Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anti-Semitism vs. Antisemitism

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Christopher Browning talk at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Antisemitism and the origins of the Final Solution. Something he spent a long time talking about was the difference of Anti-Semitism and Antisemitism (subtle difference: hyphenation). Since then, I've forgotten what the difference was, but I've employed his philosophy off and on for years. Today in class, then, we were finalizing comments on the class (redundant, right, but the course is basically Medieval Christian and Jewish relations), and I thought about this concept. I brought it up to the class and the professor couldn't tell me the difference, so I had to look it up. The difference, I think, is subtle, but very important. Here's an article I found by the CFCA and also here (circa 1989) that I think explains it in a pretty clear fashion.

Let me know what you think -- is it worthwhile to differentiate with or without the hyphen?

What's in a Hyphen? by Shmuel Almog
A seemingly minor point crops up from time to time but grows in importance the more you reflect upon it. Should one write 'anti-Semitism' with a hypen or 'antisemitism' as one word?
What is the importance of such a technical question and why should anyone, apart from type-setters and proof-readers, worry about it?....
Let me start at the beginning: When did the word 'antisemitism' make its first appearance? It is generally attributed to Wilhelm Marr, who was called by the Israeli historian Moshe Zimmermann "The Patriarch of Antisemitism." Marr coined the term in the 1870s to distinguish betwee old-time Jew-hatred and modern, political, ethnic, or racial opposition to the Jews. This term made great advances and soon became common usage in many languages. So much so, that it applied not just to the modern brand of Jew-hatred but--against all logic--was attached to all kinds of enmity toward Jews, past and present. Thus we now say 'antisemitism', even when we talk about remote periods in the past, when one had no inkling of this modern usage. Purists no longer cry out in dismay against such anachronistic practice; it is currently established procedure to use 'antisemitism' for all types of Jew-hatred.
Let's go back to the hyphen then. What's the difference? If you use the hyphenated form, you consider the words 'Semitism', 'Semite', 'Semitic' as meaningful. They supposedly convey an image of a real substance, of a real group of people--the Semites, who are said to be a race. This is a misnomer: firstly, because 'semitic' or 'aryan' were originally language groups, not people; but mainly because in antisemitic parlance, 'Semites' really stands for Jews, just that.
And mind you, Jews are not a race at all. They do not all have inherent characteristics in common that may distinguish them from other people. What unites them is a tradition, culture, history , destiny maybe, but not genetics. If you do assume for a moment that Semites are a special race, consider also the implication that this so-called race comprises both Jews and Arabs. One often talks of the kinship between these two, who are now at loggerheads with each other. Be that as it may, antisemites talking against 'Semites' do not generally refer to Arabs; they mean Jews. So did the Nazis who killed the Jews and invited cooperation from the Arabs.
It is obvious then that 'anti-Semitism' is a non-term, because it is not directed against so-called 'Semitism'. If there is any substance to the term, it is only to denote a specifically anti-Jewish movement. Antisemitism is a generic term which signifies a singular attitude to a particular group of people. As the late philosopher Zvi Diesendruck pointed out, "There has never been coined a standing term for the merely negative attitude" to any other people in history. Only antisemitism; only against Jews.
So the hyphen, or rather its omission, conveys a message; if you hyphenate your 'anti-Semitism', you attach some credence to the very foundation on which the whole thing rests Strike out the hyphen and you will treat antisemitism for what it really is--a generic name for modern Jew-hatred which now embraces this phenomenon as a whole, past, present and--I am afraid--future as well.

Leggings = Not Tzniut!?

Borrowing this from Wolfish Musings. I hope he/she doesn't mind :)
Leggings Under A Skirt Is Not Tznius?
Perhaps someone can explain this to me.
A friend of Eeees recently received a letter from her kids' school. In short the letter said that it was a violation of tznius rules for a woman to wear leggings under her skirt (even if the skirt is of the proper length).
For the life of me, I can't figure this out. How are leggings any worse than tights? On the contrary, I would think that leggings are better than tights since it is less form-fitting on the exposed lower leg.
Can anyone please explain the logic of this to me?
The Wolf
Nu? What do you guys think? I wear leggings under EVERYTHING. Most of the time they don't show. Am I crazy untzniut?


So I just realized that it was four years ago today (Gregorian calendar) that I converted to Judaism under Reform auspices. It's been just about four months since I converted under Orthodox auspices. Four seems to be the number of the day. To read about my experience four years ago, click here. To be honest, I have nothing to say at this point about the four-year anniversary of my Reform conversion, probably because my brain is fried!

I called the UConn Health Center today to schedule an appointment with a new doctor to get a Gluten Test for Celiacs or sensitivity. I realized that the nuts I've been eating all week have soy (read: wheat) in them, so that sucks. Comments on my last post lead me to believe that I should tough it out and get the test before going Gluten Free, and the depressing thing about this is that I have been feeling moderately better, but I've been feeling more exhausted than normal; it usually hits around 9 p.m. each night. It could be the last few weeks of school wearing me out, but who's to say. So I'm torn. I'm going to carry on with my meat-free efforts and eat as little gluten as possible (no bagels or bread for me), but I'm not going to get anal about it because I'm worried about never knowing whether it's the cause of my intestinal badness.

Sigh. I just want to feel better, get a little healthy in the process, and fit comfortably in my wedding dress in a month. I think I need a hug.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food, the Source of All Evil

I try to stay on the derekh here with talking all things Judaism, but it's nice to diverge every now and again. So here goes!

I've been dealing over the past few years with stomach unsettledness. That's the best way to describe it. I'm perpetually exhausted, everything I eat upsets my stomach, and my doctor however many months ago suggested I hit up a therapist. Stress, she said, is the source of all my woes (weight, not sleeping, stomach issues). The thing is, I can usually tell when my stomach woes and sleeping woes are stress-related, and yes, that's probably about 40 percent of the time. But that other 60 percent, especially right now when I'm -- honestly -- not that stressed about anything, makes me wonder: What's my body telling me?

