Wednesday, December 30, 2009

After a Brief Hiatus...

Wow. Definitely the most behind I've ever been on posting. But Beit Nativ = consistent internet (thanks, Seffi!), so I'll hopefully be caught up soon.

Monday:
1. Sunrise at Masada. Turns out it really is a worthwhile experience.

2. Nachal David:


3. Muddy students:


4. Umm, amazing. Guess those bathers are just out of luck.


5. SHOWER. Between the lack of hot water at Mashabei Sade and Sunday night's bedouin tent, it was much needed.

6. Seeing Merav in Tel-Aviv!

7. Silly (inebriated) students.
video

Making the Desert Bloom

Sunday:
1. Ein Ovdat. That view from the top gets me every time.

2. A lookout over the Machtesh HaGadol (see above).

5. Watching my students on the camel ride at the bedouin tent. Why they found it so exciting is beyond me, but they were over the moon.

3. Drove through Yerucham. Thoroughly enjoyed picturing Sefster's experience there next semester.

4. Beginning the mifgash with 8 soldiers. All of them have been wonderful about engaging the students. And most of them thought I was a native.

6. The Bedouin musicologist who gave a presentation on traditional music.

7. A heated tent. What an unexpected luxury.

Shabbat Menucha

Saturday:
1. No wakeup call for the kids - or me.

2. Running into the Davidson Israel trip at Mashabei Sade. Thanks for the bencher loan.

3. Rooming with Dana.

4. Kumkum (electric tea kettle) in the room.

5. ..and timtams to have with my tea.

6. The informal hangout that formed during free time. Cohesive groups are a joy to staff.

7. Said hangout led to a conversation with several students on the spectrum of religious observance in Israel. NIce.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Moment of Gratefulness

Friday:
Many things happened today, but for the first time I'm going to focus entirely on one of them.

I'm feeling grateful.

Why?

Today was a busy, crazed day of traveling, coupled with a slowly breaking bus. 20 minutes before Shabbat, it finally gave out by the side of the road. Two hours later, we finally arrived at the kibbutz where we were meant to spend the weekend. After 3 hours of telling people that my religious proclivities should not be a priority in figuring out how to get us safely settled in, I shut the door to my room, sat down on my bed, and realized that I have been making a habit of fudging observances in order to make people feel more comfortable, and less like they need to accommodate me.

Obviously, I wasn't going to spend the night alone in the desert, but I still felt like the situation gave me a new perspective.

And so, 1-7:
Thank God that in my daily life I don't have to make those compromises. Thank God.

Storming the North

Thursday:
1. Blackout shades. Ahhhhh....

2. Tsfat. What a unique city.

3. Answering one of my student's questions about "those black straps on that guy's arm" - and realizing he had never seen tefillin, much less become a bar mitzvah. This trip may form the foundation of his entire Jewish identity.

4. Not losing anyone in Katzrin. Trust me, we came close.

5. Har Bental. I hadn't been there since Chalutzim in 2003.

6. This found-object sculpture on the way up to Bental. Shoutout to Lewis Aaron Ershow Levenberg.


7. No evening tie-in program meant a much-needed quiet night for Navah.

Totally Sababa

Wednesday:
1. A room of my own. Unexpected, but SO nice.

2. Israeli cornflakes. Yum.

3. My students' general shock at the normalcy of Israeli life - the presence of pudding, for instance.

4. The Bahai gardens in Haifa. Shockingly, it was my first time there.

5. Druze pita. Yum again.

6. GREAT evening program on the literal meanings of Israeli slang. What would YOU do with the phrase, "Leave it, in your mother." ?

7. Coincidence of the day: Ran into Itzik Yannai at Kibbutz Gonen (he was guiding another Birthright trip). Such a great surprise.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Welcome to Israel

Tuesday:
1. Isn't the iPod a magical invention? I often forget, and long flights are the best reminders.

2. Trilingual aviators. Swissair pilots are required to give all announcements in German, French, and English (I wonder why not Italian?). Wow.

3. Seeing the Alps (through a window. But still.)

4. We were held on the ground at JFK for nearly 2 hours. My heart almost stopped when they told me we would miss our connection. And then, they held the Zurich flight for us. Phew.

5. Arriving in Israel! A year ago, who would have thought that I would ever again write that sentence with an exclamation of happiness?

6. Hebrew, I missed you.

7. Being in the same country as Seffi (my middle brother). Gosh, kid, I've missed you.

On the Road Again...

Monday:
1. A full night's sleep. You'd think that would be a given - particularly when I'm not in the 'ville. But my hatred of packing often leads to intense procrastination, culminating in an all-nighter. Sunday night was not one of those nights.

2. Cuddling With Tanni. He always wakes me up to say goodbye before he goes to school. I love that.

3. The cobbler. How often do you take your shoes to a shoemaker to be fixed? I picked mine up on Monday, and it was like a trip backwards in time.

4. New York City in the snow. I know that people think it's gross and grey almost immediately, but I like that uniquely urban second-day-snow look.

5. Car ride with Abba. Too many hours in standstill traffic, and we didn't kill each other.

6. Aside from two students whose flights were canceled altogether, one almost missed the check in cut-off due to lost luggage. You should have heard my sigh of relief when he rounded that corner in the nick of time.

7. Aisle seat!

Snowed In

Sunday:
1. Because I love Chanukkah...
2. ...and it's difficult for me to let go:



(This is not a Chanukkah picture. I like it anyway.)

3. Shoveling...
4. ...followed by the snowblower.
5. A bit of good news in the world.
6. Netflix while packing.
7. Family movie night while avoiding packing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day!

