The Official TikkunGer Backup Blog

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

Archive for June, 2006

T-minus 60 minutes and counting or Tamara has entered Canadian airspace

Posted by Avi M on June 28, 2006

Wow just a quick post to say I can’t believe she’s almost here and we’re going to meet for the first time. I’m fluctuating between being nervous and completely calm about the whole thing and it’s driving me nuts!

Tamara‘s ETA is 7:24 p.m. Eastern time; I’m going to head out at around quarter to seven so that I can meet her at the gates. I’ll other give her a big hug or will both spin into some sort of Uber geeky awkwardness and not make any eye contact at all. LOL, I just hope it goes well, I know I will like her but I hope she doesn’t regret flying all the way up here.

Anyhow I’m very happy with my day and I think I’ve definitely proved myself to be a great fake (as in we’ve never met) boyfriend. Earlier this week, I asked Tamara for a list of essential grocery items as well as her preferred tasty treats, and today I went out and did my best to pick up everything on her list, including looking for tiny little kosher symbols on everything I bought. I’m not going to say that I got it 100% right but I certainly put a shitload of effort into the search and think I came out pretty successful.

Next I came home and my mother dropped by to help me do a little power cleanup, not that I needed it. My mom cracks me up because she can’t believe how clean I keep my home. Anyhow my places spotless and I hope welcoming so that Tamara doesn’t feel uncomfortable stepping into my world. I even made her some closet space so that she can hang her stuff up if she likes.

Anyhow I’m rambling so I’ll wrap things up, I just wanted to post something because this is sort of a milestone in my life (in our lives?) and felt like blogging about it while I watch the clock slowly tick towards 6:45 p.m.

And on that note TTYL.

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Wading into the gentle waters of Mussar

Posted by Avi M on June 27, 2006

About a month and a half ago I discovered something called Mussar, and immediately became intrigued by it. Basically Mussar is a system of applied Jewish ethics, one that has evolved over the past thousand years. As I understand it Mussar is essentially a systemic study and practice geared towards helping individuals develop and deepen a sense of Torah based values and then aligning their daily actions to reflect these values. Mussar is highly pliable in that it can be approached from a more cerebral and esoteric perspective but it can just as easily (I believe) be approached from a simple and pragmatic point of view, sort of like Jewish or ethical life skills training.

I’m opting for the latter approach myself personally and am quite happy to have encountered this set of teachings and hope to over the next year position Mussar as the centerpiece of my Jewish practice.

What has drawn me to Mussar is its succinct and well laid out approach to developing the practitioner’s awareness, understanding, and ability to act/live as a more compassionate, caring, and ethical human being. Although I’m really just beginning to dip my toe’s into the water (of Mussar), I’ve already come to appreciate what Mussar has to offer, I can see that it is certainly a powerful tool when studied with sincerity and the right support.

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clickonjudaism.org – an interesting (Liberal) Jewish literacy resource

Posted by Avi M on June 21, 2006

I came across a very interesting web site today called Click on Judaism, it seems to be a Reform sponsored initiative aimed at the 20 and 30 something crowd. I’m not sure how new the site is but I’ve only just discovered it and it’s certainly already loaded with lots of interesting information.

clickonJudaism

Based on my brief initial look at the web site this seems to be the URJ’s answer to askmoses.com and Orth odox FAQ/Q&A site.

The Click on Judaism web site describes itself as.

The purpose of clickonJudaism is to provide doorways into Judaism for Jews in their 20’s and 30’s, as well as those considering Judaism. Our hope is to enable young Jews to explore the possibilities offered by liberal Judaism through points of interest and concern to them

The way it seems to be set up is that readers can search the database for existing information already contained on the site or they can fly off an e-mail with a specific question, which I suppose would then be added to the database so everyone can also read the answer.Anyhow I’m pretty impressed with it so I thought I would share with you guys.

TTYL

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15 Boxes of Matzah for under $9.00, I Am Jewish after All!

Posted by Avi M on June 20, 2006

Just call me Jewy Jewison, I’m pretty proud of myself a year ago I hated eating the stuff and now I’ve got enough to last me a nuclear winter. I go through about a box every two weeks so I should have enough to last me approximately 30 weeks.

Aren’t you proud of me Ima!

I guess they were really trying to clear out the overstock remaining after this springs Passover. I’m sure some of your saying ” oh crap what’s wrong with this kid, matzah in general is pretty blah but kosher for Passover matzah makes cardboard look tasty”.

And to you nay-naysayer’s I reply ” you know not of what you speak”, I have in fact eaten cardboard many times in my life (I’m not going to get into the why’s but trust me I have) and I assure you that this kosher for Passover matzah is absolutely delicious compared to cardboard.

So far I’ve come up with a few fun ways to eat it and here they are in no particular order of preference.