So I've decided to go gluten free. The National Institutes of Health (that's a .gov site) suggests continuing to eat gluten before and during your testing for gluten stupidness, but I just want to give it a go. We'll see how it works. I'm okay self-diagnosing on this one, because if I go back to my doctor she'll ask me if I saw a shrink yet, and I can't deal with that. Plus, more veggies = healthier Chavi. I'm also avoiding meat after watching Tuvia devour some chicken over Shabbat and after hanging out with some chickens and cows at Old Sturbridge Village on Sunday ...

So it's fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish for me. And I couldn't be happier. The difficulty will come when I have to eat by other people, when it comes to challah, etc. Does anyone have any advice on being a kosher, gluten-free consumer? Anyone?

In the meantime, I'm going to figure out a way to make all of the cupcakes over on Ming Makes Cupcakes in a gluten-free and low-sugar fashion. Go health!

Hat tip to @HeySuburban for posting this website (the cupcake one, that is) up on Twitter :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama and Israel

Okay. I can't help it, I have to say something. It will, however, be brief, as I know a firestorm is on its way in the comments section (right? right).

Obama is not out to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. He's not secretly uniting with all the Muslim powers to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. Have you ever heard of presidential choreography? Does it seem at all strange to you that this whole building in East Jerusalem thing came out of -- literally -- nowhere?

It's choreography. It's superficial. It's part of the game of being in bed with Israel, stam.

You can't be too tight with Israel, you can't be too against Israel (unless you're, you know, Iran). If the U.S. is super tight with Israel and Israel decides to take preemptive action and blow something in Iran up, the U.S. -- by association -- is screwed. So what does the U.S. do? It builds roadblocks (pardon the expression) in its relationship with Israel; it stays close, but not too close.

It's easy to come to an independent state's rescue. It's not easy to participate in its preemptive action against another sovereign nation. Right? Right.

This is my philosophy. Call me nuts, call me a collaborator, call me whatever you want. This kind of political choreography has always existed. You get close with some nations in order to screw them over, you have a faux falling out with another so that you don't get associated with their bullshit. It's choreography, it's superficial, that's it. The U.S. is famous for this stuff. Why are people in such a huff about this?

I'm really pro-Israel. I would pick up and move there tomorrow if Tuvia was down with it. I feel safe there, I feel at home there, I feel whole and complete there. I believe in a solution that allows Palestinians to live NOT under the thumb of Hamas and other militant organizations that plainly and flatly DO NOT even consider "peace" an option. I also believe in a solution that -- first and foremost -- allows Israel to continue to exist, as it does, as a sovereign and NECESSARY nation with its land and its freedom. Israel, to be sure, has every right in the world to defend itself, preemptively or postemptively.

I do, however, believe that peace in the Middle East will come at the cost of a huge and catastrophic event that I can't even begin to describe. It will happen, because it is only after catastrophe that we understand human life and its value in peace. It sucks, but that's how I have always seen the situation.

As someone said recently at a Shabbat dinner, "I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful."


So, I'm baffled at this whole omer beard thing. Who grows them, who doesn't? Can you trim them? Can you keep them cleaned up at all? I've noticed a lot of the Orthodox Jews I know don't grow beards, and those who do keep them very trimmed and neat. My Tuvia, on the other hand, doesn't. Our understanding has always been to let it grow, and let it grow as it will. So what gives?

And women -- do you shave? Do you just let everything go?

(For those who might not know, between Passover and Shavuot, men -- in honor of a variety of things, namely the death of Akiva's students -- do not cut their hair while counting the days, called the omer! It's like a period of mourning, even though at one point, prior to the death of Akiva's students, the period of the omer was a joyous time!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hitler as the Messiah: Come Again?

I had mentioned in my Holocaust blog post that I wanted to blog about a really bizarre and sort of horrific thing I saw at the museum in the Propaganda Exhibit. That thing? Here it is:

You might look at this and be like, well, it's horrific because Hitler's in it, and you're putting it on your blog, and that's pretty horrific. But the reality of it is that this painting has a name, and that name is "In the Beginning There Was the Word." Anyone who knows their Christian Bible will recognize this phrase from John 1:1. There are a million paintings of Jesus out there in which he's emanating light, where he is, in fact, the only light in a room of people listening to him speak. Take this one, for example, by Rembrandt, called "Jesus Among his Students."

The crappy thing about that first photo, the image of the Hitler painting, is that you don't really get the full effect of the painting. In person, the thing is huge, wall-size. The room is black, save the light issuing from perfect angles from Hitler's face to those around him.

The shocking/disgusting thing about this portrayal of Hitler, in my mind, is that it's incredibly messianic. Hitler as Jesus, Hitler as the savior of the German people. The Nazis found religion pretty repugnant, despite forcing religious leaders to swear allegiance and all. In fact, in the Nazi's plans for a new, worldwide capital, there wasn't a single church in the building plans. What does that say? It says that the Nazis devalued religion, period.

So why portray Hitler as the messiah? Why depict him as the shining light of German redemption? Aside from the basic reason that for the Nazis and their masters of propaganda Hitler was Germany's only future in crawling out of economic turmoil and the disgrace of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. But it goes deeper than that. The propaganda artists knew, very well, that they had to play to every last member of the German audience, no matter what they did or didn't believe.

The propaganda machine started small, with basic messages like "Buy War Bonds" and "Bread and Water." The machine really got in motion as it started to change its image, depicting the German as breaking his bonds from the Treaty of Versailles and standing firm in Nationalistic, German values. Still later, and almost in slow-motion ramping up to blunt-force came the blaming of Germany's woes on Jews. Then you had things like this that, well, don't hide their message.

This being a book about the Poisonous Mushroom, which, as you can tell, is a Jew. Surprise? Not really. But beware the poisonous Jew out in the wilderness. This was dished out to kids just as radios were dished out to people -- en masse.

I am fully intrigued and disgusted by Hitler as messiah, however. I'm interested in other depictions of Hitler as messiah, in fact. I'm interested in what the Church thought of those images, too. A simple Amazon book search of "Hitler messiah" produces a bounty of interesting books, including some that cite the Swastika as the new cross -- a new cross for a new messiah.