Saturday:
1. A good parody is hard to find.

2. Took its time getting to New Jersey, but the snowpocalypse (good term, Alli) finally arrived. Hooray!

3. Getting to watch UNC on tv, rather than gametracker. Of course, the game itself was painful, but seeing it in real time was great.

4. New computer for Greta. Enjoy!

5. Watching the Penn State women's volleyball team come back from 0-2 to beat Texas in 5 sets and win the national championship...especially on a day when I was feeling less-than-charitable towards Texas athletics.

6. Chanel has a beautiful new post about being satisfied with current situations - very SDRlike material. Also, this paragraph in particular is the definition of my life right now:

"My students are in finals, and I absorb their unhealthy habits. I drink too much coffee, I create projects that demand my attention until outrageous hours. Most of the time, I still think I’m 21, and that comes from hanging out on campus. College students, apparently, are the fountain of youth."

7. Gilah's boys (that'd be the Rutgers football team) beat UCF in the St. Pete Bowl! Can you tell that I spent an alarming portion of yesterday watching televised sports?

8. Mail goggles. I added them to my gmail when they first came out, because I thought they were hysterical. Trouble is, I always forget I have them - until I try to send an email on the weekend. My basic math skills are not where they should be.

Dear Sheep: Thanks for the Fleece

Friday:
1. The Schechter Zimriyah. Despite Matan attempting to tell me that this is a tradition that's been around "forever," I am ancient enough to know that to be false. Regardless, it's a really cute Chanukkah tradition, and it was so much fun to hear Tanni.

2. Morah Ziona. No matter what else happens in life, for the past 18 years I have been able to walk into my old kindergarten teacher's classroom for a hug, laughter, and a quick catch-up chat. I hope she never retires (or at least, holds off until Tanni graduates Schechter).

3. I caved. I bought a North Face. Don't call me a JAP - I'm warm.

4. Indian food. Yum.

5. This is a fairly accurate representation of my brain lacking sleeping. It's comforting to know that other brains function in much the same way.

6. Fleece blankets. Today I'm loving the fleece.

7. Yoga mat for Chanukkah. Thanks!

8.Falling asleep on the couch - a homey luxury I had nearly forgotten about.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stephen Colbert Saves the Olympics

Thursday:
1. Oh, Stephen Colbert. Of course you would get your nation to sponsor U.S. Speedskating.


2. Having to wear a winter coat. I love the northeast.

3. Haircut. Thanks, Felita.

4. In the mall en route to said haircut, I saw one kiosk selling Murano glass, and another selling prosecco. Flashback to Italy '05?

5. Dinner with Sarah and Tali at Noi Due. Yum (also, excellent company).

6. Before heading into the city for dinner, I convinced my mom I didn't need to bring a winter hat. After dinner...I bought a hat. Moral of the story: always listen when someone tells you to bring a hat.

7. Coffee with Mindels (and the sketchy Russian man, who we only realized had been eavesdropping the entire time when he started speaking fluent Hebrew into his cellphone).

8. Mir! I still can't believe we actually managed to synchronize our schedules, even for an hour.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Life with David Ben-Gurion

Wednesday:
1. Jersey!

2. Dear Tootsie Roll,
Thank you for this Chanukkah miracle.
Love,
Navah

3. Dodi's getting married on Sunday! You can read his aufruf speech (as well as his father's and sisters') here. Go ahead, take the five minutes - they're beautiful. (P.S. Hi, Mindels.)

4. Visiting Savta (my paternal grandmother) in Riverdale.

5. Discovering Savta's chocolate mousse contains 10 eggs. After consumption.

6. Hand-me-down jewelry. Thanks, Grandma!

7. Reason #317 why my brother is rad: Dinner with Ralph Goldman
(...this is simultaneously reason #215 why my uncle is the best.)
4:11 PM me: what up gangsta
4:12 PM Sefster: just got home from dinner with gma, uncle danny, and ben gurion's best friend
me: hahahaha
so fun
4:13 PM Sefster: yeah, it was great
me: i want to meet him
Sefster: cool anecdote from dinner:
he wears a watch on either arm and carries a pocket watch
4:14 PM on his right arm is a $5,000 watch that he bought a LONG time ago for $65
but it doesn't work
he says he needs to remember to get it to barak to look at it because fixing watches is a hobby of his
he means ehud barak
4:15 PM on his left hand is a watch that used to belong to his son who was the ambassador to argentina and died in the attack on the embassy
the pocket watch was teddy kollek's
me: do any of them work?
Sefster: his family gave it to him when he died because they were such good friends
his son's and teddy's work
4:16 PM me: that. is. insane.
Sefster: right?
4:17 PM me: yeah
and awesome
Sefster: yeah

8. Reading Tanni to sleep. Primarily because of the awesome books 10-year-olds are into these days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's great...to pretend...to be a Florida Gator

Tuesday:
1. Not only did my mom pass her professional development class with honors, her instructor asked to put her final project on the organization's website. Yay, Ema!

2. Finally bought my first piece of Florida apparel. Go Gators.


3. At the bookstore I discovered that UF uses green books for final exams, rather than blue books. Weird.

4. I think my favorite thing about The Sing-Off is that even the intro and outros (Outros is a word. Go with it.) are a capella. Okay, it might not be my favorite thing. Let's go with one of many.

5. Please buy me these mugs for Chanukkah.

Thank you.

7. Sweet potato fries were a half success. I'll call them a work-in-progress.

8. Unexpected present! Thanks, Auntie and Dan.

9. The paintball scene in "10 Things I Hate About You." Possibly the happiest 1 minute, 38 seconds in 90s cinema.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Season's Greetings from the White House!

