Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Pink Shirts and Pinstripe Trousers: Co-ed Learning at Drisha

Drisha Institute in New York City is offering a month-long weekly co-ed class this summer that is open to the public and may be of interest to [some of us] who are interested in issues of gender, clothing, and sexuality. Chasiah Haberman will be teaching “Pink Shirts and Pinstripe Trousers: Clothing and Gender Construction Halakha.” From Drisha’s site:

What do women wear? What constitutes a uniquely male garment? Is modesty a gender-specific concept? How do assumptions about gender shape ideas of appropriate dress for men and women? We will study both traditional and contemporary halakhic literature.

Chasiah Haberman
Tuesday, 7:45 – 9:15 p.m.
Tuition: $125

Financial assistance is available. Space is still available. This class is co-ed.

Register soon, as the class starts on July 1st!


Filed under: gender, judaism, queers, school


I’ve updated the Winter in Jerusalem photo set to include more photos from the last snow “storm”, along with some from today’s.

And what do you do when it’s sleeting and hailing and snowing and thundering and raining and crazy wind blowing all in one night? Go to a friend’s for a MEAT date! (You too can have a MEAT date: find a friend with a fleishig kitchen, cook MEAT for your friends, maybe make some ‘smores over the stove for dessert, drink a bunch of wine, neglect your Hebrew studies, and dance to the 80’s-a-thon on the teevee.)

Finally, we have some photos from ulpan at Hebrew University. Most of them are of the views, as requested by several of you. If you look closely, you’ll see a desert, goats, MS, and Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Filed under: friends, good eats, israel, palestine, photos, school

As ulpan comes to an end…

Are you considering the winter ulpan at Hebrew University? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You’re going to be in a class, in a program, that’s aimed at American undergrads. Many of them are immature, and don’t actually want to be in class. What does that mean for you? They talk, SMS/text, laugh, etc., throughout class and during lectures. Because they are the target audience, the teachers don’t seem to care about their behaviour, and let the disruptions continue. A friend of mine, in another class, has had to leave early several times due to the headaches she’s been getting from their noise in class.
  • The students who are at Rothberg for the semester will be continuing ulpan during the regular semester. They’ve been told that this winter ulpan is just the start for them, an introduction or refresher for the level they’re about to complete. I, and several other external students who just came for the winter ulpan, were told we would be finishing a full level (for me, that means the Bet book), over the four weeks of ulpan. Clearly we were told this so that we’d pay the huge tuition and take the course. However, the explanation given the the American undergrads is far more accurate.
  • The tuition. It’s a lot. $900US, plus $60US registration fee, plus the book. So I’d be buying the book regardless of which ulpan I went to, but let’s look at the $960. That’s $960 for four weeks, which is 19 class days (4 the first week, 5 the remaining three). Or $50.53 per class. Then you factor in the three snow days we’ve now missed (one was made up completely), so that’s a pure loss of $101.06. Our teacher had some prior engagement last week, so she let us out an hour early; we were to make up that hour today, but today’s the third snow day. So that’s now a loss of $113.69 when I add the extra lost hour.
    • MS suggests that any Americans reading this won’t be balking at the price of the course, given the expensive post-secondary education system in the USA. But I still think that, regardless of where you’re from, $900 for an inter-semester, four week course is expensive.
  • Disorganization. Yesterday, before leaving class, a classmate asked our teacher for information on the oral exam we’re supposed to have, a component of our final grades. Our teacher commented that it’s just as was explained on the hand out she gave us last week. Except we weren’t given a hand out last week, or ever. Their disorganization meant we were given a day’s notice for our oral exams. (Of course, due to the snow that’s been canceled.) On our test last week, we were supposed to have been tested on a bunch of grammar that our other teacher had never taught us.
  • The zionist agenda. While I enjoy singing Israeli folk and rocks songs from the 1970s and 1980s as much as the next guy, I’m at ulpan to learn Hebrew. Not to spend a couple hours in an auditorium singing “gesher tsar me’od” and “ani v’atah.” The historic tour of campus, the lectures on Israeli money and the history of the Hebrew alphabet, and those weekly singing sessions were a waste of time. The lecture on Ethiopian Jews was interesting, but, again, shouldn’t have taken away from class time. Especially given how little we learn in class.

I feel like it was a waste of money. But, hey, your milage may vary.

Filed under: hebrew, israel, school


The second week of ulpan is coming to a close. This is incredibly alarming as I don’t feel I’ve learned that much yet – and there’s only another 2 weeks to go. This also means I’m doubting their promise that students move up a full level after the winter intensive ulpan. (Like everything else at ulpan thus far, there have been conflicting promises. While many of us were told students could expect to move up a level (and, yes, that means students would complete a full level). Others were told they wouldn’t move up a level, but would get halfway through. Others have said that the administration carefully avoided answering their inquiries when they asked how far they’d move up.)

