Monday, February 11, 2008

Meeting strangers and things.

Today was an interesting day, but a really darn good day. After the day I had yesterday, it was good to get out, meet some people, and just be social -- even if with strangers. I went to my regular hangout, Argo Tea, with the intention of a friend showing up. The place was packed and within the span of about 5 minutes after I grabbed a table, a fellow and a lady asked if they could just sit in the seat across from me at my table. Of course, anticipating friend, I said no. But then friend texted and said he wouldn't be coming, so I found the guy -- scrunched in between some others at a table -- and told him the space was his if he wanted it. He came down and sat at my table reading a paper he was refereeing, and I reading "Constantine's Sword." A friend of his showed up, and she pulled up a chair and there we were. Strangers sharing a table in a crowded tea shop. It was really great, especially because after the gal arrived, there was conversation. Turned out they were both Jewish, familiar with the Conservative shul I've been going to every now and again, and one of them even knew my former boss and just laughed when I said I'd asked for reassignment. He understood, instantly. We discussed Jewish things, that I was a convert from Nebraska, my crisis of the self regarding where I belong in the "movements" of Judaism, my former shul, and other things. I felt really lucky to have these strangers sit with me, and the woman even gave me the book she was reading (Eat, Pray, Love), because she'd finished it and I'd been told that I would love it by a few people. So I got her e-mail address and at some point, I'll return the book. It was a nice day, despite the bitter cold.

So I've made some headway in both books. I have a lot to say about both books -- those being "Constantine's Sword" and "Conservative Movement in Judaism" by Elazer. But I'm going to hold off and try to sort of collect some notes in a Word file in hopes of creating some type of logical statement or argument about either of them. So, well, in truth I'm in the middle of five or six books right now. This is the danger, of course, of being a book-a-holic. I'm going to try to finish off "CS" and "CMJ" and then move on to another book, suggested by a reader of the blog who has no luck with the comments, Schvach. He's suggested "American Judaism" by Nathan Glazer.

On that note, I leave you with perhaps my new mantra, which is in the dedication of Elazer's "Conservative Movement in Judaism,":
ונתתי את־לבי לדרוש ולתור בחכמה על כל־אשר נעשה תחת השמים
("I set my mind to study and to probe with wisdom all that happens under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:13)