Monday:
1. Gave Amy and Jonah a tour of Hillel and campus before they headed out. I'm kind of proud of how much of campus I've mastered over the semester.


2. Package from home! More impressively, I managed to keep myself from opening it until I lit candles.

3. This is hysterical, particularly when you scroll down and watch the covers change. They're literally identical.

4. Jon Berliner is a fan of Tasti-D-Lite. Facebook told me.

5. This is a bit dated, because this post is somewhat old. In case you've been living under a rock, you must watch The Sing-Off. Now.


6. Students coming by to pick up chanukkiot. We had a med student come in who's been on campus for 8 years (undergrad, too), but had never previously been to Hillel. Made my day.
...(Not the never-having-been-to-Hillel part. The part where this year he decided he wanted to.)

7. Read/watched way too much Mark Bittman this evening, and heard this quote from Jamie Oliver:
"If you're going to eat 3 times a day, everyday, until the day you die...why not be good at it? It'll save you money, it'll more than likely make you healthier...it'll make you happier..."

8. We got a Holiday Greeting from our good friends Barack and Michelle at work today:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome to the World, Macc!

Sunday:
1. I need one of these. I will place it on my counter next to the fall leaves, in my growing shrine to places that have four seasons. Under a giant magnifying glass.

2. For the shot of beauty in your day: the 20 most beautiful libraries in the world. Excuse me while I curl up under a table with a huge pile of books.

3. Went to see Avi (one of the Shabbat/Chag chairs) in a fencing tournament. We got there just after he was eliminated (don't worry - he's competing again at the end of January), but stuck around to hear him explain all about the sport. I learned so much.

4. I too would like to start my own principality (princessipality?) based on fuzzy historical logic. Thoughts?

5. Amy (Rebecca Krischer) and Jonah (Shai Newman) came to visit!

(Bananagrams obviously played a role in the visit. Note also the Christmasy flowers. Love it.)

6. Amy, Jonah, and I met Sam Rosenbaum and Sarah Atterman for dinner at The Top, a great restaurant downtown with lots of vegetarian food.

7. The Top's sweet potato fries. They are a thing of beauty. Check back here on Tuesday, when I try to make my own with my brand new mandoline!

8. At the end of a lovely evening, we came back to my apartment to light candles...and Amy and Jonah surprised me with the most adorable present: a toy dog who walks, barks, and wags his tail when you press buttons on his leash.

Trying to set him free...


Taking him on his first walk...


Playing with the pup. We named him Maccabee! (And then Seffi gave him a middle name: Tzurishadai.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chanukkah, Oh Chanukkah...

In a nod to the holiday season, each Chanukkah post will feature eight reasons, rather than seven. Because I'm corny like that.

Saturday:
1. I woke up early to meet a student who teaches at Chavaya, the Conservative synagogue's supplementary school. Together we walked the 3 1/2 miles (in the rain) to the Chavaya Shabbaton. It was clammy and cold, but definitely worth it, especially when we took a shortcut through a gorgeous nature path.

2. Oh, Mishlachat. The best eidah in camp.

3. Had some students over for Seudah Shlishit, the third meal of Shabbat.

4. Bananagrams were a highlight of said meal.

5. So was lighting candles with the students.

6. Went to Tim and Terry's (a small bar and music venue about 100 yards from my backyard) to hear Mystery Machine, a funk band one of my students is in. They were great. And they closed with the Ghostbusters theme song, which was obviously awesome.

7. Came home to this conversation with Jonathan Moshe Berliner (whose interview on NPR somehow got lost in the shuffle, but DEFINITELY deserved a spot here last week):

8:22 PM Jonathan: apparently the chinese food this year has caused widespread food poisoning in yavneh
8:23 PM me: no way
oh dear
they should've ordered from kosher express
8:25 PM Jonathan: Deena: epidemic 09
Jordan: jon
we poisoned yavneh

(...Yavneh being the subset of Hillel I was most involved in during college. I suddenly feel very pleased with myself that I managed to not poison anyone during my tenure.)

8. New comforter = heaven.

Baked, Not Fried

Friday:
1. Today, I became a local celebrity. With Yoni out of town, I was the official Jew at Hillel. As such, I was recruited by both UF's WUFT and TV20 local news (after waking up and thinking, "Casual Friday? I'm not going to see anyone." Obviously.) It went ok - clips will be up as soon as they're online.

2. Cute kids. After hearing from WUFT that Chabad had cute kids available to be interviewed, I took advantage of the adorable family picking up a free chanukiyah and candles. I asked the dad if we could film his kids lighting the menorah, instead of little ol' me. They were so excited! (Though a woman at shul today told me that for some unknown reason, they aired not only the kids lighting the menorah, but me - off-camera - blowing the candles out. Oops.)

3. Kosher wine. I had all but given up hope on being able to make kiddush at home - and then I found a lone bottle of Bartenura at the liquor store. Huzzah.

4. The jelly donut debacle. A student who works in the Hillel kitchen announced to the Friday night minyan that they were getting "real" sufganiyot, rather than "fake" jelly donuts...and then I walked in with trays of Dunkin' Donuts. There was a bit of a revolt - two particular students took up the charge, especially when they realized I had purchased several varieties of filled donuts, and not just strawberry jam - but I eventually prevailed.