What do you guys think? Does anyone have experience with this Hitler/Messiah theme? Again, I am horrified/disgusted. Hitler, for all intents and purposes, antagonized Modern Christianity. In Hitler's mind, Christianity was meant to be entrenched in its ancient, almost pagan rituals and understandings.

But seriously. A mushroom?

(Note: As I'm preparing to PUBLISH this, two guys sit down next to me at Starbucks and start discussing Hitler and his secret liquor stash. Weird.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yom Haatzmaut Sameach!

I'll admit it: I'm overwhelmed by the responses to my Holocaust Museum post. I have to sit down and compose some proper responses to the outpouring of emotion and sentiments. I am so lucky it was read, processed, and appreciated!

But today? We celebrate the creation of the state of Israel. Thinking back to the horrors of the Holocaust, pogroms, and great catastrophes of history, we don't have to ask "What if?" in regards to their being a state of refuge for the Jewish people. At least, we don't have to ask with as much force and urgency (after all, although we have a state, the world still doesn't see Jews and Israel in the way it probably should sometimes). But today, we thank HaShem, and those countries and peoples that support and recognize Israel as existing with a right to exist!

Yom Haatzmaut Sameach!

And now? I'm going to go eat some food and rejoice with the community!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And Then, I Wept for Six Million.

This is my 1,000th blog post here on Just Call Me Chaviva. It's been a good and educational run so far, and during my four years here, I've mapped my way through two degrees (the B.A. and upcoming M.A.), three streams of Judaism, four towns, eight houses/apartments of residence, and countless bad dates that have resulted in my current engagement to Tuvia. I could numerate a dozen other things (books read, cities traveled, movies watched, angry/inappropriate blog post comments), but I won't waste your time. I wanted to stress how long I've been blogging and how big this post is for me -- and ultimately for you -- and the best way I can do this is through just writing the darn thing. So here goes. Enjoy this 1,000th post, comment, and let me know what you think. Oh, and keep reading!

I spent the past few days traversing the East Coast, with the eventual goal of landing in Washington D.C. and at the U.S. Holocaust Museum with a class from my university that I'm not even in. The head of the department planned the trip, which was funded by an awesome couple that literally (I mean that, too, building floors and laboring on buildings back in the day) helped build the university, and I was invited along because I'm a graduate student. I said yes, knowing that, as I've said a million times before, the Holocaust is a difficult thing for converts to connect to. I've been twice before, once in January 2003 and once on a JDate (right) in 2006. Four years later, and I'm in a different place entirely. This blog, for one, has followed me through those four years of growing from Reform Conversion to Orthodox Conversion and all the chaos, tears, and education in between. The last two trips to the museum for me were not particularly emotional. I was stunned, yes, but not emotional. I wasn't involved. I wasn't in the trenches of the Holocaust; there was no memory.

Now? I'm marrying into the memory of the Holocaust. Tuvia's family has Holocaust survivors and stories that are still yet untold. I walked into that museum entrenched in the emotion of two new families: my Jewish family and my future in-laws.

The tour was guided. There were about 20 of us, two docents -- one a retired lawyer, the other a retired doctor -- and several floors of stories, photos, and horror. Lots of random people ended up following us and listening to the docents, who peppered the winding journey with anecdotes about people who they've shown through the museum, people who saw themselves standing near rail cars and in bread lines. I couldn't help but be horrified at the prospect: Walking through a Holocaust museum, staring into a photo of Nazi visions, and seeing yourself or your mother or your father. I looked at every photo in that museum, hoping to see the image of three women I know who survived that horrific vision of Hitler's.

I don't know why, but when I stepped into the museum, I felt different. I've already mentioned that I knew I was walking in with something new, something different, but I didn't know how much it would impact my experience. We made it to the photos. The Tower of Faces. That hall of photos from a village, thousands of people in photos skiing and smiling and eating dinner and hugging and laughing and ... living. And you see them on two floors, and it only took me to the first encounter with them and I teared up. Without tissues, I hesitated. I breathed. I looked at the happy photos and pretended they had names with their faces and that they were just there, in that moment, happy and alive and that that is how they lived and died. On skis. Smiling. Just giggling away. But I know they're dead. I knew there, standing in that hall, listening to the docent tell an anecdote about his granddaughter and Elie Wiesel. I was lost.

We stopped at a bathroom and I grabbed a wad of toilet paper. I had spotted the rail car in the distance, I knew something was coming. A flood. Emotions that I never knew I had, that my neshama has hidden away, yearning something to spark it. Something to help me feel connected, to really get the Shoah.

We carried on, staring at photos from the ghettos. Iron doors and sad faces, people sitting in streets unaware of their eventual fate beyond hunger, thirst, and poverty: death. We rounded a corner, experiencing for a moment the joy of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. And then? The rail car. "Everyone come in," the docent said. "Closer, closer," he said.

CLOSER, he urged.

There we were, ten or eleven of us in that rail car. Gifted to the museum by Poland (how kind of them), placed in the museum while it was still being built. And I lost it. I completely lost it. I imagined what it must have been like -- like I have every other time I was there, but it was different. The air was tight, the light floating inside the small windows was suffocating, the corners smelled like urine, the car was full. Full of death and tears. My tears.

He ushered us out, moving on to photos of individuals arriving at Auschwitz, and I stared into the faces, my eyes blurry, sopping up tears, trying and hoping to see a familiar face. It's probably really morbid that I want to see my future in-laws in those photos, but I want to empathize, I want to see them in those moments they don't talk about. I want to know their story.

The rest of the museum -- up until lunch -- was a blur. Stories of liberation and righteous gentiles, a photo of Chaviva Reik, who paratrooped into the warzone and died. There were striped pajamas and piles of shoes that made me cry again. I looked at them and whispered quietly, "HaShem, where were you?" I marveled at the bible verses in the Memorial Hall, thinking how ironic it is that they're there, after everything, G-d is there. He's always there. Wasn't he? Isn't he?
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never. --Elie Wiesel
By the time we got back to the classroom for lunch, and after I had to beg and plead for more than prepackaged asian noodles for lunch, I had calmed down. Calmed down enough that I sat talking to others and blinking, a lot. I haven't been tired all day, but my eyes, after crying and my mind, after absorbing and processing, left me exhausted. No, it left me depressed.

