Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Up late (early?)

The newspaper is delivered at 4:10. The birds start singing at 4:22. The call to prayer has not yet happened.

It’s going to be a long day.


Filed under: sleep/insomnia


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

The first leg…

The journey has begun. I’m sitting the the Zurich airport, waiting for my second flight to take me to Tel Aviv.

Leaving Montreal was surprisingly easy, which I think reflects the fact that Montreal was never really “home.” When I left Vancouver in June 2004, I had the last few weeks planned out with people I had to see, places I had to go, things I had to do. There were very emotional hugs goodbye, amazing going away presents from friends filled with inside jokes (unabridged edition, anyone?), toasts and cheers, and even some tears. Leaving Montreal, I had time to spare, days that I spent chilling and reading and being somewhat of a longer, as I didn’t really have more people to see. I had expected the days between the ‘tute and leaving to be filled with last minute running around, so I left them largely unplanned. No running around happened. While there are people that I will miss, there wasn’t any urgency to go to any place, cafe, park, one last time. Montreal served its purpose for me, and now I’ve moved on…

The flight from YUL to ZRH was uneventful, and largely pleasant, with one exception: those of us who ordered the kosher meals got sick. Seriously. It’s but a small miracle that the nausea didn’t win the battle as we were landing. And then hearing the MOOOs of electronic cows on the tram from one terminal to the other didn’t help the nausea accompanied headache. Do the Swiss really think tourists come here to see cows?!

And now I’m sitting, and waiting, wishing I hadn’t packed my tefillin and siddur in my checked suitcase, as there is a minyan of about 25-30 men davening shacharit in the lounge for the empty gate across the hall. I hear the occasional mumbled word drifting over… On this side of the hall, near my gate, there are a few women davening solo, tucked away in behind pillars, mostly out of sight. There’s also a really cute Israeli kid, maybe 2 years old, standing next to me pointing out the BIG PLANES as they land and taxi around. I’m just excited that I can understand some of what he’s saying…. Oh! And someone just blew the shofar (it’s Elul)! In the airport! In Zurich! Amaaaaazing!!

I’d like to give a big shout out to BZ, ER, Ruby-K, General Anna, Shamir Power and others I’m probably already forgetting (I blame the food poisoning) for helping me find somewhere to stay at the very last minute. You guys are amazing, I love you all, and I can’t wait to see you (some sooner than others!).

Filed under: friends, health, israel, judaism, random, sleep/insomnia, travels

Almost [t]here…

I’ve just returned from a week in New Hampshire, at the 2007 NHC Summer Institute (aka, ‘tute). After havdallah, I wrote in my journal, excerpts of which I’ll share here:

peeps at the 'tuteI’ve spent a wonderful week here in Rindge, NH at the National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute. Friends, classes and workshops, singing and dancing, swimming and kayaking, cuddling on the beach.To get in the mindset of shabbos, I sang, I went to the beach, I whispered what I wanted to cast off as I dunked, naked, in the lake-come-mikvah.

I sang, I danced, I welcomed the Sabbath Queen with friends and hugs and smiles all around. I stayed up all night talking and singing and laughing, until we realised the sun was about to rise. I huddled under a blanket with five friends and stood on the field as the sun crept over the mountain tops, the fog rising off the field around us. Between dovening and Torah, I managed to nap, eat, sing, and play Scrabble under an old beautiful tree.

The rest of the week, I took (and skipped) classes; taught a workshop on the history of, and contemporary issues facing, Canadian Judaism; ate a lot of salad and ice cream; helped drink $100 of tasty bourbon; toasted, sang to, and danced in honour of friends’ new marriages and soon-to-be marriages; studied Talmud; talked a lot about sexual ethics in class, at meals, and in an intergenerational discussion group; was forced to get out of the lake by security at 2am; watched meteors sail across the sky; took part in traumatic dramatic readings, spoken word style, of songs found in “Rise Up Singing;” told Nachman stories; and had a great time with a friendly community of open-minded people.

All photos uploaded to flickr thus far by me and others, are here (in a nice slideshow).

Next year’s ‘tute is August 11-17th…. I hope to see you there!

Filed under: friends, good eats, judaism, nhc 'tute, parties, photos, religion, seasons, sleep/insomnia, travels


For a few weeks now, I’ve watched the dawn break. My bedroom window faces the perfect northeast to watch the entire sky lighten, through purples, blues, and greens, until the first stripes of white appear before the orange glow of the sunrise. And, though I have not yet gone to sleep, it is at sunrise that I have been dovening my morning prayers. Somewhere between 4:30 and 5am, the city still quiet. On the weekends, the partyers have stopped their loud drunken walks home. And on weekdays, the traffic of morning commuters has yet to commence. It’s a beautiful, quiet time to stop and reflect as I wind the leather straps around my arm and hand. To soak in the brightening sky, the warming currents that come in through my open window, as I take note of the trees across the street, now fully leafed again, and slowly inhale in preparation for slowly exhaling the Sh’ma.