5. Volleyball! UF hosted the Division I NCAA Women's Regional Championship. I made it for the second match - UF vs. #1 Penn State. Penn State took the Gators down, but it was a great game (they also beat Berkeley today, to advance to the Final Four). I had forgotten how much I love volleyball - made me want to rush the court and play.

6. One of the coolest parts of the game was thanks to Emily, the student who joined me. She's from Orlando, and actually played with two of the students currently on the UF team while in high school. One of those students was Callie Rivers, whose father, Doc, is head coach of the Boston Celtics. It was a lot of fun to help Emily cheer on her old teammates.

7. Going to bed at 8:30 pm. Don't judge me. It was heavenly.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Universe is in a Constant State of Change

Thursday:
1. JSU Chanukkah Party. I went for a short visit - it would probably be more correct to say that I made an appearance. Not my cup of tea, but I always like it when Jews get together.

2. Played "Contact" with the student board. If you've never played Contact, your life is not yet complete.

3. Amy and Jonah are coming to visit!

4. I can hear the phone ring in other people's apartments. I choose to view this as something positive - I live in a climate warm enough not to warrant insulation. Or, apparently, noise-proofing.

5. V8. Sometimes when I'm too lazy to make a salad, I just drink a glass of V8. That's the same, right?

6. Went to the show for all freshman art majors to see one of my students' work (Hi, Sarah. See you at the airport!). Completely amazed by what these kids can accomplish. If their work looks like this now, what's it going to look like in 5 years? Here are two of Sarah's projects:
(Eco-friendly mobile family tent, with attendant advertising. I love that it's winking at us.)


(Six icons with verses that connect them in a cycle. I love how this came out.)


(Not Sarah's. I still like it. For more non-Sarah artwork - photographed by Sarah - click here.)

7. There's a Kiawah marathon! I'm so in.

Friday, December 11, 2009

SDR Writes Oddly Specific Blog Post

Classes ended Wednesday here in Gville. Much public drunkenness, yelling of expletives, and breaking of beer bottles ensued. Anyway...

Wednesday:
1. Alli got a job! Alli got a job!
...and it's at the awesome charter school she mentioned in her guest post. Way to go, Alli!

2. Well, this is odd:

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.


For the backstory, click here.

3. With this photograph, cake decorating has reclaimed its rightful place on the list of skills I need to have:


4. Went to Farah's (a local pseudo-Mediterranean restaurant and hookah bar) for an end-of-semester freshmen event. The turnout small but quality, and I am so proud of the student who arranged it.

5. I'm going to share something really personal right now. I have a guilty pleasure, and it's embarrassing.

I LOVE The Biggest Loser.

There, I said it. And the finale was great (though I wish the contestants weren't quite so emaciated...).

6. Long story short: Dana has a friend-of-a-friend who's a graphic design student. For a final project, he took a cassette tape of himself at age 3 making up stories to tell his father, and set it to a stop-motion animated video made entirely of household materials. Even if you can't understand the Hebrew, watch a minute or two of the video - amazing.

7. The Florida Independent Alligator really disappointed me in their last issue of the semester. The front page had the best headline EVER - "Librarians Plan Oddly Specific Party." But then, the article totally didn't live up to its potential. I'm not even linking it. I'm just going to bask in the glory of the headline.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Count the Rebbes

Tuesday:
1. I almost lost my teaspoon measure to the garbage disposal. Then I didn't. (...MLIA?)

2. This was Miriam's gchat status today: "Marty, my guru for today: but there's a point at which being open is different from being overwhelmed. Listen to yourself." Glorious.
For your edification, according to Miriam Marty is, "my housemate from last year/Martha Bruce/VT/Quaker/violin performance grad student/amazing chef and baker/great friend." Sounds good to me.

3. Today, Dana was sitting next to me, checking her email, when she said, "Who's Rabbi Aaron? Why am I invited to his daughter's bat mitzvah?" I thought to myself, Rabbi Aaron? That name rings a bell. Sure enough, I looked over to see that the invitation came from rabbiaaron@chabadofcary.com. While we still have no idea why she was invited (I think she should totally go!), I did spend the weekend in Rabbi Aaron's house for my cousin David's bar mitzvah - my littlest brother played "Count the Rebbes" on Shabbat afternoon.

4. Urban Thread. (Males, you might want to skip to number 6. You're about to get bored.) I've told lots of people about a magical mystery store in Gainesville, the one that sells catalog and online returns from Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, J. Crew, and more at a highly discounted rate. I finally hiked the 2 miles to get there. It was worth the trip.

5. Today I went to the opening of a unique presentation at the Student Union. Each year, the Journalism School offers a course called Florida FlyIns. Students who are accepted to the course are given a particular country, spend the semester researching possible stories about that country, and then FLY there for a week to do interviews and take pictures. One of my student leaders was in the course this semester - she and her cohort went to Brazil. An excerpt from her article was posted at the exhibit:

You can find the full text of her article (and possibly some pictures) here.

6. Tonight the UF Student Senate passed a Resolution Affirming Support for the State of Israel. Why? Unclear, they're a student senate. But as long as it was on the table, I'm glad it passed. Also, there were free t-shirts "designed" (in approximately 12 seconds) by myself and a student, and sponsored by The David Project (thanks, Aviva!).


7. My first Chanukkah present came in the mail! Thanks, Grandma!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Coffee, Ice Cream, and Drunken Sufganiyot

Monday:
1. I bought a comforter (and finally used my housewarming giftcard from the Ripps relatives - thank you so much!). Now Kaiser-Blueth guests won't have to freeze so that I can be warm and cozy - we had an incident over Thanksgiving.