I just wanted to sleep.

But there was a propaganda exhibit (which I have another post about, believe me), and speakers, and the gift shop, and discussion. There were conversations and complaints about food and space and exhaustion  and in my head I continued to think "we're all so fucking stupid." Stupid, I mean, because our lives? They're a walk in the park. Even with the threat of antiSemitism (think: Monsey as of late), we're not edging as close as we think we are to then. To that life. To that other place where things were ... hell. Where death was at the doorstep. Where life was being sucked out of people. I felt weird complaining about anything. The kosher food, the temperature in the room, my exhaustion. I was sobered. Fast.

My eyes are still foggy. I'm not tired, but my head hurts, my heart hurts. I'm still processing and there are images I can't seem to get out of my head. This one, of a woman in that destroyed village, with long flowing hair; she looked like a gypsy with her headdress, but clearly a Jewess, a Jewess who probably was murdered by the Nazi death machine. Her photo? It was in the Tower of Faces, people from Eishishok in now-Lithuania. I bet she had many suitors in her day.

Suddenly, the Holocaust is my memory. I have a story now, I have a lot of stories. I have too many stories, in boxcars and shoes and images of beautiful, Jewish women. I have my fiance's grandmother's story. And her sisters. My mind is a cloud of darkness and violence and hatred. My eyes? A well of tears that could fill a boxcar. I never thought it would resonate; I never thought I would feel death and aging in my bones like I do right now.

But I'm alive, and I am breathing. I'm not smoke drifting upward, a cloud in formation, dust over the atmosphere. I'm breathing, with bones and blood. I am a Jew. And there was a Holocaust. How do I know? I feel it; I breathe it; when my tears drip, they drip for the 6 million and more.

An End: This post ends on a bus somewhere in Maryland, and Defiance is on the movie screen. Justice makes me smile, living makes me laugh. I just wish the world knew that we're all 99 percent the same. That, folks, is the majority. In most things, the majority wins. So why, in the battle of humanity, do we allow that 1 percent difference to move us to active indifference, collaboration, and murder? I'm exhausted and frustrated with humanity. With genocide and the Holocaust and indifference. Indifference. Do you realize how indifferent we are? My world is topsy turvy right now. My stream of consciousness is dry, my eyes wet. This is where indifference must stop.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Whatever Happened to Civility?

Last week, during a dip in the temperature, I fell walking to class. It was raining and I was wearing sandals. I was schlepping a bag full of exams, my backpack (with laptop), another bag with my lunchbox in it, a coffee, and, of course, my umbrella. I probably looked like a bag lady, but there I was, crossing the busy intersection on campus, cars stopped waiting for me to pass, and I stepped wrong, my foot flying out in front of me. The umbrella went flying, and I landed on my wrist and hip (amen for cushioned hips). I was laying there, in the middle of the crosswalk, water pouring down on me, skirt soaked through and through, trying to get up while balancing all of my bags.

And not a single person stopped to help me up.

One girl grabbed my umbrella, brought it back, and handed it to me. But the 10 or 15 other people that walked by did just that -- walked by. No one grabbed an arm, offered to help me up, asked me if I was okay, anything. These were, of course, college kids, but I have a question: What the hell happened to manners? Helping the fallen, literally?

I grew up in the Midwest, first in Southern Missouri and then Nebraska. Raised on the Golden Rule, I was raised to respect those around, to help those in need, and to at least try to be civil. I'm known for being insanely apologetic at every turn, especially in grocery stores where I tend to apologize for even walking in the vicinity of someone else, let alone running into them or their cart. Tuvia has been perplexed about my weird, Midwestern mannerisms from square one and a trip to Nebraska last year really sealed the deal for the New Jersey boy on the overly apologetic and polite ways of Midwesterners.

I'll admit, sometimes I miss the polite and simple ways of the Midwest.

The prospect of moving closer to New York City and New Jersey has me excited. After all, I'll be attending the school I've always dreamed of (NYU). Along with that dream was always living in the city, but Tuvia isn't down with in-city living, so we're looking outside the city at modern, Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods with folks our own age. It only hit me last week when I fell, however, that the experience of being ignored and passed by while suffering on a soaking street corner would not improve the closer I move to the city, but instead probably will get considerably worse. Am I ready for that?

Sometimes, I stick out like a sore thumb with my mannerisms. I wear my Nebraska/Missouri heritage with pride, of course, because to most people it's exotic and unique. "There are Jews in Nebraska!?" If I gave most people a map, I doubt they could even find the large, boxy state in the center of the U.S. But where I grew up and how I grew up paved the way for me to be this overly apologetic person, and I'm okay with that. Better to apologize every time I step within a few feet of someone else's cart or come close to brushing a shoulder than to ram into people and go about my business like a shark on a warpath.

The real question becomes: What happens if I someday move to Israel? New Yorkers think they've got attitude, well, they've obviously not experienced the Israeli "force." There is no apologetics or soft, calm demeanors there. Would I crash and burn? Probably. Would it be worth standing out and saying "slicha!" every five seconds? You bet your tush it would be.

So listen, when you walk by someone on the street or in a store, and they look like they need help, offer it. If they refuse or act embarrassed by your offer, it's their problem, not your's. Do a mitzvah, help someone out, pretend you're me for a day. Slap on that Midwestern charm and make someone's day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Understanding the Misunderstood: The Bible

I had the pleasure of listening to the illustrious and brilliant scholar James Kugel not once today, but twice! I mean, this is the man behind The Bible As It Was and How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now. I've known his name for years, and every time an amazing scholar enters my orbit, I'm elated. Kugel's big thing is understanding the Bible by understanding those who understood the Bible. Is that confusing? It shouldn't be. Kugel focuses on the evolution of how people understood the Bible and how we understand them and the Bible ourselves. Still confused? Okay, let's do this. Let's talk about what people call the "outside books," those that ended up in the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha. These books essentially attempt to understand the books of the Bible with a particular end in mind.

