17 September 2007

The Art(Scroll) of Complaining

Cellcom Shalom! Ladies and gentlemen, I have a cellphone! If you would like to talk, please ask politely via email for my number. This proves, by the way, my theory that complaining is an Art.

Other things I would like to complain about:

Firstly, my dad wrote that he hopes it is easier to maneuver academically in Israel than it has been to get a phone. Of course, when I go to Hebrew U they don't have my a TON of stuff that they need from me. Thanks, Dad, for jinxing me. Updates on my successes (no failures allowed!) at Hebrew U will come soon, I hope.

Secondly, my Hebrew rant of the decade: Thanks to a marvelous education in the ways of Sh'vaim Na'aim, Dagesh Chazak and the binyanim of the Hebrew verb (These are all nitpicky grammar terms that are not entirely necessary in life. Israelis hear what I know and say, "Why are you learning this, it's stupid." I see what I know and cry a little inside.), I am not really equipped to enter an ulpan (Hebrew language intensive) level higher than Aleph. Aleph, for those of us unfamiliar with the Hebrew alphabet/number system, is the lowest level possible. That's right, I am barely fit to study Hebrew with those who have NEVER SEEN IT IN THEIR LIVES.

So I visited ulpan today, and attempted to negotiate my options: do I sign up for a morning ulpan with the kindergarten-level people, or do I attempt to struggle my way into Hebrew lessons with the slightly more advanced Aleph-plus group? The jury's still out. Once I bust through the red tape and attend classes as a student at Hebrew U, will my classes be in the morning or in the afternoon?

Finally, I would just like to put it out there that I wished the Conservative movement (I am, after all, picked on as a Conservative expert.) would put out ArtScroll-esque commentary Machzorim. Siddurim, too. That's right. I caved. In an effort to apply spiritual salve to my I-just-wanna-learn-but-nobody-seems-to-be-able-to-teach-me wounds, I purchased a few books today. Two of them (please don't judge me, my cherished Rabbi and Erev-Ravs from Newton Center) were ArtScroll machzorim (prayer books for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). I also bought a small, Would-You-Rather-sized book of Hebrew conversational terms and a Ramah Aleph (Level 1) Hebrew textbook.

Why, you may ask, did I go for ArtScroll, when I have a perfectly good Birnbaum and a passable purple-paged Conservative book? Well, I'll tell you.

1. ArtScroll is filling a market that has yet to be tackled completely by the Conservative movement. Gay ordination was approved, kids, so let's get to reaching your congregants. Go ahead, reach me. I dare you.

2. ArtScroll has interpretations. They may not mesh with my theology, but that's flexible AND I'm smart enough to make my own decisions. Besides, after studying theology, I am always looking for more answers to reject.

3. ArtScroll has translations. They aren't filled with thee/thou and they aren't poetic responsive readings when the Hebrew isn't poetic or responsivle. They're just s'tam (plain) translations. And, as we have seen from above, I don't know Hebrew. So I need translations. If I want poetry, I'll struggle to translate the Hebrew (On the bright side, this will take me all of Yom Kippur, and then I wouldn't know that I'm fasting.).

4. My disagreements with ArtScroll commentary keep me entertained and mentally stimulated during long piyyutim and hot minyanim. I love few things more than a good argument, even when that argument is in my head. (This may or may not be a continuation of #2.)

5. Gillman made me get an ArtScroll siddur for theology class. We never used it, but if Gillman made me get it, it can't be THAT bad.

To compensate for my purchase of the ArtScrolls, I will be found tomorrow roaming Tel Aviv, in a bikini, tank top, and shpants. I will also continue to daven on Shabbat and weekdays with my Sim Shalom siddur, which I love. This siddur, by the way, is covered with drawings and stickers up the wazoo. Take that, ArtScroll!

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