Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My Jewish Tent is Big Enough for You. Why Do You Feel so Threatened By Me?

I was appalled, as I often am, after reading the latest email newsletter from Women of the Wall. Not only was there yelling, heckling, and spitting involved, as there usually is, while they tried to celebrate Rosh Hodesh but the Ultra-Orthodox have reached a new low by grabbing the WOW siddurim and tearing them up and throwing them on the ground! These are the same people who I am sure would lovingly pick up and kiss their own siddurim if one happened to fall to the ground. They seem to mostly be teenagers egged on by adults to commit these atrocities in the name of their god or their rabbi or who knows what. I just can't get my head around the fact that this is allowed to happen and even encouraged by many. 

This type of behavior is so antithetical to Judaism and the Torah whose overriding message is one of love of other Jews, of one's neighbor, of the widow, the stranger, and the orphan. What has happened to kol yisrael aravim zeh bazeh? The people that did this must not care about this deeply rooted Jewish value or they must have some very twisted way of interpreting it. We cannot continue to let this reprehensible behavior go on! 

I understand that there are very complex political issues in Israel when it comes to the power of the Rabbanut and especially when we are talking about what happens at the Kotel but continuing to allow the masses of secular and liberal religious Jews to be held captive to an increasingly fanatical and dangerous Ultra-Orthodox minority is ridiculous. It is time for some serious tohahah with consequences that are finally meaningful and helpful for the rest of Israel and the Jews.

WOW is very brave to continue to show up and take this abuse month after month, hag after hag. They are an amazing example to us all of what it means to have grit but we have got to support them and others like them who insist on kol yisrael aravim zeh bazeh and just plain human decency and treating people b'tzelem elohim.

As a professor who teaches, among other things, Jewish history, I can say with authority that Judaism has never been monolithic, completely normative, or otherwise represented by only one group nor will it ever be. So why is this shocking and disgusting behavior allowed to happen in our beloved country? I am ashamed that people who call themselves Jews behave this way. When are we going to stop saying that's just the Ultra-Orthodox, ignore them?!? WOW does not have that luxury as they try to worship and celebrate together as Jewish women at a sacred site that is for ALL Jews if they choose to visit.

I will now descend from my soapbox but, seriously, support WOW in what they do because it is important work. It is about much more than just free and equal access to the Kotel. It is about dignity, b'tzelem elohim, loving one another and our myriad differences. Values that I hope we can all get behind and practice!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Whiskers on Kittens

My sweet boy kitty Fergus is stuck in the wall of my daughter’s house. Let me explain. Right now I am sitting in the upstairs attic bedroom with the doggos while my daughter’s fiancĂ©, my daughter, and my husband all work on getting one little cat out of the wall. How did he get there you might be curious to know? Because cats do not usually find themselves inside walls. 

I am a little ahead of myself. We are here at my daughter’s house for a month while we wait to close on our new condo in Denver. When the cats and dogs arrived after a three day trip, things were a little meshuggenah to say the least. Fergus is normally a social, very loving fella but he can be a little skittish in new situations unlike our other cat, Freckle, who just rolls with the punches. No sooner was Fergus let out of his crate than he ran down to the basement of their house where part of it is finished and part of it is rough and partially finished. The rough part is used as a workshop where my soon to be son-in-law builds things and where the cats gets fed away from the curious and ever hungry dog. You, if you are an thirteen pound tabby cat on a mission to hide from your world that has just been turned upside down, can find a great place to hide in the ceiling. This is exactly what Fergus did. We found him and decided to leave him alone because he seemed okay and there was food and water available and a litter box nearby. Each of us would go downstairs and check on him several times a day. This went on for four days with no sign of Fergus emerging permanently. He would only come out if you stood there and called his name and brought him a can of just opened wet food.

Well  . . . someone went to check on him tonight and he was mewing in fear like he was stuck. We finally figured out that he was in the wall between the finished and partially finished part of the basement. And that brings us to the beginning line of my post. Really, I am freaking out as much as everyone else is but I have been asked to stay with the dogs while they are in their crates out of the way of all the craziness. So what did I decide to do to alleviate the freaking out feeling? Post to my blog, of course!

Update:  The only way to get Fergus out of the wall was to remove the boards of the wall.  Yes, my soon to be son-in-law and big-time cat lover started taking his house apart to get my poor, scared kitty out of his wall! Skip to the end of the whole thing, which I had to hear about later, and Fergus is being cuddled by my husband on the sofa in the family room. Everyone is near tears from the trauma that this one little fella has caused. I can't begin to imagine how traumatic it was for my sweet Fergus! My STBSIL brought up this clip on the telly because it was just so appropriate and because we all needed a laugh.

Fergus is now ensconced in the art room complete with a lovely cat tree with a hidey hole and a window seat. His own litter box and tasty wet food and water. My husband has been sleeping on the futon with him while I sleep upstairs in the bed with dogs. 

Moving is stressful already but it goes to 11 with the addition of furry family members. Borukh Hashem that we do not have any youngsters still at home! I will be glad when I can go back to just being a wondering Jew and not also a wandering Jew.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Bayit is Where the Heart is 

As I write this I am staring at the rocky mountains that surround Salt Lake City. I am in the Delta Sky Club in the airport awaiting my flight to Kalispell and my daughter's house. I left my mostly empty house today for the penultimate time and it has me thinking about the meaning of bayit. I have loved living in my house for the past five and half years. It is a wonderful house full of rooms and space and even a secret passageway! It has two sets of stairs, two sinks in the master bathroom, and two spaces for our cars in the garage. I like the number two. My husband and I make the number two. I have two dogs and two cats, two coffee makers, and two suitcases. I have one child but she is now part of a pair so I say I have two kids when I talk about them because I have gained a son.

It is unsettling leaving your home and seeing your home empty and all of your stuff being packed into U-haul pods and carted away. When will I see that stuff again? I will be homeless for at least a month while my home sells and we wait to close on our new home. Fortunately, our daughter and her fiance have a great home that they are willing to share with the old parental units for a month. So we will not be truly homeless. Her home during this time will be filled with furry children--three dogs and five cats, plus four chickens in the backyard coop. I am excited to learn about caring for chickens. I like to joke that I have grandchickens! Their names are Ruth, Dolly, Gladys, and Cuckoo.

My new home will be beautiful too, if smaller. But smaller is a good thing. We didn't really need all that space just for two people, two dogs, and two cats. We have gone Marie Kondo crazy on all of our stuff. It is cathartic to purge and to realize that you really do not need so much stuff. What is important to you really comes to the surface when you are forced to choose what to take and what will be donated or sold or given away to friends. I have culled and culled my books but I still have so many! And I have been buying most of my fiction on Kindle and reserving paper purchases for the Talmud that I am slowly but surely collecting and other Jewish books, education books, some non-fiction, etc.

There are a few key ingredients, IMHO, that make up a bayit and, for the most part, the physical space isn't on this list. 

  • dein mishpocha
  • doggos
  • kitties
  • books, books, books
  • a few comfortable chairs (for reading, of course!)
  • fabric and yarn, a sewing machine, crochet hooks and knitting needles
  • whatever your zen requires (see above)
  • a kitchen with a good size table to gather the aforementioned mishpocha around
What are your key ingredients to make a bayit?

My Jewish Tent is Big Enough for You. Why Do You Feel so Threatened By Me? I was appalled, as I often am, after reading the latest email new...