rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
Well, there was no Purim carnival or Oscars, but Rebecca still managed to stay busy this weekend. Sara and I were both off on Friday, and we went out and had lunch at a deli. We both ordered meat dishes -- I love buying meat on Fridays during Lent. I get a very childish satisfaction from it, which I guess comes from being a Catholic school veteran and hating all the seafood commercials that always get shoved down your throat at this time of year. (I mean, shrimp tacos? No, Taco Bell. Barf!)

After lunch, we visited the art gallery downtown. They're having an exhibition right now of the 50 most famous photos from National Geographic, and it was a really cool show. These were my favorites:



Veiled Rebellion, by Lynsey Addario (women by a roadside in Afghanistan, 2009). I love how lonely and evocative this is, and how the blue of the women's burqas is set against the mountains and the sky.


Shelter, by Joanna Pinneo (a family napping in their tent in the Sahara desert outside Timbuktu, 1998). I love how the tent diffuses the sunlight and creates such a warm, peaceful glow, and the baby's toes in the sand.

There was also, of course, the Afghan Girl. The photos were so beautiful, and it was very striking and powerful to see such big reproductions. I'm going to miss this little art gallery. It's so charming, and we've seen some cool collections here. I think big art galleries can be kinda serious and obnoxious. After the art gallery, I just had time to go on a brief bike-ride it got too chilly. It just won't get warm and stay warm -- ugh!

On Saturday morning, we had a session of religious school, and I think the kids actually enjoyed it. We did a lesson on King Solomon -- read a storybook about him, learned a song about him, and practiced writing his name in Hebrew. Sarah's the oldest, and she wanted to read the Solomon story to the younger kids. So we let her (anything that equals less work for us is a win!). She read King Solomon and the Bee, which is based on a traditional Midrash, and Maddy laughed so hard at the silly voice she used for the bee. I'm going to miss this group.



Sarah reading to Maddy -- aren't they so stinkin' cute?

I should've gone home after religious school, but I stuck around for Torah study. Oy vey. I'm not going to miss that. Do we really need to read the entire parsha before we can discuss it? Do we really need to go around the table and see how everyone's Torah translates Exodus 33:14? Does yours have My presence will go with you, My face will go with you, or I will go with you? That just seems like missing the point to me. It was so frustrating, because I know Torah study has the potential to be really interesting.
rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)
Rebecca has had a busy few days getting ready for Purim. Today, I spent about five hours in the temple kitchen helping to make hamantashen -- from scratch! I'd never made hamantashen before, just eaten them, but it wasn't hard once we got an assembly line going. I got the job of brushing on the egg wash and spooning out the different fillings. I enjoyed it, but my hands were coated in jelly and flour by the time we were done! We made apricot (yuck!), chocolate, and strawberry (yum!). Rebecca tried sneaking a few into her mouth, but we're going to sell some as part of a temple fundraiser, and the rest we're saving for the Purim carnival at the end of the month.

 photo Hamantashen.jpg
A small sample of all the hamantashen!

Speaking of which, on Saturday morning, we had another class of religious school. Our temple plans to host a big Purim carnival this year, with all sorts of fun activities and guests from other temples. We teachers have all been working hard on it, and the kids have, too -- they're going to perform the megilla play! On Saturday, we assigned roles and the kids had their first rehearsal. It all went pretty well -- two brothers are playing Haman and Mordechai, and they loved pretending to shoot each other with their toy guns. We even found a role for the super shy kid who couldn't handle being on stage -- audio technician! He was happy to sit in the wings and work the CD player. The kids enjoyed it, and everything was going so well until...

This happened. )

P.S. When I get frustrated, it's good to remember there are certainties in life.
Things I Will Never Like
1) When I make plans with someone, only to have them cancel on me later. This is probably #1 on my list of ways to piss me off. I hate when this happens.
2) People who bitch at me about things that haven't even happened! Yeah, I don't understand the thought process there, either. But there are people who think they can see the future, predict my actions, and feel entitled to yell at me about it now. Gag me.
rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
Our non-Christmas tree has been a bit sparsely-decorated since I upgraded from a 4' to a 6'. Last year, I bought a glittery red key from the antique store as a new ornament. This year, I made an ornament out my mom's old skate key. Grandma held onto it for all these years, and I found it at my aunt's house when I went over there to do my laundry this morning. God only knows why Grandma kept it, but then, she could never throw anything away.


