Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Political Discourse in NH

One thing I wasn’t expecting during my week at the NHC Summer Institute was to hear bigoted, ignorant, political lies. Granted, this was at the Mountainview Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH, but still. Wow. (I drove a friend to the ER this morning to get stitches; she’s fine.)

All of the following are direct quotes from the three men, and two women, in the ER waiting room. As a scrambled to jot them down on my iPhone, I didn’t have time to attribute quote to each person properly.

It says on page 59 [of the proposed health care bill] that they will debit everyone’s bank account without having to ask first – look it up!

The news is all liberal, the only one you can believe is Fox.IMG_1142

Obama’s popularity rates are the lowest of any president! He apologizes to everybody and bows to the Saudi king! Can you believe that?!

I heard that Canadians flock over the border to get health care in the US and we’re trying to copy their system?! My friend’s cousin’s dad lives in Canada and needed open heart surgery, it was an emergency, he’d had a heart attack, and the wait was six months so he came down and did it in the US – can you imagine waiting six months?

And Obama’s plan is, ‘hey, you need a hip replacement? We won’t do it, but we will council you on assisted suicide instead, because you’re just going to have to die.'”

Barak Obama grew up despising America, he and his wife, are racist, bigots, they signed the Black Doctrine saying that they wouldn’t worship any G-d that whites worshiped. He and his wife.

I can’t even call him President of the United States, it makes me sick. He’s just Osama.

You know who’s gonna take him out before the year’s through? The KKK. He’ll be the first and the last black president. Deval Patrick is just as bad.

He’s got a gift for speaking – but only with a teleprompter.

He’s cut the budgets for all the fire departments, police, and ambulances in the country. Every dept has been cut. And you know what? Believe me, L.A. or New York or one of those major cities will be hit in the next 3 years by biological or nuclear warfare. Cheney said Homeland Security has fallen to shit since Obama and now we’re gonna get killed ’cause he allows Al Qaeda to trade nukes on the black market.

Left liberals say 9/11 was a Cheney conspiracy.

Another stimulus plan? He’s destroying the country. Watch the Democrats go flying out the door at the midterm elections next year.

Of the uninsured, only 8 million Americans can’t afford it, the rest are illegal aliens. Well gee, what does he think is going to happen when hospitals can’t refuse care? Of course they’re going to be swamped because of those damn illegal aliens wanting our health care. They should go back to their own countries. Then we won’t need a health care bill. Good Americans already have insurance!

We don’t need some fat guy behind a desk in Washington telling us which doctor or medicine we’ll have access to. [I pipe up, ask how they feel about some “fat guy behind a desk” at their insurance company making those same decisions now.] The system works. I can see a doctor whenever I need to, 24/7, excellent care always. Don’t mess with it.

Those college types are brainwashed by their professors. They didn’t know better, were brainwashed, and voted for Obama.

Whenever you get government regulated anything, Reagan said government ruins everything. Less government is more efficient.

Obama’s health care is illegal. He’s a liar. Believe me, it’s all lies. Page 59, look it up.

That’s right… Obama’s racist, the KKK is going to kill him before the year’s through, and Americans have great health care for all already.

Did I mention I was sitting there as an, uh, adopted east coast elite/liberal Jew (tzitzis and kippah in full view)? Yeah, I was not comfortable at all. I wanted to argue – but was afraid to. Aside from the question I asked on insurance versus government health care (noted above), I only interjected once: I suggested that the story about needing to go to the US for emergency heart surgery wasn’t accurate – that in Canada there are wait lists for elective surgeries and procedures that aren’t deemed urgent, but all emergency surgery is dealt with, well, in Canada. They didn’t believe me, and cited a Fox news report.

With my friend in the triage area, I couldn’t sit there alone any more (it had been almost an hour). I wandered the hospital and returned just as my friend was released (without the stitches she had gone there to get).

Filed under: america, nhc 'tute, politics, travels, wtf?

Israel bound

I want to write a post about how I’m going to Israel tomorrow, for work. But each time I’ve tried to start this post, the verb I’ve used hasn’t set the right tone. So I will not strive for poetics. Instead, I’ll say that I’m going, and will be back in New York on January 19th. See you on the other side.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, random, travels, war, work, wtf?


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

Zigging, zagging, and filling in the blanks

It’s been a hectic week or two.

There was the lead up to ‘tute and the week of Summer Institute itself. It was busy, genderful, discussionful, friendful, cuddleful, teachful, and learnful. A few of us blogged about it over on Jewschool. I was left wrestling with some wonderful conversations, which I will have to continue back in the real world, possibly with margaritas in hand.

Sunday evening, upon my return, I had a lovely, if short, sleep in New York before heading to Montreal yesterday morning. Or at least, that was the plan. The short version is that I was “denied entry” to Canada, forced to return to the US. Which worked out, as I was able to get my work visa Monday evening, but meant I didn’t get to spend the night in Montreal catching up with a fantastic family, couldn’t get to my storage locker, and wasn’t able to have poutine for dinner or bring a dozen St-Viateur bagels back to New York with me. Alas. But, as I said, it worked out: I am now a legal alien in the US. (In the 36 hour period that started with pulling out of the parking lot at FPU in Rindge, NH, and ending with my return to my lovely hosts in the Bronx, NY, with the trip to the border in between, I traveled 1638km, passed through NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, and for all of three minutes QC, and both chased lightning storms and raced to avoid them.)