2. The era of caffeinated détente was short-lived. Coffeemaker wigged out again, and spat grounds into the pot. I chose to place it back in time-out, and had tea instead.

3. Took Dana out to lunch for her (very belated) birthday.

4. Steiner stole my format. Again. I'm flattered, Shteinsy - you know how much I admire your writing - but could I at least grab a referential link? K, great, thanks.

5. There are no words:

Who is this actor/TV personality? Does this in some way reference a running joke of which I'm unaware?
(Thanks to Alyssa for sending this my way.)

6. Celebrated finished the day's work (at 11 pm) with a trip to Karma Cream. Yum.

7. Speaking of unique sweets...when are these going to make their way to the States? Will someone in the Holyland please save me one for when I arrive?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday Funday

Sunday:
1. I couldn't find a student with a car, so I walked to Walgreens. It was very, very far. On the upside, I'm feeling remarkably independent.

2. Seffi blogged! I love it when that happens.

3. Back in August, my coffeemaker freaked out, backed up, and burned my hand by spewing water out of the top. I calmly placed it in time-out under the sink, and have since made my stop at Dunkin Donuts and/or Starbucks a near daily ritual. This morning I decided that I had had enough of paying for my caffeine. I welcomed the coffeemaker back into the kitchen, and it worked perfectly. Hooray!

4. Birthright orientation went shockingly well. I'm getting really excited to guide these students through Israel for the first time. Is that insanely nerdy? Never mind, I don't care.

5. I made butternut squash soup. Yum.

6. I went to one of my students' recitals. I had forgotten how much I love watching dance performances. It was lovely, and I was so proud of her.

7. Today the Food Network taught me that saffron is actually the stamen and stigmas of the crocus sativus. Huh. Fascinating.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Happy Recluse

I left my apartment for a total of 1 hour today, and still managed to find seven reasons. It's always possible, people. I promise.

Saturday:
1. On my way to yoga, I saw a sign posted on a lamppost. It read, "Things will be okay" and had a picture of a panda, with smaller "Things will be okay" tags to rip off and take home. I couldn't take one (or take a picture) because it was Shab, but it still put a smile on my face, to think of someone posting that for no reason other than helping students get through finals.

2. Finally did a shoulder stand. Due to my aforementioned lack of balance, this was actually a big deal.

3. On the one hand, sad times for the gators (they were crushed by Alabama today in the SEC championship, 32-13). I wish I could have been here for a Tebow championship season. On the other hand, I called this loss so long ago - with sound statistical backing. I'm pretty proud of myself. Roll Tide.

4. Oh my. Sesame Street gets frisky with Tyra Banks.

5. While spending too many hours catching up on posts, I had some good ol' Food Network playing in the background. I wasn't really paying attention, but I did hear the Barefoot Contessa tell her viewers to never wash mushrooms, and to instead scrub them with a dry sponge. Mindels, you were right!

6. Aunt Vanessa. She writes to one of her 5 nieces and nephews every Sunday, and last week was my week! I was a very delinquent niece, but not only did I finally write back, I know that she reads the blog only on Sundays, so she'll see her shout-out tomorrow. Hi, Auntie!

7. Microwaves. Growing up we didn't have a microwave in the house, which became a fierce point of pride. Throughout childhood, Israel, and college, I sort of looked down on people who couldn't prepare a meal without using one. And yet...through the miracle of the microwave, I managed to arrange all this dinner in only 5 minutes:
I'm sold. Thanks, radiation!

Free Israel, Free Music, and Brownie Dilemmas

Friday:
1. It was the most stressful experience in recent memory, but my extension after staffing Birthright is settled! Hooray!

2. During said insane-o experience, Greta, Sarit, and Mindy all had a hand in keeping me semi-calm. Thanks, ladies.

3. Got a chanukiah and candles from work. Sweet.

4. Continued from Thursday: at the State Radio show, I got free cd - the "Tour Edition" of their newest album, "Let It Go." It appears that the Tour Edition is the same as the regular edition, without the paying part. Also, on the back of the cd it says, "Unauthorized reproduction, copying and rental of this recording is prohibited by law. But do whatever you want." Thanks, guys.

5. Remember hidden tracks on cds (or tapes...or records...)? They were always so exciting to discover. And then iTunes came along, and hidden tracks weren't so hidden anymore. But today I was listening to "Let It Go" while cooking, and was completely shocked when after several minutes of silence, I heard what turned out to be the second-best song of the album. The hidden track lives!

6. Due to the inclement weather, I got to run Shab. It was small, and surprisingly painless. I love my students.

7. I had always thought that receiving the All Edges brownie pan would make my life complete. But now, Woot has presented me with a difficult decision:

All Edges, or Perfect Brownie? For more on the dilemma, click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

State Radio!

Thursday:
1. We begin tonight with a true American tragedy:

Is it bad if this makes me laugh? A lot?

2. Today I had my last webinar/conference call for Birthright training. Hurray!

3. Watching the "Pink Gloves" video over and over (and over...and over...) has suddenly reminded me of a different video, one that I spent much of the spring of 2008 watching with Tali Berkowitz and Sarah Beth Lopatin on the floor of my bedroom. You guessed it, ladies. It's...


It's a relig parody of the seriously misogynistic "Rotzeh Banot" ("I Want Girls"), called "Rotzeh Mitzvot" ("I Want Commandments"), by dati comedian Yair Orbach. Bonus: he lived on Kibbutz Sa'ad (where I spent half of my year in Israel before college) while he was in school.