This has also been a really long week. Due to last week’s snow, the university was closed for two days. One day will be replaced tomorrow, Friday. For those of you outside Israel, this is like going to school on Saturday. It also means that I’m exhausted, and will have no real chance to catch up on my sleep. Friday’s been my morning of sleeping late for the last few months, since Saturdays mean waking early to get for Shabbat services. This Friday, I won’t have that option. And it’s going to be a rush to leave the campus, get down home, and prepare for Shabbat. Shabbat. Back to class on Sunday. I predict that by next Thursday, I will be a zombie.

Otherwise, it’s true what they say: this really is “Rothberg High.” There are so many gap year students and undergrads, that it feels like a high school during the breaks (and sometimes during class time). Those of us who have moved past that stage in our lives have been spending a lot of the breaks together. I’m glad MS is there; it’s nice to be able to talk politics, economics, and theology with him… Instead of rolling my eyes at the play by play of the previous night’s drunken debauchery. Good times.

Best word thus far (not actually learned in class, alas): מלוכלך (m’lukh’lakh) which means “dirty,” (with a sexual connotation). Really, I use it many times a day.

In other news, I like ordering upside down (חפוך – chaphukh) coffees. Especially when they’re strong. So very necessary when ulpan requires me to be up with the birds, but my insomnia has me falling asleep just before those birds start chirping.

This also means that my time in Israel is coming to an end…

Filed under: hebrew, israel, school, sleep/insomnia

An Evening of Firsts!

Received my first “shneqel” coin in my change. That is, the recently introduced 2-sheqel coin. The design is interesting: looks like two shofars as cornucopia, with some of the seven species poking out, and a pomegranate in the centre.

For the first time since I arrived in August, I’ve seen an ambulance donated by Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel. But not just any CMDAI-donated ambulance – one I organized the fundraising for. It’s nice to see my work realised. (I know this as donors’ names are displayed on the doors of the ambulance, and these donors were folks I worked with.)

I read, and understood, tonight’s midrash! Well, 98% of the words. Woo! Previously, I’ve needed to look up waaay too many words, which makes learning a slow and frustrating process of read two words, look ’em up, read two words, look ’em up, try to phrase the previous words with the current words, read two words… repeat the process… Understanding what you read is a far superior method.

Filed under: hebrew, israel, judaism, random, school, work

Jerusalem, it is.

So I’m staying in Jerusalem [link to Google Earth file that shows my location], most likely through the end of August. I have ordered a cell phone, which should be here by week’s end; if you feel you’re someone who should have that phone number, email me or leave a comment. Once the phone arrives, it’ll be much easier to coordinate apartment hunting in Haifa. Also, I need to find out exactly which neighbourhood I want to live in there, before I commit to taking a place. Thus far, I only know which neighbourhoods would be convenient as far as being able to take one bus to U-Haifa for ulpan, or to work. Being in walking distance of the beach would be great too, though…

And I’m already starting to think about 2008, back in Jerusalem to study Torah and Talmud. I’m debating between different schools/yeshivas, all of which have pros and cons, not the least of which is that no two schools follow the same academic calendar, which means the Spring Semester can start any time from early January through late February. Oy.

In other news, I have been sick every day that I have been here. Thursday doesn’t really count, as technically I was sick over the Atlantic and western/central Europe. I was fine by Thursday night, then sick again Friday evening and every day since. I’m not sure what’s to blame, though I suspect it’s a combination of the heat and the water (I don’t care what you say, there is a salty taste to the tap water, with a distinct chlorine-y aftertaste). It hasn’t really been slowing me down, though it is annoying. That said, I’m determined to adapt to the heat and water, since it’s still summer and I have to drink the stuff for the next year.

The Hebrewing continues. I had a minor set back – my iPod decided to play dead, so I couldn’t listen to Hebrew lessons on my walk to Ben Yehuda – but that’s been fixed, and I just tried to learn words through usage today (and by pestering EKO as she did her homework and we walked through the city).

Not the most exciting of posts, but an update nonetheless.

Today’s words: מַדְהִים (amazing) and שַׁמְפִּינְיוֹן (champignon [French for mushrooms]).

Filed under: health, hebrew, israel, random, school, travels

When all else fails, cook and bake!

What do you do the evening of the morning that the paper which you haven’t yet started was due?

a) Write the paper so that it’ll only be a day late
b) Attend to the much needed grocery shopping
c) Make calzone

If you answered b, as a means to c… you’re right!

IMG_5748.JPGThey’re really easy to make, and are great portable meals. (Take them to school, work, or play for a lunch or snack. They can be eaten cold, or reheated. And they freeze well.) Plus, they’re healthy, and come in an almost endless variety of flavours.

My usual “I don’t measure when I bake” rules apply, so consider yourself warned.

