Thursday, November 27, 2003

THIS MAKES ME REALLY MAD. Not too many things are capable of making me angry, but this is one of them. For those of you who get the Washington Post, check out Robert Novak's column on A43 of Today's issue. I would link it, but it doesn't seem to be on
The column details how the President and other Republican leaders tried to strong-arm Republican dissenters into supporting the Medicare bill. Novak reports that (R-Mich) Nick Smith was offered bribes and direct threats concerning his son's campaign--other Republicans were threatened that voting what they thought was right would cost them their political careers. From what I hear and read, this Medicare bill seems pretty terrible--but I am far more concerned about the grotesque distortion of the democratic process...THESE are the people who are supposed to be spreading the light of democracy around the world!
let us all give thanks today that the election year is fast approaching, and that even Republican majorities in boht houses can't change that. thanks for the democracy we still have left. amen.

Who exactly is representing us?
Is it Governor Ehrlich? who pronounced an "End of Discussion" about the issue of gay civil unions?
Or is it Emmett C. Burns, a Democratic delegate from Baltimore County, who is trying to block recognition of gay marriages that occur in other states? He told the Pos "I don't want to live next door to people who have a same-sex relationship and have children and have my children playing with them."
Who is this guy, and how did he become a representative of my state?
I am frankly really confused about why people oppose gay marriage. I just can't see the motivation. Why has the President started special investigations into how to stop gay marraige? Where are all these campaigns coming from? Surely the Bible can't be driving this--there are plenty of ideas, laws, and practices in the Bible that opponents of gay marriage ignore with little thought and a light heart. So what made THIS an issue to fight? With all the suffering and injustice in the world, why would anyone think that their time is best spent making sure that certain people cannot marry each other? I would like to understand how this perspective has managed to emerge, so if you have ideas, definitely enlighten me.

Also, folks should check out Norm Ornstein's Op-ed from the same day on the process surrounding the Medicare vote. It got me all riled.

still, with great thanks, and much hope,
hodu lashem, ki tov.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

thank you. all of you.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Kosi Revayah

This Jews In the Woods, like the last one, had a few niggunim, melodies, that carried the currents of the experience. The niggunim that carried this year set the tone. One used only the words "Kosi Revayah," my cup overflows. Another also had only one line, "kamti ani leeftoach ledodi," I rose to open to my beloved. The third niggun that kept coming back had not words at all. Organizing the event involved a lot of shit beforehand--quite literally, I had to do a lot of negotiations related to the building's septic system"--but my role siphoned off so much incidental logistics, and allowed everyone to concentrate on creating the weekend. I could never have anticipated the form it took, because everyone who came really created it. There were impromptu yoga, meditation, and story-telling sessions, study discussions of the Zohar and other beautiful and mystical tents. People were constantly hugging and lying on top of each other in enormous piles, always singing and dancing intensely. Because I had some sort of organizing role, I got to hear most directly about what people thought of the experience, and what it meant to them, which made all the logistical logistical shit worthwhile. People told me things like "I never experienced awe until now," and "For me, every day is a shabbat like this--except it's always been alone for me, I've never been able to share it."
The prayer services weren't without their discomforts and awkward moments--possibly inextricable from any service that brings together such diverse people together, including ardent feminist egalitarians and Orthodox Jews, people from all kinds of Jewish backgrounds and experience levels. But out of that tension we built something tremendous and beautiful. We were able to recognize each other's struggles with the divine, and to learn from each other's sometimes radically different conceptions of God and religious practice. And it was that mutual embrace and openness that allowed everyone to pray passionately together.
I've never been in an environment (aside from the spring Jews In the Woods) so intimate, so filled with people intent upon loving each other and seeing each other's holiness.
I'm gushing, I know, but this is worth gushing over.
I'm back now, but I am still trembling from the experience. I may rise right off my feet and step right off the earth at any moment.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I have just returned from Society from Neuroscience in New Orleans, and have been swimming (joyfully, clumsily, and absolutely out of breath, the only way I know how) through the past two days, preparing Fruity Jews in the Woods.
I recorded some ramblings on my laptop about the conference, and I will probably post them soon, but they are mainly notes for my own record.
Overall SFN in New Orleans played just the oracle I had wanted to conjure. I spent the long weekend with 30,000 neuroscientists from all over the world, trying to dance with as many of the 15,000some presenters as I could. Many interesting presentations about important research I would never want to spend my life doing, A few inspiring speeches, a few revelations about human will and the scientific project. Perhaps most importantly, I got a glimpse into the post-college afterlife. The conference was mainly peopled by neurosciencefolk whose age ranged from a few years older than me to 60 years older than me. And they all hung out at the same silly bourbon street bars and kareoke clubs, talked science and everything else, listened to jazz, and got a little bit rowdy. nobody had really grown up, at least not in the metamorphosizing way I had imagined. It was beautiful.

I got to chat with Rabbi Arthur Waskow today. He really prepared me in all the ways I needed for this shabbat, for bringing 60some fruity and impossibly diverse jews together for an intimate and passionate pandenominational service in the woods.
I once tried to pronounce the name of God, he told me. I wasn't buying this "Adonai" and "melech haolam" business. But I also knew there were no vowels, so "Jehovah" and "Yahweh" were equally ridiculous. So I looked at it and tried to pronounce it. Do you know what I found? Take a thirty seconds and try it to yourself if you want.

It was a revelation.
What we all share. All of us, created in God's image.

he said many more great and inspirational things, but I have to go pick up kosher mozzarrella right now, so I'll have to continue later. with much love.