Robin helped me put up my sukkah today. It’s completely different than last year’s, though equally ghetto-tastic.
26 September, 2007 • 1:23 am 0
17 September, 2007 • 8:19 pm 0
I have never taken for granted the fact that I was raised in Canada, in the big cities, to liberal parents. Some of my earliest memories involve one of m parents’ gay friends who helped my nanny take care of me when my parents were on vacation in Europe: he picked me up, on a weekend morning, and took me to my pottery lessons. After my class, before returning me to my home, he bought me ice cream. This was a huge deal: it was not yet noon, and I had not yet had lunch. In my family, dessert was for special occasions, and we certainly weren’t allowed sweets before lunch! At the ripe old age of 4, I didn’t know what “gay” meant, but I knew that adults used that word when referring to this family friend and his housemates (I later clued in that they were two gay couples sharing a house). So in my young mind, I equated “gay” with “sweet before lunch” which meant “cool.” A formative experience, to be sure. I went on to attend both elementary school and high school, in different cities, with queer teachers of different genders, and at least twice had students in my class whose gender – to this day – remains unknown. All of this was fully accepted, encouraged, and supported. It wasn’t a big deal when I came out; the first pride parade I marched in was captured on film by my math teacher and her partner, who cheered as I walked by with an LGBTQ youth group.
Which isn’t to say that my life has been untouched by homophobia. I was once attacked by a group of guys, who shouted homophobic slurs as they took their swings and kicks. I lived in a small town where homophobia was as “natural” as drinking beer. Once while sucking a popsicle in my car, another driver shouted “faggot” at he passed me by (okay, that one might have been called for!).
But I’ve written those off as isolated incidents that were few and far between. I was able to balance them with the activism and volunteer work I was doing to educate my communities on issues relating to homophobia, heterosexism, heterocentrism, transphobia, and more. Work I’ve been doing for more than half my life.
Living in Jerusalem, however, I’m having a hard time compartmentalizing, pushing down, the rampant homophobia. It started my first day in Jerusalem, walking from Rehavia to Mahane Yehuda. Scribbled on a paper recycling bin was “homo = ill,” “homo = filthy,” and “homo = dog.” I was shocked. In a city where destruction (or amelioration) of public property, through graffiti and stencil art, for political statement or “just” art, was the norm, I couldn’t believe that no one had challenged this message. As I continued my exploration of the city, I found that this message was repeated on paper recycling bins, electricity boxes, telephone poles, walls, gas metre boxes, and other public places, not just in Rehavia, but in Baka, Nachlot, Katamon, Germany Colony, city centre and Ben Yehuda, and more. I was able to determine that the hatred was all being written by the same hand.
I quickly devised a plan, supported by friends, to correct the graffiti. We started carrying permanent markers with us and changing the message from “homo = ill” to “homophobia = ill.” But the more we changed, the more we had to change. On streets where I had corrected every then-marked-up spot, a second walk a few days later would reveal new, bolder, places where the hatred was being displayed. And tonight I noticed that some of my corrections had been amended. “Homo very dangerous for children.”
I feel like I’m loosing this fight. I could keep writing messages back, correcting what has now been written to counter my anti-homophobia corrections, but it’s becoming overwhelming. This individual clearly has a lot of time on his/her hands, and I almost feel like I’m being watched or followed as I walk around making these corrections.
If you’re in Jerusalem, I implore you to take a sharpie in hand and correct them as you see them (or just cross them out). It’s exhausting living in a city where messages of hate are scribbled everywhere I look, and even more exhausting feeling like no difference is being made. If things don’t turn around soon, I think I’ll be taking this story to the press.
V’ahavta l’re’echa kamocha…
26 August, 2007 • 3:01 pm 0
At first, I thought they were limited to Rehavia, the neighbourhood in Jerusalem where I am currently staying. As EKO and I walked around last week, and then as I continued walking further on my own, I realised they were pretty much everywhere. What am I talking about? The neighbourhood paper recycling bins that have been vandalised with homophobic graffiti. Most now display homo=ill, homo=dog, homo=filth. And looking closely at them, it appears that they were all scrawled on by the same marker and hand. On Shabbat, we were talking about these, and decided to start correcting them. I did the first today:
I’m hoping people will notice that someone’s taken the time to add to the original “homo,” even though the addition may be subtle or unnoticed at first. … And I plan on fixing many more before I leave for Haifa.
Another major feature of any neighbourhood walk through are the stray cats. So. Many. Stray. Cats. Sleeping under cars in the shade, on walls, on dumpsters, in gardens, on benches, under benches…. they’re everywhere. Last weekend, I heard a constant steady cry of a cat, so steady it almost sounded like an alarm. I went out the next morning to look for it, and found a tiny cat. So small, and so still, I thought it was dead. But it’s not! I think it’s the runt of the litter, the only black cat amongst grey siblings. It’s about 15-20cm long, stretched out. And so skinny, I could easily wrap my thumb and index finger around it’s widest point. It spends most of the day and night sleeping, though I did take joy in seeing it’s siblings trying to chase it up a tree yesterday. And s/he got maybe 30cm up before the other two lost interest and scampered off, leaving it to figure out how to get back down on its own.