The dough:
On a clean, dry surface, make a small hill out of 5 cups of whole wheat flour. [Optional: add herbs to the flour.] Make a small well in the middle; make sure the flour “walls” are thick and “sturdy” as you’re going to need them to hold water in the well.

Pour 1 cup of tepid water into the well. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1tbsp salt into the water. Mix the water with a fork, being careful to leave the flour walls in tact.

Slowly start pulling the walls into the well, mixing with the water. You’ll get about half mixed in, then you’ll need to add more water. Add water a bit at a time, mixing as much four in as you can, until you have a nice, not-too-sticky dough. (You’ll probably have given up on using the fork, and will be using your hands to mix it.)

You want to start kneading the dough at this point, adding a bit more flour if your dough’s too sticky. Keep working the dough for 4-5 minutes until it’s nice and smooth.

Work it into a ball and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with saranwrap and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, until it’s doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
I like to sauté vegetables instead of putting in raw ones. For tonight’s calzones, I used one large white onion (chopped), three small zucchinis (sliced), and about 20 mushrooms (sliced). As they softened in the wok, I added seasoning (garlic, basil, paprika, fennel, oregano, lemon zest, black pepper, ginger, thyme, and a few drops of lemon juice). In my experience, calzones need a lot of flavouring, so don’t worry about over-seasoning.

You can really use any vegetable… or anything you would normally enjoy on a pizza, or in a sandwhich. I’ve also made curry calzones, breakfast calzones (crack an egg on the dough [it cooks while you bake it], add some meat or faux meat or tofu or cheese or whatever, some spinach and/or tomatoes), and many many many different varieties of toppings.

IMG_5750.JPGPreheat your oven to 350ºF.

Back to the dough:
Punch down the dough, and knead it a little more. Break off a small fist-sized amount of dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle-esque shape. (You’ll want to keep the rolling pin and surface floured.)

Take the rolled dough and put it onto a baking sheet. Add your toppings, cheese, a little tomato sauce… whatever you want. But the key is to only put topping on half of the dough, and do not overfill!!!

Prepare the seal: dip your fingers in a bowl of water, and wet the edge of the dough, all the way around. Fold the dough over, and press down to “seal” it up. You’ll then want to fold-and-pinch the seal all the way around the calzone and/or fold-and-fork it. (You’re trying to make a good seal so that the toppings, sauce, or any liquids don’t escape during baking. But, as you don’t want them to explode during baking either, with a fork, make venting holes on top of your calzone.

Repeat until you’ve filled your baking sheet. You’ve made enough dough to make two baking sheet-fulls.

Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. If you’re freezing them, I recommend wrapping them individually in saranwrap or a ziplock bag after they’ve cooled. (Then you can take them out of the freezer the night before you’ll want them, put the bagged/wrapped calzone in your bag, and they’re thawed by lunch!)


And now, to eat… and start considering the writing of the paper that was due 12.5 hours ago…

Filed under: good eats, recipes, school

Hillel Overwhelmingly Alienating for Campus Youth

The Jewish Adovate reports,

Most Jewish students in the nation’s colleges often feel “repelled” and “untouched” by formal Jewish organizations and activities on campus, according to a new study released on Jewish life.[…]

Students surveyed said that Hillel is “filled with cliques, stereotypes and fears of not fitting in for being seen as a lesser Jew.”

Stolen because I’ve been saying this all along.

Filed under: judaism, school

1:35am study break



The thought process: It’s snowing. It’s pretty. I want to make a snow angel. But it’s late. Who cares? Must find virginal snow. Snow out front has tire tracks – blemished. Snow out back? Virginal! Pulled on some pants, a sweatshirt and runners, and I was out the door. Whee!

Filed under: photos, random, school, seasons, sleep/insomnia

Procrastinating – bocher style

The post in which I can finally appropriately use my Justin usericon.

So, in the spirit of great procrastinators, I decided to fire up the ol’ newsreader, a lonely application that I have been ignoring since the paper-writing panic set in a week or two back.

Buried in the links of a blog I read, I found out about The Chevra, a yeshiva bocher boy band. (No, I’m not kidding.) Their sound is reminiscent of The Party Posse. (The boy band formed on the Simpsons, in a parody of N Sync, whose members included Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph. In other words, overly synthesised, harmonised, and produced.)

Then, to add to the joy, I find that some bored yeshiva bochers on vacation made a fake music video for the Chevra’s song “Lecha” (complete with lip-syncing, cheerleading, and breakdancing).

If your thoughts are on par with mine, you will watch and listen, then decide that yeshivas are the gayest places on earth. And, as such, you should become bal tshuva, join a yeshiva, and find a husband. Or at least have a good time. *nudge nudge wink wink* (And, failing that, at least you can have a satisfying platonic love life, as this video demonstrates.)

Filed under: judaism, music, random, school, wtf?