Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Political Discourse in NH

One thing I wasn’t expecting during my week at the NHC Summer Institute was to hear bigoted, ignorant, political lies. Granted, this was at the Mountainview Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH, but still. Wow. (I drove a friend to the ER this morning to get stitches; she’s fine.)

All of the following are direct quotes from the three men, and two women, in the ER waiting room. As a scrambled to jot them down on my iPhone, I didn’t have time to attribute quote to each person properly.

It says on page 59 [of the proposed health care bill] that they will debit everyone’s bank account without having to ask first – look it up!

The news is all liberal, the only one you can believe is Fox.IMG_1142

Obama’s popularity rates are the lowest of any president! He apologizes to everybody and bows to the Saudi king! Can you believe that?!

I heard that Canadians flock over the border to get health care in the US and we’re trying to copy their system?! My friend’s cousin’s dad lives in Canada and needed open heart surgery, it was an emergency, he’d had a heart attack, and the wait was six months so he came down and did it in the US – can you imagine waiting six months?

And Obama’s plan is, ‘hey, you need a hip replacement? We won’t do it, but we will council you on assisted suicide instead, because you’re just going to have to die.'”

Barak Obama grew up despising America, he and his wife, are racist, bigots, they signed the Black Doctrine saying that they wouldn’t worship any G-d that whites worshiped. He and his wife.

I can’t even call him President of the United States, it makes me sick. He’s just Osama.

You know who’s gonna take him out before the year’s through? The KKK. He’ll be the first and the last black president. Deval Patrick is just as bad.

He’s got a gift for speaking – but only with a teleprompter.

He’s cut the budgets for all the fire departments, police, and ambulances in the country. Every dept has been cut. And you know what? Believe me, L.A. or New York or one of those major cities will be hit in the next 3 years by biological or nuclear warfare. Cheney said Homeland Security has fallen to shit since Obama and now we’re gonna get killed ’cause he allows Al Qaeda to trade nukes on the black market.

Left liberals say 9/11 was a Cheney conspiracy.

Another stimulus plan? He’s destroying the country. Watch the Democrats go flying out the door at the midterm elections next year.

Of the uninsured, only 8 million Americans can’t afford it, the rest are illegal aliens. Well gee, what does he think is going to happen when hospitals can’t refuse care? Of course they’re going to be swamped because of those damn illegal aliens wanting our health care. They should go back to their own countries. Then we won’t need a health care bill. Good Americans already have insurance!

We don’t need some fat guy behind a desk in Washington telling us which doctor or medicine we’ll have access to. [I pipe up, ask how they feel about some "fat guy behind a desk" at their insurance company making those same decisions now.] The system works. I can see a doctor whenever I need to, 24/7, excellent care always. Don’t mess with it.

Those college types are brainwashed by their professors. They didn’t know better, were brainwashed, and voted for Obama.

Whenever you get government regulated anything, Reagan said government ruins everything. Less government is more efficient.

Obama’s health care is illegal. He’s a liar. Believe me, it’s all lies. Page 59, look it up.

That’s right… Obama’s racist, the KKK is going to kill him before the year’s through, and Americans have great health care for all already.

Did I mention I was sitting there as an, uh, adopted east coast elite/liberal Jew (tzitzis and kippah in full view)? Yeah, I was not comfortable at all. I wanted to argue – but was afraid to. Aside from the question I asked on insurance versus government health care (noted above), I only interjected once: I suggested that the story about needing to go to the US for emergency heart surgery wasn’t accurate – that in Canada there are wait lists for elective surgeries and procedures that aren’t deemed urgent, but all emergency surgery is dealt with, well, in Canada. They didn’t believe me, and cited a Fox news report.

With my friend in the triage area, I couldn’t sit there alone any more (it had been almost an hour). I wandered the hospital and returned just as my friend was released (without the stitches she had gone there to get).

Filed under: america, nhc 'tute, politics, travels, wtf?

So Much LGBTQ Jew News!

cross-posted from Jewschool.

In many cities and towns across North America (and the world), June is Pride month, honouring and commemorating the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969 and the start of the gay rights movement. Keeping with the Pride/LGBTQ theme, I have five things of interest to queer and transgender Jews (and their allies).

1 - For those who haven’t yet seen it, Trembling Before G-d, a documentary about the lives of Orthodox and Hasidic gay or lesbian Jews is now online, is streaming at Hulu.

2 – Jewish Mosaic let us know about Kol Tzedek, “an alliance of Jewish organizations working together in unprecedented ways to include transgender people in all aspects of Bay Area Jewish life.” (Additionally, they have a second focus: marriage equality and fighting prop 8.)

