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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Purim 2014

Awesome Purim this year.

-another successful women's megillah reading at night (organized by yours truly)
-reading an entire perek (5) at the Tiferet reading in the morning
-delivering mishloach manot
-a lovely seudah

Two things I want to tell in a little more detail:

The first time I ever read Megillah was back at Oberlin. I was asked to read the 5th perek (same as this year) but was given no guidance other than a tape of someone reading. The recording was scratchy and had an old man's voice. I didn't know how to read trope so I just listened to the tape again and again until I was literally doing it in my sleep. (My next door neighbors in the dorm told me.) However, I ran out of time and was overwhelmed and so couldn't even learn the trope for the second half and was disappointed to simply read it aloud at that reading.

In years since I've done either the first or second half again, but have many more resources available now. I have friends who can teach me trope and "spot" me when I practice. I have had more experience. I also have the JOFA app which teaches trope individually and also has an interactive recording that you can listen to with and without tikkun.

I got a head start on practicing and for the first time did the entire perek correctly. If I do say so myself, I blew it out of the water. I read clearly, I read loud and I read with confidence. For someone who has not always been self-assured, I always feel so proud to stand in front of a group and do well with something I've practiced so hard.

The other thing I'll tell about was delivering mishloach manot. This year we decided to deliver to all of the girls in ND's class as well as a few other friends. It took over an hour and a half to drive through Teaneck, Bergenfield and even New Milford and back to Englewood making deliveries. Exhausting, but so much fun. There were cars everywhere with costumed drivers, starting and stopping with both kids and adults climbing out over the remaining piles of snow to drop off a bag and get back on the road again. In many ways there are times when I've found myself disagreeing politically, religiously or in some other way about lifestyle with many of the people within the local Jewish community, but to all be part of this fun, silly and friendly activity today was a delight. I loved being Jewish and part of a Jewish community.

Last but not least… I've found a simple way to say why I love Purim so much. On nearly every other holiday, there is a feeling of seriousness, of profoundness, of grandeur, but then underneath there is a kind of disappointment, because we can't all sustain deep serious religious thoughts all day. Underneath it we find our minds drifting to the mundane and just end the day eating.

On Purim, at least some of that is opposite. There is no outer veil of the profound and spiritual. What we wear on the outside is all the silliness, all the noise, all the baseness that is true to ourselves. The story we tell is about parties and wild emotions and people with too much stuff making terrible decisions about life and death. But if we're celebrating right, then underneath it all there is something powerful and right and very spiritual. There is the believe that goodness and light will emerge and correct what is wrong in our world. To me there is the idea that THROUGH our imperfections and our desires (not in spite of), divinity will shine.

And then we eat.

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Sunday, March 09, 2014


The other day ND climbed into bed with us.

U. said, "Climb between us and you can be the cheese in our sandwich."

ND: I need to put my legs on top of yours because the cheese usually sticks out of the sandwich a little.

U: OK, but you should be quiet now. Right now you're acting like chatter cheese.

Me: It would be better if you were shush cheese.

ND: But I have to make a lot of noise because I'm yell-ow cheese.

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