  • Microwaved with butter and garlic
  • Microwave with pasta sauce, Swiss cheese, and crushed chili peppers
  • Loaded with peanut butter and jam
  • Loaded with peanut butter and honey
  • Loaded with cream cheese and jam (only strawberry please)
  • Plain at two o’clock in the morning as part of a sleep eating binge
  • Topped with extra spicy salsa and melted cheese

I’ve been bitten by the matzah bug and I’m proud of it!

In fact Tamara was threatening to have me locked up in some sort of a Chabad rehab center for my apparent addiction to this wonder food!

And on that note I think I just heard my microwave beeping, which means my latest invention matzah covered with avocado, chili peppers, and Swiss cheese is ready.

TTYL

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Move over post-partum, and make way for some post-conversion depression

Posted by Avi M on June 19, 2006

Last week proved to be a hectic and overwhelming week leading up to the culmination of my conversion process. Wednesday evening I went to my Shul where I participated in a ritual Brit Milah, which was followed on Thursday afternoon by my going to the JCC and immersing myself in the Mikva. The Mikva ritual was probably the most personally satisfying and spiritually engaging aspect of the conversion process although it took me a day to realize it.

The ritual Brit milah on the other hand was underwhelming to say the least, I expected it to be a bit more intricate, complex, and most importantly painful! Now I’m not knocking it, I’m just surprised that I flew through the process with little thought or connection to what was going on. Later on that evening I spoke with another convert in progress about the whole thing, I basically told him that I was depressed and maybe even feeling a little bit ripped off by the whole experience.  I told him about how I expected it to be a more mindful, intense, and spiritually transformative kind of thing, to which he replied something like ” lighten up it happens the babies and they don’t have a clue what’s going on during the event so why would it be any different for us”. I must admit that after giving some thought to what my friend said I think he’s right and I was just overreacting.

As I mentioned above the Mikva immersion certainly was an interesting and special experience although I went into it feeling unprepared and foggy. I don’t like being naked when I am alone and I certainly don’t like being fat and naked in front of other men, however to my surprise once I was in the water things were just fine. When the rabbi came in and began walking me through the ritual things started to hit me on a deeper level. I find it funny in retrospect that I really wasn’t prepared for his questions even though I knew what they were going to be and I had given them thought  beforehand, it’s just everything I had done in terms of preparation was completely out of context without being in the Mikva. I’m not sure about the legalities of discussing questions and things in such a religious ceremony so I’m not going to go into details just to be on the safe side of things, but suffice it to say it was a very good experience.

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Jews for Jesus, Jews for Judaism, Christians for Christ, BUT Evangelicals for Judaism?

Posted by Avi M on June 14, 2006

Earlier today Jewschool posted an interesting bit on Jews for Jesus and their upcoming assault on NYC’s Jewish population this coming summer. This evangelical blitzkrieg is apparently targeting Jewish Russians and Israelis as well as Orthodox communities in New York and its surrounding areas. I won’t try to reinvent the wheel by rehashing what the folks over at Jewschool have already done better than I could ever hope to do, so go check it out on their blog. I also encourage the few readers I have to consider passing on this info to friends, family and any other interested parties that come to mind.

Ok so on to my shtick!

I have barely completed my own conversion process and I am far from an expert on the subject but I think it’s kind of cool that I am part of the reverse trend of people from Christian families who have left their birth traditions and entered into the fold of Judaism. Okay maybe I was never really an active Christian but I would argue that a lot of Jews who get sucked into things like Jews for Jesus probably come from similar levels of observance.

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Jewschool (ok Cole) vs. the Street Corner Rabbi

Posted by Avi M on June 12, 2006

This past weekend Cole Krawitz made an interesting post over at Jewschool entitled “Even The Conservative Jews Proselytize“, about a young Conservative Rabbi who has been engaging in outreach on the streets of New York. Cole seems to have taken issue not so much with the idea of outreach per se but rather the fashion in which it’s taking place. It’s certainly worth reading so if you’re interested in such things I highly recommend checking out the post.

Although not stated in his post Cole replied to a comment further clarifying his thinking which I found rather interesting.

Here it is.

The point isn’t about Pete as an individual. My critique is not of an individual, but rather the underlying message that it contributes to a larger echo chamber occurring right now for hundreds of years many Jews have not engaged in religious institutions, yet have remained staunchly Jewish. These are not the Jews captured in many studies b/c they can’t be foundi.e. They aren’t in the institutions. This idea that this is a new phenomenon is simply not true. This is historically how Jews have been.

Although at first glance he makes some interesting points with the above, after giving it some thought I’m not sure that his comments are anything more than assumptive conjecture. That is certainly not to say that he’s wrong just that the argument is I feel, factually on the weak side.

