"Gypsies believe the lower half of the human body is invisibly polluted, that supernatural defilement is physically contagious, and that non-Gypsies are spiritually toxic. I argue that Gypsies use these beliefs, which on the surface regulate their invisible world, to regulate their visible one. They use superstition to create and enforce law and order. Gypsies do this in three ways. First, they make worldly crimes supernatural ones, leveraging fear of the latter to prevent the former. Second, they marshal the belief that spiritual pollution is contagious to incentivize collective punishment of antisocial behavior. Third, they recruit the belief that non-Gypsies are supernatural cesspools to augment such punishment. Gypsies use superstition to substitute for traditional institutions of law and order. Their bizarre belief system is an efficient institutional response to the constraints they face on their choice of mechanisms of social control."
Firstly, "their bizarre beliefs" are no less bizarre than things that the majority of people in the world believe, so don't get all upset and say I'm calling Charedim bizarre. The author is an economist, which means that cultural differences are totally baffling to him. As an anthropologist by training, they don't seem bizarre at all, they seem perfectly reasonable, given the economic, political, and social circumstances in which Gypsies have been forced to live for generations.
But here's an idea: are frum superstitions, segulot, isolationism, and belief in and patronage of "tzaddikim" who can purportedly perform miracles REALLY a counter-system of law and order to actual halacha?
A few months ago, I spent a lot of time and money working with a Life Coach, and really didn't end up anywhere but right back here. Oh no, she was great, she was really good at what she did, I just couldn't wrap my brain around what I actually want.
But now I think I've got it.
I want to be a professional provocateur.
Not as in someone who starts wars, just someone who asks questions. I'm really good at questioning people's assumptions, and poking holes in their theories. Not so much at providing answers, but really good at asking questions.
As Penelope Trunk points out, the best thing you can do for your career is to work hard at knowing yourself and be kind to others. Since she also says the critical new skill is knowing how to ask good questions, I should be positioned for greatness, right?
Or at least infamy.
I think I'll go for infamy - it has so much more cachet.
Amy Meltzer from Homeshuling has challenged us to name our favorite Jewish love song in honor of Tu B'Av, a day which, in olden times, saw all the young maidens dressed in white, out shaking what their Maker gave 'em in hopes of finding a match.
I'm still a sucker for any sappy love songs from the late 80's (what can I say? puberty hit hard), but for a real, Jewish love song, this is my favorite:
"Do You Love Me?" - Tevye and Golde, from Fiddler on the Roof
Tevye: Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel."
Golde: "What??? He's poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!"
Tevye: "He's a good man, Golde. I like him. And what's more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. So what can we do? It's a new world... A new world. Love. Golde..."
Do you love me?
(Golde) Do I what?
(Tevye) Do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love you? With our daughters getting married And this trouble in the town You're upset, you're worn out Go inside, go lie down! Maybe it's indigestion
(Tevye) "Golde I'm asking you a question..."
Do you love me?
(Golde) You're a fool
(Tevye) "I know..."
But do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love you? For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes Cooked your meals, cleaned your house Given you children, milked the cow After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
(Tevye) Golde, the first time I met you Was on our wedding day I was scared
(Golde) I was shy
(Tevye) I was nervous
(Golde) So was I
(Tevye) But my father and my mother Said we'd learn to love each other And now I'm asking, Golde Do you love me?
(Golde) I'm your wife
(Tevye) "I know..." But do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love him? For twenty-five years I've lived with him Fought him, starved with him Twenty-five years my bed is his If that's not love, what is?
(Tevye) Then you love me?
(Golde) I suppose I do
(Tevye) And I suppose I love you too
(Both) It doesn't change a thing But even so After twenty-five years It's nice to know
Having read the full text of the Rotem Conversion bill, which includes amendments to two existing laws (the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Law, 5740-1980 and the Nationality Law, 5712-1952), I don't really get what all the fuss is about.
After all, it's just formally codifying the casual "F*ck you" that Israel already extends toward the diaspora in general, and converts in particular.