Kugel sees four points by which people in ancient times (he offered that it likely was around 500 BCE) started to look at the Bible:

  1. The Bible is fundamentally cryptic
  2. The Bible is a book of lessons -- aim is not merely history, but guidance
  3. All texts agree with one another, there is no contradiction
  4. All texts are divinely inspired
Okay, so that's good and well, right? But what does it mean for us. Let's look at an example.

In the beginning -- that is, in Genesis -- Adam is told that if he eats from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he surely shall die. If you recall the story, Adam ate from the tree and didn't die. So what gives? Assuming that the Bible is cryptic, there's a greater meaning here. Assuming the Bible is a book of lessons, there's a lesson here. The text can't be a contradiction, so we have to figure that out, and the text is divinely inspired, so it just has to work. Let's work this out.

Two books -- especially the books of Ben Sira and Fourth Ezra -- tackle this issue in their own special way. The idea is that the "you surely shall die" bit is understood as you are now a "person who WILL die." The assumption, then, is that before Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they were meant to be immortal, and after eating from the tree they didn't die instantly, but the result of the sin is that they're meant to die eventually. Then we quip, what about that Tree of Life, then? Was that something from which they would have needed to eat every now and again in order to stay invigorated during eternal life? But let's not go there.

Then we have to ask -- because every explanation in the "outside books" and other commentaries always produces and equally frustrating question -- what about divine justice? Just because Adam and Eve screwed up and their punishment was eventual death, why should their descendants be visited with the sins of the fathers? After all, elsewhere the Bible talks about this not being the protocol. The explanation is simple: It wasn't the act, but the inclination to sin evident in Adam and Eve, that makes us mortal and insists upon eventual death. 

So we figure out the cryptic meaning, the lesson (inclination to sin = bad), the contradiction in the text is gone (even the visiting of sins of the father on the sons), and because all of those items are qualified, the text is provable (er, cough) as divinely inspired. Right? Right. Oh that feels so good. 

Kugel emphasizes the fact that texts are not, despite what we might want to think, immutable. This, of course, is incredibly vivid in my experience as a blogger -- people bring their baggage with them to every post, every text I write up. I can't change that, I can only embrace it and hope that it works itself out in a productive (and not destructive) way. I'd say 60 percent of the time it does, and the other 40 percent, it doesn't. Sometimes, what people bring to a text is far more destructive than productive. 

When considering the Bible and its extant texts, it is clear in the "outside works" that the authors have their own baggage at the table with them while writing/gleaning/revealing the text. We have expectations for texts depending on the genre we identify it as. Kugel gave the example of a letter, which starts "Dear ..." He said, "Dear?! We barely know each other!" The assumption, however, is that within the genre of the letter, "Dear" is a simple, typical, benign letter opener. But you look at a text and see it as a genre and you make your suppositions about it based on that information. 

So, I guess the same could be said for my blog. People come here, see it as a blog post written by me, probably with the assumption that it's about me, for me. Added that you have the baggage that an individual chucks with them, and that's what makes for a recipe for disaster. 

It's a delicate balance, and the theory works for anything and everything that is written -- be it Bible or a blog post. 

Stay tuned! I also want to blog about what he had to say about the two instances of G-d telling Avram to go forth (lech lecha!) and how Jubilees and other texts happen to reconcile the issue. It's fascinating, and maybe I can talk @DovBear into letting me chuck this and the upcoming post on his blog. 

And now? I'm going to finish up what's on my agenda for the night and try to track down a copy of "Life of Brian." Kugel quoted some hilarious lines from the Sermon on the Mount scene regarding the cryptic nature of the Bible :) The great thing about Kugel is that he's 100 percent brilliant, and his knowledge of language and the history thereof is not to be compared. Oh, and he has the perfect balance of jokes/information to keep his listener informed and involved. I only hope to have such mad skills as a teacher someday. 

Sidenote: Of Philo, regarding his birth and death dates, Kugel said: "In one era, and out the other!" I was rolling!

The Power of Image (and Public Power LLC)

At SXSW Interactive last month, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk (Vay-ner-chuk, that is), who co-owns and serves as director of operations of Wine Library (not to mention his stellar wine knowledge espousing on Wine Library TV). He is probably the most intense member of the Tribe -- nay, human being -- I have ever seen, and it works. I mean, it really works. It even translates in book form, and thanks to a quick Twitter connection, I nabbed a copy of his book "Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion," I'm ready to quit everything and focus on my passion.

And then I remembered! I really am doing what I'm passionate about. I'm just not making any money doing it! That's the hard part, but the words of wisdom (and FORCE with which they're offered in his book) have me hopeful. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and praying for a book deal (right).

I'm really intrigued by Gary's story and how successful he's been, and I'm particularly impressed with a venture, VaynerMedia, which helps to positively brand individuals and companies. One of those companies? A local venture called Public Power LLC! I've heard their commercials on the radio, seen some commercials on TV, and I finally ended up on their website. After all, there's the power company, and that's about it, right? Not so! Here's what their website says:
Since 2008, Public Power has been the leading licensed electricity supplier, headquartered in Connecticut, saving your friends and neighbors millions of dollars. We are also licensed to offer similar sevices in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
We are focused on being the best and most conscientious customer service company in the industry. That’s our mission and we’re committed to excellence. We probably can’t solve every problem or satisfy every last customer but we’re sure going to try!
Basically, their goal is to lower your electric bill. They even transfer the service for you, so you don't have to call up your electric company. You'll still get your bill from the Utility Company, but the rate will be lower. Then, the Utility Company pays Public Power LLC. And that, folks is an easy way to save money by doing nothing (after all, you're using that electricity anyway, right?). Maybe their Twitter description will be a little more to-the-point:
Our Goal: To provide a cost-efficient and convenient service to our customers and to do what deregulation was created for - save you money.
Thanks to their mad Social Media skills (which, of course, is a boon to their name and customer service), you can find them on Facebook, too. Are you down with them? Use them? Interested? Let me know.

I am in talks with the fiance about switching to Public Power as we speak! Don't hold your breath, if you're in their coverage area, switch. Saving money is necessary these days. The money you could save on your electricity could pay for something pretty for your special lady or gentleman.

I mean, if NHL Hall of Famer Phil Esposito is down with the Public Power LLC, shouldn't you be, too?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A thought ...