Suggesting that because Jews have been unaffiliated in history translates into the current Jewish situation around attrition and assimilation just doesn’t hold water for me.

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Beliefnet Overturns My Bet Din, I’m not a Jew

Posted by Avi M on June 7, 2006

This afternoon Tamara sent me her for results to Beliefnet’s Belief-O-Matic quiz at beliefnet.com. Interestingly enough she scored a 100% for Reform Judaism with Orthodox Judaism coming in a distant third with 88%. I think it’s funny because I’m always accusing her of being a little bit on the frum side of things and that she needs to open up and start thinking for herself, yada yada yada. Well I guess I need to do a little more shutting up and a little more listening , LOL.

Anyhow I decided to take the test and to my surprise and despite Bet Din approval I’m actually a Sikh. Yup, I thought that was kind of funny maybe I should hand in my yarmulke and pick up a turban. Maybe I can come up with my own highbred kind of thing; I could call it a Yarban.

To be honest I’m not surprised that I wound up with a 100% Sikh score and 96% Hindu, I think a lot of my Buddhist leanings about responsibility and certain things around suffering when added with my believe in a Jewish concept of God and cosmology probably come out looking like some Eastern God centered religion so I’m not surprised.

What really freaks me out is that reform came in third at 95% but right behind it was Orthodox at 93% and that scares me. Because it’s the last thing I see myself as being well actually that’s not true a lot of people tell me I am very Orthodox about certain things .But i like to think t that I do it from a point of view of choice in inquiry not blind faith in observance. I guess maybe I’m Reform-Odox, which is probably a paradox, ha-ha I made a funny.

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Out with the old and in with the Jew

Posted by Avi M on June 5, 2006

Okay, just a quick post here to say that I met with the Biet Din today and it would seem that I’m now part of the family!

Well not technically until my Brit and Mikvah ceremonies have been completed, but as far as I’m concerned although they are very important ritual aspects of the conversion process today was the last real external obstacle left to overcome. these last few requirements are not a question of whether or not they get done, it’s just a question of when exactly will that happen over the next week, and there’s no testing involved just show up for the snip and dip.

Today was truly lovely and I’m very happy with how things went. My (adopted) Ima came and picked me up at 10 o’clock and I was in front of the Biet Din shortly after 11. The interview went well and I guess I did a good job with the exam because there seemed to be no real outstanding questions or concerns around my motivations.

I wrap things up by going to my Ima’s for lunch this afternoon, where I got to taste my first ever avocado sandwich, and I must admit it was quite delicious.

Now I’m home and I am going to take it easy and process what has taken place, then do a little defrag.

I also just want to thank everybody who’s been supportive via my blog during my conversion process, especially Tamara and Amishav for their support and encouragement over the last couple of months.

That’s it for now…

TTYL

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A quote for Shavuot

Posted by Avi M on June 1, 2006

About a week and a half ago Tamara bought a book entitled Jewish with Feeling by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and seemed to be connecting to maybe not everything but much of what was in the book. So this week I decided to pick the book up myself that way we would have something to read and discuss together You know sort of a couple thing, not that I’m suggesting were a couple but you know what I mean.

Anyhow, so far I am enjoying the book, especially chapter 4 entitled “The Meaning of Mitzvah”, and had been planning on doing a post using a quote from the book as a starting point. Well as I’m sitting here today getting ready to go to a Shavuot study event being put on collaboratively thing by the local Reform Temple and one of the Conservative synagogues, I realized that I’m going into this event with this quote on my mind. And so I’ve decided to post the comment but I think I’m going to wait and see where I’m at with my thoughts about it after an evening of study before posting anything on what this quote means to me personally or in terms of my involvement in the Jewish community.

Without further delay, here’s the quote and although I’m going to hold off on posting my thoughts, if you read this and feel like sharing your impressions of what it means to you, please do so because I would love to read what others think.

Today we are all Jews by choice. Usually we say this of those who undertake the great transformative journey of converting. But if you look a little bit deeper, in an open society we are all Jews by choice. We no longer live in the shtetl, where everyone knew how often we went to synagogue and the pressure to conform to a certain level of piety was enormous. We no longer subscribe to the classic model of divine reward and punishment. Nobody is looking over our shoulders: we are completely free to decide whether and to what extent we want to make Judaism part of our lives.

On the other hand, this freedom puts the ball in our court. No one Rabbi, no therapist, no guru, can take the responsibility for our spiritual lives. We have to do it for ourselves.

If I want to feel a spiritual presence in my life, I can’t wait until all the evidence is in about whether God exists or not.

I have to begin with an affirmation, a declaration as it were, of what is important to me.

I have to make a leap.

Well it’s time to get ready to head out, so on that note good evening in may you all have an enjoyable time and deepen your understanding through study and community this evening.

TTYL

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