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

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?

Prop 8: The Musical

It’s been yanked from Youtube. You can see it here instead.

Filed under: america, politics, queers

1000 words x 2

Caught up on my photo-uploading. There are now albums from the crazed NY-Mtl-NY move, and autumn in New York.

IMG_0041 marisa-bday-11
Crazy quick road trip and moving. Driving up to Montreal, enjoying the local foods (poutine! bagels!), packing up the uhaul truck, and back down to NYC. Next night: moving furniture from Brooklyn with the roommates. (September) The usual suspects: International Pickle Festival; cruising the waterfalls and a birthday, with parents; prepping for Sukkot, with challot and shopping on the Lower East Side; roomies; foliage; produce from the co-op. (September-November)

Filed under: america, canada, family, friends, good eats, home, judaism, parties, photos, random, seasons, travels

How To Avoid Dying (and other mishegas)

First, cross-posted from Jewschool is a short piece on the power of prayer:

“A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20%. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations.

“To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion).

“Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20% mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25% reduction in such risk.” [Read more.]

I would like to thank the various independent minyanim that I attend on a regular basis for existing as, it seems, they’re to thank for my recent “got off easy” car accident. (What? I’m not properly understanding the conclusions?)

And for some more random fun, highlights from the RSS reader. (I’ve had a lot of time to catch up on the blogs these past couple days…)

Filed under: america, health, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, random, recipes, wtf?

F#ck Yeah!

I’d like to add a word (or several) to Shamir’s prayer for voting post.

There are a couple prayers that I always skip during services. I have various reasons for my minhag, but on Saturday? I said the “prayer for [y]our nation” for the first time. I felt it was really important to add my voice to the prayer.

I was especially moved by someone sitting nearby who enthusiastically stressed a few of the phrases; were it not Shabbos, I would have raced home and written down what he emphasized. Alas, two days later, I have forgotten.

But! I would like to share how the prayer was ended. As the congregation said “amen” in unison, this individual said “fuck yeah!!”

It was great.

May we all have a “fuck yeah” moment tomorrow night as the results come in.

Filed under: america, judaism, politics

First Transgender Employee at Religiously Conservative University in America

Cross-posted to Jewschool.

Yeshiva University’s David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English and Literature professor Joy Ladin has returned from a two year hiatus. Usually a teacher’s return to work isn’t a big news item. But Ladin has made headlines as the first transgender employee at a religiously conservative university in America (according to the National Center for Transgender Equality).

Boston’s CJP has picked up the unfortunately headlined NYPost article, but it’s still worth the read (just try to read between the sensationalized lines):

A Yeshiva University professor left two years ago as a man – and returned last week as a woman.Literature Professor Joy Ladin, formerly known as Jay Ladin, 47, showed up for her first day of school sporting pink lipstick, a tight purple shirt and a flirty black skirt. She cheerfully strutted through the doors of the Midtown campus’ main building, where she oversees the writing center.

Many at the Jewish university are horrified by the presence of the transgender professor. Some fear the news could cut alumni donations.

Ladin and the school won’t comment on the situation, but some rabbis are shocked that she’s still a member of the faculty.

“He’s not a woman. He’s a male with enlarged breasts,” said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior dean at Yeshiva’s rabbinical school and a professor of biology and medical ethics. “He’s a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual.

“There is no niche where he can hide out as a female without being in massive violation of Torah law, Torah ethics and Torah morality.”

But that’s just not true, as students who took my course on the many genders in the Mishna at the NHC Summer Institute could tell you. There are inclusive, welcoming tshuvot on the topic of Jewish transsexuals which can be found in some of the denominations of Judaism. Even Orthodoxy has a couple not-horrifically-negative tshuvot on transgender and intersex individuals. So Rabbi Tendler is clearly speaking from his own place of narrow opinion.

Over on Queerty, a transgender YU grad has commented on the article about Ladin. Her final sentence, “I’m not sure whether I wish for Professor Ladin to stay or be fired,” shows the complexity of this issue – even for supporters of transgender rights. I wish her much luck and strength as she navigates her place of employment.

Filed under: america, gender, judaism, queers

Politics on both sides of the border.

Work is crazy. I’m in the midst of moving (some stuff’s on the UWS, some’s in Riverdale, some’s in Montreal). I’m arguing with US governmental agencies so I can get paid, open a bank account, and receive my health benefits. But I still have time for politics (I always have time for politics).

What Would You Do With 300k is a new blog. Suggest how $300,000 should have been spent (hint: Cindy McCain’s outfit for the RNC is not the answer).

The Canadian election has been called for October 14th. Early polls show the Tories taking a majority government. Please vote responsibly in your riding for the party that’s most likely to beat the Tories. (I’ll be investigating my riding to see whether a vote for the NDP or Whigs will go the furthest.)

Please register to vote. In Canada, you can go to Elections Canada to register to vote early, on October 14th, or by mail. In the US you can register via Rock the Vote (or you can swing by my work where we have registration cards).

Filed under: america, canada, politics

Zigging, zagging, and filling in the blanks

It’s been a hectic week or two.

There was the lead up to ‘tute and the week of Summer Institute itself. It was busy, genderful, discussionful, friendful, cuddleful, teachful, and learnful. A few of us blogged about it over on Jewschool. I was left wrestling with some wonderful conversations, which I will have to continue back in the real world, possibly with margaritas in hand.

Sunday evening, upon my return, I had a lovely, if short, sleep in New York before heading to Montreal yesterday morning. Or at least, that was the plan. The short version is that I was “denied entry” to Canada, forced to return to the US. Which worked out, as I was able to get my work visa Monday evening, but meant I didn’t get to spend the night in Montreal catching up with a fantastic family, couldn’t get to my storage locker, and wasn’t able to have poutine for dinner or bring a dozen St-Viateur bagels back to New York with me. Alas. But, as I said, it worked out: I am now a legal alien in the US. (In the 36 hour period that started with pulling out of the parking lot at FPU in Rindge, NH, and ending with my return to my lovely hosts in the Bronx, NY, with the trip to the border in between, I traveled 1638km, passed through NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, and for all of three minutes QC, and both chased lightning storms and raced to avoid them.)

Today I dealt with the social security office. Seems I was too efficient; the US Border and Customs folks hadn’t yet entered my work visa in their database, so I couldn’t actually get the SSN. Most likely this means it’ll take 2-3 weeks to get a SSN instead of the 1-2, but worst case is that it could take as much as 4-6 weeks. I plan on following up with them both on the phone and in person.

I also had the joy of filing an FCC complaint today. While driving south through Albany last night, I was scanning the radio dial when I came across some sort of sermon or Bible study. I heard the word phylacteries and continued listening. That is, until I realised that it was anti-semitism masquerading as moral/Christian superiority. Ugh. I hope they’re fined.

And now? Now I try to burn through the rest of my to-do list, possibly have a nap, certainly call a few more leads on apartments, then try to get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work tomorrow.

Filed under: america, canada, friends, home, nhc 'tute, random, travels, work, wtf?

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