kitchen blast-off, originally uploaded by Emmalen.

Okay, this photo is from back in Philly. I've been emailing in this cafe for six hours now and I think they're tired of me. Enjoy this wearable rocketship, created chez moi for the Pig Iron benefit Jan 25th. My favorite part is the stove-burner-cover windows.

As for news: I got a bike. Promptly began wearing out my knees on the long steep hills. Also I had to take a day off from riding because the narrow seat has been unkind to my butt. It's a nice mountain bike, lighter and zippier than the coaster tank I ride at home. No one here is ever going to get into riding fixies! (Fixed-gear bikes, popular with the bike hipsters of the world.) I also saw a R.E.Load bag strolling around the mercaz. (Hipster bag company I used to work for.) There's a funny story associated with the buying of the bike, but I haven't figured out how best to tell it. Stay tuned.

I've had a couple formal and informal meetings with potential dialogue hosts and I'm in the process of preparing invitations/enticements for them. People are tentatively interested; I'm finding that the issue of audience is a bigger one than I had imagined. JDG is envisioned as a project for Americans, and though we've had Israeli participants in the US in the past, there are major trust issues here. First I have to prove that I'm really nonpartisan, then I have to prove that I'm not going to ruin any institution's carefully crafted "apolitical" stances just by bringing students into dialogue. Mitch, JDG guru, has excellent ideas as usual.

Unfortunately the best opportunity I have--the closest contact in the most accessible institution--has been sidelined. The dean of Pardes lost his mother this week, and is therefore sitting shiva* so I assume it'll take some time to put this together. We did go to the funeral, which provoked me into a lot of thinking about the play I worked on last summer--set in a morgue, all characters dead. I learned a lot about death rituals and the treatment of bodies and so forth. Future post.

Also met with Ilana from Encounter, my major work project while here. She's wonderful. We had a very interweaving kind of conversation, talking about the challenges of nonpartisan work (beyond hiding one's own beliefs) and tactics and values. This over a lunch where I unfortunately ordered "couscous with people soup," as the word "lentils" is quite close to the word "people." They forgave me, and the soup was good. We're going to Hebron on Thursday to scout out some final arrangements for the trip there next week--which I'll probably be helping facilitate! I'm excited.

I'm thinking a lot about how to present myself here. It's a small city in a small world, of course, and Jewish geography-playing (where are you from? who do we know in common?) is endless. I can be "Nachshon's girlfriend" or "learning Hebrew for two months" or "journalist/writer" or "political work" or "dialogue facilitator" or "new progressive religious feminist Anglo" ad infinitum. The trick is to remind myself to be in the right mode for the right setting.

This is particularly important when it comes to work: in meeting with these yeshiva faculty folks, I need it to be clear to them--cutting through ageism and habit of course--that I am not in "student" role. I may be the age of their students, but I am in fact a professional offering a valuable program, and my job is to offer such that they see it as a vital learning tool and not some kind of fun social add-on.

Meanwhile in ulpan-land... hard to believe, but, I am slowly catching up. It helps to have a private Hebrew tutor--chaver sheli (my boyfriend)--in the evenings. It also helps that I talk to myself all the time. Am considering taking a less full-time class in March, because 4 hours a day is exhausting.

Now to go home and cook something in our little non-kitchen. I am trying to refrain from my ceaseless food-blogging, but wow, people, the food here is consistently great. Paradise for yerakot (vegetable) lovers like me. Everything is fresh, local, and in season.

*traditional Jewish mourning ritual where you don't work or even leave your house for a week


ruth said...

i love your food-blogging; don't stop!! it's almost like having the meal(s) with you, dearie.

Morissa N said...

Did you know that when Ilana was in Phila last June for my wedding, she stayed during Shabbat at Aviva's home? Such is the small world we live in. Ilana went to college with my husband, Jason. Please tell her that we send our love!

Anonymous said...

and so, rebecca, here on 2:16 i see you posted your comment at 8:16... always a favorite, you now.
and now 2:16. you know i'm wishing twice as many half-wishes as ever.