Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

A prime year for “Us”…and with only odd digits in ascending order

September 19, 2018

A year ago, it seems that I was pretty frustrated. And come to think of it, I have my frustrations now, but they are quite different. After listening to this year’s Kol Hadash Rosh Hashana evening sermon [MP3], I can see more clearly that my worries last year were very much “Me”, and this year’s are a bit more “We”. But, to summarize the sermon bluntly, AND(ME,WE) > OR(ME,WE).

Last year I wrote about how oppressed I felt by a number.

This year, we made ceremony come alive through music and memory, filling our home with the smells of our seudah hamafseket, “separation meal”, and the words of Itzak Perlman.

This year, we remembered our ancestors–the words they have said and the people who are gone–together over light, and drink, and food.

This year, we made an aspirational Ashamnu acrostic together as a family.

This year, we made an inspired playlist to share new and old words about forgiveness, confession, and other High Holiday staples.

And this year, I still looked in the weirdest places to find strange or new meaning for an arbitrary cut in time.  And found a beautiful one much closer than I expected.

There is still so much work to do, and still so much to be mad about. But this anno mundi year is a year where I can work on “Me” as well as “We”.

G’mar Hatima Tova.


Our aspirational Ashamnu for 5779 Anno Mundi.  May this year be a year of Action, Bravery, Calm, Dance, Exercise, Fun, Gratitude, Harvest, Inquiry, Joining In, Kickass Naps, Letters, Music, Nurturing, Organization, Practice, Quiet, Rest, Sleepovers, Thoughtfulness, Us, Vulnerability, Writing, X-rays, Yoga, and Zeal.

Calendrical Hegemony

September 21, 2017

It’s another new year somewhere, this time in the hearts and minds of Jewish people. As Jews are wont to do, I am debating and questioning what Judaism even means.  To me, this day in age, in this economy.

According to 23andMe, I am comprised of even more Ashkenazi DNA than either of my parents, somewhere between 98.3% and 99.5%.  So I’m of a heritage that has been oppressed and the oppressor, in old and in new days.  I delight and recoil from various traditions, sometimes at the same one, and seek a place for myself that reconciles my heritage with the brand of anti-racist, pro-indigenous, feminist, decolonial thought that I’m trying to cultivate within myself and in my family.

So I like that I don’t have to count time from when Jesus may have been born, but when my imperfect mind still chooses first to proffer Homer or Virgil or Maimonides or Dante or Milton or Dostoevsky or Primo Levi, you can see that I could do better.

A convenient dehegemonization of Anno Domini is to add 10,000 years and enter the Human Era when we claim to have found adults who probably could hack it in today’s civilizations if they were transplants here.  But this isn’t “true” and correlates with narrow adoption.

We could count from when humans first left the planet to touch other soil, in which case we’d now be in the 49th year After Tranquility.  But the full proposal to honor 14 white men (and an Egyptian that white people think was white?) centered on extraterrestrial colonization and terrestrial war mongering could also do better.  Much better.

My people have counted from their creation story’s beginning.  Which is kind of like trying to piece together what happened after a long night of drinking where only parts of the evening–transpired in crystal clarity–are strung together by less-aimed walks and tumbles of lesser-known duration.  Surely in hindsight we can assign meaning to the ambling, and guesses to the meaning, and then more meaning to the guesses, but we can’t forget what estimation techniques were used and how to correctly propagate errors.  To be frank, my college physics lab teachers _could_ probably be more proud but I’ll invoke them here nonetheless.

So we may be off by 1700 years.  Or by 4.5 billion years. Or 4.6.  Or 13.8 billion why not.

There’s so much more to be mad about, and–on this day–so much more to be doing, but I’ll just catalog this first day of this new year through my own kind of gematria, albeit based a bit more in number theory and trivia.

More importantly, this anno mundi year is a year where I can do better, and I hope I can.

Shana Tova.  Anyada Buena, Dulse i Alegre.  Gut Yontif un Gut Yor.



April 2, 2017

There are so many stories to hear–to study–and there are so many more to tell.  The story of the distance between these words and my last will be saved for another time.  Suffice it to say, things have been chaotic, I’ve felt an inadequate cruise director for my life and some of the lives around me, I’ve bemoaned calendrical hegemony, I’ve lost matrix pseudospectra in my daily life, I’ve done the horribly terrifying thing of sneezing while driving, I’ve tried to live while parenting and parent while living, and I’ve been trying to or at least learning about trying to dismantle my privilege.

But recently I’ve been entranced by some very interesting stories, and I need to elevate them out of my private consumption and study as a means to honor them, reflect on them, and move forward and find a new pace for my daily life that acknowledges the wonder of storytelling but doesn’t get as lost as I have been in them.

  • Flygirl – I started reading this during #BHM17 because my city had some great programming at our public library around this book.  Racism, colorism, feminism, #blackgirlmagic, and the struggle stripe this coming of age tale.
  • Shittown – A binge-able podcast brought to you by the folks over at Serial and This American Life not without controversy but a deeply resonant story nonetheless.  Lots of triggers, so I’d recommend seeing if it’s your cup of tea by reading up to (or past, if that’s your thing) the spoiler warnings at Vox,  the New York Times, and the Atlantic.
  • The Expanse – Everything that I’ve been missing since I finished watching every episode of every Star Trek franchise over 2015 and 2016.  Not Enterprise though, of course.  This embeds comprehensive Deep Space Nine galactic politics in a believable reality of our simple complex solar system with exceptional editing of any fluff or cruft.  Season 1 for free on Amazon, and while you can stream Season 2 (which has three more eps in April) on the SyFy website, I recommend paying for it on Amazon so they know you’re watching and so they can afford to make more of this absolutely marvelous show.  Only you can stop The Expanse from becoming the next cancelled Sci-Fi classic.  Also, representation matters and the cast sets a new standard for a future of diversity and inclusion by our standards here in 2017.
  • Kings of Kings – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is probably one of the most important things I was missing from my education: true history through broad as well as deep context.  This three-parter clocks in at just under 13 hours of content about the rise and fall of the Achaemenid Empire.  The 500 to 1000 years of events covered in this epic has everything to do with the world we live in today, since they set the stage for mono-theism and the intervening 2000 years.  Primarily, listening has given me confidence to dive down the (Wikipedia) rabbit hole into a better understanding of Passover as it nears but also recent events in the Levant.

At a certain point, Chrome stops counting how many tabs you have open.

This feels better: to confess to reading on every toilet seat, staying up too late, staring at bright screens while sitting under-babe even though they are ready to go into their crib, going on longer runs and waiting in driveways and having a single headphone in my ear while doing almost everything so that I can keep the stories coming, and watching one more ep on a lunch break that was already too long because I was listening to podcasts while prepping my food too slowly or reading books and articles while waiting for water to boil or the microwave’s beep, only to delay any reaction until getting to that next comma, period, vocal pause.  Or just one more.