Here's my super-rough translation of the lyrics (let me preface this by saying, the humor doesn't really translate. I tried.):
I want commandments,
I want to say 100 blessings in a day,
The blessing over miscellanous food, the blessing after using the restroom, and the blessing over grains,
And I don't mind praying 3 times a day,
Because all I want to do is fulfill commandments.


At Roladin,

Sitting on a blind date, playing it sensitive,
I keep the Sabbath, Kosher, and the laws prohibiting contact between genders,
Lucky for me, she looks like trouble,
Because I get to say the blessing over unique creatures.

Suddenly I notice a nice pair of guys,
Maybe we can say the blessing after meals together?
They even have skullcaps - it's perfect!
..they're religious, but Muslim.

(Ready for takeoff...Are you ready?)

Take a look at me, I'm a religious guy who's pressed for time,
No love story is going to come out of this date,

This day is over in a few minutes,
I'm stressed because I've only said 80 blessings.


"Listen, sweetie, I'm just not that into this,
And I'm running outside to find a quorum to pray with"

We're missing one, there's only nine guys...
...How lucky that God also created secular guys.

I want commandments,
I want to say 100 blessings in a day,
The blessing over miscellanous food, the blessing after using the restroom, and the blessing over grains,
And I don't mind praying 3 times a day,
Because all I want to do is fulfill commandments.

I want commandments,
I want to say 100 blessings in a day,

The blessing over miscellanous food, the blessing after using the restroom, and the blessing over grains,
And it doesn't bother me if sometimes I miss,
Because I've already set up 3 engaged couples.


4. My students told me they bought a deep fryer for the pre-Chanukkah extravaganza. They kind of lied (it's an electric skillet with a LOT of room for oil), but it still looked pretty cool.


5. My evening activity (which I'm saving for last), led me to two other reasons. First, it allowed me to tell two of my best stories: the time I went backstage at a Bob Weir/Ratdog concert (thanks, Nina Zoe), and the time I was pulled over in Habersham County, Georgia, by a pair of fake state troopers (I told you it was a good one).

6. Second bonus reason: one of the opening acts. I wish I could share a picture, but the truth is I'm not sure which of the two opening bands it was (we were only there for one). The remarkable thing was not their talent, but their appearance: each of the four members looked radically different, to the point where it seemed as though they belonged in different bands. I even assigned them characters in my head - Joey Fatone, Joe Jonas, Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan), and the eco-terrorist. It was bizarre.

7. State Radio! For the uninitated, State Radio is a band comprised of Chad Stokes Urmston, Chuck Fay, and Mike Najarian. Many people (myself included) know them because Chad Stokes was previously a member of Dispatch. Long story short, it was a GREAT show, and the first night in Gainesville where I've felt like I have a life, independent of my work and students (Okay, so I went with two students, but before they were my students they were my campers, and then they were on my staff this summer. It totally doesn't count.).

I wish the pictures had come out better, but it is what it is. The show looked a bit like this:





Bonus: If you go to State Radio's website, you can get a free download of "Knights of Bostonia," which, while not reminiscent of much of their other music, is my current happy song.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Trying to See Generations - But They're So Far Away!

Somehow the second half of the week always gets away from me. Ah, well.

Wednesday:
1. I have a new reader - and new reassurance that talking about other people online doesn't necessarily freak them out (Phew.). Take a look at what Avraham Nahum Yosef Binder commented on the very first post:
"I like watching Amiad Binder video's too, though the one who loves them more then anything is Amiad himself. He actually requests sometimes to watch specific ones."

...how cute is that?

2. Focus on the Family has helpfully created Stand for Christmas, a guide to how "Christmas friendly" popular gift-purchasing establishments are. Except that by "Christmas friendly," they actually appear to mean "anti-all other stuff." So even more helpfully, Jewschool has picked out choice comments from the site - I think the general rule is, the more Focus on the Family dislikes it, the more I will now spend there.

3. Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey (aka my Grandma Julie's shul) is throwing quite the party this March: they're celebrating Nat Taubenfeld's 54th anniversary as shul gabbai. To spread the word, they've created a Facebook group, appropriately titled "We Love Nat."

4. Behold: reason #312 why my brother is the coolest:

Sefster: yo, alick isaacs gchatted me today
me: alick issacs gchatted you??
what did he say?
i'm so jealous
3:51 PM Sefster: ive only been to savtas new apartment twice
3:53 PM me: wait, this is so much less important.
me: the important thing is, what did alick isaacs say??
3:54 PM Sefster: he asked if i was feeling better
me: aww
because you missed his class?
3:55 PM
Sefster: yeah

...and his current facebook status is, "I just gchat with you; it's a special Alick-Seffi thing. Never say I don't love you."
(Ed. note: Alick Isaacs is a professor at Hebrew U, and one of the founders of Shira Chadasha. Many people I know harbor secret obsessions with him.)

5. This video (and the accompanying article) are simply incredible. It's amazing what the human body can accomplish.

6. Had a GREAT evaluative meeting with the student board.

7. ...Which put me in the mood to appreciate this quote, Nahum's other comment:
הרואה לשנה - נוטע חיטה, הרואה לשנים - נוטע עצים, הרואה לדורות - מחנך אנשים
(roughly, "Someone who sees a year ahead - plants wheat, someone who sees several years ahead - plants trees, someone who sees future generations - educates people.")

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Lights, New Blogs, and New Definitions of Dinner

Tuesday:
1. Remind me to be treated at this hospital, should God forbid the need ever arise:

My favorite is the elderly janitor, hands down. (there are many close seconds).

2. Allison Elizabeth Rose (who was not only a guest blogger last week, but also has 3 first names), has started her very own blog! You can check it out here, as well as on the blogroll to your right. Happy reading!

