The Official TikkunGer Backup Blog

Just like the tittle says, this is my emergancy backup site

Archive for April, 2006

Righteous hard-core, um hum!

Posted by Avi M on April 28, 2006

Sorry, but I just don’t have anything Jewish to blog about, so I guess you’re stuck with this shtick.

Now, I’ve always fancied myself one of those hard-core kids, no not this kind of hard-core, I mean, this kind of hard-core.

My involvement with the hard-core scene goes way back to my early teens, I literally went from playing with Lego to listening to Black flag with in the span of one summer. Oh, that’s right, I played with Lego right up until I turned 13, and I don’t care what you think.

Anyhow, these days I’m not a hard-core kid, although I like to pretend in my mind that I still am. The summer, I turned 32 I did reemerge myself in the hard-core scene here locally for a while and started attending shows and really did love reconnecting to the whole scene. However, I realized that I was now the creepy old guy at the young all ages show that I used to make fun of and so with that revelation came an abrupt end to TikkunGer’s little hard-core revival.

Also, the image to the left is a painted portrait of me at the age of 15.

Although I’m not a ” hard-core kid” in any overt sense, and I’d like to think that I’ve moved past a lot of the finger-pointing and hatred once associated with my hard-core kid antics, I certainly still connect to the energy and music in a very visceral and emotional way. Not to mention that I’m fairly covered in tattoos, which serve as a solid reminder of my hard-core days gone by.

Nowadays, my hard-core shtick is limited to me taking one hard-core song a year to use as my anthem, you know, something to kick me in the ass when I need motivation or to pick me up when I’m feeling down.

So this year, I came across a little band I’d never heard of called With Honor, I’m not even sure where they’re from, and I’ve only heard two of their songs, but one of their tunes completely grabbed me by the heart and yanked me into the mosh pit  of self reflection and motivation.  Oh, I’m sure some people are reading this and are thinking, hard-core whatever, but to you who nay, nay this I say you know not of what you speak.

 

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JewTube: Oy, its just too much fun not to share!

Posted by Avi M on April 27, 2006

Just a quick post before I head off to class, about something I’m sure most of you have already discovered on your own, but nonetheless worth sharing.

The last few months I’ve been spending a fair amount of time perusing all sorts of things on YouTube and found some really cool stuff related to Israel & Judaism.

Anyhow, the first clip is an animated piece about a medieval period Rabbi and Pope and it is actually quite cute and funny.
The second piece is certainly not humorous, but equally if not more interesting. It is an interview with three former Islamic terrorists who have renounced their way’s and try to shed some light on the how’s and why’s young Arabs get drawn into such things.

Both clips are interesting, so I recommend checking them out.

Clip #1 
Clip #2

 

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Moral Imagination & Saving the World

Posted by Avi M on April 25, 2006

Okay, let me open up by saying this post is certainly not about saving the world directly, but rather a short reflection on the interdependence of the inner world, the outer world, and the role that imagination and words play in either building and repairing it or contaminating and damaging it.

I’m feeling excessively punch drunk right now, as a result of sleep deprivation.  I made a poor judgment call last night and opted to stay up way past my bedtime, as in 3:30 a.m. I had an interesting conversation with a new friend/acquaintance around religion and what it means to be Jewish in terms of Torah and spirituality. It was a little tense, but not particularly uncomfortable, we are both strong personality types and I don’t need to explain what that means in terms of discussing things like religion.

This post really isn’t about that conversation per se, but rather about my evolving and hopefully deepening understanding of what it means to live life practicing Tikkun Olam.  It’s easy to cling to perceived moral compasses an ethical reference points as a source of comfort, but what I’ve noticed personally in my own life, and through others’ behaviors around me, is that it’s also equally easy to use what we perceive as our, social/spiritual/emotional safety net as a club to pummel people who either disagree with us or challenge our sense of security.

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Not a Kvetch, but the Opposite

Posted by Avi M on April 24, 2006

Well, I certainly was in a mood the other day, and that sucks as I’m sure those of you who read my last post could tell. I don’t want to completely downplay my mood the other day but I also don’t want to completely buy into it.

The bottom line is that the problems I am facing these days certainly could be way worse and I actually have a lot to be quite happy about.

For example, I’m closing in on the end of a huge amount of coursework and I am really happy about that. I didn’t just BS my way through this school work, but I’ve put a real concerted effort and it’s paying off in terms of how I feel about it and also with regard to the feedback I am getting from my academic adviser. I’m very glad that I got my ass back in school this year, and I’m excited about what’s coming up in terms of my new school opportunities and coursework.

I’m wrapping up Jews school, a.k.a. the introduction to Judaism course, which is actually a conversion course. Everything is shaping up and looking good for official conversion sometime between now and early June.  Of course this is God willing, and I still need final approval from the rabbi and the bet din, but I’ve worked hard with a lot of heart and I think that has come across so I’m optimistic.

I’m still convinced that I’m a fat kid, but I’ve gotten some really nice feedback in the last week and a half, even if I find a way to dismiss it as wrong, it’s still a nice thing to hear.

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My first Kvetch: Ummm, Self-Loathing…

Posted by Avi M on April 21, 2006

Warning this post is excessively self-indulgent and may cause you to gag.

