Thursday, February 10, 2005

Busy Week

So far this week, I have:

1- Seen "Columbia Unbecoming," the documentary about intimidation against Jewish/pro-Israel students in the University's Middle East Languages and Cultures Dept. It was shown to a crowd of about 450 people in Jerusalem, about one-third of whom identified themselves as alumni of Barnard or Columbia. Two of the students who appear in the film spoke afterward. I was happy to see that the issue they were emphasizing was not "Columbia should hire more pro-Israel teachers," but rather
a) The proper response of a professor whose views are challenged by a student is to let the student have their say in class and provide more background reading so that everyone can research the facts and come to their own conclusions and
b) this isn't just about Israel, it's about what could happen if a professor is anti-homosexual or sexist or ANYTHING.
The point is not that the professors are Muslim or support the Palestinian cause on their own time. The point is that when a student with a kippah asks an Arabic professor to give an example of how to conjugate the verb "to prevent," the teacher should not use the sentence "Israeli roadblocks prevent Palestinians from getting to work." And when a student at a lecture about the Arab-Israeli conflict precedes his question with "I'm Israeli and served in the IDF and am wondering . . . " the professor should not immediately cut him off by asking "how many Palestinians have you killed?" In an academic environment, everyone - EVERYONE - should feel free to express their opinions calmly, and to have the professor answer them in a thoughtful, informative way.

2- Researched 4 projects, because I'm getting work. Yay!

3- Attended an evening out with a few other friends of Chaya Bracha (CB) Bruchofsky (did I spell her name right this time?). CB, who was just a year or two older than I am, died a couple of months ago, suddenly, from a pulmonary embolism. Five of us who knew her and live in the Jerusalem area got together at the Ticho House (a restaurant) and shared funny CB stories, listened to an audiotape of CB's husband's eulogy for her, and learned a few mishnayot. It was subdued, but nice to be doing something. We all agreed that CB would have been very happy to know that we're eating all that food at her memorial service.

CB had excellent taste in friends.

4- Planned the upcoming bridal shower for a good friend of mine. Yes, Chayyei Sarah is co-hosting a bridal shower. Yes, she hates bridal showers. Loathes them. Yes, the bride knows this. Yes, Chayyei Sarah knew that her good friend, who moved to Israel so recently and doesn't have so many other old, old friends here, wants a shower, and it's Chayyei Sarah's job, as a good friend, to do it. Yes, that is a halo over my head.

5- Attended the first of 12 Contact Improvisation classes for women, that I just signed up for. It was nice but, my God, I am sore.

And in the next few days I will (b'H):

6- Write 4 stories . . . my least favorite part of the process. Ugh. But it will feel good to have them done.

7- Take a driving lesson. More about this later. I love driving and can't wait to finally get my Israeli license. I pushed it off because it was non-urgent, but lately have been figuring that I may as well get it over with (for those wondering: Yes, I did all the initial paperwork while my foreign license was still usable here.)

Feeling a little nervous because my teacher only speaks Hebrew. How do you say "accelerator" and "brake" and "3-point turn" in Hebrew? I'm very much drying off that I don't know this.

8- Visit my Haredi cousins for Shabbat for the first time. Yes, I have shomer Shabbat family in Israel! The ba'al habayit is my third cousin, and he and his wife have, um, I think it's eight, children - under the age of 10. He learns at the Mir. They are very frum. Their whole neighborhood is very frum. I met them last sukkot, and they were very welcoming to me, though I'm not sure they knew what to make of me at first, and maybe still. The kids were adorable and were so excited that I was there. I think the parents got more comfortable with me when they realized that I'm not going to try to convert their kids to Modernity. (Even though really, part of me was like "what planet is this?" But . . . the other part of me was like "family! family! FRUM family!"). We'll see how that goes. I may have to do a significant amount of holding my tongue this weekend, no matter how painful it may be. But what is family for, if not to give us reasons to hold our tongues?

OK, it's time for shluffies. Gotta go. Bye!

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