Over the past year, we met with a plethora of community members and rabbinic leaders to informally explore how transgender and gender variant people currently interact, or not interact, with the organized Jewish community. We compiled a report based on our anecdotal evidence and shared experiences of the perceived organizational, social and ritual needs of transgender and gender variant persons, and our wish to understand and serve this community’s needs better.

Our objective was to collect enough initial information to compile a brief report to present to the new CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (SFJCF), Daniel Sokatch. We had a very successful meeting in which we presented the report and had an enthusiastic and receptive conversation.

The report is available in PDF here. I share it with you guys in light of their hopes for the report: “Finally, with both confidence and humility, we offer this report to inspire similar initiatives elsewhere in the United States, within and outside the Jewish community.”

3 – dlevy says “Hi.” He’s too busy to post right now, so asked me to mention him in this post about the gays.

4 – Mostly for some laughs, because does anyone actually take the Westboro Baptist Church seriously?!, check out this Slog video. At a protest outside the Stroum Jewish Community Center in North Seattle this weekend, they held signs including “Bitch Burger” (watch the video for an explanation on that one; it had me and my friends scratching our heads), “God Hates Israel,” “God is Your Enemy,” and “Antichrist Obama” – in addition to their boringly trite “God Hates Fags.” The Slog reports:

I know a lot of people may still be wondering, what exactly *is* a bitch burger? And/or is a CRAPuccino a drink that was invented in Seattle? Well, I tried to get some answers for you. Also stay tuned for Part II, where I try to find out why God suddenly hates President Obama… and, in Part III, a real live Israeli Jew asks “The Hot One” what he really thinks of anal sex.

5 – Last week CBST (Congregation Beth Simchat Torah: “New York City’s synagogue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews, our families, and our friends”) finally released their new siddur, B’chol L’vav’cha / With All Your Heart. The siddur is for Shabbos evening services only.

We try to create the most meaningful experience of prayer we can. Jewish prayer is not a spectator sport. Each week will be different from the week before. Not every week’s service will “work” for every person. Not every service will give you what you came searching to find. But if you hang in there, if you come back regularly, the fixed portions of our liturgy and the weekly variations will most likely begin to speak to you and address those needs you felt keenly and those you didn’t even know you had. [p.14]

I use this excerpt by way of showing what CBST is trying to do with this siddur. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: america, gender, hebrew, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, religion, seasons

Recent Recipes

A little late, but as promised… recipes! The lasagna recipe is modified from one I saw on Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian. Her version called for a whole lot of cheese and dairy and pancetta. For obvious reasons, my version had to change. The second recipe is one of my own creations for lemon pie. Enjoy!

Asparagus Lasagna
Lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
2 or 3 bunches of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 bunch basil
1 tbsp Parmasan cheese, grated
1 container (15oz) light ricotta
1 package of Lightlife’s Smart Bacon (vegan), diced.
salt and pepper

In a food processor, make a pesto out of the sun dried tomatoes (use some of the oil from the jar, but discard most), basil, and Parmesan.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until golden.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanche the asparagus pieces, drain, put back in the pot. Add the onion and garlic. Stir in the ricotta, a dash of salt and pepper.

Spread half of the pesto in the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add two tablespoons of water, spread around. Put down one layer of noodles (about 3 noodles). Spread half of the asparagus mixture on top of the noodles. Sprinkle half of the bacon on top. Add a layer of noodles. Spread remaining half of asparagus, then bacon. Add a layer of noodles. Cover top with the remaining pesto. Optional: sprinkle cheese on top. (I didn’t do that.) Bake at 375F until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

The feedback was that we were all rather surprised to be eating “bacon” on Shabbos (myself included), even though we all knew it was a vegan product. The saltiness of the bacon went really well with the asparagus. It’s not a saucy lasagna, but still works.



Lemon Slice Pie
4 lemons
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using a mandolin, slice the lemons as thin as possible. (Including the rind; try to remove the pips as you spot them.) Put in a bowl; try to include as much of the juice as possible. Add the two sugars and vanilla to the bowl. Cover, refrigerate 24 hours, stirring once or twice.

I ran out of time, so I bought frozen pie shells. Which you can too, or make your own pie shells. You want a top and bottom crust on this pie. If using frozen pie shells, you can use one as the top. Read the instructions on the package for doing this, or ask me if you get stuck.

Put the lemon mixture in the bottom shell, filling it up high. Put the top shell/dough on top. Cut a slit/X in the middle for steam to escape, and seal it with the bottom crust by pressing a fork all the way around. Place the pie on a baking sheet, then bake for 45 minutes as 375F. (Top will look golden and yummy.) (The sheet is needed as excess lemon juice might bubble out.)

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to help cut the tartness of the pie.

The feedback on the pie was that half thought it was perfectly tart, while a couple thought it was too tart, and a couple thought it wasn’t tart enough. With one exception, everyone liked the texture.

