Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cats and Art

First, some cat-shaped jewelry that I saw at a local mall:

Cat earrings

Next, a picture I took this past week of my old friend Pinocchio, who lives at a shopping center on the other side of town and is cared for by a man who owns a frame shop there:

Pinocchio with pictures

She’s got a flair for a good pose, Pinocchio does. She’s also so popular that I’ve had to wait on line to pet her.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.


It’s that time of year, so...

Lights. We got lights.

Just a few blocks away from where I live, at a local yeshiva, lots of them:


And my own lights for the holiday:

Hanukkah 2008, fourth night

Happy Hanukkah!

And to all my Christian readers, a very merry Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sub Feline

A few days ago, for the first time, Her Ladyship jumped into my lap for a cuddle.

Cuddling with Her Ladyship

An acquaintance of mine had a term for this: sub feline—Latin for "underneath a cat." If one was sub feline, one did not have to answer the phone or the door. Other members of the household would do that... until they found themselves beneath a cat as well.

A few minutes after this photograph was taken, Her Ladyship decided that cuddle time was over and went off to take care of various catly affairs. But oh, it was nice to be sub feline for a little while.

Caroling with a Twist

Courtesy of a co-worker, here’s a hilarious video of the male a-cappella group, Straight No Chaser of Indiana University, singing their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

There’s a particular hoot at 1:22. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I’m Hiding!

Seen on my neighbor’s terrace the other day: a neighbor cat, hiding among the plants. I see you, little torbie kitty, I see you!

I'm hiding!

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

The Secret Key

Seen on a railing near the bus stop a few nights ago, I give you: the secret key.

The secret key

As a bonus, some passion fruit on the vine:

Passion fruit on the vine

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Two Friends

My friend’s cats, Her Ladyship and Missy, are dear friends of mine. I enjoy taking pictures of them, and they seem to like it, or at least to tolerate it.

Here is Her Ladyship as an apolitical kittycat. That’s outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaking on television several weeks ago as she dozes.

Apolitical cat

Next, here is Missy, wonderful kitty model that she is:

Missy the model

I may have missed the Friday Ark this week, but the Carnival of the Cats will be up at Mog’s.

Haveil Havalim

The current edition of Haveil Havalim is up at Shiloh Musings.

There are lots of gems, but this one stood out for me: The Jewish Writing Project.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Mumbai Chabad House: A Tribute Page

Israel National News has a tribute page to the memories of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg... who, we now know, was six months pregnant when she was tortured and murdered by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai.

Islamic terrorists who, together with all the other atrocities that they committed, deliberately and cold-bloodedly targeted the Chabad House and its occupants for slaughter for no other reason than that they were Jews.

Approximately twenty years ago, back in the US, I worked at a radio station. In a conversation, one of my fellow employees staunchly maintained that antisemitism was dead. I argued that it was very much alive.

I wonder what my former co-worker thinks about it now.

Twenty Years On

Although I wasn’t there when Women of the Wall started twenty years ago, on Rosh Hodesh Kislev in 1988, I was all for it.

Shortly after I made aliyah at the end of 1991, I joined.

A lot has changed since then. Women’s tefilla groups, which encountered a great deal of criticism and opposition when they first began (some still do), have moved into the mainstream. Orthodox congregations known as “partnership minyanim,” in which women lead certain sections of the prayer service, speak before the congregation and receive aliyot to the Torah, have become popular. So I suppose that the idea of a women’s tefilla group at the Western Wall doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore, which is fine with me. But twenty years ago, it was.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, who wrote such groundbreaking works as Women and Madness and Letters to a Young Feminist—and who speaks out fearlessly against world jihad and antisemitism—recalls WOW’s beginnings twenty years ago and traces our history at Jewcy: The Women of the Wall, Twenty Years On.

And the photo accompanying the article? That’s me facing the camera when we read Torah in the women’s section of the Kotel several years ago—on my birthday, as it turned out. Yes, we read Torah legally at the Western Wall, not once but several times, and nothing happened. Not a peep, not a squeak—or, as I said in Yael Katzir’s documentary about our group, Praying in Her Own Voice, we read Torah at the Kotel and the stones didn’t come crashing down. The only negative consequences, if one can call them so, were that two women approached us afterwards, peacefully, in order to express their disagreement. That was all.

Unfortunately, though, the peace and quiet didn’t last, thanks to an opponent of ours who, several months later, came from her home in a coastal city specifically in order to make trouble. What a pity. We’d had something beautiful there, and she—or whoever sent her—had evidently felt so threatened by it that she, or they, had to destroy it. My account of what happened that day is here.

Well, while I’m on the topic... many times, when people ask me about our monthly prayer services, one of their questions is: “But don’t you get chairs thrown at you?”

The answer is no. Although it happened at first, it doesn’t anymore—and in any case, the old metal chairs were replaced with much lighter and cheaper plastic ones long ago. Our prayer services are just the way I like them: quiet, uneventful and even a little dull (I’m allowed to say that, since I lead most of them!). The only times when there has ever been any “action” at our services have occurred when people came deliberately in order to make trouble. Incidentally, we could always spot the troublemakers in advance, even before we began our services—but that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

The vast majority of the time, WOW’s prayer services garner about as much attention any other women’s tefilla group or, for that matter, as much as the local minyan down the street... which is as it should be.

(Oh, and Phyllis Chesler’s anti-jihadi work? She knows exactly what she’s talking about—she's been there. Go here and read her riveting account about how she escaped from Afghanistan in the 1960s.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Since I am sick and home from work today, I could hear the car that goes around periodically in my neighborhood, announcing various events through loudspeakers. Usually these events are of Haredi interest, but today the announcement was for everyone:

“Funeral services for the holy martyrs, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah, will take place on the Mount of Olives at three o’clock this afternoon. Let the whole House of Israel mourn the conflagration that God has kindled” [Leviticus 10:6].

My throat hurts terribly and I can barely speak. I don’t think it’s just because I have a cold, or whatever bug happens to be going around.


Seraphic Secret.

They say it much better than I can.