Skate keys were used to put on old metal roller skates. (If you've ever read The Catcher in the Rye, there's a scene where Phoebe uses a skate key to put on her roller skates.) This one is at least 45 years old. My Grandma and Aunt Carla told me Mom used to spend hours skating up and down the sidewalk. It's almost impossible for me to imagine her that young.

Happy second night of Hanukkah! PBS is broadcasting the (several hours long) 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables tonight, and I'm watching it right now. SQUEE! I love this version of Les Mis. It stars my very favorite Valjean and Fantine, Alfie Boe and Lea Salonga -- and, unfortunately, one of the Jonas Brothers as Marius. :\


Ni Hao Yall
rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)
I don't think I've ever been so happy to have a Shabbat service over with as I was last night! I still can't quite believe that I actually conducted a decent service as lay leader at my temple. I wasn't planning on posting anything about it, but it was kinda a "Shehekianu" moment for me, so here are some notes.

Of course, the evening had some bumps in it. For perhaps the first time in the two years I've been attending this temple, I arrived there early to set up. Only to find the whole place was locked! Apparently I arrived too early, and beat even Sassy Jewish Grandfather #2, who has the keys. So I called him, told him to get his butt over there ("I just to kennel my dogs first") and waited in the dark courtyard for about ten minutes until he pulled up. Other bumps were that I made at least one mistake that I noticed (asked the congregation to stand up when they were supposed to sit down) and probably a few others that I didn't. Also, the bimah was freakin' sweltering! I'd never stood up there for very long before, and I don't know if it was me or the bright lights or how nervous I was, but I was sweating like a Baptist preacher! Ugh!

For the most part, I read straight from the siddur, without ever raising my head to look at everyone, lest I panic and clam up, but I did try to give it a few personal touches, too. In the space allotted for a sermon, I played Matisyahu's Hanukkah song "Miracle" from my iPod speaker, then I blathered incoherently about faith and miracles. I talked a little about the connection between the Maccabees and the Mi Chamocha before we sang the song, and before the Kaddish, in addition to the names on our yartzheit list, I read the names of a few Jewish sailors, soldiers, and Marines who were killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. (An idea I got from summer camp, where they read the names of the Israeli athletes killed in Munich at the Shabbat service during the Olympics.)

To unwind from all that, Sara and I spent the evening at Mom's house, watching Star Trek episodes with Adam. Have you ever heard a funnier exchange than:
Picard: Good Lord, didn't anybody here build ships in bottles when they were boys?
Warf: I did not play with toys.
Data: I was never a boy.
O'Brien: I did, sir.
Picard: Thank you, Mr. O'Brien.

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah, and I didn't do anything except light the first candle by myself. But I hope to open presents and maybe even try cooking latkes another night.



Happy Hanukkah!
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
Sara and I spent yesterday afternoon at Mom's house, playing video games and eating Thanksgiving dinner. She had so much food -- turkey, rice dressing, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, apple pie, cheesecake, and cookie cake! I ate too much, and after a meal like that, I really didn't want to go into work that evening. We were there a little late setting up for Black Friday. I have to be there dark and early tomorrow morning -- ugh!

They're a bit late, but below are my notes on this week's new NCIS. Rebecca wasn't thrilled.


Notes on 10x07 "Shell Shock: Part 2" )

Instead of the expected turkey or cornucopia, Mom had fall leaves put on the cookie cake. Someone got to it before I could photograph it, so here's wishing y'all a happy 'ksgiving! I am off to enjoy the evening with CJ & Company.



