Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

About that playdate

Just got permission from the other child's mom to post these videos about the aforementioned playdate:


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sir Patrick

What an amazing day!

Started the day with a play date that ND has asked for for ages.

Then at 1 I headed into the city alone for an extra special adventure. I went to see the second Broadway anything that I've ever seen, Life In The Theater. It's a Mamet play about two actors in the theater, one old and one young. As you see if you click on the link, the older actor starts as a mentor and then eventually becomes unhelpful and loses his skills as the younger starts to make a place for himself in the theater.

I didn't go because of Mamet. I went because it starred Patrick Stewart(sigh).

The play was fantastic. It was funny in parts. It was heartbreakingly sad too. And knowing that Patrick Stewart is now 70, I wondered and worried if this meant this is one of his last productions. There were a few moments when Sir Patrick was alone on stage and I just lost myself listening to him speak.

It was a closing night (day) performance, so the end was extra special. After the applause and bowing, Stewart and T. R. Knight (yeah, he's famous too, but he's not why I came) went out on stage and said they always get the applause, but they wanted to introduce everyone else worked on the production too to give them the recognition they deserved. They brought everyone out and Knight named each one of them including props people, dressers etc. The dressers got extra special applause because the play was filled with lightning fast and thorough costume changes as the actors pretended to act in all different plays. (Someone please help me out by identifying what the different plays were supposed to be. I'm sure there were in-jokes that I missed.)

Watching the two actors speaking for themselves so sincerely about being sad to end the production was so touching. Sir Patrick began to say one last thing, then became silently, and handed it over to Knight instead. He must have been too choked up. Oh! So beautiful!

I left the theater satisfied and thrilled to have given myself this treat, and glad that U. was perfectly happy to hang out with ND since he's never loved theater much and we didn't want to pay for a sitter. As I walked out, I started to soak in NY including the bicycle taxis waiting right outside.

Then I paid more attention when I suddenly realized I was about to walk around a barricade that hadn't been there before. I put the pieces together to realize that people were standing behind them to wait for the actors to come out.

I didn't have to think twice. No stress over getting back to get work down. No worry about it getting dark. No rush. I waited a full hour.

Spent the hour listening to theater lovers and a few trekkies one-upping all their star encounters. I waited and waited. It paid off.

I got both their autographs. The clip below of Sir Patrick includes a woman talking to him about... I'm not sure what. She's trying to endear herself to him by talking about England, I think. He's just got his mind on going home. It's my voice you hear thanking for the autograph. And when he looked up, he looked me right in the eye.

I wasn't the only person crying after such a ridiculous brush with fame. It was so sweet.

I stuck around to watch him get into his limo and I felt sad when I thought he looked very tired. It took me an hour to get home between walking the long blocks to my car and getting out of several traffic jams. The whole way I imagined what it must be like to be surrounded by people who think they know and love you and wondering who really goes home to.

When I got home I was so happy to see my own ND, felt lucky that that is my life.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vayeshev by ND

This week's parsha contains Joseph and his coat of many colors.

ND made a similar coat at school:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wells

Wow it's been a long time since I've written...

So on Friday night I gave a dvar Torah. Hence the motivation to actually write right now!

I was asked to give the drash to a special minyan. It's a group that gets together now and then to do a Shira Hadasha style minyan, otherwise referred to an inclusive halakhic minyan. In other words, women get to do as much in the service as they possibly can according to halakhic standards.

To prepare for the drash I began by reading Vayetzei, that week's parsha, and discovered the passage about the well. Yaakov encounters a well that is surrounded by shepherds. There is a large stone on the mouth of the well. The shepherds cannot use the well until enough are present to remove the stone. In a show of strength, Yaakov then removes the stone all by himself and accesses the waters.

I decided to look for other recent places in which wells are mentioned. In Toldot we learn about Yitzhak unstopping wells that Avraham had dug, but which had been filled in by Philistines.

And a week before that, in Chayei Sarah, we read of Eliezer seeking a wife for Yitzhak. He knows he has found the right person when he encounters Rivka who opens her jug and the waters of the well actually come to her (according to midrash). She offers chesed to Eliezer in the form of drawing water until neither he nor his camels are thirsty anymore.

Wells are often used as metaphor for Torah. For the purposes of this drash, I focused specifically on accessing water as a way of accessing our relationship with G-d through prayer. Prayer is a simple concept. We speak to G-d to answer our needs. But tefillah is more complicated, especially with the form we use halakhically. How strange it is that we do the same rituals again and again, for many hours, often without even understanding what most of the prayer service means? How can the different personality types near the wells inform us of probable other motivations that bring us to daven at all.

Yaakov represents strength. In him I see the type of person who never misses a chance to daven correctly and at the correct time.

In the shepherds by the well I see a yearning to work together collectively and to be part of a community in accessing the waters of the well.

There is a great deal to be said about Yitzhak unstopping the wells of his father. Firstly, he is not digging new wells, he is accessing the wells of the previous generation, passing down liturgy through the years.

The idea of the wells being stopped can be thought of in many ways. What can stop up wells?
-enemies of the Jewish people
(with this I think of when I went on March of the Living many years ago and watched teenagers who had otherwise lost touch with Judaism, suddenly yearn to daven with the same words as their ancestors who had been collectively murdered)
-distractions like materialism, our work lives etc.
-unfortunately, with getting into a rut. While we may want to access the same wells previous generations did, we can't always do it in quite the same way and may need to reclaim it in a way that is refreshing for us.

Finally there is Rivka... in some ways she's opposite of Yaakov. Instead of using strength to access the waters, she opens herself up. Like a meditator, she has learned to gently receive G-d's blessings. Even better, the result of her ability to do this so gently and gracefully is that she is able to naturally give back chesed to the world. Her choice to access the waters benefits the entire world.

I find all of these elements and motivations within myself in different combinations at different times. If I am capable of feeling all of them, so are many. This reflects the wide diversity of ways in which halakhic Jews can be motivated to come together and daven. With such diversity of ways, we need a diversity of wells, and for that I'm grateful that there are new options available.

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