3. In other friends-who-blog news, you can check out Avigail Oren's musings on twentysomething life here (and on the blogroll, of course). How did I wind up with such witty (and technologically savvy) friends?

4. It's my favorite time of year: The lights are up on College Walk. And I, in all likelihood, will not get to see them.

Whatever. I have something better: Christian frats! Even the supposedly non-sectarian ones really, really like Jesus, and they all have lights. Here's one of my favorites, Delta Tau Delta:
Okay, the truth is that my favorite is Delta Psi's tree, but it's inside their house (I can see it from the street), so I really saw no way to share it with you without being a major creeper and/or risking arrest.

5. Smithsonian has put together a list of 28 must-see places in the world. I've only been to two so far. Who wants to go traveling?? (I'm serious. Really. Anyone who has spoken to me in the past several months know this to be true. I want travel buddy offers in the comments. Multiple, so that I can be picky.)

6. I had for dinner. Grandma and Papa taught me well, though I don't think either one ever intended that I enjoy cereal at a meal other than breakfast. Oh well.

7. Free stuff! I went to Customer Service at Publix to ask for the locations of both the muffin liners and the matches. The woman told me where to find the former, began to describe the latter, and then said, "Well, we offer complimentary matches. Do you still want me to tell you where to find the other ones?" Umm, thanks, but I think I'll still with the complimentary ones. If I learned anything in college, it was never say no to free.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Behind the Eight Ball

Monday:
1. Dara Leah Wilensky has achieved the ultimate in trivial prowess: completing the "Countries of the World" quiz on sporcle.

(Jeffrey Michael Hast, I know you're jealous. Just admit it.). Dara, I want to be you.

2. Okay, so this didn't happen on Monday, but I gave Friday over to Bous' witty banter, so I'm entitled to cheat. On Friday I had not one but two lovely visits with old friends. In the morning I baked delicious banana-oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies with Avigail Oren, and in the afternoon I crashed Avi and Dena Chaya (Katz) Block's pre-Shab cooking and home improvement party. Miss you both a ton.

3. Hilary Rachel Brown, thanks for showing me this gorgeous look at what our national relationship with food is, and what it should be.

4. At the very beginning of Monday, Matani woke up in the middle of the night. Being there to help him settle back to sleep was worth more to me than anything else in the visit.
Update: it appears Tanni has chicken pox. Even having been vaccinated. Refuah shleimah, kiddo.

5. Arriving back in Gville was such a culture shock. College towns are like no place else on earth. Everything was open and hopping in the middle of the night. Also, shorts in December just don't register in my brain.

6. My apartment was freezing - Thank God. Bundling up almost made me feel like I was back in the Jerz.

5. Turned on my computer to find Thanksgiving pictures from Greta Lynn (who is not Greta Beth - it's complicated). Thanks!

(cousins Billy and Alicia, visiting from Uruguay)


(Uncle Danny, Aunt Vanessa, and Abba loading up on yummy)


(The ganza mishpacha. Ready?
Top row, L to R: Abba, Dan, Aunt Vanessa, Uncle Bruce
Second row: Greta Lynn, Ema, Tanni, Lucie, Aunt Amy
Third row: David, Billy, Alicia, Grandma
Bottom row: Me, Charly, Greta Beth, Uncle Danny
MIA: Yosef Saadya Ripps Kogen)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 4: My Fair (Lawn) Lady

Back to Friday, which belongs to Ayelet Rachel Boussi. Credits for post title belong to Steiner, who, like Ayelet, lives in apartment 6H as in Hashem.



The Bousser and I share a whopping 44 pictures on Facebook, giving me ample photographic fodder to follow our friendship (But alas, no pictures with Yosef, who I have still met only on Purim, when we both may or may not have been inebriated. That's what I get for moving to Gville.).


(Kiawah 2007, with Mindels and Deens)


(More Kiawah 2007, with Shteins)


(Still more Kiawah '07. We really like photshoots.)


(Midnight Breakfast @ 5F, with the Deenster)


(Kiawah 2008. This picture is kind of irrelevant, but I love it, so it stays.)

This would be the part of the post in which I explain how Bous and I came to know one another, but she does an excellent (and very succinct!) job of doing that herself. I give you, ayeletrb:


I am obviously giving in my assigned post 5 days late..... (looked at the blog today and realized I was that missing Friday post) my sincerest apologies to Navah's fan base and the entire internet community! This is why I do not have a blog.

Now my Navs connection: Fair Lawn, Ramah Nyack, 5F, Yavneh Board 07, Barnard 09, the Maurice M. Pine Free Public Library, Robyn Kotek, long cardigans, Leora Shudofsky, and love of chocolate chip muffins made with applesauce.

Now my seven:

1) Jon Berliner's Sarah Palin love album...and this little gem that one of his friends posted (don't worry, it took me a second to get it too).

2) A patient of mine called me "majestic" yesterday in gratitude for letting him keep a pen. What more positive feedback can I ask for.

3) I saw 2 really good things with Yosef last week:
a-- Oleanna-- a David Mamet play on broadway about a female college student's accusations of sexual harassment by a male professor. Really fresh, interesting, and quite powerful. I highly recommend. It hits you hard and kind of turns things as we might think of them upside down.
b-- A Serious Man-- HILARIOUS Coen Brothers movie. If you have ever met, loved, or been an awkward Jew this is the movie for you. It's also kind of dark and depressing, which makes the hilarious awkwardness all the better.
(Does that count as 2 things?)