On the art calendar, I'm looking at Still Life with Ginger Jar and Eggplants, an 1894 oil painting by Paul Cezanne.
rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)
I was off from work this weekend, and man, it was a pretty packed one. It kicked off on Friday evening, when our temple was treated to services by an amazing guest cantor, David Mintz. He's from New York, so afterwards, we took him out for a taste of traditional Louisiana cuisine... at the nearest Chinese restaurant. There have been group dinners at Chinese places after services before, but I always skipped them because I really don't like Chinese food. I only tagged along this time because Sassy Jewish Grandparents #1 literally blocked the door and wouldn't let me leave until I agreed to go (also because they gave me a ride and paid for my food). You know that cliche about how Jewish people love Chinese food? Yeah, it's real.

On Saturday, our city was holding two events downtown, an arts festival and a culture festival. Our temple had signed up to run tables at both! We've been planning and working on this for a long time, and I honestly thought the temple president and secretary must've lost their minds to sign us up. I was like, "We're a small congregation! We can't pull off something like this!" But I was wrong. We might be a small group, but our booth on Israel at the culture fest was by far the biggest one there. We had activities where visitors (we had about 300!) could see Israeli currency, listen to HaTikva (the Israeli national anthem), make a Haman hat, learn to write shalom in Hebrew or play dreidel, and we gave away little mini Israeli flags. The whole thing went so well, and I am so beyond proud of us for pulling it off.

I was working the booths for most of the day, but I managed to break away for part of the afternoon. I took Sarah (a girl in my congregation) around to all the other booths while her mom worked at ours. We each picked up a little pretend passport and got them signed or stamped at each country's table. So many countries were represented -- the local geneology library had a table on Germany and German immigrants to Louisiana, the French Club of a high school had two tables on France and Belgium, the martial arts school had one on China. We saw Chinese dragon dancers, Spanish flamenco dancers, and more! Sarah and I had so much fun.



Me and Sarah in the HUGE Haman hats we made out of newspaper

Today, Briana and I browsed in a Halloween store, then hit the mall -- the third time we've done this, but it's hard finding stuff that doesn't seem to bore her. It went pretty well, mostly because we bumped into a friend of Briana's family, who shopped with us (he was pretty fun and knew way more about fashion and shopping than I do) and bought us each a cookie from the Great American Cookie Company. Any situation that involves free food can be considered a win, right?

A stray cat showed up at our apartment tonight, and she immediately scarfed down an entire bowl of food, poor thing. The newcomer has been very calm and gentle -- there are some feral cats in our area, but she must be domestic, since she let me pet and hold her -- but Tovah and my sister are freakin' the hell out. Tovah's reaction I can understand, but not "You are so HATEFUL, Rebecca! [I'm also stupid, selfish, and don't care about Tovah at all.] How could you DO this to Tovah?! My poor baby is TRAUMATIZED FOR LIFE!"
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
My rolling birthday lasted a little longer than I'd thought. Athena made a surprise visit this week, and Sara and I spent Thursday evening at their place. Aunt Connie served a bag of Cheetos, a jar of pickles, hot dogs, and Milano cookies. (YUM! There were no leftovers.) She also gave me a bag full of hair-care products as a birthday present, and because she literally begged, I let her shampoo and blow-dry my hair. She and Athena were hoping they could fluff it up and make it BIG, but it didn't really work out -- my hair is just too flat and thin, which is fine by me. They honestly ooh'ed and ahh'ed over how quickly it dried. Looking back now, I wonder if they were trying to send me some message?

Saturday was a busy day. That morning, we had a class of religious school at temple, and it went well. The kids watched this movie about Noah and the flood (it was a little dated and hokey, but not too bad) and learned to write Noah's name in Hebrew. Jewish Grandmother #1 even brought sugar cookies she'd made in the shape of a nun and chet -- SO cute!



I had to snap a picture with my phone :)

That evening, "Briana" and I went to the local college football game and a pre-game tailgate party hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. They had free food and different activities and games to play. Briana and I played basketball for a while, then a game of doubles pool with a really nice Big & Little Brother. It felt like a big relief for me (and probably for Briana too) to have other people around to interact with. I hope we can go to more of Big Brother Big Sisters' match events. I was kinda bored during the football game -- I never go to sporting events; in fact, this was my first time at a college game! -- but Briana seemed to enjoy it, although we were both bummed that her cousin, who's a local celebrity, wasn't able to sing the National Anthem before the game.