EDIT: If y'all can start this TODAY, that'd be AWESOME. I'd love to have some Tweets up and a few live ones coming in tomorrow. THANK YOU!

I have my Wexner finalist interview tomorrow (that will decide my fate as a future Wexner Fellowship Scholar for the next three years or so) in NYC. I've got a weird and interesting idea.

I was thinking about creating a specific hashtag (like #ChaviWex) and having my computer set up during the 30-minute interview (which starts at 11:45 EST) on one of those websites to auto refresh.

I'd ask my followers to write Tweets saying "hi!" to the interviewers and saying something AWESOME about me as a future Jewish Educator and how I show this on Twitter and my Blog. OR: Tweet something you've learned FROM me. Something maybe that I said that sparked you to go out and look for more information on something.

What do you think? Would you participate?

History Repeats, Repeats, Repeats.

Today marks Yom HaShoah -- Holocaust Remembrance Day. I know the blogosphere will be crawling with posts dedicated to family members lost, to the feelings surrounding the day, to the horror and catastrophe that happened so many years ago, and the continued fear of "what if?"

I'm not melodramatic when it comes to the Shoah, and I don't want my readers to think I'm nuts. But the question of "what if?" is not so far-fetched. Insanity, after all, as Einstein said is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you think about history, there have been plenty of large-scale attempts at destruction of the Jewish people, going back to the Babylonian Exile and ranging through the first crusades through the Rhine and on into the Holocaust. In between, the world has been peppered with pogroms, blood libel, and just plain killing Jews for the sake of killing them. You'll also recall that during the First Revolt that led up to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, you had Jews (Zealots) killing other Jews en masse.

We're no strangers to death on a large scale.

My "what if?" comes with the additional "people don't learn and continue the path of destruction aimed at the Jewish people?" I don't think it's so outlandish. It's why I don't understand why there are Jews who presently don't think about or support the State of Israel. Worse comes to worse, I'm cutting a rug and b-lining to Israel.

I've often said that the Shoah is probably the hardest thing for a convert to connect to when it comes to Jews and Judaism. There are converts who discover long-lost lineage stepping back to the Shoah, family members who went into hiding for fear of death at the hands of Nazis or others because they were Jewish. Generations later, the truth comes out and a grandchild or great-grandchild returns to the family roots. For those of us with no roots, however, it's difficult. But I'm marrying into a memory.

Tuvia's grandmother (as well as her two surviving sisters) experienced the atrocities of the Shoah, losing their parents and other siblings, as well as other relatives, while suffering the horrors of Auschwitz and other camps. They survived, but at a cost that is unbelievably great. One sister had her physical and emotional abilities disabled, another spoke out about her experiences and Tuvia and I plan on watching the video, which we ordered from the Shoah Project, this evening -- he's never seen it. His grandmother doesn't talk about/remember her experiences during the war, despite being a teenager. I know it's horrifying, and it's almost like the affect of the car accident -- you just want to know and hear the details, to know what family went through. I want to know their story, so our children and their children will not forget what happened. The moment we forget, that's when insanity kicks in.

History, after all, repeats, repeats, repeats.

Be well and today, if only for a moment, think about the sheer volume of those killed. Think about those 6 million Jews who died, as well as those 2-3 million Soviet POWs, 1.8-2 million ethnic Poles, 1.5 million Romani, 200,000 disabled, 80,000 Freemasons, 5,000-15,000 homosexuals, and 2,500-5,000 Jehovah's witnesses that were killed for being exactly who they were.

Suggested reading: I recently finished a book called "The True Story of Hansel and Gretel" by Lousie Murphy, which is a fictional account of two small children, dropped by their father and step-mother at the edge of a forest in Poland while running from the Nazis. The children end up in a village, taken in by a "witch" (who, as it turns out, was a gypsy!), and the parents join the resistance. The story is woven wonderfully, with vivid imagery and a horrific tale about what went on in the village of the woman who harbored these children until the liberation. If anything, the book is graphic and ultimately apologetic to the Polish cause. Portions of the book feel forced (an incident post-war by a Pole lashing out at a Jew, for example), but overall it's a vivid and horrifying tale of what could have gone on in the story of any child left to the mercy of a kind, gypsy soul. The apologetic nature of the book bothered me, and it was pretty blunt in its representation of the Poles as purely victims. For me, with the story "Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne" by Jan T. Gross always clear in my mind, I find it difficult to relate to the "victimless" Polish village.

I Am Immensely Sorry.

Never in  my life have I felt as violated (save one incident) as I do right now. I preach how awesome Social Media and Web 2.0 is, and I become a victim of it. Just a few weeks ago, a world renowned Judaic Studies scholar was a victim of it. No one is immune, not even those of us who religiously change passwords, keep to the letter of the law.

I am immensely sorry -- to EVERYONE -- who received emails or calls from me over Shabbat. The fact that someone hacked my account on Shabbat should have been a serious note to anyone about how ridiculous it was. I feel so ashamed and embarrassed, and I am so sorry that it happened.

I only hope that you all can forgive me this horrible infraction on my person. I feel really, I honestly do have tears in my eyes about this. I feel so, so, so violated.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Say Hello to _________!

I really should be finishing up these 80 exams (three essays each to grade, which means I have to read 240 paragraph-plus renditions of who Akiva was and why he's important, etc.) plus extra credit (which always is fun. But I have to share the good news (wow, that sounded really preachy) ... about my CAR that is. Thanks to the good efforts of Tuvia, I now have a 2010 Toyota Yaris in Carmine Red to call my own (jointly, of course). We decided to take advantage of their No Interest Financing for 60 months, as well as a $1,000 recent grad incentive (graduating in May, I am) and bought their most inexpensive model on the lot. Of course, me being picky and wanting Carmine Red, it had to be shipped up. The moment the chag was over, we schlepped over and nabbed this little puppy. The buying experience was pretty craptastic, as our assigned car salesman was less than enthusiastic. Luckily, we'd already decided what we wanted when we went in (mad props to U.S. News and World Report's rankings on most affordable small cars). The finance guy was much more pleasant (even if he is a Red Sox fan).

