Sunday, May 27, 2007

Like an old shoe.

They say you can never go home. And they lie.

I'm back in Nebraska for the weekend. My college friend Patrick married his Husker sweetheart, Amanda, last night in a short, but kind wedding at St. Paul's in downtown Lincoln. Aside from a lot of Christy-talk, it was a nice ceremony. The song was strange, as it was about the "beauty of Christ's body." Being me, it made me squirm a little in my seat. I guess there's nothing beautiful about a crucified body, in my opinion. Though I imagine it was metaphorical, I don't get that kind of stuff. The reception that followed was small, beautiful and what I'd hope mine could be. It wasn't ritzy (the steak was delicious, though), but had a flare of class. The music options (some Sinatra, and other big band tunes) were astounding, not to mention that the cake was moist as anything I've ever had. The best part? The jellybeans on the tables. Kudos, my man. Kudos. The bride and groom were dashing, and I nearly cried after finishing my dollar dance with Patrick. There's something about seeing a good friend happy, glowing in what they really deserved that makes you want to cry for them. In happiness, of course. Mazel tov, my friends.

The trip has gone quite well so far.

We went to South Street temple on Friday night, and I can't even begin to describe how fulfilling it was. If there's one thing I miss most in my life, the one thing that if I could top it all off right now and be completely happy, it would be to be able to be with my synagogue family again. It's been more than a year since last I went to temple there, but I fell right back in. Rabbi Emanuel welcomed me to read a bit from the siddur (which was so nice, considering it will be eons before I'm asked to read at our new synagogue in Chicago) and there was a baby name ceremony, so myriad people were there. All of the old friends -- Barb, Deb, the Zlotskys, the rabbi and his family, Sara and her husband -- everyone was there. It seems I've missed a lot in the past year. Babies, engagements, catastrophe at the Conservative synagogue in town (which I INTEND on finding all about, of course). I miss my friends there. I miss the Torah studies and conversation. It's so hard to get to the new temple on Saturdays for Torah study, when it takes an hour and a half by transit to make it there. But it was reassuring, reaffirming, and uplifting to be there again. The place where I kindled my faith and found a home and a family among all the world's Israelites. It will always be my home, and each time I come back is a reminder that no matter how lost and far away I feel, I always have somewhere to go back to.

We hit the Starlite Lounge Friday night, where we ran into Johnny and other old Daily Nebraskan chums. I fell in love with the Tom Collins and relished in the hipness of the place I used to go every Thursday for free appetizers and cheaply priced faux martinis. There was Bison Witches yesterday afternoon for lunch, which I was happy that Ian loved. If I could franchise a restaurant, that might be it. We visited Target and went to the wedding, topping the night off with some Runza to fill our stomachs. If you've never had a Runza burger, then you're missing out. It's another restaurant I'd like to franchise -- if only so I could eat the burgers and fries for the rest of my days. Even Ian, a burger/food connoseur and the toughest critic I know, said it was the best fast food burger he'd ever had (topping Inn-N-Out, among others). Today it was Frenchees and the Coffee House, the latter being a staple of the College Years for me.

Either way, every place felt like home. It's quiet, being summertime with classes out. The college kids make up a big chunk of the heart of this city, which is why when many graduate they move on to Omaha -- it keeps that umph that many miss from college around these parts. But it's flat, and the buildings are low. I took Ian out to my "spot" -- Alvo Road at 14th Street -- where you can see every star in the sky, no matter what type of night it is. Big Dipper, Cassiopia, you name it, it's there. It's a gravel road that leads somewhere, though I'm not sure where. I've always just pulled right in, turned off the engine and killed the lights. It's the kind of place where you can just hold your breath and hear all the sounds of the world. There are few places left like that, and definitely none in Chicago.

When they say you can never go home, they lie. I'm back where I used to be and I feel as though I've never left. I settled right in at synagogue and Bison Witches and among the streets of Lincoln. There are new roads, new people, new restaurants and structures, but it's all the same old shoe. It's comforting and I couldn't be happier to be back. So now I know that the myth is a lie, and I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Yes, it's real.

A rabbi (in Israel) decided to annul a conversion -- FIFTEEN years after the fact.

Believe it? You better. Click here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

On B'Midbar (that's wilderness, folks).