And on Sunday morning, I woke up early again to visit my aunt. I feel kinda bad that I've seen so little of her since Grandma died, and I hope I can make it over to her house more often from now on.

Random news: Sara and I went to the movies and saw Sinister today. How scary was it? Sara grabbed my hand so hard, she left a bruise! Random good news: A new fanfiction idea came to me out of the blue today, and I'm already +800 words into the story! Why can't this happen more often? Random bad news: Because of the presidential debate, no new episode of NCIS this week! Boo!
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
This is me and Grandma, on my birthday three years ago (which I posted about back here). It's not the best photo of Grandma because she's looking at the cake instead of the camera, but I still love it. I love the glow of the candles, and how you can see Grandma's old kitchen behind us. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.


If someone said three years from now,
you'd be long gone,
I'd stand up and punch them out
'Cause they're all wrong.
When someone said count your blessings now,
before they're long gone,
I guess I just didn't know how.
I was all wrong.
{Lyrics from "Who Knew?" by Pink.}
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
Sara and I had a little early birthday celebration for me yesterday. The weather was perfect, and we were both off and able to sleep in -- hallelujah! She treated me to burritos for lunch, and I baked brownies. We packed it all up, drove to the temple, and ate outside in the courtyard, underneath the beautiful sukkah! Sara also gave me a beautiful silver mezuzah as a birthday present.


At my birthday lunch under the sukkah -- fun times!

From there, we walked (yes, walked! but it wasn't far and the weather was so nice and cool) to the downtown art gallery. There was an exhibition there by Bennett Sewell, who makes incredible sculptures of animals (mostly dogs) out of regular household items, like a space heater, utensils, light bulbs, etc. It was a very cool show and a very great day.

And tonight, there were two more things to be excited about: Liam Neeson on Inside the Actors Studio (the first decent guest they'd had in some time) and a new NCIS! I wasn't loving this one, though.


A mostly unhappy recap of 10x02 "Recovery" )
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
And have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cries of my hate?
The cries in the dark that nobody hears
Here where I stand at the turning of the years

 - "Valjean's Soliloquy," from Les Miserables

Shabbat shalom is the greeting for Sabbath peace, but Rebecca sure wasn't feeling any of that on Friday evening. Our temple is a small congregation with several different lay leaders, but one of them (the one who did services yesterday) totally grates on my nerves. He uses his sermons to wave his arms around and YELL AT US about politics and the election. UGH! There are not enough words for how much I hate this. I need to stop going to his services.

Today was the last Shabbat of 5772, and our temple marked the occassion with havdalah and tashlich services at the 9/11 Memorial on the lakefront. (The three little American flags I left on Grandma's birthday were still there.) We had a bigger turn-out and nicer weather than last year, but it was held later in the evening, so seagulls didn't flock out to eat our bread this time. Yeah, a big group of Jews singing Hebrew prayers in public did get some strange stares, but I didn't care. As we were leaving, lights came on in the memorial's reflecting pool. I didn't even know it had lights and said, "Oh, that's pretty," sounding cynical and sarcastic, like I always do. Maggie said at the same time, "Look, Rebecca! That is SO beautiful!" There is something so enthusiastic and innocent about her outlook on life that is almost bittersweet to me.

Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of a new year, 5773, and I'm hoping that with it, I can turn over a new leaf. Lately I've picked up some bad habits and put down some good ones. I need to stop staying up so late, oversleeping in the mornings, and getting to work late. I need to start recycling again. I need to start cleaning my room more. (I was so excited when I first moved into that big bedroom, and now it's just become a place for me to lose things! My chest has been tight tonight, but where's my inhaler? I have no idea!) I haven't been bike-riding nearly as much I used to, and I need to start doing that again. You know how cranky smokers get when they haven't had a cigarette in a long time? That's Rebecca without her bike-riding.

We're having a dessert oneg after Rosh Hashanah services tomorrow evening. Last year, I brought delicious pumpkin bread that Grandma baked and let me take credit for. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. I got it from Grandma and gave it out to a few people, but I didn't think to keep one for myself. I took for granted that Grandma would be around to make it for me for years. So this year, I made bacon & eggs instead. I know no one will love them or want the recipe, but I enjoy making them -- and I made way too many! I better give some to "Briana" tomorrow.

