Thursday, August 16, 2007

Books are for enjoyment, dammit!

I came across this great article by Harry Mount, Our reverence for books is ludicrous in which he basically says that we should read books for enjoyment and not because we want to pretend to be cultured, well-read snobs. His opening paragraph is entertaining, thought provoking, and right on:

Do you ever start talking to an incredibly boring person at a party and say to yourself, after five minutes: "Well, he's incredibly boring, but I'll talk to him for another 30 hours. He's bound to get better." Or, when you've finished with a newspaper you've enjoyed, do you ever put it on a shelf on prominent display so that you can admire it from a distance and never read it again?

I admit that this used to be me - if I started a book, I had to finish it, no matter how painful and debilitating this was. What cured me? My daughter's fourth grade English teacher. We live in Israel and my daughter was in the native English speakers' English class. When it was time for their first book report her teacher gave out guidelines which stated that one section of the book report needed to be "why I liked this book." The teacher said: "Do not say I did not like this book. Reading is for enjoyment. There are enough books to choose from. If you don't like the book, put it back and choose another one." WOW! So simple and yet it was like an epiphany for me. Why didn't I ever think of that myself? I do not have to read every single book ever published. My tastes change over time and are influenced by many things. Today I try genres that I was never a huge fan of before. And if I hate the book and can't get through it, so be it. I have enough books on my TBR list that I WANT to read. Sometimes I will listen to a book on audiotape if I think it is something I should read but don't think I'll be able to get through it. Sometimes it works out okay - Steinbeck's Cannery Row which I listened to after visiting Monterey was boring but bearable and other times, the audio can be agony as well (I abandoned Reading Lolita in Tehran in the middle but suffered through six hours of The Road).

Now thanks to Harry Mount's article I no longer need to feel guilty for being the worst read English major or for the fact that try as I might, I just CANNOT make it through Moby Dick (thank you Mr. Cliff).

Monday, August 6, 2007

How am I behaving

I found this great picture at Jameel's The Muqata blog. Too good not to post.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Real Zionists make aliyah

I found this very interesting post titled The Aliyah Guilt Trip at Friar Yid's blog. I was lead here by a post on Oy Bay, the Jewish Blog by the Bay, which I subscribe to.

Friar Yid discusses comments made by Rabbi Avi Weiss, of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah on the Israel National News (Arutz 7) Aliyah Revolution radio show. Rabbi Weiss states, “A Zionist is someone who lives in Israel” and as a strong supporter of Zionism he classifies himself as a doresh Zion, or seeker of Zion. Friar Yid takes exception to Rabbi Weiss' remarks and feels that Diaspora Jews in general, and American Jews in particular should not be guilted into feeling inferior for choosing to stay where they are.

Many moons ago when I was a newlywed making every decision with an eye towards aliyah, we attended a Jewish Federation gathering in Philadelphia (I think) and the old timers were wearing buttons that said "Real Zionists pay Dues." Of course we young die hard Zionists who were really going to make aliyah laughed this off and someone ran out and got t-shirts or buttons printed "Real Zionists make Aliyah."

I don't think anyone should be made to feel guilty for their life choices but what can I say, I do believe that Israel is the place for Jews to be. Part of it is probably related to being the daughter of a holocaust survivor but I just feel like Israel is home. If you missed my previous post here again are 12 things I love about living in Israel:
1. Being in a supermarket before any holiday and knowing that everyone is in the same boat, religious or non-religious, Sephardic or Ashkenazi; - everyone is hosting or being hosted, buying rimonin, matzot, cheese for cheesecake.
2. The period between Pesach and Shavuot, when Israeli flags are flying throughout the country for the upcoming Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.
3. The togetherness and solemnity of Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, when the country shuts down its stores and entertainment.
4. Knowing if chalilah something is wrong by the music on the radio.
5. Really feeling the New Year start in the fall, with Rosh Hashana, as the whole country gets ready for the chagim.
6. Acharei hachagim, and how nothing gets done until then.
7. The kids can play outdoors and go to friends by themselves.
8. Dropping in and visiting neighbors without advance notice.
9. Finding short sleeve or elbow length shirts year round.
10. Not paying thousands of dollars a year for my child to get a Jewish education.
11. Hebrew rap music (Hadag nachash, Subliminal)
12. The feeling that I am truly at home.

It is far from perfect and by no means a Utopia, but it is ours, warts and all. And as Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, "there's no place like home."

Shameless nepotism

My youngest cousin's husband, Avi, is a musician, and he and his friend, Ronen provided the music at Maor's bat mitzvah party. They were excellent and received many compliments. Avi is a member of a band, Para Aduma, and they will be playing at the Klezmer Festival in Zfat on August 13th, 29 Av, 22:00-23:00. If you're in Israel, go hear them play!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday's Feast

I found this meme on Melody's Reading Corner. Friday's Feast is a meme of five questions cooked up by the chef each and every week. Here are my answers to feast #154.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how polite are you?
I'd say I'm an 8 with strangers, probably a 7 with my family. I try to always say please and thank you and generally be polite to people.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Something that Snape said to Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I finished it Thursday morning).
Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Scooby Doo. Ever since I'm a kid.
Main Course

Tell about the funniest teacher you ever had.
When I was in second grade our teacher was ill with cancer and we had this substitute who couldn't control the class. She was pretty entertaining. She once threw an eraser at a boy in my class because he kept getting all the words right in the spelling bee.

Complete this sentence: I strongly believe that Mosiach is coming!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Win a 37″ Flat-Panel LCD HDTV!!!

No this is not a scam/money pyramid/chain letter/joke!
5 minutes for mom is having a contest sponsored by Best Buy and the prize is an Insignia® 37" Flat-Panel LCD HDTV. To enter the contest (free!!!) just leave a comment at 5 minutes for mom's contest post by August 17th and if you have a blog link to the contest.
Good luck!!!!

My friend's son lent me his copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yes, you're right. This post should really be all about Maor's bat mitzvah party which was very nice thanx for asking. I was going to post about it once I got the pictures back so I could post together. But now I'm not sure when I'll have photos so bli neder I will post about her party soon.
Way more exciting is I GOT MY HANDS ON THE NEW HARRY POTTER BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Since being in California I don't buy books any more. I just use the public libraries which are awesome (read my previous post on tools for book lovers). So of course I put a hold on the new Harry Potter book at 2 different libraries and then realized they would become available while I'm in Israel. I then put a hold on the book (and the CD version) under Maor's name and suspended the hold so it comes due when I get home. I asked Arthur to bring me the book from the library when he came but even though he went with my library card they wouldn't give it to him. Bummer!
Well, my neighbor's son, E, spent the last 8 months in Perth, Australia under the auspices of Torah Mitzion and his mom casually mentioned tonight that he brought the new Harry Potter book with him. I said to her nobody else in your house is going to read it in English, right? To which she replied no. Off I ran to ask E if I could have the book when he finishes it. He said to me, it will take me a while to read it, will you finish it within 2 weeks? I said, are you kidding me, I'll finish it over Shabbat. So he said take it.
Me: Are you sure?
E: Yes, go ahead.
Me: No, you read it first.
E: It's fine, take it.
Talk about joy!!! So, as soon as I finish posting, even though it's after midnight, I am going to shower and start reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!!
BTW, if you are not familiar with the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale you should check them out. He is amazing and they are great to listen to. An interesting article about the rise of audiobooks in general can which also mentions Jim Dale can be found here.