Rav Kook in London

September 16, 2018

Who wouldn’t want to attend a seudah shlishit with R. Kook?  (Even I would, and I––don’t tell–-don’t love SS!)

Late in the day on Saturdays, Rav Kook would hold seudah shlishit––the third meal of the Sabbath––in the Hasidic style, with singing and evocative homilies.  The meals brought him an eclectic group of followers: Hasidim and intellectuals, East End Jewish radicals, workingmen, pious Jews from Leeds and Manchester as well as from all over London.  On th eShavuot holiday nights, as he had in Jaffa, he would stand all night at a lectern, lecturing on Maimonides’ Book of the Commandments and the roots of jurisprudence.  During zeppelin bombings, he would stand by the door of the communal bomb shelter in Chaikin’s basement, the better to see anyone wandering in the street and call them in.  When they were all safely inside, he would, in a mix of prayer and pastoral becalming, sit and recite, over and over, the six verses of Psalm 43: Grant me justice, O God, and wage my struggle with a faithless nation, from a man of deceit and injustice save me…

Also, how lovely is this?  (From Rav Kook himself.)

When I lived in London, I would visit the National Gallery, and my favorite pictures were those of Rembrandt.  I really think that Rembrandt was a tzaddik.  Do you know that when I first saw Rembrandt’s works, they reminded me of the legend about the creation of light?  We are told that when God created light, it was so strong and pellucid that one could see from one end of the world to the other, but God was afraid that the wicked might abuse it.  What did He do?  He reserved that light for the righteous men when the Messiah should come.  But now and then there are great men who are blessed and privileged to see it.  I think that Rembrandt was one of them, and the light in his pictures is the very light that was originally created by God almighty.

Agreed!

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The Official Ruling

September 5, 2018

MB: Hey!

ID: Hi!  What’s up?

MB: Is it too early to be having a mid-life crisis?

ID: Nope

ID: Lots of people I know have had one.

ID: I had a mini-one

MB: Okay then it’s official

Princess Diana’s Burka!

August 30, 2018

I know it’s sort of lame to publish two image-only things in such short succession but YOU HAVE TO SEE this sketch for the BURKA Princess Diana was contemplating wearing on an official visit to Saudi Arabia!

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Honestly this is super cute.

Also I love how the Telegraph article is like “it has emerged” that this is what she was thinking.  This information just popped up and was deemed relevant or somehow interesting more than twenty years after her death?  Honestly, who cares?

Theresa Duncan’s (Missed) Yahrtzeit

August 29, 2018

So this is truly embarrassing, but I had it in mind to write something acknowledging the 10 year anniversary of Theresa Duncan’s death, and I thought it was somewhat recent, but then I Googled it just now and saw that it was actually LAST summer.  This is what having an infant/toddler will do to you.

Anyway, I wanted to memorialize the summer of Duncan’s passing, which of course, being twenty-three at the time, I made into a commentary all about me, but obviously I’ve missed it.  And so did, it seems, everyone else: there was no gossip-y Nancy Jo Sales piece, no memorial service at Saint Mark’s Church, no biopic from Brett Easton Ellis playing at my local Alamo Drafthouse (although I’ve always thought the story was better suited for avant garde opera, no)?  There was a pretty good essay about it by a writer named Patricia Grisafi, although clearly not timed for the anniversary; there was nothing specifically mentioning the anniversary on her mother’s blog homage (blomage?) to Theresa, but then again, maybe she doesn’t mark the anniversaries the way us Jews do.

And also, maybe there weren’t those things because… there isn’t really much to say?  I’m realizing now that I don’t have anything to add to the story except that we should try not to forget these two people, or at least that I don’t think I will be able to forget these two people, which is something else entirely.  Wherever you two lovebirds are, I hope it’s sunny.

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LOL the Headlines

August 23, 2018

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I Would Say Redacted But…

July 27, 2018

Everyone knows who this is anyway, right?

KM: I read her friends had Narcan on them.

KM: How is that possible?  Where does a person even get Narcan?

KM: If something isn’t available on Amazon, I basically assume it’s impossible to buy.

KM: OMG I just checked Amazon and you can buy Narcan there.

