Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Crossing the border

As you’ve already learned, one_in_progress and I drove down to Catskill, NY for the LimmudNY conference. But this post isn’t about that.

Instead, this post is about crossing the border from Quebec into NY on Friday morning. It was building up to be a tough cross – our lane was moving quite slowly as we waited for the border guard to wave up the next car in line. I wondered if the thoroughness of the inspection of drivers, passengers, and cars was due to the Athens bombing. Then a random girl decided she’d just walk across the border and cut in front of all of the cars. That alone probably took another 10 minutes for the confusion to settle and the next car to get called up. Eventually, it was our turn.

We were asked a couple standard questions – where we lived, what our citizenships were, and where we were going. When he asked why we were going there, I explained for a conference on Jewish learning. At which point our interrogation became interesting. Our border guard wanted to know what types of things we hoped to learn. Not wanting to get too caught up in things with him, I just said “text learning.” To which he asked, “What are your thoughts on the book of Daniel?”

I hate to admit it, but my first thoughts were of that teevee show that was cancelled last year. I looked at OIP, she looked at me, and I think both of us were drawing mostly blanks. A couple half-formed responses to the border guard weren’t sufficient; he launched into it.

I can’t remember how his sermon started, but here were the sticking points:

  • Christians love the Jews.
  • The Jews were exiled to Babylon, and Babylon is now Iraq.
  • Because Bush is a Good Christian, he loves the Jews, so has gone to Babylon to protect us.
  • G!d bless Bush.

Yes, that’s right, the Iraq war is a Christian war fought to protect the Jews. …So WMD must be a code for Witnesses of Moral Deliverance. The Christian Soldiers went to Iraq to find any remaining Jews. Or something.

We drove away amazed, laughing, and more than a little surprised.


Filed under: america, limmud, politics, religion, travels

Limmud Photos

There are two sets of photos for Limmud:

IMG_5707.JPG    dsc_0169.jpg
The craziness that was Friar Tuck’s             … And the loveliness that was the people.

Filed under: limmud, photos

Limmd – the difficult return

The rest of the weekend at LimmudNY was great, though exhausting. Unlike last year, when I read the schedule thoroughly, circled all the seasons I planned to attend, then ran from one to the next, seldom skipping a workshop time block, this year I approached the conference quite differently. I briefly perused the schedule prior to leaving for the conference, but once at the conference I made up my mind on the fly. This resulted in seeing sessions I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, but also taking a lot of time off to hang out, have great conversations, and relax and obsorb what I had learned in the previous session. So, while I didn’t go to nearly as many sessions as last year, I feel like I retained more learning, information, and knowledge. Some of the teachers whom I would love to learn more from, included Rabbi Art Green, Reb Mimi Feigelson, David Solomon, and Irving (Yitz) Greenberg. … The key is to live in Boston or NY so I can have more opportunities.

Unfortunately, the calm contentment from the weekend was ruined whilst driving home. I started off really low-energy, though the Starbucks at the rest area, and the two Jon Stewart live comedy shows on my iPod helped with that. But, even one_in_progress‘s company couldn’t keep my in the proper mindset as the weather turned treacherous. From Catskill through Saratoga-ish, the roads were icy and the sleet was coming down, mixed with rain. There were many felled trees on the highway, and cars in ditches. Finishing the drive through the Adirondacks, the roads still had ice, but now snow too. The rental car did not come with snowtires, as I quickly figured out, as we slid and and skidded along I-87. Not fun. In Quebec, just after the Champlain bridge, we fully lost control and fishtailed across all three lanes, spun around, and finally came to a stop centimetres from the concrete highway barrier, facing backwards, in the centre lane. Oh so very luckily, we were one of the few cars on the road, and none were near us when this happened. Also luckily, I remembered just in time that I was driving an automatic and not a standard, and stopped myself from attempting to switch gears (I learned all my winter driving maneuvers in a stickshift, so that was my instinct). I managed to pull a u-y and resume driving, facing the proper direction, before the next car in the distant traffic flow got to us. Reflecting on it, I’m doubly thankful that OIP and I were not hurt, that there weren’t other cars there at that moment with passengers that could have been hurt too, and that we were able to drive away from it easily. Baruch Ha’Shem! After dropping OIP at her home, I returned the car and and spoke to the staff about the car’s tires. She didn’t care at all. Nice. So that kinda ruined my happy mood from the conference, but I’m trying hard to relax, calm down, and go back to a “happy place.”

I hope everyone else had a safe journey home!

Filed under: limmud, seasons, travels

Limmud @ Friar Tuck

Prior to registering for this year’s Limmud NY, I hadn’t realised that there was a town of Catskill, NY – I always thought of the Catskills as a region only. ut, lo!, I drove the four hours, with one_in_progress, through the mountains to arrive at the Friar Tuck. I assumed it would be a similar venue to last year’s Kusher’s, full of kitsch and a bygone era of Jewish families vacationing for the summer. Instead, my first sight was that of a brick building with a castle-esque motif. It didn’t stop there though, as I wandered the maze-like hallways, I found the interior design to be eclectic and eccentric. And the rooms! With names like “Buckingham Palace,” “Camelot,” “Scarlet,” and “Sherwood,” I felt like their ought to be men in tights (but probably not as Mel Brooks envisioned) strumming lutes and prancing about. It seemed only fitting that those of you who were unable to join us in the learning, laughter, conversations, and great food, not only read about those aspects of LimmudNY but the setting as well. And so, for the second year in a row, we present the photos of Limmud – not of the people, but of the facility itself.

cross-posted to JewSchool.

Filed under: friends, limmud, photos, travels


It’s almost time for 2007’s Limmud NY! A long weekend of learning, singing, shmoozing, catching up with friends, yogaing (but, not for me), and learning some more. The workshops look great, the presenters are eclectic and diverse, and I’m exited for all of the different choices.

I’m not familiar with the venue – Friar Tuck’s – but I was okay with it until I watched a certain sitcom last night that stole scenes/stories from Dirty Dancing [watch clip on youtube]. Which made me want to go to Kellerman’s, in the Catskills, which made me think of Kutsher’s. And, well, Friar Tuck’s just doesn’t sound like it will have the same Baby-in-the-corner possibilities. So, and this is a warning to one_in_progress, I might need to listen to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in the car on Friday morning. Maybe.

According to the staff at Limmud NY, we’re the only two coming from Montreal. But is anyone else reading this going too??

Filed under: dirty dancing, friends, limmud, teevee/movies, travels

Limmud 2007!

The time is nigh to register for Limmud. I went last year and was amazed by the diversity of the folks in attendance as well as the workshops offered throughout the weekend. Frum Jews, secular Jews, Jews by choice, non-Jews… Yoga, Talmud study, singing and dancing, pluralism, Kabbalah, Islams and Jews….

I highly encourage any and all of you to register. (If you’re a full-time student, there’s a scholarship you can apply for along with your registration; if you live or work in NY you can also apply for financial aid. Last year I was awarded a student fellowship which made the long weekend conference more fiscally attainable.)

I’ll be going again this year, and will be driving down from Montreal for the weekend. Join me for the ride!

I also want to present a workshop, but I’m having a hard time choosing a topic. Any suggestions? The deadline to submit a workshop proposal is Friday. Eep.

Filed under: judaism, limmud, travels