And I better go to bed now, because believe me when I say I have a busy day tomorrow. Until then, there's my Tovah (on her bay window, as always) wishing y'all a happy new year!



SHANAH TOVAH, FROM TOVAH!
NINE ... DAYS ... LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
(We're in single digits, y'all!!)
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
Can anybody guess what Rebecca woke up to this morning? A strange tapping sound at my window. For a second, I thought that someone was trying to break in. Then I got up, pulled back the curtain, and saw this:



That's Miss Tovah sitting on my bay window, staring down a little bird on the windowsill outside. I'm guessing that the bird couldn't see Tovah, or maybe just wasn't scared of her. They stayed like this for the longest time! Right now, though, it's pouring down rain -- again! -- and Tovah is in my lap. And now, a recap of the past few days:

On Friday, I was so sick that I had to call in to work (something I almost never do). I woke up very early that morning with a stomachache, so I took so Pepto-Bismal, only to barf it up. A few hours later, I tried some crackers, but I barfed those up, too. A few hours later, I tried some food that I actually kept down. Then I decided to bike to temple on a near-empty stomach. I didn't feel faint at all, just so tired that I almost fell asleep during services and while bike-riding home. Ugh!

On Saturday afternoon, I visited the mall with the girl I was matched with through Big Brothers Big Sisters. We just walked, talked, and browsed around in all the stores. We've only just met, so things are still kinda awkward between us, but I think "Briana" (not her real name) is starting to come out of her shell, and I hope for good things. We made plans to go to the skating rink this week, and we're both looking forward to it.

On Saturday evening, I did my laundry and watched a child actress movie at Mom's house. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane was the only child-actress movie available through NetFlix Instant that I hadn't already seen. It left me wondering what people smoked in the 70's.

Today, I hope to get some cleaning done. I'll be working a lot this week (ugh!) but next week is my vacation! I leave for summer camp one week from today! I'm kinda nervous because I've never been there before, but I know several people who have and they all say great things about it.

72 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
Our temple had a Musical Shabbat last Friday, and it was amazing. The entire service was sung by our choir, accompanied by folks playing the guitar, flute, drums, and piano. We had new melodies to some old songs ("Hinnei Mah Tov" and the Kiddush) and some new songs that Rebecca had never heard before, like Debbie Friedman's "Sing Unto God."


My horribly blurry photo of our amazing choir!

Uncle John & Aunt Connie came and enjoyed it, but they couldn't stay for the oneg after. (Sassy Jewish Grandfather #2: "Rebecca, where'd your aunt and uncle go?" Me: "They were afraid if they stayed too long, they'd turn Jewish!" Him: "Well, I guess they saw what happened to you.") We had a ton of food -- chopped liver, challah bread with raisins, chips and dip, deviled eggs, and platters of vegetables, fruits, and brownies -- and I ate till I was stuffed.

Yesterday, I spent the evening at Aunt Connie's having a plarn-making party. She started making it and mentioned it to some missionaries, who gave her a huge toteful of plastic bags, which we spent hours cutting into plarn. I had to give up on my first attempt at crocheting plarn -- crooked edges and tight, single loops made the whole darn thing crooked -- but I started over making double loops and semi-straight edges with a smaller hook. Their kittens kept jumping in and out of the bags and trying to attack them.

Tovah continues to be such sweet, quiet company (at least, when she's not climbing on the laptop while I'm using it!). Last night, she slept in bed with me and sat on the rim of the tub while I took a bath. She loves splashing her paws in her water dish, the bathtub, and any glass of water we leave out. It's pretty funny to watch. Speaking of water, I had a dream that I was having a mikvah and woke up with the most peaceful feeling.
rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)
It's kinda hard to believe, but this morning's religious school class was our last for this school year. We won't meet again until the fall. For as much as I griped about it, I got a little emotional when we all said goodbye. It's kinda like the fig tree we planted for Tu Bish'vat back in January, which has already grown noticeably and even has a few tiny green figs. The kids have grown and learned a lot this year, and (most miraculously) I've gotten better at teaching them.

