Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cheeto, Close Up

My friends’ cat, the gorgeous Cheeto, is ready for his close-up.

Cheeto, close up

Check out this week’s Friday Ark.

And check out this coming Sunday’s Carnival of the Cats.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Freight Train, Freight Train

As I was standing on the platform at the Binyamina train station a little while back, a pre-recorded announcement came over the loudspeaker asking people to move away from the track because a high-speed train was about to pass by.

Even though I was a good distance away from the track, I stepped back still further because I’m familiar with the powerful rush of air that these passing trains create. Still, I thought that the announcement was unusual. Since Binyamina is a train hub, to the best of my knowledge all northbound and southbound trains stop there.

So imagine my surprise when what passed us was not a train rushing southward to Tel Aviv, but rather a slow-moving freight train.

Freight train passes through Binyamina train station

Freight train passes through Binyamina train station

I guess they don’t have pre-recorded announcements that say, “You might want to stand away from the track, but it’s really no big deal. Low-speed freight train coming through!”

At the Tel Aviv Cinematheque

Here are two photos I took at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque last Friday. First, a bench with interesting legs:

Bench with legs

Second, the house cat of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque drinks the water put out for him. (One of his ears is tipped; he has been neutered.)

House cat of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque

There’s a look about his face that reminds me of his larger cousins.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Praying in Her Own Voice: Women of the Wall on Film

This morning I went to the DocAviv International Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv with other members of Women of the Wall to see Praying in Her Own Voice (Hebrew title: Kol be-isha tefilla), a film about our group and its legal struggle that was made by history professor and filmmaker Yael Katzir. I came out extremely moved, and wonderful to relate, I wasn’t the only one by far. It seems that the entire audience—which filled the largest auditorium at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque almost to capacity—was, too.

Yael, who spent four years making this film, put her heart and soul into it. Most important, she understood us. She got us: who we are, what we’re about (and, just as important, what we’re not about), what we want and why it is important to Israeli society and to Judaism as a whole. Thanks to her film, Israelis now understand that for the first time... and if we can judge by the audience’s reaction—prolonged, loud applause at the end of the film and the heartfelt comments they made to us after we left the theater—they get it, too.

People have already asked me where they can buy Praying in Her Own Voice on DVD, and I hope that soon I will be able to tell them. I recommend it highly: not because I am involved in Women of the Wall or because I appear in the film (a little), but rather because in my opinion it shows who we are, truly and simply, and why our struggle for the equal right of Jewish women’s prayer groups to worship according to their custom at the Western Wall has implications that go far beyond ourselves.

I had an additional reason for wanting to see the film, however: I did the subtitles, and for the most part, they came out very well.

I can hear my half-dozen readers ask: What do you mean, they came out very well? If you did them yourself, shouldn’t you know how they came out?

As it turns out, not quite.

When Yael asked me to do the subtitles, I asked a good friend of mine who graduated from the Maale School of Film, Television and the Arts several years ago to meet with me and show me the ropes. She graciously agreed, and during our talk she warned me that errors often creep into the subtitles after they have left the translator’s hands. Someone changes something during the editing stage, or the person responsible for uploading the titles may make a mistake somewhere. She recommended that I be present for the uploading to make sure that didn’t happen, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. And indeed, changes were made and some few errors were introduced into the text after it left my hands. At this point, it can’t be helped.

But that’s a secondary, technical point. Most important is the film’s message, which comes through loud and clear thanks to Yael’s perceptive and compassionate eye. So go see Praying in Her Own Voice if you have a chance, or buy the DVD when it becomes available. I’ll certainly post the relevant information here when it is.

The Skirt Sharer

This tortie I met downtown likes to share my skirt.

Tortie kitty sharing my skirt

Today’s Friday Ark.

The Carnival of the Cats will be at Scribblings on Sunday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Plotnick on a Podcast

I have loved children’s books all my life. Recently I discovered Flashlight Press, which impressed me very much. A friend of mine has many of their books, and when I saw her recently, she let me take a look at them.

It was addiction at first sight. I think I read them all in one sitting, not coming up for air even once. It was a great reminder of why I᾿m nuts about children’s books.

Ever hear of Ruben Plotnick? I just got to know him recently myself, and I like him a lot. It seems that a family in Canada does, too—Mark and Andrea of have just done a podcast about him!

Cover: Getting to Know Ruben Plotnick

Neat, eh? I only met Ruben a few weeks ago, and already he’s famous!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mother Cat and Kitten

A mother cat and her kitten downtown:

Mother cat and kitten

(Check out the 129th edition of the Friday Ark up at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be at the Carnival of the Cats home page itself!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Parakeets Are Back!

Actually, they never left. But the tree in front of my window sprouted its annual crop of seed pods this week, which means that the local parakeet population has begun to descend upon it for its annual munch-fest.

This morning I saw three, though only two can be seen clearly in the following photos:

Parakeets munching seeds

The green-feathered diners at the treetop restaurant are a male and female. The male can be identified by the black ring around the front of his neck, which becomes a pink ring at the sides and in the back.

Parakeets munching seeds

Wow, look at the lady! She’s eating upside-down!

Parakeets munching seeds

Welcome back, parakeets! It’s good to see you again. Enjoy your meals!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Want Some Halvah?