As a rule of thumb on this blog I’ve been trying to keep my posts and information on the positive side of the spectrum, I’ve seen negativity and complaints destroy otherwise awesome blogs, and that’s certainly not what I want to do or have happen here. But what can I say, I’m just in a crappy and down mood, and unfortunately, it’s of a self-loathing variety, so I can’t even hide behind pointing fingers.

Generally I’m in a very good mood these days and things are going better than they have in years, but of course, things aren’t perfect, which I suppose they never are for anybody so I should just shut up. The last 16 or 17 months have been a huge growing spurt for me emotionally and psychologically. I’ve survived a very bad break up without falling into old and destructive patterns, and I somehow managed to suck up my BS long enough, to get myself out of a job I was too smart and good for and got my ass back in school to finish what needs to be finished.

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Jewish Internet TV Is Pretty Cool!

Posted by Avi M on April 20, 2006

I’m one of those very auditory/kinesthetic/visual learners, which is really just a fancy in the pants way of saying I’m not so good with reading. So, I’m always looking for useful online audio/video resources, and the other day I stumbled across something I thought was really cool.

www.jewishinternet.tv is an online Jewish cultural resource, with streaming video features. It seems to be a new thing, and is a little light on the content side, but it could grow into something really interesting and cool.

It ranges from book reviews and news segments to a Charlie Chaplin movie and I stumbled across a cool documentary on Israel.

Anyhow it’s definitely worth checking out.

 

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Melting into the Tribe: Reflections on the Conversion Process

Posted by Avi M on April 14, 2006

Conversion to Judaism is something unique, interesting, and most enigmatic to the average non-Jew. I actually feel that the term conversion is misleading and over the past year and a half I’ve come to think of it less as conversion and more as “Joining the Tribe”.

Conversion in other religious traditions is much more about personal choice, for example, from a Christian point of view it’s about wanting to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or in Buddhism it is a commitment to follow the teachings of the Buddha, and is more of a personal decision that one can do independent of others, should they choose to.

Having said that I’m sure that there are those who would disagree, but it’s been my experience at least with most religions the conversion process is about personal salvation or emancipation, and anything else is a distant second to the primary reason.

Judaism is different from most others in this regard, for example where Christianity claims that salvation is only available through Jesus Christ, Judaism goes out of its way to make it clear that you don’t need to be Jewish to be a good or righteous person, nor is Judaism a prerequisite to God or Heaven.

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How to tell if you’re living life Jewishly

Posted by Avi M on April 11, 2006

So I’m fooling around getting stuff done and for whatever reason, I start thinking about the following.

  • WOW, I hadn’t realized it but my phonebook is over 50% Jewish people now.
  • Oh, I just shelled out $38 for membership at the local Jewish library; I don’t even go to the public library.
  • I’m studying Hebrew once a week at the local Reform Temple, I have anywhere between 1 and 2 & 1/2 hours of Hebrew tutoring a week outside of Temple, and I just signed up for a 10 week intro to conversational Hebrew course at the JCC.
  • My favorite day of the week (you know, the one I look forward to all week long) Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Shabbat seems to have grafted itself on to my consciousness as the centerpiece of my life. Whether it is with other people or if I’m doing it on my own à la Shabbat for one, I just love it.

Absolutely love doing the Temple thing on Saturdays, with service being even more important than the Kiddush afterwards, not that I don’t love that as well!

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Israel, an Unenlightened Root of Evil?

Posted by Avi M on April 9, 2006

 

Okay hold on a second I’m not the guy saying this.  Its Richard Dawkin world-famous fancy in the pants, evolutionary biologist/atheist guy, who is saying it!

Okay so maybe you’re asking yourself what the hell  am I rambling about, so I will give you a little background.

Last night I was cruising through YouTube, looking for stuff for another post I was working on, when I stumbled across a documentary entitled “The Root of Evil” by Richard Dawkin. Apparently what I saw was part one of the two part documentary produced and played on the BBC’s channel 4.

Essentially at least as I see it, this documentary is about how faith and religion is counterproductive to freethinking ” enlightened?” intellectual ability and is likely the root source of all of our problems and may well be, what leads to our demise as a species.

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Shabbat-a-palooza for one

Posted by Avi M on April 5, 2006

 

Okay well today I went out and picked up all of the required gear for Friday night Shabbat at home.  This is of course part of my ultra top-secret operation Live Life More Jewishly!

So let’s see what have I got?

Shabbat candlestick holders, check!

Shabbat candle sticks check!

Actually I’ve even got both kinds the long skinny ones in the short stubby ones that go inside of the glass.  I figured that I might as well experiment a little bit to see what works best in my world.

 

Kiddush Cup, check!

Single serving kosher (because booze makes me sick) grape juice, check!

Mini single serving Knot roles (hope I got the right kind), check!

Appropriate prayers and blessings for lighting candles and Kiddush, check!

Okay so what’s left to get done?

Well I was looking in the kosher section of my big grocery store, and I saw that there is a lot of easy to do traditional Jewish food stuff that’s available. You know, like soup, Matzah, and potato pancake mixes. 

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