Today I dealt with the social security office. Seems I was too efficient; the US Border and Customs folks hadn’t yet entered my work visa in their database, so I couldn’t actually get the SSN. Most likely this means it’ll take 2-3 weeks to get a SSN instead of the 1-2, but worst case is that it could take as much as 4-6 weeks. I plan on following up with them both on the phone and in person.

I also had the joy of filing an FCC complaint today. While driving south through Albany last night, I was scanning the radio dial when I came across some sort of sermon or Bible study. I heard the word phylacteries and continued listening. That is, until I realised that it was anti-semitism masquerading as moral/Christian superiority. Ugh. I hope they’re fined.

And now? Now I try to burn through the rest of my to-do list, possibly have a nap, certainly call a few more leads on apartments, then try to get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work tomorrow.

Filed under: america, canada, friends, home, nhc 'tute, random, travels, work, wtf?

Howdy from New Hampshire!

It’s been a while, my friends. I’m currently enjoying the sun rain sun in Rindge, New Hampshire, where the National Havurah Committee Summer institute is underway. 372 people of all ages looking to do Jewish for a week – an amazing time. I’m teaching a course on “other” genders in the Mishna and their use in contemporary tshuvot (responsas), enjoying reconnecting with friends, and trying not to be too exhausted by everything there is to do…

I, and others, are posting about the ‘tute over on Jewschool; follow the NHC Summer Institute tag to see those posts. Feel free to comment on them over there, anonymously or not; I’d love to see some discussions come out of those posts.

And once I’m back from the mountains, I’m sure I’ll have a post or two about moving to New York, adventures at the mikvah, and more…

Filed under: america, judaism, nhc 'tute, travels

Vancouver Pics

The Vancouver photos!

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

There’s no place like home

I love Vancouver. It’s no secret. But like so many relationships, we have our disagreements. I want more Jews, more Jewish life, Jewish community. And Vancouver wants me to compromise; love her for who she is, without trying to change her. And I do, mostly. I love the ocean, the mountains, the sounds, the beaches, and the false creek. I love being able to ski and kayak on the same day. I love the abundance of amazingly fresh, delicious, yet cheap sushi. On a good day, I’ll even admit to liking the small big city (or is that the big small city?) syndrome: of walking down the street, sitting in a café, going to the farmers market, and running into people you know. Yet it pains me that I couldn’t be shomer shabbos with a progressive community in Vancouver. (Though, just wait, ’cause I’ve got long term plans.)

It’s annoying that the only kosher restaurants are the snack café at the JCC and a deli-slash-grocery store. That there isn’t really a Reform synagogue. That the pluralism, post-, and trans-denominational pushes happening in the US aren’t happening there. That there are so few visibly observant Jews, that I get to try to ignore the guys on the SkyTrain urging each other to “pull [my] strings.”

I want to see that all change, help it change, but I’m just not in a place to do that (yet).

This was my first visit to Vancouver that didn’t feel like “going home.” What an odd realisation. If I’m asked where I’m from, I’ll still say Vancouver. But now the question of where home is gets a shrug, an “I don’t know.”

I hope to know soon. For now, I can say that I’m in New York. And, for the first time in many months, I have unpacked my backpack.

Post script: Shabbos plus four days just isn’t long enough to see all the lovely people in Vancouver. Hopefully my next visit will be longer… and not after another 1.5 years.

Filed under: home, travels

BC travels

IMG_R3246I spent four lovely nights in Victoria, visiting my home, my friends, remnants of my plants. It was great to relax, fully embrace my dorkiness, play a lot of Scrabble, and fall back into a comfortable rhythm with my friends.

On the way back to Vancouver, I had to transfer buses as the Ladner Exchange. There, a woman and her college-aged daughter started pointing at me, then pointing at a fellow standing a few paces from me. I stealthily paused my iPod so I could casually listen in on what they were saying about us. The mother was saying something about my “beanie” and the “head dress” of the other fellow. (Based on what I saw, I assumed him to be Sikh, so that was in fact a turban.) I wasn’t the only one listening in; the other guy had been listening and caught my eyes when this was said of us. He stepped towards the mother and daughter to clarify things with them. But he didn’t know the words “kippah” or “yarmulke,” so in trying to explain that he wasn’t wearing a head dress, and I wasn’t wearing a beanie, the mother and daughter concluded that we were both of the same religion and were wearing variations on the same religious head wear.

At this point he looked to me, so I stepped over and tried to clarify. At some point the daughter had a “light bulb” moment and said something like, “Oh, like what the Pope wears?!” Um, yes. Kind of. Many religions have customs of head coverings and… I lost them. He looked at me and shrugged. The daughter started talking to her mom about an Easter “South Park” episode which claimed the Pope’s hat was pointy because the Pope had rabbit ears to hide. And I put my earphones back in and turned on my iPod.

It’s good to be back on the west coast…

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As a side note, I’d recommend reading two recent posts on Jewschool: The H in Apartheid, a thoughtful piece on Hebron, and No One Is Jewish, about Jews who have had their conversion revoked.

Filed under: friends, israel, judaism, photos, random, religion, 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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