Friday, July 12, 2013

I don't want to have to justify my liberal Judaism, I want to live it.

This is my third Shabbat in Israel and I'm really missing home now.  The first Shabbat I had just arrived and spent the evening with Nurit and family at a lovely Shabbat meal.  The second Shabbat was here in Akko and I was adjusting. Now I've adjusted--and I'm missing my usual practice.  I miss baking challah, planning and making the meal, getting the table set, and having my family (most of it anyway--it's rare but lovely when we get Deborah) celebrate with us. I miss deciding whether or not to go to services--and, when we go, enjoying my Jewish community.
Here, there's Hebrew all around, I hear Hebrew and Russian (lots of Russian) and Arabic.  It's silent on Shabbat--so much is closed, transportation is down.  But there is nothing that really feels sacred about the day here.  Moshe offered to contact a friend so I could have Shabbat with them, but I'm really not interested in spending time with someone with whom I have no connection (it's different when it's family or friends of my friends).  I just don't want to be bound to Orthodox practice, to tell the truth--I don't want to have to justify my liberal Judaism, I want to live it. And I want to live it here (I don't mean I want to live here--I mean I want to be able to have liberal Jewish practice when I come here.)  Next week I hope I'll be with Nurit N. (as opposed to Nurit P. in Tel Aviv) and her family...
Yesterday was much less productive than I would have liked.  I did not succeed in mailing my packages--more adventures in getting lost.  Sort of.  I knew where I was.  I just hadn't understood where the post office that was open until 12 on Friday was. Nor had I understood where the store at which to make copies was. Maybe it was Moshe's directions?  I'd like to think so, but past history would suggest otherwise. Five out of six publishers have contacted me--only UChicago remains.  We'll see what happens.
In the meantime, I'm reading in preparation for the lit review for the dissertation.  I'm hopeful it will go fast--but again, past history makes that seem unlikely!
 Today I'm heading out with Emma and Shachar for a Shabbat adventure--I'll post pictures later.  Don't know where we'll end up, but it will include some meat, whether that be fish, flesh, or fowl. I'm just not enough of a vegan/vegetarian to make it work right here and now.
On that note, my host is an interesting character.  Probably about my age, rather cynical on the one hand, but credulous on the other.  For example, he was saying that he wanted to move to Thailand because the women there would be more faithful than Israeli women--a statement that seems to combine both cynicism and naivete. And another--I've been eating a lot of carrots because the ones at the shuk were really tasty.  He asked if I was eating them because they were healthy--did they combine with some other food to promote health.  Then he explained that he had heard that black pepper enhanced the healthful properties of turmeric.  All of which seems like magical thinking to me, particularly when I try to imagine how you would begin to test such a statement. 
But this also seems to be a replacement for religion--which he rejects--in both his faith-based approach to "science" and his practices around food, where food isn't just nourishment, but somehow a way to approach immortality.  It's not that what you eat doesn't matter--of course it does--but the idea that the reason you would eat a carrot isn't simply because it's good is just...odd. 

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