Folks leave food out for the cats, and buckets of water too, which is nice. And they’ve clearly honed their garbage scavenging skills too. They’re not starving, but they don’t look like healthy house cats either…
On a more cheery note, I noticed a couple days ago that R’chov Ha’Ari (Ha’Ari street) had been relabeled:
8 October, 2006 • 4:36 pm 0
Despite being sick (my gastrointestinal system decided to deflect to another team), I cooked up a storm Thursday night. I didn’t taste anything as I went along, so I was a little weary come Friday’s dinner to serve to my guests. But, as 9 of us sat in my sukkah, I was complimented on the food. Dinner included a spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette, apricot couscous, carrot and apple kugel, and a butternut squash soup. There were also the two lovely challahs that one_in_progress brought, and dessert: my chocolate mousse pies, rugelleh, raisins, fresh dates, pomegranates, and booze. Aside from the kugel and challah, the meal was vegan. I tried to cook things that would reflect the harvest, fall vegetables, and be hearty enough to keep us warm while we ate outside.
It was Shabbat, so we don’t shake the lulav. Except that I grew up Reform which meant one day of holidays that are celebrated for 2 days in the Diaspora. Plus a mitzvah that’s joyous doesn’t negate the prohibition to work on Shabbat… Minus a wall, plus a cold, square the mean age of kittens trying to escape from the sukkah to freedom and…. A few people shook the lulav before leaving Friday night. I shook it on Saturday morning, after dovening in the sukkah, and eating brunch in there. And it’s a good thing too: This morning I woke to find one of the walls had blown down. (It seems that the load-bearing chair wasn’t heavy enough to resist the wind.)
So I dovened to the sound of flapping, whacking, banging tarps and wood this morning, then took that wall down completely.
Also, a tip: when a newly white coated doctor-to-be declares that she’s not contagious, only sip from the same kiddush cup as her if you want to have a cold by havdallah.
Some more sukkah photos are here.
All recipes are my own. If you use them, please give me some credit. Thanks!
Apple Carrot Kugel
2 lb bag of carrots, peeled and grated
6 empire apples, grated
1 sweet potato, greated
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup matzah meal (or flour)
Grease a 3L (13×9) baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine the carrots, apples, and potato. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs; mix in the salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the egg mixture to the veggies, mix to make sure they’re coated well. Add the matzah meal/flour and mix well. Pour into the pan. Bake for ~50mins, until nicely browned on top, and there isn’t any liquid left inside.
Butternut Squash Soup
3 butternut squashes
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
enough veggie stock to cover (about 2 litres)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
Prepare the squash by peeling, scooping out the seeds; cut into chunks, and arrange in a pan. Cook in the over for 1 hour, until softened, at 325F.
In a large pot, heat up oil. Add squash and onions. Cook until onions have softened. Add cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ginger; mix and cook another few minutes. Add stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, with the lid on, for a long time (I think I let mine go for 2 hours). Adjust seasoning as needed. with an immersion blender, purée the soup. (If you don’t have one, let the soup cool, then pour, in batches, into a blender. Remember: if it’s still warm, don’t put the lid on (steam needs to escape), instead hold a clean tea towel over the top to prevent the soup from escaping.)
You might want to add more stock when you’re done to get a thinner soup; I liked it really thick.
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Either buy chocolate wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs, or buy wafers and crush them yourself. Melt margarine. Combine with crumbs. Push moistened crumbs into a pie tin. Put in the fridge for the crust to harden/set.
Filling: Put a banana and a pack of silken tofu (or, dessert tofu) in a blender. Give it a whirl until it’s smooth. In a double boiler, melt some bitter-sweet chocolate. Add melted chocolate to the blender. Whirl. Add more chocolate if you find the taste of the tofu too noticeable. Pour the blender contents into the pie crust. Put back in the fridge for the mousse to set. Yum!
Optional: Put berries (I find raspberries are quite nice) into the mousse (don’t blend though!) or spread them out on top. Quite yummy.
4 October, 2006 • 3:37 am 0
What happens when my day’s “nutrition” consists almost entirely of coffee, coffee, and more coffee? I find myself outside, at 3:20am, measuring my balcony.
I live on the second floor of a three-story apartment building. As a result, my balcony has a “roof” – the balcony belonging to the folks above me. And by “balcony” I mean “glorified fire escape with a concrete floor.” Luckily, I’m the end suite, so my sukkah (a temporary dwelling place – hut – built for the festival of Sukkot) won’t prevent my neighbours from escaping in the event of a fire or, worse, getting to the garbage and recycling bins.
The biblical blueprints call for a roof through which you can see the stars. In order to construct it properly, I’m going to angle the roof so that I’ll be able to see the stars, instead of looking up at the concrete overhead. I plan on buying materials tomorrow, and building it tomorrow night.
If anyone would like to help build or decorate it one evening this week, please let me know. Otherwise, if anyone would like to come have Shabbat dinner in the sukkah with me, to fulfill the mitzvot of shaking the lulav and etrog and dwelling (sitting and eating) in the sukkah, please let me know.