Maybe the problem is that this new formulation halts liberal Jews' current rationalizations in their tracks. From an actual conversation I had with Bad Cohen:
BC: But Israel has been set up at least to accept a non-ortho as a Jew. This changes that fundamentally.
Me: Has it? A non-ortho can't get married in Israel. Their children can't get married in Israel. How are they considered a Jew? Y'all like to think you're accepted there, but you're not. Try making aliyah and trying to get anything related to personal status done as a Jew. Right now, if you move there, you have to accept second-class citizen status in relation to your religous practices.
BC: I think of it like this - marriage is a big issue, but not as big as return. Isreal exists as the refuge of all Jews.
Me: But what's the point of going there if you can't be a full citizen?
Once you accept the linking of religion and state, how can you be upset at preferences given to one sect over another? Do you seriously think any state can exist which sponsors or supports a religion and also allows for pluralism? You're deluding yourselves.
When Israel gets a Consitution, and separates religion and state, I'll consider it as a valid alternative to America. Until then, it might as well be Saudi Arabia.
Is it just me, or have Israeli politicians chosen a particularly apt time to debate who gets to define Jews and Judaism?
"For months, Israeli lawmakers have been discussing a bill that would put more power over conversion into the hands of Israel’s Orthodox-dominated Rabbinate by giving local rabbis the ability to perform conversions and giving the Chief Rabbinate oversight and control over the whole process.
"The bill, sponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset member David Rotem, gained steam July 12 with its approval in the Knesset law committee by a 5-4 vote. The bill now must pass three readings before the full Knesset to become law. "
We had sand between our toes, warm breezes, comfortable chairs, and nice cold drinks to sip. We even had an actual, adult conversation, about something other than schedules or tantrums or what-to-make-for-dinner.
It was almost perfect -
until somebody ran over my toes with a dump truck.
Is there any way to convince my son that the sandbox is really for grownups?
My garden has two distinct smells, these days. In the evening, when I go to gather herbs or zucchini for dinner, I get the wonderful fragrance of the Linden tree in full bloom, just behind our bedroom.
In the morning, wheh I go out after a nice bowl of hot oatmeal, the distinctive smell of stale, cheap beer.
No worries, it's not drunken homeless people crashing in my bushes.
No, it's something much, much worse.
(This image isn't actually from my garden; I always forget the camera, so I borrowed this pic from the fabulous Marie Viljoen. Ours is grosser. It has mostly slugs. Giant slugs. Yay Oregon.)
Bad Cohen came back from a woo-woo Jewish retreat talking about becoming a rabbi.(This is me rolling my eyes.)
In other news, we got our first zucchini from the garden, soon to be followed by about 300,000 more.
I'm thinking Zucchini, Lemon, Ricotta Tartlets (use puff pastry, it's quicker), zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini... I'm also thinking of leaving giant bags of it on neighbors' porches in the dead of night. I'll let you know how that turns out.
Also, I'm 450 pounds of beach sand into filling up the new sandbox. Only 2,250 more pounds to go.
I'm planning to make these fun pretzel sparklers for the party we'll be attending on the 4th, as well as my usual single-crust fresh blueberry pie. YUM!
This year, with the toddler almost 4, we're debating whether to give him a nap and let him try to stay awake through fireworks, or keep him awake all day and hope he sleeps throug the noise in the evening. Either way, I'm sure Bad Cohen and I will be needing a nap on Monday.
Titled, "Gender Equality Universally Embraced, but Inequalities Acknowledged," the study, not surprisingly, finds that men are less in favor of equal opportunities than are women, especially when men's livelihoods are at stake:
"In some countries, male respondents are considerably more likely than female respondents to agree that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce. For example, about nine-in-ten Egyptian men (92%) share this view, compared with 58% of Egyptian women. Similarly, while about three-quarters of Jordanian men (77%) say their sex should be more entitled to a job in tough economic times, a much slimmer majority of Jordanian women (56%) say the same."