Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

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?

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


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

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.

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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

Shanah Tovah!

The challahs are cooling, which makes this the perfect time for a post.

Wishing you a sweet, healthy, just, happy New Year.

לשנה טובה ומתוקה

xo,

Feygele

Filed under: good eats, judaism, seasons

Live from New York

It’s Saturday Night.

In the midst of wonderful thunderstorms, sheets of rain sweeping across the city, I enjoyed a cozy Shabbos inside. We had planned to eat up on the roof, but the humidity, early on in the day, prompted us to switch to my air conditioned apartment instead. After the thunder and lightning started, but before the rain, we decided to go up to the roof, to enjoy the view and breathe some “fresh” air before the rains came. In the time it took us to climb those twenty-five stories, the skies opened up: big, heavy drops poured down on us with such force that they bounced off the roof tiles and soaked my shorts from the bottom up.

There are many things I enjoy about this region of North America, and the thunderstorms are included. For all it’s spectacular scenery and nature, Vancouver just doesn’t know from good storms.

Another thing I love is the mesh of cultures here. A friend once said that all New Yorkers are part Jewish, Irish, African American, Italian, and Latino/Latina. And I’d believe it. Two year’s ago, I was walking with two friends from the Upper West Side, where we had attended Rosh Hashanah services, to the Upper East Side, where we would be having dinner. Our walk took us through Harlem, on a fairly indirect route (these same two friends would get us lost in Central Park the next day, as we tried to cross from West to East, only to have me, the visitor, get us out of there). We passed Miss Mamie’s and a guy, eating outside, shouted at us. “Hey! Heyyy!!” We kept walking, a little unsure. “Hey! Jews!” We turned back to look at him, a little confused, and more than a little cautiously. “Shaw-naw tow-vah,” he said, with an amazingly Southern drawl and unique pronunciation that I would never have expected to hear.

Following the same vein, Friday’s encounter brought a smile to my face. I was out walking with Gwen. We passed a volunteer (African American, wearing a cross on a chain around his neck) collecting money to feed and shelter the homeless. I threw some change into his collection vessel (a large, empty, water jug, like for a water cooler). A few hours later, we passed by him again. He was still asking passers by to contribute change to help feed the homeless, provide shelter, and every penny helps! He saw me, and changed his pitch, asking for “tzedakkah” instead. I said I’d already given. He paused, looked more closely at me, and said, with a smile, “Oh yeah, you did! Thanks! Shabbat shalom!” And I smiled and kept walking.

As they say in Avenue Jew, “everyone’s a little bit Jewish.”

Filed under: america, judaism, seasons

Vancouver Pics

The Vancouver photos!

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

Pesach Plumage

So here I am in Seattle, cleaning, kashering, and cooking. The kitchen is pristine. The rest of the house… not my domain. Because I’m not the one who will be eating in this house post-Passover, I’m allowing my host to have the final word on some of the halakhah. The result is the chometz cupboard and box in the fridge (stuff he’ll want to eat in a week, that’s expensive to replace, and needs to be refrigerated). Thanks to the internet, both the box and the cupboard have been sold. That is, he no longer owns a cupboard in his kitchen, nor does he own the box in his fridge. I had fun with it, drawing on the boxes:

Then we had to find a feather. Despite suggesting to a friend that “tackling a bird” would be a great way to get a feather, I was not about to attempt this method on my own. We went to a dollar store that had a craft section. Alas, no feathers. We checked a K-Mart, alas, no craft section. Then we went to a giant pet store chain. They sell birds and, sure enough, there were feathers at the bottom of their clean-looking cages. While I wandered amongst the cat toys, trying to decide which cat toy could be defeathered the most easily, my friend approached an employee. “I have sort of a weird question… We need a feather for a religious ceremony. And I saw some in the birds’ cages. Could we have them?” The employee found a second employee, who agreed. Minutes later, he was on his hands and knees in the bird cage (while we were both mildly creeped out because, you know, no matter how clean that cage liner was…) grabbing a half dozen colourful feathers from budgies. My friend and I both reached for the nearby hand santizer as a reaction, but it was empty. (Oh, and let’s not forget the smell in there. A customer’s big ol’ dog had decided the floor next to the bird cages was the perfect place to do his business, both businesses.) Hands were washed once we returned home.

And now we have tiny little feathers to sweep for crumbs with.

Filed under: friends, judaism, photos, random, seasons, travels

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