The Torah was given to the people of Israel in the ownerless desert. For if it were given in the Land of Israel, the residents of the Land of Israel would say, "It is ours"; and if it were given in some other place, the residents of that place would say, "It is ours." Therefore it was given in the wilderness, so that anyone who wishes to acquire it may acquire it.

(Mechilta D'Rashbi)

I think that just about sums it up. The census taken has some fun traditions to it (such as that the number of Israelites equates to the number of letters in Torah, thus expressing that without one Israelite the mission cannot be accomplished, much like the absence of a letter in a scroll renders the Torah scroll unfit.) I'm finding it harder and harder to focus. Perhaps I need a new venue, or maybe my (not-diagnosed) ADD is getting the best of me.

Shalom, and may you be ever so excited and eager for Shavuot!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A poem.

I'm browsing scholarly journals looking for papers that thrill me or authors that might want to get to know me. In the shuffle, I came across this poem by Jehanne Dubrow. It's about where I got my undergrad, the place I garnered a minor in Judaic studies -- if only they had had a major option. But then again, I suppose this poem says it all. This is excerpted from a 2006 issue of Judaism.

Judaic Studies

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The department doesn't even fill a floor
but one room at the university,
fluorescents dark behind a frosted door
which answers woodenly to every knock.
No secretary waiting there to call
me puppele, German for little doll,
or feed me raspberry-swirled rugelach,
the sweetness now an eaten memory.
On certain days, Nebraska could be Poland,
the same blond silences of plains, each field
a never-ending corridor of gold.
What happened to the open door? It's sealed,
with every light tumed off, and no one home
except the wind breathing alone, alone.

JEHANNE DUBROW received her MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland, College
Park. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln where she also serves as the senior poetry reader of Prairie Schooner. Her
work has appeared in Poetry, The Hudson Review, Tikkun, Midstream and The New
England Review.

Monday, May 14, 2007

We're taking our time.

I haven't disappeared. I haven't stopped reading Torah or going to synagogue or being who I am.

I have many drafts written that haven't been posted. Many of them become outdated and sit in my blogger account. I had one about the parshah Emor and how if you flip the letters around you get Omer! How appropriate for Emor to be during the Omer. And other things. Important things. Pertinent things.

I find myself reading a lot more. I'm trying to get through Rashi by Maurice Liber. I've been reading a variety of articles and just finished one about the reception of Rashi's take on Adam having "intercourse" with all the beasts before the advent of Eve. I'm poking around at a paper about Maimonides and another about reading R. Gershom. The bonus to working at a university is the free access to billions of journals and texts online :) I'm horribly spoiled!

Ian and I are filling out the papers to join a temple here in Chicago. It will be my first "paid" membership to a synagogue. In Lincoln my membership to B'Nai Jeshurun (South Street Temple) was taken care of because I was (a) a student and (b) did the temple newsletter. It's strange to actually become a card carrying member of a synagogue, especially one that is so incredibly large. The sanctuary is THE most beautiful one I've ever been in. The building is built in the same style as B'Nai Jeshurun, which is a relief. I "grew up" in the byzantine style, which I find the most beautiful and Jewish. The temples that are built in the style of churches put me off, and this is the first place I've ever felt at home. The thing I'm looking most forward to? Volunteering! Adult education! Activities! Community!

So yes, things are starting to come together. Baruch HaShem!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A diversion. Pardon me.

You never know how lonely you can get until the person you love, who you've been living with for just under two months, leaves the state for four days to go two time zones away.

I've known Ian for nearly 3 years (it will be "officially" 3 as of May 14/15 -- I responded to a LiveJournal post of his on the 14th, but he didn't respond to me until the 15th), and I've been (finally) living with him almost two months, though it feels like years. Maybe that's because it's all this kindred spirits finally coming together stuff. You know, that person you always knew you'd be with and that you've always wanted to marry, now just right next to you.

Did I mention he cooks? Not just cooks though. He'll make chicken parmigiana and the most delicious mashed potatoes and perfectly seasoned chicken. Brilliant, he is. And I smile more when he's around. I'm more awake and alive. I'm more excited.

I typically get off work around 5:45 and take the quickest possible route home to get to him. Tonight? I pudded around. Went to the store. Went to Staples. Took the long way to the bus. And here I've been since about 8 p.m. Lame-ola. Time just sits still, I guess. It's how I felt in D.C. Alone and aimless.

Boo to that I say. So I'll wait till Sunday. I guess. Man, I got attached really quick.