It can be hard in such a tiny congregation in a city with so few Jews, and I imagine that goes double for the kids. I mean, just think of all the ways our culture mass-markets Christmas and Easter and shoves them in kids' faces. Think of how many Christians proselytize, advertise, and tell anyone who'll listen that they should worship Jesus. Yes, our lessons rarely went as planned and were often made up on the fly, but I hope our little religious school gave the kids some sense of Jewish identity, so their faith will not be burdensome or meaningless to them.

So, for our last class, we did a mitzah project. Everybody brought plastic shopping bags, and the kids cut them down and tied them into "plarn" (plastic yarn - they loved that word) that charity groups use to crochet into sleeping mats for the homeless. The kids were all very enthusiastic helpers and had fun. The balls of plarn might not look like a lot, but they were. The kids tied enough to wrap around the entire social hall and beyond!


"Everybody say plarn!" (These are only some of the kids.)

I know, I know, look at all those red eyes! Innocent victims of a horrible photographer with a bad camera. My Kodak seems to have finally died, and my GE is no good indoors -- or from a distance, or in motion, or at night! Ugh! Fortunately, the photo editing tools at Picasa are great (way better than Photobucket) and create decent photos, no matter how awful my originals are.

Kein Y'hi Ratzon -- may this always be God's will.
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
This will probably be the last post I make from this apartment. Today, between Yom HaShoah events, I signed the lease and got the keys to our new place. It's still kinda hard to believe that we're moving. When I woke up this morning, Sara said, "I can't believe we're moving tomorrow. And I don't think this apartment believes it, either." Haha. True to our procrastinating nature, we left everything to the last minute! I did put a very small dent in moving things into our new place, but I wasn't able to carry much with my skinny arms -- and it didn't take long before sweat was dripping off me!

I will be glad to see the last of "Smallpartment" -- as Sara and I have decided to refer back to this one in the future -- but I don't want to make it seem like living here was a totally bad experience. There are two big things to be thankful for:

#1) Living within walking distance of Grandma, right up until the day she moved out of her old house. Now that Grandma has died and the house where she lived for 47 years is sold and being remodeled, I realize how precious this was. I will always treasure my memories of all those lazy afternoons spent walking Sable (who's also gone now, the poor old puppy) over to her house, visiting with her, eating her cooking, watering her garden, and swinging on her porch swing. It was a blessing to have her so close by during her final years.

#2) Living within biking distance of the only Jewish temple in a 50-mile radius. Sara says I wouldn't have converted to Judaism without NCIS (which led me to writing fanfiction, which led me to learning more about Judaism for a Ziva-centric fic I wrote). But I honestly don't think that I would've converted -- or at least, not at this time in my life -- if I hadn't lived in such close proximity to the temple. (It's almost literally right around the corner from this apartment, and so easy to reach on my bike.) I've always been interested in Judaism, but riding my bike past the temple all the time was what really gave the courage to walk through those doors for the first time. And I've never regretted it. What a blessing.

I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about leaving Smallpartment. I guess change is always hard. I pray that our new place will bring us blessings, too. It's appropriate that we should move so soon after Passover.



The Lord said to Moses, "Remember that I have brought you out of Egypt by a mighty hand." And the Lord led the people out of Egypt by way of the desert, which is by the Red Sea. The Lord went before them to show the way, by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire, that He may be with them at all times. -- Exodus 13.
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
I have a lot to blog about today -- even though I shouldn't be blogging at all, but packing! -- so I'll split it into two entries. Today is Yom HaShoah, and my city (for the first time) hosted an observance day for it. It was all planned mostly by folks from the temple, so I've been hearing about it long time. Unfortunately, Rabbi W couldn't be there -- he to attend a funeral in Baton Rouge -- and neither could Sassy Jewish Grandfather #1, who really spearheaded the whole event. So, the only religious leaders there were Christian ones, but fortunately, nothing offensive happened (it has before).

The first event was at a downtown exhibition center. It's a big, beautiful old building that used to be a school -- my aunt and uncles went there -- but during my lifetime it's always been a museum/theater. There were lots of photographs and artwork on display, some of them on loan from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. (I've been there, and to ones in Houston and Paris. The one in DC was the most impressive.) My favorite part had to be the Episcopalian school student choir. They did two songs, "Ani Ma'amin" and "Torah Orah." Their Hebrew wasn't great, but their singing was amazing!

