Friday, July 31, 2009

His and Hers

As I have written before, I have no problem with separate seating in the synagogue in and of itself. I do have a problem with women’s sections that exclude rather than separate.

Today I found another one: at the synagogue at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem. Here are some photos.

The main (read: men’s) section of the synagogue, facing toward the rear:

Malha Mall Synagogue, main section

The women’s section—a separate room with its own entrance, with the wall facing the main synagogue replaced by a thick wooden lattice partially filled with what looked like opaque glass. Taken facing the rear:

The women's section

Taken facing the front:

Front of the women's section

The centerpiece of the synagogue, an Renaissance-era Ark imported from Mantua, Italy:

Ark at Malha Mall Synagogue

The Ark as seen from the women’s section:

View through the lattice

A view of the lattice from the men’s section:

View of the partition, Malha Mall Synagogue

A view of the lattice from the women’s section:

Peeking through the lattice

The entrance to the men’s section:

Entrance to the main synagogue

The entrance to the women’s section:

Entrance to the women's section

In my opinion—and I know that some people will disagree with me—the solution is not to do away with the mehitza. It is to make women’s sections an inviting, welcoming part of the synagogue.

Yet I suppose that we women should be grateful that there is a women’s section at all. As far as I know, the synagogue at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station still does not have one. (Follow-up post here.)

The More Things Change...

From On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition by Blu Greenberg (preview the book here):

One evening, as I sat in a graduate rabbinic literature course, the professor departed from his explication of the text at hand to comment on an article that had appeared that morning on the front page of the New York Times about the Conservative Movement’s decision to count women in a minyan. “This Jew,” he said, in a tone not quite free of derision, “gets up in the morning. His five children start to get up, and all at once the house is in an uproar. Now he sets off to the synagogue for the early morning minyan. By the time he gets home, his wife has the children washed, dressed, fed, and off to school. The house is quiet again and he sits down to a peaceful breakfast and an hour of leisurely study. When he comes back in the evening from work, the place is in an uproar again. So he takes his prayer book and his Bible and goes off to the synagogue again. Now I ask you, what’s he going to do if his good wife has to go to the minyan?” This account was greeted by a sustained roar of knowing laughter.

On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition was published in 1981.

Jerusalem, 2009: A poster encouraging men to attend a particular neighborhood synagogue, and encouraging women to enable their husbands to do so:

Synagogue poster

My free translation of the last paragraph of the poster from the Hebrew (please excuse the glare):

And you, Madame, have the ability to support your husband [in attending the early morning service at the synagogue]. Take upon yourself the morning tasks (waking the children and getting them ready for school, preparing breakfast and sandwiches, and so on). Your reward from the Almighty will be great if you do this. Amen.

Two things came into my mind when I saw this poster. One was: People know a good deal when they see one. If they can somehow boost that deal with promises of divine approval, all the better.

The second was: The more things change....

Two Cats, Two Toys

Catschka likes her new catnip-filled toys very much. Here she plays as Her Ladyship looks on, doubtless thinking, “Good. Those toys should keep her busy long enough for me to get a little peace and quiet!”


“’Scuse me, I can’t hear you. I have a banana in my paw.”

Kitten with a catnip banana

Good heavens, could they actually be playing a little?

Looking out

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Upper Hand

I pet Her Ladyship...

Petting Her Ladyship

... and she uses my foot as a pillow.

Trust or fealty?

I think it’s clear who has the upper hand here.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Demonstrating for Equal Rights on Public Transportation

This morning, I attended a demonstration against sex-segregated public transportation in Jerusalem. The demonstration, which was held outside the Ministry of Transport, was covered by the press.

Here are some photographs that I took:

A bus ticket, created specifically for the demonstration. The top line reads: “Ticket for women. Seating in rear portion only.”

Bus ticket

MK Nitzan Horowitz speaks to a journalist from Israel Television. (Note that the journalist is wearing a head covering.)

MK Nitzan Horowitz speaks to journalist

Two police officers hold a powwow on the road leading to the Ministry of Transport. Since we were fewer than fifty people, we did not require a permit in order to demonstrate. I got the impression that the police officers were not altogether pleased that we knew that bit of information.

Police powwow

As small as the demonstration was, it encompassed most walks of Israeli society. Many religious people object to sex-segregated public transportation on various grounds, including the fact that Jewish religious law does not demand it at all. According to city councilwoman Rachel Azaria, Haredi men and women object to the segregation as well, but cannot say so publicly for fear of reprisal.

At the demonstration

The rest of my photos from this morning’s demonstration are here.

Past posts of mine about sex-segregated public transportation:

Rightful Place (August 2, 2004)

And the Bus Blues Roll On (August 5, 2004)

Modesty or Territoriality? (May 13, 2006)

Forced Segregation on Jerusalem’s Buses (May 3, 2009; includes links to photos and videos).

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Sourdough Fantasy

Said the ant, as it stumbled rather than walked
through the crack in the stair:
“In the kitchen, at the counter, kneading dough
is a giantess,
or a witch.
She makes bread out of flour, water, salt and air
and kneads with care
and does not share.

Sourdough pitot, made from scratch from spelt flour, in the oven and out:

Pitot in the oven

A pita cooling outside the oven

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Rest for the Weary

Poor Her Ladyship! All she wants is a little peace and quiet. But with a three-month-old kitten around, that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. Here she’s in her safe space, the market basket, with Catschka just outside, peering in.