Filed under: good eats, recipes

Organic Farming

Did anyone catch tonight’s Daily Show? In honour of Michelle Obama breaking ground on the White House organic garden, Samantha Bee gave an inspiring investigation into the pros/cons of organic farming.

What did we have to learn? Jeff Stier, Associate Director of the American Council on Science and Health, said that organic farming, and Michelle Obama as an extension, is a public health concern. Why? Because most people can’t afford organic vegetables, and if they can’t afford to eat organic vegetables, they’re going to stop buying vegetables, since people like Michelle are telling them that organic is better. Therefore, Americans are going to a) starve and b) become obese because they’ll eat more crap and stop eating vegetables.

Makes sense, right?

But there’s more. Michelle is also irresponsible and inconsiderate towards the children of America, screwing with their ability to grow into contributing citizens. How? Michelle is failing to teach children that using pesticides is an efficient farming model, therefore children aren’t learning how to be efficient with tasks. Um…

Right. Got it. Jeff Stier, whose organisation is a lobby group for many pesticide and “machine of farming” corporations, is just doing his job. Too bad he comes across as a fool. (And no comment on his black kippah.)

Filed under: america, good eats, politics, seasons, wtf?

Here comes the sun!

[Cross-posted to Jewschool.]

One year ago, BZ alerted us that Birkas Hachamah would be coming up in one solar year. Today was that day.

If your morning was at all like mine, it started with an astronomy lesson, around 5:30am, while standing outside in a huddle of shivering Jews. Through telescopes, we looked at the planets, all of which were visible this morning (except for Saturn, which had already set). We davened shacharis inside as the sun rose above the horizon and warmed up the beis midrash. Then we had a siyyum l’bechorim and bechoros so that those of us who are first borns wouldn’t have to fast today. Fittingly, the siyyum was on Masechet Hachamah, which meant we had more astronomy lessons, as well as some math, physics, history, and theology. Back outside for Birkas HaChamah, praising G!d for having created the sun (and everything else), and for burning chometz.

… All this before 8am. A full morning indeed!

I’ve been impressed by the number of tweets and Facebook updates related to Birkas Hachamah. People gathered on college campuses and beaches, in parks and stadiums. Did you do anything? Where? What would you suggest doing similarly, or changing, for Wednesday, April 8, 2037?

Filed under: judaism, seasons

On a snowy day…

Over on Jewschool, there are some great reactions to World Wide Wrap (the tefillin wrapping rap video).

Highlight of the day? Having the cute baby fall asleep on my chest.

Lowlight of the day? headdesking, repeatedly, as I try to be productive.

It’s time for a walk in the snow.

Filed under: judaism, random, seasons, work

Yearning for CBC

There’s something about being away from home that makes me yearn for the CBC. (Yes, by “home” I mean “Canada.”) I’m grateful to live in a time that allows for podcasts and streaming videos: it helps me feel connected.

It also has an interesting side effect that, to be honest, I just don’t remember from the days when the only station my radio would play was CBC Radio One. Perhaps it’s that, when the radio played I cycled through the daily programmatic offerings, taking both the rises and falls in emotion, music, banter. Perhaps listening via podcast just doesn’t lend itself to the same emotional separation. Or perhaps it’s that I constantly find myself behind in my listening, scrambling to catch up, and listening to several days’/weeks’ episodes from the same program in a row. Whatever the reason, the result is almost always the same. I start to tear up. Sometimes it’s easier to go unnoticed than others (I’m fairly certain the two young women sitting across from me on the 1 train thought I was in great distress; there was that couple on Metro-North who noticed me sniffling, trying to stealthily wipe away a tear, and looked too uncomfortable by my display to resume their own display of, uh, animalistic attraction.)

I find that a biographical snippet submitted to OutFront, even a well penned letter from a fan read aloud by Stuart McLean, can elicit from me the same raw reaction. It’s comforting and comfortable to react to these strangers’ lives as they reach out to the CBC in their own ways while I reach out to the CBC in mine.

Filed under: canada

Israel bound

I want to write a post about how I’m going to Israel tomorrow, for work. But each time I’ve tried to start this post, the verb I’ve used hasn’t set the right tone. So I will not strive for poetics. Instead, I’ll say that I’m going, and will be back in New York on January 19th. See you on the other side.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, random, travels, war, work, wtf?


The happiest I have felt in a long time, weeks if not months, was Friday night and Saturday morning as I ran through the snow, made snow angels, threw snowballs, and generally frolicked. Long walks on a snow-covered beach in Cape Cod just wasn’t enough.

I want it to snow more, so I can feel that again.

Filed under: seasons, travels

13

Over on Jewschool, Dlevy and I posted a review and commentary of 13. Check it out there.

Filed under: friends, judaism, queers

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