The only thing that really bugged me was that refreshments were provided by Chick Fil-A! I thought it was hugely inappropriate. Gays were persecuted and killed in the Holocaust too, and Chick Fil-A is an very homophobic company that fires its employees for "sinful" behavior and donates millions to groups that encourage gay discrimination. For them to serve food at a Yom HaShoah event? Rebecca wanted to puke. Never again means never again, not never again unless it's the gays.

The second event was along the lake front, and it concluded with all of us throwing a flower into the water. It was very solemn and moving.



The "Ani Ma'amin" is an ancient Hebrew declaration of faith. It can be translated as:

I believe in God, in a greater truth,
and in things greater than this world.

I believe that the Messiah will come,
and he will find me waiting.
No matter how long he may delay,
I still believe in him.
No matter what happens,
I believe.


I loved that I was able to ride my bike to both events. I'm going to miss living so close to the lake -- which brings us to Part 2.
rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
Rebecca's had a busy few days celebrating Passover and, to a lesser extent, Easter. On Thursday night, I dyed a few eggs with Adam. It's one of those little-kid activities that geeky, grown-up Rebecca still finds fun. These are the eggs I made (ew, look at how gross and veiny my hand is!):



Clockwise from top: the Israeli flag (I drew the Star of David with a marker; it was even more smudged in person!), the French flag, purple with white stripes, purple and gold (LSU colors, as any fellow Louisiana reader will know), and the Italian flag. I'm not sure why I made one of the Italian flag, since that country doesn't have any special meaning to me like France and Israel, but who cares?

Friday night was our congregational Passover seder. It was fun, but so exhausting! I'm not sure why, but Jewish Grandmother #2 made the seating arrangements and put me with the C. family. They're such nice people, but I admit I wasn't too thrilled about sitting next to the 6-year-old. The food was delicious, and there was so much of it! I ate everything on my seder plate, all three courses of the dinner, and an extra bowl of matzah-ball soup. The practicing I did on Who Knows One paid off, and I got all the way up to thirteen this year! Rabbi W looked so impressed.

It was fun, but I was absolutely sedered out by the end of the night. It started at 6:30, and I didn't get home until after 10! Holy Moses! And then I woke up early on Saturday morning to go to Torah study with Rabbi W. We read a little of the parsha, but mostly we discussed the mistaken belief by some Christians that Jesus's Last Supper was a Passover seder (it wasn't), which was interesting.

I was still so tired that I spent the rest of the weekend napping, writing fanfiction, watching The 10 Commandments, and eating slice after slice of matzah-bread pizza. (Sassy Jewish Grandparents #1 gave me a box imported from Israel, and I put Little Caesar's Crazy Sauce and mozzarella cheese on it. Yummy.) I did venture out today to have a lovely, delicious Easter lunch with JC & Company. All in all, it was a great weekend.


Ni Hao Yall
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
Midnight in Paris was very good, and so was Hugo, which I watched with Adam tonight. I was surprised by how sincerely feel-good and touching it was, without being too sappy. I hope I can stick to my goal of watching at least one child actress movie a month for the rest of the year. I can't believe I'm posting this and encouraging her craziness, but Sara decided to braid my hair while we watched Midnight in Paris, and this was the result. Believe me, it looked so much worse in person!

Most embarrassing photo ever under here! )

Anyway, now onto a more serious subject. This morning, we had another session of the temple's Hebrew school.

Thank goodness no one from my temple knows about this blog, because Rebecca's about to go on a long, somewhat angry rant. )

After Hebrew school, the adults had Torah study. Rabbi W asked me to talk to a lady in our congregation who's in the conversion process about the beit din and mikvah. It was so surreal for me, because it feels like just yesterday, I was the one asking questions about that, not answering them.
rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
I was going to sign off, clean the kitchen, go to bed, and post this another day, but then I decided to write it down before the feeling goes away. There was another session of Sunday school at the temple this morning. I've posted before about how it hasn't been going perfectly for me, and I expected today's class would be more of the same. We got all the kids together to plant a fig tree sapling on the temple grounds in honor of Tu Bish'vat, a Jewish holiday celebrating trees. I got my coworker EJ to switch shifts with me so I could go, and when I told him this, he said, "Y'all just have the most random holidays! That's awesome!"