Safe space

“Growl and hiss all you like, Your Ladyship. You’re not gonna escape me when I want to play!”

Outside the market basket, Her Ladyship is particularly vulnerable:

Quietly, quietly...

“Be vewy quiet... I’m huntin’ my housemate....”

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Neighborhood Synagogue

The Keter Torah (crown of Torah) synagogue, located in a nearby neighborhood. According to the text on the facade, it was built by Egyptian immigrants in 1957.

Synagogue built by immigrants from Egypt

I really should stop by there on a Shabbat. The melodies must be fantastic.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Year

One year ago today, I had to say goodbye to my cat-friend of more than a decade, the Lady in Red.

Here is my first post about her.

On my lap, when she still lived in the park:

Lady in Red, Lap Cat

On the couch, getting a bellyrub (Lady loved bellyrubs):

The Lady in Red sez: Rub my tummy!

A portrait:

Portrait of a Lady

Lady was special. I’m glad that we had the time together that we did, and I miss her.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Peace At Last?

No, not among the humans in the region. Among Her Ladyship and Catschka.

They begin their dinners under the watchful eye of their human mom, my friend:

Dinner 1: The meal begins

They pause to look at each other...

Dinner 2: The look

... and go back to eating, without incident.

Dinner 3: Peace returns

All hail to the great peacemaker: food!

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

The Three Weeks

It’s the seventeenth of Tammuz. The Three Weeks have begun.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I’m Gonna Be on the Radio!

At 5:00 p.m. on Friday (Israel time), an interview with two members of Women of the Wall will be broadcast on an Israeli Net-based radio station, Essence of Life. Music from my CD, “Day of Rest,” will be played during the interview.

In order to hear the live broadcast, click on the large, rectangular magenta-colored button on the left side of the screen.

(Since I wasn’t at the interview, its contents will be as new to me as they will be to anyone else.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A First

I just sold my first photo!

Here it is:

Menorah behind Dividers

Taken during Hanukkah several years ago, this photo shows the hanukkiyyah (menorah) at the Western Wall behind two dividers: the new one at the back, and the older one, perpendicular to the Kotel, that divides the prayer area into separate (and unequal) sides for men and women.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Cool Place to Rest

This photo reminds me of some lyrics from the musical The Fantasticks: “Plant a radish, get a radish.”

Her Ladyship in the planter

Gotta be careful brushing those cat hairs off my clothing. There’s no telling where they might end up, or what they might turn into....

Friday, July 03, 2009

The End of the Rainbow

(originally written last week)

I should be in bed. I had a performance today and I have another one tomorrow. But one of the songs I sing on stage in this current production is “Look to the Rainbow” from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. And whenever I sing it, I can’t help thinking about Dr. B.

Dr. B. was a physician in the town where I grew up. While he wasn't our family doctor, from what I heard later, he was good and caring. He was also an actor in his spare time, and a very talented one at that. When my sister and I were in grade school, my sister acted the part of a leprechaun in a production of Finian’s Rainbow in which Dr. B. appeared in a leading role. Later on, when I was in high school, I played the part of the timid Catholic nurse, Miss Flinn, in a production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in which Dr. B. played McMurphy. There are hardly two more different roles in theater than Og the leprechaun and Randle Patrick McMurphy, but Dr. B. played them both superbly.

Something seems to have happened as Dr. B. got older. His obituary stated that he had been murdered.

I can’t know what Dr. B.’s life was like, what struggles he had, or what pushed him so close to the edge that last day. When I read the story of how he was murdered, I found myself wondering whether, having gotten into as much trouble as he had and lost so much, he had perhaps courted death, even unconsciously.

Today, when I sing “Look to the Rainbow,” I can’t help remembering Dr. B. as he was years ago, when I was a little girl: onstage as Og (one obituary even mentioned that performance, even so many years later), with his Irish accent and the little staging trick that he used so that he would be able to sing the reprise of “Something Sort of Grandish” from a written text, since he had trouble memorizing the lyrics.

I remember Dr. B. as he was then, and I hope that he is at peace at last.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I feel like I’m meeting myself coming and going (with red-shift and blue-shift as appropriate). We’ve had two performances of Broadway Showstoppers so far, in Zikhron Ya’akov and in Ra’anana. Tomorrow we play on my home turf: Jerusalem! I can’t wait.

Yet, as busy as I am, I still would like to make time for some cat pictures:

Catschka does rest sometimes, as this rare photo attests. That is, she rests when she’s not busy tearing around the place, chasing Her Ladyship, being played with or cuddled, and so on....

Kitten goes zzzz...

The wise Catschka knows the importance of good hygiene and exercise. Here, she combines a bath with some kitten yoga:

Kitten yoga

Once more at her bath:

Clean kitten

Nevertheless, she also knows how to have a good time. Here, she handily turns a paper bag into a chew-toy:

The paper bag chew toy

On my lap, receiving her due of kittyworship:

Kittenskritch 2

Even though I’ve posted all these pictures of Catschka the kitten, please don’t think that Her Ladyship is being neglected. She gets plenty of love and attention, and is slowly acclimating to the kitten’s presence in her home. (I should note that she came to her home years ago as a new kitten herself.)

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.