Come on over to the Mahane Yehuda open market and pick a flavor. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Halvah in the open market

Post-Purim Post

It was a nice Purim. Last night I listened to my friend read part of Megillat Esther at a reading in a private home, and this morning I read chapters 5 and 6 at a local women’s reading. Chapters 5 and 6 are my favorites to read, because I really have the chance to ... ummm, you should pardon the expression ... ham it up.

Then I went to a friend of mine for the festive Purim meal. Wonderful news: she and her husband are expecting a new addition to their family at around this time next month. Be-sha’ah tovah!

The only wrench in the works was that I started to come down with a migraine as the meal was ending. But thanks to some painkillers and the twenty-minute nap I took on my friends’ sofa, I dodged the worst of it. That’ll teach me to be lax about drinking (water) on Purim.

(Side note: I don’t get drunk, ever. I’ve been tipsy occasionally, but never more than that, since I have a low tolerance threshold and too much alcohol puts me into terrible pain. Specifically, it makes me feel as though my heart and lungs have been set on fire, and to put it very mildly, when I am in pain I am no pleasure to be around. So no drinking for me on Purim or Simhat Torah. An occasional glass of wine with Shabbat dinner, and that’s it.)

Here is what I saw on the way home. They’re called common grape hyacinths, according to the lovely flower guide that friends of mine gave me for my birthday a while back.

Common grape hyacinths

More common grape hyacinths

Still more common grape hyacinths

Here is the poem “Vashti” by Frances E. W. Harper. (Yes, I admit it: I have a soft spot for Vashti, and I think that Esther is a tragic figure. But that’s a post for another day.)

And last but by no means least, here is a wonderful post about Purim, courtesy of Elisson.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Digs for an Old Friend

Remember the Lady in Red, the special cat who lived in the park nearby?

Well, it seems that a few weeks ago she developed a severe but treatable health problem. One of her human friends who happened by and noticed her distress took her to the vet, then took her home. Luckily, she lives nearby, and I get to visit her often.

So here are two pictures of the Lady in Red in her new home:

The Lady in Red playing

The Lady in Red playing some more

I’ll miss seeing the Lady on my walks through the park. But I am happy to know that she is safe and well cared for, and I do get to visit.

(Catch the 128th edition of the Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be up at TacJammer on Sunday.)

Somewhere in Early Twentieth-Century Jaffa Is a Broom I’d Like to Borrow

The great-grandmother of a friend of mine lived in Jaffa in the early twentieth century. She and her family were observant Jews, and when a missionary came to call one day, she grabbed her broom and chased him down the street. It’s a famous family story, one that her great-grandson and his wife and family, dear friends of mine for nearly twenty years, tell with pride.

I could have used that broom last week.

I was sitting on a local main street waiting for a bus home. Since the bus stop was full, I sat on a nearby bench, but since for some unfathomable reason the municipality installed the benches facing away from the street, I found myself twisting around a bit, trying to keep an eye on the road.

It was then that a tall, slightly heavy-set man approached me. He was holding a folded piece of paper in his hand with a title printed on it in Hebrew and Aramaic. I took a quick look at it without touching it. “What’s that?” I asked him, giving him the frosty tone and glare I reserve for people who try to give me unsolicited literature.

“It’s about Yeshua,” he answered.

Great, I thought, a missionary. One of those creeps who tries to get Jews to abandon Judaism by using deliberate mistranslations and outright lies. Aloud, I said only, “Oh,” and pointedly turned away. He got the message and walked off.

Unfortunately, he had a partner, a tall, slender man with a beard who also approached me, holding out another copy of the tract. For some reason, I found myself getting into a debate with him, but after a few moments I pulled myself up short and told him, “Look, this is dumb. I don’t even know why I’m debating with you. This isn’t a matter for debate. I think that what you’re doing is disrespectful and a hutzpah. I would never ask you to adopt my way of life. Besides, all your pretty talk can’t hide the fact that your faith teaches that if I don’t believe as you do, I’m going to go to Hell when I die. My religion is much kinder. It teaches that the righteous of all faiths have a place in the World to Come.“

He asked me to define “righteous,” and I admit it, I was taken in. (This is why I never joined the debating team, or perhaps why I should have.) Of course, the definition is not the point. The inclusiveness is. I told the missionary once again that I wasn’t the slightest bit interested, and he said that I should pray to understand the text of Isaiah 53. I retorted, “I don’t have to,” and there it ended, or so I thought.

Several minutes later, my bus still hadn’t come. As I waited, I watched both missionaries join up with each other. One of them approached a man who was sitting in a wheelchair, his Filipina caregiver beside him, and handed him a tract, which the man politely took.

At that point, my blood boiled over. I leaped to my feet and started yelling in a voice that could be heard down the block: “That’s disgusting! To give missionary material to a man in a wheelchair who can’t talk back to you—that’s sick!

The two missionaries glanced at each other and back at me with an expression that said, Let’s get away from this crazy woman!

And off they went.

I don’t flatter myself that they walked away because of me. They probably had somewhere else to go, other things to do, more tracts to try to foist on unsuspecting Jews.

But oh, how my hands itched for my friend’s great-grandmother’s broom.