Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Updatey date date

Hey World (and Mom who specifically requested I write a blog post)!

So (obviously) lots of stuff has happened since I last wrote. First of which is that it is a new month wooooooo February. As you may or may not know, February is the month of my birthday! Yay. It's on the 27th, so if you want to send me anything you still have plenty of time ;-)

To be honest I think I have fallen out of love with blogging a little bit. I just continue to get frustrated because I have so much to say and don't always have the energy to communicate it in the best way possible. I also think I'm much better in person, because I am very much a talk-with-my-hands type of gal (and facial expressions, which the emoticons don't really capture haha).

Anyways, last week we didn't have regular class on Wednesday and Thursday, instead we had colloquium. What is that? Well we took time to discuss Reform Judaism, and Jewish values and stuff. We focused on the main areas that are in the current Pittsburgh principles (no NOT platform that's the old one in 1885), which are God, Torah and Israel. Just fyi the Pittsburgh principles is a mission statement or more like a statement of values of the reform movement. The original one was in 1885 and there have been 3 others since then. If you do a quick read through it is pretty nice, but when I looked at it critically it was actually quite infuriating. If you want to read them:

We had a speaker, Rabbi Danny Schiff, talk to us about these principles and why he didn't like them. I think he made some great points. He was talking about how Reform Judaism has gotten to the point where we value inclusivity above all else, to the point where maybe there are some people in our congregations who really aren't Reform Jews, and the question is where do you draw the line? I am definitely all about inclusivity, but it's true, if you look at the principles they are so watered down that they aren't really saying anything. There isn't anything they take a stand on, except maybe social action which is so easy and obvious. No one is going to argue that to be a good Reform Jew you need to help make the world a better place. But I would argue that that is the same ideal for being a good person. Where is the "Jew" part in all of this? Should we expect a minimum amount of commitment to Judaism and the Jewish tradition? If so what would that look like? AND how would we do so without alienating people? Lot of questions that I would like to figure out...

In the colloquium we got to choose which topic we wanted to spend the majority of our time discussing. God, Torah or Israel...I don't think you will be surprised to know that I picked "Torah" (BIGGG SHOCK). haha. We talked a lot about Torah and texts, etc, etc. One conclusion many members of the group I was in came to together was that Reform Judaism does not have enough serious text study. This is a multi-layered problem because it can be hard to do serious text study without the Hebrew, and learning Hebrew is not something given high priority in the Reform Jewish education system. I also think it is partially the lack of training that the leaders of the movement have in text study. I don't know what the rest of my time at HUC will look like, but in our first year of rabbinical school we only have 1 semester of Rabbinic texts...that is NOTHING. We do have more bible, but yeah serious text study doesn't seem to be emphasized so much, at least in this year. I also think that there is a fear that the texts aren't interesting enough, or something. I don't know. There is soooooooooo much good stuff in the Torah and in the Talmud and midrash etc etc etc, and I really think that you can make it appeal to people on different levels and from different backgrounds. That is something that I want to do and work to do in my future rabbinic career. Reform Judaism should reclaim our sacred texts. We don't have to sit around and talk about how this text makes us feel, and then read poems. No. We can study the text and look at the commentators on the text (like Rashi) and see what they have to teach us. Then we can go and relate to it, but the text is so rich that we do it a disservice by skimming over it quickly, or just not dealing with it at all. I think you can make almost anything interesting, you just have to find your angle.

See look, now I'm just ranting. Oy vey. This is something I am passionate about.

So today we had a class field trip to beit she'arim and tsippori. It was pretty cool. Tsippori has some rad mosaics and also what they call the "mona lisa of the galilee" or something like that.

Tomorrow I am heading off to the west bank (Bethlehem) on a program called Encounter. For all day tomorrow and most of the day Friday I, along with a group of about 25 other Jewish leaders, will be going around the west bank and meeting with different Palestinians to hear about their lives and their personal narratives. To be honest I am a bit nervous about going. I am sure I am going to hear stuff that I don't want to hear, BUT I think it is so important to go. It would be unacceptable for me, as a future Rabbi and Jewish leader, to not go on this trip. It is so easy to push away the "other" and make sweeping generalizations, but that is not how we are going to bring peace to this area of the world.

I am sure I will have a lot to say about my experiences when I get back (but I get back right before shabbat starts so you will have to wait a little to hear about them).

ALSO this week is my bat mitzvah portion!!! Yay this marks the 10th anniversary of my bat mitzvah. crazyyyyyyyyy, but not really, I don't feel like I am anywhere near where I was mentally at the age of 13 (thank goodness!). But yeah I'm chanting torah this week so that will be kinda silly. I also chanted Torah last week....I really like chanting Torah, and I want to get better (aka figure out how to learn more verses faster, because there are some sections that are over 30 verses and I struggle with learning the shorter sections that are under 20). Patience.

With that, I'm out.


ps I forgot to mention that sorority recruitment just ended. It's been weird to see all the pictures from bid night and all the new members who I won't really get to know. Just another reminder that I am not in college. But yay congrats to all my sisters and my new future sisters!! While I am in school to be a rabbi I still have some (or maybe a lot of) sorority girl in my heart :-)

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