood (at the whopping age of 12!), and cry.

2) I am currently eating a cinnamon coffee cake from Starbucks. I don't really like Starbucks but someone gave me a $20 card for Chanukah, so Starbucks it was...

3) I was terrified of dogs and cats until I was a teenager. Even then, and even as I thought they looked really cute, I was still a bit scared of cats until much later (my late teens? early 20s?). Now, I have no idea what made me scared.

4) I like the experience of watching/reading the same movies and books over and over more than I like the experience of watching/reading new ones. That said, I try to steer myself away from this tendency because I also want to broaden my horizons.

5) The first time that I consciously violated halacha, I was in elementary school. My friend offered me a piece of non-kosher gum (which her parents allowed, but mine didn't) and I took it. Years later, when I was at my most religious point, I had trouble turning down non-kosher gum.

6) Yesterday, I found a pack of hot dogs at the back of my freezer with an October 2007 sell by date. Gross.

7) Even though I've lost touch with most of them, I can still tell you the birthdays and (probably long-defunct) phone numbers of anyone I was good friends with from elementary school through high school.

That wasn't so bad! Anyone else want to take a stab at one of these?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tradition in Non-Traditional Ways

Recently I went to a Conservative Friday night service. Excluding one Conservative bar mitzvah I went to as a kid (and a Reconstructionist funeral...not sure if that counts), this was the first non-Orthodox service I've ever attended.

A girl I'd met a few weeks ago who grew up Conservative had asked me if I wanted to come with her to services once in a while. I told her I was all for it. I'm definitely curious to see what other ways I can continue to feel connected to my Jewishness that might be more in line with my beliefs.

So she took me. She'd never been to this service. It caters to the 20s-30s set, is egalitarian, led by a female rabbi, and sees itself as traditional.

For me, the whole experience was a lot less strange than I thought it would be. Maybe it was because it felt more like an informal prayer group than a formal service, maybe it was because I was seated next to women, but for some reason davening without a mechitzah did not feel weird at all. (Even more bizarre, because when I was at my friend's Christian wedding a few months ago, sitting next to men did feel weird.) In fact, it was nice to feel like I counted, nice to feel like I was really part of things.

Nor, for that matter, did it feel strange to have a female rabbi. Again, this might have been because of the informality of the service. Still, I really liked her. She seemed so excited about everything and she gave a d'var torah that was actually interesting. Not to say that I've never liked a male rabbi before. But there's always been that distance that I've had to keep from them - not a "respect the rabbi" distance (which I did feel with this rabbi, too), but a gender distance, which was suddenly gone.

Two other things did strike me, one of which I liked, and one of which I didn't.

The first - and this, although I found it a bit jarring, I liked - was the addition of the word "imahot" wherever "avot" is usually said, as well as the names of the imahot, wherever the names of the avot are said. Yeah, it made me stumble over chunks of davening, which I've long ago memorized and can repeat by rote. But that feeling was nice because it made me think about what I was doing and what I was saying... And also, though I identify as a feminist, I'd never even noticed how many times it says "avot" or their names without mentioning the imahot. Admittedly, it feels kind of artificial, but not in a bad way. And if I went to such services enough, I'm sure it would begin to feel pretty natural.

The thing I really didn't like (interestingly enough, my friend didn't like it either) was the fact that this service switched off between English and Hebrew. I understand that idea behind it. I get it, I really do. But it sounds awful and it feels awkward... And yeah, I'm spoiled in a way, because I know Hebrew so I understand what I'm saying even when it's not in translation. But I think if I'm going to find one of these groups in which I feel comfortable, it'll have to be entirely in Hebrew.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Further & Further Away

What's strange lately, is this feeling that I've moved so far away from the OJ train of thought with which I was raised, that I can't even understand it anymore. In fact, sometimes, I can't even anticipate it.

What I mean by that: when my friends/family talk about consulting a rabbi regarding certain everyday, not necessarily "Jewish-y" (i.e., kashrut-related, etc.) issues in their lives, I find myself completely taken aback. It doesn't even occur to me to expect it anymore.

Also, I find myself shocked at the idea that people I know take Tanach literally. For example, I was at my boyfriend's house a few weeks ago, and his parents and their guests began talking about Ma'arat Hamachpelah - how one of them found out it wasn't the original site and was very disappointed. I sat there for five minutes just shocked out of my mind that all of the people around me were 100% sure that Avraham, Sarah, etc., even existed!

And here's the thing: I know I shouldn't be shocked that these things are the case. These things are pretty much the standard across most OJ people I know. But it's like I've become so involved in my own analysis of the religion, and have been living so much of my life out of the OJ context, that I've completely forgotten that most OJ people aren't questioning the precepts of OJ. Strange.