Tonight was my first official conversion class. Thank you so much to everyone who has cheered me on and educated me and supported me. Tonight for the first time I was up close and personal with an unrolled Torah scroll, rather than simply touching it when it passes by me during services.

@haloelitelegend thanks very much for trying define for me, an Indian Jewish woman, what is and isn’t trivial, but I think I can figure it out on my own. 

For example, the “Merry Christmas” issue is something I’ve written about extensively: 

It’s erasure to assume that the person you’re talking to couldn’t possibly be Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, etc. and that they must celebrate Christmas. It implies that think non-Christians are essentially tantamount to unicorns and that we don’t really exist, which is both Christian-normative and rude as hell.

Christians (both religious and secular) consistently make holiday observances difficult for people of minority faiths. People who want to take days off of school or work for holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Eid are told their observances aren’t valid, that their holidays are made up or unimportant, or that they’re inconveniently scheduled. Meanwhile, there is an expectation that we will bend over backwards to make everybody’s Christmas magical and wonderful because, unlike our ungodly, heathen holidays, “Christmas isspecial.” The imbalance is staggering, as is the implication that our holidays are less important than Christian ones.

People often get defensive, rude, or even menacing when you politely correct them about being wished a “Merry Christmas.” Simply saying “Thank you, but I actually don’t celebrate Christmas,” often gets people in a huff. “Well, excuse me. I was just trying to be nice!” is a response I’ve gotten many times over the years. Meanwhile, posts like this:

suggest that I should never correct anybody in the first place, and merely say “Thank you! You too!” Well, that royally pisses me off, because the suggestion here is that I should literally pretend not to be Jewish in order to make somebody’s Christmas merry and bright. In relation to my previous points, I do not like being told that I have to choose between either potentially making somebody angry or denying my entire ethnic identity just for the sake of making somebody’s holiday season better, when I know for sure they don’t give a fuck about mine.

These things always crop up around Christmastime (because apparently pre-Halloween is Christmastime now) with a note about being a good person around “the holiday season.” There is never any acknowledgment that this is not everybody’s holiday season. This is the Christian holiday season. These posts can’t be taken in good faith if there isn’t even the acknowledgment that other holiday seasons exist for different faiths.

And let me be clear: I am actually one of those rare Jews who has a great fondness for Christmas. I don’t celebrate it, but I do rather like the fairy lights, and the sappy holiday Hallmark movies, and eggnog. I even own the Ultimate Lounge Christmas Cocktails 3-Disc set, because IT IS FANTASTIC and I have an extreme soft spot 50s Christmas music. I have nothing against Christmas and I enjoy the general season surrounding it; I would just like people to stop trying to assimilate me and instead focus on understanding that it’s not hard to appreciate and respect other people’s cultures.

You say I “have a problem” and it’s true, I do; I have a problem with people erasing my culture and ethnicity whilst simultaneously demanding that I coddle them when it comes to acknowledging theirs. 

As for Indian food, nobody has to eat anything they don’t like, but boiling down the cuisine of a nation to “one kind of spicy food I don’t like” is infuriating. People in this country will seriously fight over which region/city/state has the best pizza, the best barbecue sauce, the best hot dog toppings, but Indian food? All the same. Never mind that the country is big enough to contain half the United States (not even including other South Asian nations); they just have one kind of food. Obviously. 

Also, when you’ve spent your childhood listening to people tell you the curry in your lunchbox is gross and smells bad, it’s going to be more personal than one white kid telling another white kid he doesn’t like green bean casserole. 

It’s telling about your place in society that you see these sorts of things as personal problems and not social problems; they don’t impact you, so you can’t see how they might be offensive.

anonymous asked:

What religions do radfems align with, if any?

Interesting question. In my opinion, radical feminism is incompatible with all Abrahamic religions, as they are deeply rooted in patriarchy. As for other religions, such as paganism, I don’t know enough about them to make a judgement. 

As for me, I am an atheist. 

Any other radfems out there would like to weigh in?

