On the sixth day…

And on the sixth day, man… And on the seventh, they rested (sort of).

Our baby girl was born in our home this past Friday, just in time for Shabbat.

The labor took less than a third the time it took with Koala, and she beats her brother by 150 grams at 2.85 kilos – and way more hair (if that was possible). And baby girl shares her Jewish birthday with Zayde and cousin.

And so far, her utter chillness is making it really easy to write all this down…


Today's word: שנאת חינם

Here’s a backup to my last post in case it wasn’t enough to get my point across.

I proudly observe my own brand of Jewishness – and consider it great, holy and everything else – if my alternative for spiritual ‘climbing’ is this:

U.S. immigrant beaten up in ‘pogrom’ by ultra-Orthodox gang

“An American immigrant was attacked and beaten Sunday night in Beit Shemesh by a gang of ultra-Orthodox zealots, in what appears to be an escalation of tension between religious groups in the city.

T., who is himself ultra-Orthodox, was kicked, beaten and threatened with further violence in an attack that landed him in the hospital. T.’s car windows were also smashed. T., who asked to go unnamed, has been active in trying to stem the recent tide of Haredi violence in the city.”

Ah! Of course! Extreme modesty, extreme Shabbat-keeping, extreme Judaism are waaay more important than keeping a shrinking nation bound together by love for fellow Jew! I must not have studied that gemora in high school. It’s a wonder they’d skip such an important part.

This is completely sickening. Perhaps this is what it feels like to an ultra-Orthodox charedi who sees a gay couple.

But is a person’s sexuality – hidden under layers of skin and human organs – really worse than a Jew with payot beating up another Jew with payot in the middle of the street for not being religious enough?

Is homosexual sex really worse than שנאת חינם? Is it as damaging to the Jewish people than hatred of your neighbors? Did homosexuality single-handedly bring down the Temples?

I didn’t think so.

Sephardi synanogues of Katamonim.

Something I’m going to miss about my little Jerusalem hometown of Katamonim are the amazing Sephardi beitay knesset that pepper the streets:

Sephardi synagogue

Most of the residents in this neighborhood are some strain of Mizrachi, mainly Kurdish, Bucharian, Moroccan or Yemenite. The synagogues carpeted and fluorescently lit, reflect that.

I feel 100% comfortable attending services at Beit Aharon, one of the ‘shuls’ up the block. We go occasionally, and the usual suspects recognize my husband (after all, he kind of stands out) and no one asks me any questions, even if I am usually the only woman upstairs. I also love knowing that when women do come, the priority is to be present and pray as opposed to look a certain way (namely, I can wear my loose pants!).

In addition, the service is just plain fun – but not in a ‘happy-clappy’ way which is more of a turn off to me than otherwise. The chazzan is always the same old man who actually sounds like he is conversing with God when he prays. The whole room is involved in one conversation, together. See the way the seats and tables are facing? This is a congregation. It’s also the way beitay knesset were historically arranged in the good ole days, before exile.

In Tsur Hadassah, I’m looking forward to my prayers being spoken from inside a small, rickety trailer, which is how I grew up praying. Back to basics. But the couple years I had the chance to pray in a place as grand as my Kurdish synagogue will always be appreciated.

Making the next move.

We spent the weekend as a pilot trip in Tzur Hadassah, a small yishuv right next to Beitar and Gush Etzion. It’s 15 minutes from Jerusalem (without traffic) and it’s the kind of cozy, neighborly community that a young, childless married couple uses to kick off into becoming an experienced, childbearing married couple.

Tzur Hadassah sits on the Green Line – literally, actually. It kind of is the Green Line; at least one of its fences is. It over looks serene hills, green trees and at night there are actually stars.

The big push has been coming from friends of ours who are informal – but very enthusiastic – spokespeople for the place. We’ve been a few times and this Shabbat was the big test. We saw an apartment we may take and met people we may be friends with.

It was definitely a positive experience that has made us more anxious to leave Jerusalem sooner.

Oh, and did I mention that everyone in Tzur Hadassah has a dog? And not just pitzy ones, but huge, furry, drooling beasts.

Is this it? Will we finally be at home in Israel? Stay tuned…