4) Viva (aka my cafeteria) makes soup, and it is delicious.

5) Israel has oil, and they finally found it! Booyah. A nice silver lining during a rough time...

6) It's December, which I love. Birthday, Christmas lights, Chanukah, Chanukah cookies, Chanukah gelt, excuse to wear uggs, excuse to eat tons of Viva soup, chance of snow showers, etc. Those might also count as multiple things.

7) Of course the final reason life is sweet.... seeing all the chips last week for book club slash Kiawah Girls Choir reunion! There is nothing like it. And we sound fabulous even outside of South Carolina.

(There's an a bad news moment around 1:40...just ignore it and we'll all be okay)
video

Yay Navah's blog!

Kol Sasson V'Kol Simcha

Sunday:
1. Consumer Reports, 1984. My father's yellowed and much-loved copy contains the absolute best recipe for pancakes ever invented. I made them for the fam on Sunday morning. Delicious.

2. Raking leaves. I didn't actually partake in this activity, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tanni and my dad (almost as much as I enjoyed being in my natural habitat, a climate in which we have all four seasons, and therefore a reason to rake leaves).

3. Leora and Yoni's wedding! This lovely simcha, which was truly an honor to be a part of, was also included in the very first list of Seven Daily Reasons some 8 weeks ago. (All pics stolen from facebook. Many thanks to all the original photographers!)





4. I spent the bulk of said wedding having a big Mishpachat Havivi party, though I only have pictures with two of the siblings:

(The hair was significantly less of an awkward comb-over pre-dancing. I promise. Noa Havivi is an absurdly beautiful 14 year old. Daniel, you look like an axe murderer. I miss Nachshonim 2009. Phew. That was a lot of information.)

5. The wedding was also an intense shot of catching-up time with a ton of (mainly JTS) people. It was really nice.

6. One old friend in particular gave me the most soul-warming hug imaginable. It was the best feeling of homecoming.

7. Improbably, SDR became dinnertime conversation at my table, where I discovered some additional secret readers (shoutout to Emily Cook - it was SO nice to see you), and continued to get over my mental aversion to saying the words, "Yes, I have a blog."

"Shabbos you really should know, we hate to see you go..."

We're temporarily skipping Friday, as it belongs to a guest post which has yet to come in. So...

Saturday:
1. The Saturday paper at my fingertips. Flipping through the pages of the New York Times Magazine is an entirely differently experience than clicking through screens on a laptop.

2. Going to shul, and not having to lead a thing (in fact, not being able to...home sweet non-egalitarian home).

3. 12,000 elderly congregants wanting to catch up at kiddush = ideal situation for perfecting my elevator speech.

4. Napping on the family room couch. Seffi, you were missed (though the ability to stretch out was very much appreciated).

5. Ema's challah. I know we use the same recipe, but the original is really something special.

6. Miniature chippim hangout. Always a gossip-filled pleasure.

7. Singing Tanni to sleep.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aren't You Glad You're Not a Turkey? [On This Thanksgiving Day]

Sorry for the brief hiatus - daily posting becomes more difficult when balanced with a social life. But I'm back in the 'ville, so let's caught up.

Thursday:
1. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I wasn't such a fan of the pre-taped performances, but I did enjoy Tanni's running narration - "Ooh, ooh! It's Buzz Lightyear! NaVAH, I said it's Buzz Lightyear. Come see!" - as I attempted to make the Thanksgiving meatballs (Ripps family tradition of unknown origin).

2. Ugly boots.
For two years, I have scoured the shelves and websites for the perfect brown boot to stick my jeans into in the wintertime. Admittedly, I have been very picky: too short, too tall, too round, too pointy - I was like Goldilocks. And then, on Wednesday, I gave up. I got the Ema, "I-can't-believe-you-spend-your-money-on-this-stuff-but-okay-fine-I-like-them" seal of approval, and bought the first pair of boots that I tried on (I wore them on Thursday. It totally counts.). They're ugly. I love them.

3. Rice and gravy. Say what you will about turkey, stuffing, and all the rest; this super unhealthy but absurdly delicious combo is my Thanksgiving treat. Yum.

4. In our family, everyone has their Thanksgiving responsibility. Mine is to make the meatballs. Yosef Saadya Ripps Kogen's is to make the apple pie. Alas, the Sefster is far away in Eretz Moladeteinu, and as such, could not be counted on for pie production. My grandmother decreed that no one else could make the pie, and we were left lacking a dessert. I decided to enact a small social experiment - I made squash kugel in a pie crust, and called it squash pie. It was a hit.

...I always knew cran crunch et al. had no business being called "side dishes."

5. Lupper: n., a meal occurring in between or in place of lunch and supper. See Brunch.
The Deerson arm of the mishpucha splits Thanksgiving between the two sides of the family. On off years, we see them for Shabbat dinner instead. However, this year Aunt Ethel served their (real) Thanksgiving meal at 2 pm - giving them ample to eat and shmooze, while still arriving at our meal "to visit" approximately 15 minutes after we all sat down to eat. Gotta love the lupper.

6. Slides. The old slide projector unfortunately didn't make an appearance, but we did discuss - half-heartedly - the possibility of digitizing. Long live the old-school slide show.

7. Seffi stole my gimmick. His Thanksgiving post has a list of, ahem, seven things he missed about Thanksgiving in Jersey. He also solicited thankfulness lists from potential commenters. No big, Sef - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

As a bonus, check out my Thanksgiving messages to the Sefster (shoutout to Shoshana "Shoshmosh" Brownstein for organizing all of the messages Nativers received from their families. You rock, Shosh.).



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