Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Jewish Rite of Passage

A friend and coworker died yesterday. I just found out. She had been
very sick recently. When I found out, my first reaction was "Baruch
dayan ha-emet". It gave me some comfort, even as I listened to my
other coworkers gasp and drop their pens.

It is not a happy day. I will miss her, her cheerfulness despite her
suffering, and most of all, her stories.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I can't believe it.

I just got off the phone with my mom.  We were talking about holiday plans (I will always celebrate Christmas with my family and exchange gifts with my friends).

She actually asked me if the Temple will be doing a Christmas service.  Of course they wouldn't. The cool part was that she asked if there would be any holiday services, which gave me a chance to explain Chanukah a little bit. She kind of gets it.

But I still can't believe that she'd wonder whether Jews would have a Christmas service.

Christmastime for the Jews

A little Saturday Night Live hilarity.

Friday, December 5, 2008


After the lovely Shabbat I had last week, I tried to set myself up for the same thing this week.  It pretty much worked.  Last week was very special, since a friend was hosting dinner.

This week I was ready again.  I had a fairly unpleasant task to do, so I saved it for the end of the day.  When I got off work, I felt accomplished.  I was ready to leave the office.  And the minute I hit that outer door, I noticed that the sun was down and was grateful that Shabbat had technically started.

I wished I was able to go straight home for candles and kiddush, but I had to run errands first.  Now that I'm settled in, it's a nice evening.  And I feel Jewish.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My mom, again

I just got off the phone with my mom. We were talking about our plans for the weekend, and I blocked off my time for Torah study and services. She mentioned that she'd talked to her pastor's wife about my studies (apparently relevant because I'm studying Hebrew, and they're studying Hebrews).

Sondra told her that one of the Rabbis in Anchorage had visited their church a while back and gave a presentation on the holidays and festivals. I don't remember this. Anyway, she wanted to know which synagogue I attend, to see if it was the same folks. I told her, even though I'm pretty sure it wasn't my Rabbi. Actually, I know it wasn't my Rabbi; she mentioned a wife. She sounded positive about the whole thing, and that makes me glad.

One of my worries is that if my mom doesn't know what to think, she'll ask Sondra (her friend and pastor's wife), and might get a more, well, fundamentalist answer than I'd like. But maybe I'm selling them all a little short. We'll see, I guess.

Shabbat rest

This past Friday night, I surprised even myself by declaring that I was ready for Shabbay rest. Maybe the others were surprised because the previous day was Thanksgiving and most people didn't have to work. Me, I was surprised because I had never said that before.

I had been ready for the weekend. I had been glad it was Friday night. But I had never been glad for Shabbat itself.

Part of it may have been because I worked hard last week. It may have been because I was sick but feeling better. It was almost certainly because I had arrived at Carrie's home for another of her wonderful Shabbat meals.

But that was one of those wonderful moments when I really felt Jewish. On the drive to Carrie's, I realized that it was dark and technically Shabbat already, and I felt more relaxed. But once those candles were lit, I really started to feel it. Rest. Shabbat rest. A real, definitive separation between worktime and holy time.

It was beautiful.

I'm not going to lie, though. I did work only hours later, cleaning up after the party had subsided. But even that had a sense of peace about it, because it seemed a part of the dinner, a part of the evening, a part of Shabbat.

I hope I feel that again this week. And the week after that. And every week.