AS: What are the reviews like?  How many stars?

A Mystery

July 24, 2018

I’ve noticed that here in Jerusalem, there is an enormous amount of… bread litter.  By that I mean, rolls lined atop a fence, or clawed-open plastic bags of a sourdough slices tucked next to a stone stairway, or a mound of challah loaves sadly languishing in an alleyway.  What is going on here?

Well, dear reader, I’ve just figured it out, thanks to a two-second Google that, had I done sooner, would have saved me a lot of head-scratching: throwing away bread is a sin for us Jews.  Ugh, another thing I didn’t know I should be beating myself up for until now!

From a website called Jerusalem Perspectives:

The importance of sharing one’s bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor. Not all Jews in Israel follow this custom, but lots do, especially here in our neighborhood of Maoz Zion.

It is not unusual to see hunks of bread or part of a roll lying on a curb, or on top of a wall.

If you Google Image “bread in the streets of Jerusalem” (poetic name for… something), you mostly just get a picture of that guy who sits near the Jaffa Gate with his big pastries on a table, which is not what I was going for here.

Hot Take

July 15, 2018

#hottake alert: Sharp Objects is the lady True Detective.  Discuss.

PS I should say I only watched the first episode, begrudgingly, because my WiFi wasn’t working in our apartment in Jerusalem, and there was this irritating but not uncommon thing happening with the TV where I couldn’t hear any of the dialogue but the second there was a score/song in the background, it was SUPER LOUD.  But my first thought, upon seeing the final scene in which Amy Adams disrobes to take a bath, revealing a body horrifically scarred by self-inflicted wounds, was, “Oh please, no way you could carve someone’s name onto your shoulder blade with any degree of accuracy.  Any adolescent cutter knows that!”

Curmudgeons I Love

June 15, 2018

Two brief anecdotes, to begin:

1. When I was in high school, my French horn teacher (I know, I know), a sweet but wan young woman who lived with her mother, often wore latex gloves just like, around.  I was always very curious about this: was she OCD?  Was she trying to protect her precious instrument-playing fingers?

2. Right before the release of my book, my editor, my agent, the publicist at my agent’s office, and I went out for coffee to discuss pre-book buzz.  One of the things that came up was potential blurbers––you know, people who provide one or two lines of praise you can slap on the book jacket.  Because Lionel Shriver had recently written a book about her brother’s obesity (my book was about weight issues, to put it broadly), someone suggested her.  My agent got a grave look on her face, and silently and slowly shook her head, “No.”

The reason she did that, I later learned, is because Lionel Shriver is fucking terrifying!  She’s also at the moment (and maybe just generally?) loathed, for lots of un-zeitgeist-y views and what appears to be a broad disdain for people.  At times in interviews, she refutes that, but mostly the impression she gives off is that of a reed thin, slightly eccentric battle-ax.

Recently I was reading old profiles of her because I find her whole persona mesmerizing, and I noticed that she’s often photographed wearing cheap knit gloves.  She reminds me immediately of a strict Muslim who just forgot to wear a burqa but remember to cover her hands.  One article I read said she wears them because she refuses to pay for heating in her house; another said she had a circulation disease.  Is it possible she just wears them to bolster the “weirdo” image?  I get the sense she thinks of herself as very authentic, and not that she isn’t, but there is also a delight evident in knowing that she is very different from the rest of us bare-handed mite brains.

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Thimble Islands

May 28, 2018

A few of the Thimble Islands in Connecticut (there are between 100 and 365 of them “depending on where the line is drawn between an island and a mere rock,” according to Wikipedia.  Twenty-three are inhabited.)

Horse Island

Money Island

Governor Island

Rogers Island

Bear Island

Davis Island

High Island

Pot Island

Outer Island

Hen Island

East Stooping Bush Island

Potato Island

Smith Island

Cut in Two Island (East and West)

Phelps Island

Wheeler Island (aka Ghost Island)

Mother in Law Island (aka Prudden Island)

West Crib Island

East Crib Island

Little Pumpkin Island

Lewis Island

Kidd’s Island

Reel Island

Beldens Island

Burr Island

Jepson Island

Wayland Island

Frisbie Island