So here she is:

Now, notice the license plate. 309-YAN. Okay, so three is my lucky number, nine is my lucky number squared, and YAN? Totally Yankees. I'm not a huge Yanks fan, even if my boy Joba (GO ROCKETS!) is on the team, but here's a tip to Tuvia. THis happened completely by happenstance, too. The salesman gave the finance guy -- turns out every car that is sold this month at the Toyota dealership will walk away with a YAN license plate. It's going to be a long month for the finance guy ...

So now, something I hadn't even thought about, and I owe this entirely to @YonitDM for bringing it up, CAR NAMING. Delicious car naming. My last car, which is now in my parents possession (that is, I gave it to them when their minivan broke down), is a 2001 Chrysler Sebring LXi  named Sally. The car got its name while in Denver while sitting in front of one of those Sally beauty supply places. (That car should never have been bought, by the way. I was an undergraduate student with zero money in my pocket, but it was pretty. I guess you live and you learn, right?)

So I'm looking to you guys for help. Suggest names, and I'll think them over and go with the best one. Also, feel free to boost up the love of names people already have suggested. I might even do a poll after I get plenty of names. Of course, I also have veto power :) So take what you know about me, and suggest an appropriate name for my little crimson beauty!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Spiritual Drought


Okay, we're not experiencing a drought. We as in the greater global community, that is. So far as I know, especially after all the flooding a few weeks ago (global warming!?). I'm talking personal drought. Spiritual drought. People always tell me that they're mind-blown about my attitude toward being Jewish and toward Judaism. I'll admit, I do get kinda overly stoked 99 percent of the time about everything related to being Jewish and living Jewishly. I can't help it. My neshama is perpetually on fire. But then there's that 1 percent of the time (I'll admit, it's probably greater than that), where I just feel, well, droughty.

Now, as it seems, is one of those times.

I'm guessing it's largely because I haven't stepped foot in a synagogue in a month. We've had Shabbats in the Poconos and Manchester and then those days in Florida. We'd hoped to be in the community for this past Shabbat and the last two days of the chag but as it turns out, my body didn't agree with Passover this year. First it was a stomach ache, and then it was a day of dizziness that started off with me falling over after getting out of bed. The weekend continued with the stomach ache, me popping pills and sleeping a ton. I went out and bought more vegetables, thinking that the more produce I consumed the less my body would reject the matzo that was in everything (if it wasn't matzo, it was farfel or matzo meal). But it didn't let up. I didn't sleep Sunday night or last night. I got up today and ate breakfast, subsequently crawling back into bed for three hours. Then, today, mid-meal my face got warm and flushed and after looking in the mirror I realized the left side of my face was bright red.

It was Passover and a girl couldn't catch a break.

I'll admit I feel better after going out and buying some Honey Kix, yogurt, Arnold's flats, and beans and corn for a proposed Crockpot Mexican Chicken. My face is still warm, but less red. My stomach has calmed a bit, but not enough that I feel comfortable sleeping.

I know, I know. I'm kvetching, a lot. But I feel like I have to force myself into synagogue this weekend, no matter how I feel, so I can feel more myself. I don't know if synagogue will do it or if I throw myself back into my academic work (there's less than a month left and I'm freaking out) I'll suddenly feel more plugged in.

The long and short of it is that there's no shame in feeling drought-worthy. Not in my book anyway. No one can be 100 percent on with HaShem all the time; in fact, if you do, then something's wrong. You're not battling and conversing and questioning enough. Sitting back and taking stock of where you're at is part of the game, no matter what religion to which you belong. If everything always feels right, you're setting yourself up for a complete crash. A brick wall. A loss in something grand.

Anyhow. I'm praying that getting some regular dairy and bread back in my system will help me not feel like World War III is rocking my body. Not sleeping, waiting for everything you eat to make you sick, these aren't fun. They're keeping me from my community.

I need a good, serious daven. A private moment with HaShem in the arms of the community.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pesach Cookin', Chavi Style!

I cooked my heart out today. It's a low-key last two days of chag, and with my continued stomach ache, I'm probably going to spend most of the holiday sleeping, drinking some iced tea, and sleeping some more. Most of these items I threw together based on the recipes linked to them. However, 9 times out of 10, I completely didn't even follow the recipe; I tend to be "inspired" by a recipe but rarely follow them (unless I'm baking, that is). This is just a free-for-all of what I put together. What will be served when is yet to be determined! (Oh, and of course I don't list ALL the spices ... salt and pepper always are assumed.)

Main Dishes
Russian Onion Chicken (Russian Dressing, Onion Soup Mix, Honey, Chicken)
Honey-Mustard Breaded Chicken (Honey Mustard, Honey, Matzo Meal, Chicken)
Sweet & Sour Meatballs in Crockpot (Ground Turkey, Matzo Meal, Garlic, Sweet & Sour Marinade)
Sephardic Spicy Fish in Red Sauce AND Garlic Tilapia (still working on this one)

Side Dishes
Boxed Couscous (nothing special here, I don't even think it's real couscous, but it's kosher l'pesach)
Onion Kugel (Box of macaroni noodles, onions, garlic, eggs)
Apricot-Apple Kugel (Farfel, apple sauce, dried apricots, eggs, cinnamon, sugar) -- good cold!
Roasted Red Potatoes (Paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, red potatoes)
Roasted Honeyed Potatoes (Honey, honey mustard, garlic, olive oil, yukon gold potatoes)

And, of course, there will be matzo rolls, salad, gefilte, and maybe some canned soup. For Shabbat I made the Apricot-Apple Kugel (pictured) as well as a Pesach version of cholent (that didn't turn out so well), french fries (for Friday night) and hamburgers.

So that's that. If you really want to know precise measurements, I can try to help you eye-ball it :)

OH! And my favorite thing, I totally forgot I made it (and it's all good with JUST egg beaters egg whites, btw): Lemon Ice Cream. It's parve, it's creamy. It's amazing!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Faux Cursing? Not in This House!

Scene: Starbucks on Easter

Chaviva is busy grading exams, watching the after-church traffic flow in and out steadily. A couple and their daughter plop down at the table next to her. She continues to grade, interspersing exam marks with questions from the wife about what I'm doing (Judaic studies). A moment of silence, grading.