To my surprise, I really enjoyed it -- and I think the kids did, too. They all worked together to dig a hole and plant the sapling. It's a Celeste fig tree, which produces the sweetest, juciest figs of all -- of course, it'll be a long time before this one produces any figs! -- and is very popular in the South. I took a few photos, and this one is my favorite. I don't even mind the insane amount of sunflare (it was early in the morning!) because you can really see how much fun the kids had.


I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's song

Afterwards, we had Hebrew lessons; not all of the kids could stay for that, so I ended up with just two little boys in my class. They're not twins, but they're brothers very close in age and look SO much alike. Even though I've known them for almost a year, some months ago I gave up on ever trying to tell them apart. (I'm not the only person at temple who has this problem. I've seen them both answer to the other one's name.) But this morning, I somehow did what I thought I could never do and learned who was who! Now I can call them by their first names, instead of "Mr. C----."

I also managed to teach them a little Hebrew, even though the older one speaks the language better than as well as me. I hope I never forget how their faces lit up when they sounded out and read new words for the first time.

Who's to say I can't do everything?
Well I can try, and as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren't always just what they seem
I don't want this feeling to go away

{Lyrics from "Upside Down," by Jack Johnson. Listen here. The video is adorable.}
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
Even when I was a kid, Christmas Day always felt kinda like a let-down. (When I was really young, it was the one day a year that Mom dragged us kids to church, before she gave up on trying to make Catholics out of us and just let us be heathens.) I always preferred Christmas Eve, where the focus going to Grandma's house and seeing all the relatives, not getting presents. This year was no exception.

On Christmas Eve, I spent the afternoon and evening first at Grandma's house, then with JC & Co. There were the usual Christmas Eve dishes: gumbo with hard-boiled eggs and potato salad, and pizza for Rebecca folks who don't like gumbo. (I know, I know, I'm a bad Cajun!) I did give and get a few small gifts to/from the extended family. I gave Athena one of my cute little dreidels -- because she's one of my few relatives who shows any interest in Jew stuff -- and ended up teaching her whole family how to play it! I had to explain to Athena which Hebrew letters meant almost every time we spun the dreidel! Christmas Eve doesn't get better than playing dreidel with Mormons.

Their family opened their presents while I was there, and Eva is still young enough that Christmas presents are a huge deal for her. Her whole face LIT UP when she unwrapped her swanky new electric keyboard, and she immediately played "Don't Stop Believin'" for all of us. She is really an awesome piano player. I got her a pack of glittery ink pens that she also seemed excited about.

I broke my three-year tradition of attending Midnight Mass at the Catholic cathedral, but I was so tired from the long day that I completely forgot and went to bed early. Around 11:30, I sat up in bed and thought, "Hey, I could still make the Midnight Mass," but I was already in bed, and the whether outside was very cold, wet, and windy! Besides, is there really a comfortable place for a now-officially Jewish girl at a Midnight Mass?

Today, Sara and I slept in and slept in and slept in. We have really hardly seen each other all week because our work and sleep schedules were so crazy. I got a few random presents that I don't know why my family thought I wanted -- am I really that hard to buy for? -- and some I really liked. Sara got me Flight of the Reindeer, a children's book I'd wanted about how reindeer really fly (by contrast, I got her Stephen King's The Stand: Complete and Uncut); a nice new Torah with commentary; and...


PURPLE AB SHOES!!!
rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
My background images consist of 43 different photographs I've taken in different locations (on bike rides through my neighborhood, during my stay in Europe, in some of the cemeteries I've visted) over the years. I have them set to change every three minutes. Right now, my background happens to be this:



It's a roundabout in Villers Cotterêts, just down the street from the Lycée Européen. This was taken in the spring of the year (April, I think) and all the flowers were in bloom. It was so pretty. Come back in a few minutes, and it'll be something else.

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