Even where I dissent from biblical or rabbinic teaching, where I find it problematic, unjust or simply wrong, I still see it as part of a past that has shaped and formed me. As mine, it is a past for me to struggle with, not a past on which I am willing to turn my back.
—  Judith Plaskow

Jewish men pose for photograph during Simcha Torah in Woodbine, New Jersey; 1900. x

Simchat Torah begins following Sukkot and celebrates the completion of the reading of the Torah.  It is a common misconception that Simchat Torah is part of Sukkot, but in fact that two are separate holidays.  When the ark is opened on Simchat Torah, the Torah is brought out and the congregants in the synagogue dance and sing around the Torah in what is known as hakafot.  Often, these celebrations are taken outside the synagogue and the Torah is carried through the streets by joyous congregants.

In 2016, Simchat Torah begins in Israel on the night of October 23rd and continues until October 25th.  Outside of Israel, Shemini Atzert begins on the evening of October 23rd until October 24th and Simchat Torah begins of the evening of October 24th and continues until the evening of October 25th.

i wrote a facebook post about my lecture here i cross-posted it

Today I had a lecture on post-colonialism and Dracula, which was, by the way, completely fascinating. They used some really interesting Biblical/Christian language and ideas about difference.

Like, in the text Count Dracula says he wants to speak good English (whatever “good English” means is another lecture for another day…) in order to pass as a native and not a foreigner, because “a stranger in a strange land, he is no-one”.
This was a really confusing moment for me! Strangers in a strange land are not at all nobody – they are, among other things, the Jews! And like, of course if I stop and think I can sort of see why he would not want to be a stranger in a strange land, and his anxiety about passing, and all the statements about nationalism and race and the colonial worldview he’s implying. But the first association of that phrase for me will always be, you know, the Seder, and joy, and Jewish continuity, and sitting at my grandparents’ table hearing about where the family has been (spoiler: various parts of Europe, and the East End). It’s not negative! And it’s certainly not being no-one. The Jews are great, you know?

And then the lecturer referred to a general fear apparently featured in Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, that non-white immigrants would threaten the country from within. The lecturer described this as their being “resident aliens”.
Again, I was like, what’s going on? Geirim toshavim (the original Hebrew for resident aliens) are great! They keep Shabbat (Ex. 20:10)! The Jewish people are resident aliens (Lev. 25:23)! Heck, according to some Chassidic teachers G-d is a resident alien (…/god-too-is-lonely-a-dvar-…)!

Man, Dracula is really just a self-hating caricature of a Jew… oh, right, the blood thing. Got it.

In a most remarkable ending to the Mishnah of Yevamot, there is a disagreement cited between an anonymous teacher and Rabbi Yochanan ben Berukah. The anonymous teacher (whose view is accepted Jewish law) states that women are not obligated to be fruitful and multiply. In traditional Jewish law, it is a man’s duty to marry and have children, whereas a woman is free to remain childless.
—  Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs
Poems of praise from Medieval Spain
"... Who sends fear of swallows / into the falcon’s eyes? / Who established the world’s foundations / and set them beneath the skies?"

Host Marcela Sulak reads Hebrew poetry from Medieval Spain to mark the Jewish holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. The latter celebrates the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. Thus the reading at the morning service for Simchat Torah is from “Genesis.” Here is the end of Yosef Ibn Avitor’s poem on the creation of the universe, “Hymn for the New year”:

“Who hurls ruin upon the strong
lest in cruelty they lash out?
Who casts fright across the lion
before the Ethiopian gnat?
Who brings over the scorpion
terror of the spider’s poison?
Who sends fear of swallows
into the falcon’s eyes?
Who established the world’s foundations
and set them beneath the skies?”

Marcela also reads Yehuda Halevi’s poem “Where Will I Find You,” an ofan written for the Simchat Torah morning service. Halevi is considered to be one of the greatest Hebrew poets. He lived in both Muslim and Christian Spain before rejecting its culture of Jewish-Arab hybridization and leaving for the Holy Land in 1140.