Woman: Oh my, I don't know if I should say that.
Man: I don't even think she heard you.
Me: What? Huh? I didn't hear you say anything.
Woman: Oh, I said (in whisper) oy vey! Is that a curse?
Me: Um, no. It's like saying "Oh geez" or something. It's fine.
Woman: Oh, wow, thank you. I was worried.

That was a weird encounter. Weird only because I'm always experiencing weird encounters at Starbucks. Then, as they left, the man wished me a "good day" and the woman issued me a "happy rest of the semester."

The funny thing is that growing up, despite my parents not being at all particularly religious, my parents wouldn't even let us say things like "oh geez" because the assumption was that it was a shortened form of "Oh Jesus." This went the same for other words that resembled curse words, like "fudge" and "crud." My father was very strict about the faux swearing in that he wasn't having any of it. Of course, as kids we pushed our limits by creating new and creative ways of saying the f-word, s-word, and the h-word. My father's least favorite one of all, actually, was heck for hell. You could have computer or TV cut short for saying heck.

Memories! Just more morsels from the childhood of Chaviva E. At your service!

Easter @ The Intersection of Memory Lane

Here's a deep theological and meaningful question for you: How would the world function if Starbucks wasn't open on Easter (and other holidays, at that)? Okay, just to keep your minds at ease, I am at Starbucks, but I'm not partaking in the coffee (or anything else for that matter). I bought one of those really overpriced bottles of water that will help save the children of the world; I brought my own iced coffee from home. I figure I probably could have gotten by coming in here and just sitting (since I'm here all the time anyway), but that would have left me seriously guilt-tripping. So it's water. Water for free Wi-Fi and the ability to be in my "office"-like mentality in which I prepare to grade 80 undergraduate exams that will be ... interesting. The class is up to the Jesus as a Jew stuff, and that always makes for lively exam answers.

I'm actually surprised by the amount of people in here. I'm also surprised at the number of people on the road (driving to church?). I made a trip to Wal-Mart last night for some Pesach cooking utensils, and the rush at 9 p.m. was insane. People (obviously parents and grandparents) were shoving chocolate bunnies and Peeps and marshmallow covered eggs into their shopping carts, along with those cheap easter baskets and that obnoxious grass stuff that you'll be picking out of your carpet for weeks. Ahh, memories.

I grew up, as you all well know, in a Christian community in a "Christian" household. Our holidays never included Jesus (sorry, dude), but rather the popular American themes of the holiday: Santa at Christmas, the Easter Bunny at Easter, etc. I got Jesus at Vacation Bible School with friends in the summer and later in high school I got it through clubs and church adventures and Weekend of Champions retreats (think: giant Christian slumber party).

As a kid, I woke up every Easter in a full sprint to my designated Easter bucket. My parents, you see, bought each of us a bucket (my older brother's blue, mine pink, later my little brother's was yellow I think), stuffed with that annoying grass stuff. My favorite treats were the chocolate covered marshmallows (which, luckily, are a Passover favorite now) and those little candy-coated chocolate eggs. My mom bought Peeps by the case, it seemed like, and we'd eat them while watching television and waiting for dinner. Sometimes we got nicer treats, things that actually weren't food and could come in handy (toys, that is). Dinner usually consisted of ham, cooked in some honey-BBQ combo and all the fixins that went along with every other holiday, like deviled eggs and mom's marshmallow/pineapple concoction. I remember one year mom wasn't in the mood to cook, so we ended up at Red Lobster for Easter eating shrimp and french fries. Now that was Easter eating.

As I got older, Easter got less interesting. I don't know when I stopped believing in the Easter bunny, but when I was in high school it became more about Jesus. Yet I didn't wrap myself up in the holiday; it just wasn't my way. I worked at McDonalds and then at Wal-Mart, and I always volunteered myself to work the holidays. I loved the pre-holiday rush (people-watching, that is) and the extra dollars in my pocket were nice. I suppose I should have known from the beginning that Christian holidays wouldn't be on my list of "things to do" in the future.

Then again, I've never been a big holiday person anyhow. Jewish holidays seem to wrap themselves into the fabric of the life of the Jewish people, however. It seems different in certain ways.

It's funny to think that many hundreds of years ago a Jew sitting in a Starbucks on Easter Sunday would have been a death sentence. I find it less weird to be out and about at Christmas because I know that a lot of the background behind Christmas isn't historically accurate (but still, mad props to my Christian friends, I love you guys; and I know a lot of the Jewish holidays have their issues, too). Being out on Easter makes me a little uncomfortable. Is that normal? Residual fear from the Middle Ages a little weird? Probably.

Anyhow. I've got about 80 exams to grade and then some food to cook for the last two days of Pesach (and seriously, baruch haShem, because this holiday is eating away at my insides and making me physically ill [that's not just me overreacting, I really am physically ill]). So Happy Easter to my Christian readers, Moadim l'simcha to my Jewish readers, and to all my Muslim and Pagan and Buddhist and Wiccan and Hindu and Atheist and Agnostic readers -- enjoy your Sunday, mmk?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Okay, Okay ...

I suck at my promises, what can I say. I should start ever "I'm going on a hiatus" post with gigantic, bold, italics "bli neder" (that's what we say when we make a promise but don't necessarily know whether keeping it is a definite). I'll put off any posts for a while that might ruffle feathers, because I don't have the energy or oomph to deal with that right now. Instead, I thought I'd link to some good Passover posts from folks around the intertubes.

First, I have to mention this book I picked up at the airport. It's probably the most appropriate book to be reading during the chag. Why? It's called "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" and it's by Christopher Moore. I assumed it was new because I bought it at one of those Hudson News stands at the airport (my desired reading never came in through Inter-Library Loan, unfortunately, and I recently discovered that's because it's "Too New" to be ILL'd, curses!), but it actually came out many years ago. Here's the synopsis from
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years -- except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in this divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer).
There's more there, but you get the drift. Talk about awesome ...
  • Loving Frume Sarah's post about a little picture snafu regarding Easter. 
Okay, basically that's it. Moadim l'simcha!

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. ~ Dr Seuss