It’s a perfect contrast to autumn, when the air was cool and damp, the trees moulted, and we reminded ourselves during the Amidah that the wind and the rain was wanted and necessary.

I should be waking up, saying good morning, and dovening. But these days, with my sleeping pattern off and the beauty of the sky and the seasons, the ritual of my morning prayers calms me down and, if I’m lucky, allows me to finally close my eyes.

Filed under: judaism, seasons, sleep/insomnia

On the Homestead

So maybe it’s the warm weather, maybe it’s the lack of feline friend, or maybe it’s my body’s lack of timezone compliance. Whatever the reason, I’ve been super busy in the apartment.

I’ve finally donated away all of the clothing that no longer fits me. I had been holding onto it, to wear once I’ve lost weight. But I’ve decided that I’ll deserve a shopping trip as reward for taking that weight off. And then, once I’d cleaned out the closets and shelves, I moved onto the rest of my pad.

Sadly, this included cleaning up the litter box, toys, and food bowls. (If anyone wants/needs bowls for their pets (plastic or ceramic), please let me know. Likewise, I have a somewhat used snail-shaped scratching post and random cat and dog toys. Let me know if you can use any of them, otherwise they’ll be donated to the SPCA later this week.)

I talked on the phone with my parents today, and they put me on speaker phone so that I could talk with Moishe Pumpkin. I made his “call” (a specific whistle, followed by a clicking noise) – when I make that call, he comes to my side, or will follow me around. So in Seattle, I would make that call and he would follow me downstairs, or would hop onto the bed to sleep next to me. Anyway, I made the call over the phone, and he started looking around for me. Deb held the phone down and I called Moishe Pumpkin again; Deb reported that he came up to the phone, nudged it then started licking it. Aww… I miss the li’l bugger. (Oh, and he’s totally better and healthy again. He’s roaming around the house, stalking Thomas and Pumpkin, playing with Thomas and Pumpkin, eating, and being a cute brat again. The vet will still run tests on his stool to see what caused the obstruction in the first place, but for the meantime, he’s better.)

Finally, for those of you who aren’t in Montreal, aren’t experiencing the weirdness first hand somewhere on the east coast, you’re missing out on some oddly mild winter weather. Today it was 12ºC! I went for a nice afternoon walk – wearing shorts! Shorts, in Montreal, in January? Madness!

Filed under: family, health, home, kitten, random, seasons, shaping up, sleep/insomnia

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

Jews and Catholics

Friday night was “Catholic Shabbat”, an inter-faith shabbat that we at Kolot Rabbim planned with the Newman Centre. We had 41 people smooshed into the living room shul, including an Anglican canon law professor, an awaiting ordination Orthodox rabbi, the Jewish and Catholic students, a reporter, a representative from the National Committee for Jewish Campus Life, and a Catholic pastor. We didn’t do our regular service, since we wanted the non-Jews to be able to follow along and even participate; we had a lot of English in the service, made explanations both before and during the service, and offered transliteration for some of the songs and prayers. (We also held up signs that said “amen – אמן” and “barukh atah adonai – ברוך אתה אדני” each time those words appeared in the prayers/songs so they could join in.)

After the service, which ended with one of the Catholic students saying a prayer, we had dinner. The Catholics said grace, then we said the kiddush (wine), washed out hands, and said the hamotzi (bread). And we all ate. Everyone was mingling, asking for clarification on what they saw in the service, or asking about comparisons to Catholicism. Excellent.

Then, instead of a dvar torah, the pastor from the Newman Centre gave a talk. Only he was having a really hard time getting his words out, and his eyes were tearing up. He talked about how Catholics have wronged the Jews for so long, and how it’s inexcusable. He said that official Catholic doctrine states that in order to fully follow Catholicism properly, Catholics must understand Judaism. (This was related to Catholicism’s belief that a covenant with G-d lasts forever; and since G-d made covenants with the Jews, they must acknowledged and appreciated.) He then talked of the “hopes” he has for the future, comparing similarities between the two religions. From wear I was standing during his talk, I could see that everyone in the room (about 30 people by this point), had tears in their eyes or were silently crying. It was amazingly intense and powerful.

The evening ended with a tish: singing, drinking, shmoozing.

I’m hoping to plan more interfaith Shabbats like this one – it was a really amazing experience for all involved.

Filed under: friends, good eats, judaism, kitten, photos, random, school, sleep/insomnia, teevee/movies, wtf?