28 October, 2006

In bitter times

Filed under: Hebrew,Judaism by Joel @ 10:00 pm, 28 October 2006.

Last Sunday night, we entered a new month on the Hebrew calendar. Throughout our childhoods it was often related to us:

The month of Cheshvan (חשון) is the only month in the Jewish calendar that has no special days. Some say this is why we call it Mar-Cheshvan (מרחשון), or Bitter Cheshvan. According to another legend, all the months got together to cheer up Cheshvan by giving it the title, Mar (Mister.)

Even a more adult-focused web site insists: “Cheshvan, the eighth month of the Jewish calendar, is often referred to as Mar Cheshvan (“Bitter Cheshvan”) because it has no holidays.” And many young Jews grow up feeling very compassionate and sorry for the month.

Adding titles to a month’s name is not unheard of in Judaism, and we entitle the month of “Av” as “Menachem Av” (comforting Av) for reason of the tragedies that are commemorated in that month. But it turns out this “mar” isn’t quite the same. (more…)

23 October, 2006

Hakafa hopping

Filed under: Chazanut,Judaism,Montreal by Joel @ 12:50 pm, 23 October 2006.

By the end of a week (now two weeks ago) of eating in fairly cold and mildly damp poorly-covered huts; of such fascinating and inebriating events as the Ghetto Shul’s sukkah, sushi and sake night Me and kate with sakeSushi making and Westmount Chabad’s very Chabad-like sukkot party with clown, sausage sizzle, popcorn and fairy floss (cotton candy / candy floss / grandma’s hair)Sukkot @ Westmount Chabad; of not going to an Avraham Fried concert due to lack of interest and excess of work… by the end of that week, Arié had convinced me to come with him on a bit of a journey on Saturday night: Simchat Torah. (more…)

21 October, 2006

It snowed!

Filed under: Montreal,Weather by Joel @ 10:21 pm, 21 October 2006.

So I’ve no longer never seen snow before… But it was exhilirating. It was horrible weather outside for most of Friday. Suddenly Naomi looks out her window and shouts “it’s snowing!!” I look out too, and there are little white slivers of ice falling where heavy drops of rain once did. It took a few moments for the exhiliration to set in. Blessed are You, Lord, God, King of the Universe who has made us live, and kept us, and brought us to this occasion! I escaped, heading home, camera in hand, watching people with whitened hair and umbrellas pass by; excitement burning within me and the lightness of the cool flakes on my shoulders all the way.

First snow!First snow!First snow!First snow!First snow!

20 October, 2006

Jews in linguistics

Filed under: Jewish community,Language by Joel @ 12:52 pm, 20 October 2006.

Yesterday in “Neuroscience of Language”, a woman in the front row was identified by the lecturer as Efrat, a post-graduate student. The guy next to me felt the need to point out (by way of name, accent, appearance) that she might be Israeli. I told him after the class that I wasn’t surprised: I estimate that about a quarter of the class is Jewish, a common phenomenon in linguistic circles. (more…)

19 October, 2006

When it rains it pours…

Filed under: Montreal,Weather by Joel @ 1:05 am, 19 October 2006.

Not really in Montreal. It’s been raining for the past week or so, but rarely more than what I’d think of as heavy sprinkling. Still, people here don’t like this weather. Waking up to look out at a white sky and slippery streets of wet, yellow-brown maple leaves and people making their way around in rain coats, and everything tinted with grey. I personally think it’s much nicer than Sydney’s rain, which comes suddenly, heavily, or sloshes on for days in thick droplets, when it isn’t coming down in torrents. It’s not that cold here, either… yet.

18 October, 2006

Nuts about gematria…

Filed under: Family,Hebrew,Judaism,Tanakh by Joel @ 4:24 pm, 18 October 2006.

I recently discovered (well, not before he told me), that my brother, Simon, has also started a blog. It turns out he’s written on something a little up my alley, on the idea of not eating nuts in the new year in Judaism. (more…)

17 October, 2006

“Sabbath observer” — a musical weekend

Filed under: USA by Joel @ 3:08 am, 17 October 2006.

It began as Yom Kippur ended: the sudden realisation that my days in North America are numbered, and that the following Monday would be Canadian Thanksgiving. It would also be Sukkot, and a great opportunity to get out of town for the weekend, or at least to venture into another neighbourhood of Montreal. But I decided I would try to get to New York. (more…)

11 October, 2006

The student part of exchange…

Filed under: Montreal by Joel @ 3:05 am, 11 October 2006.

It’s getting to a few weeks into my studies and I haven’t written anything about some of the exciting things I’m learning. Okay, so exchange students are typically not meant to actually go to their classes, but I’ve seemed to go to most so far… (more…)

A new year

Filed under: Chazanut,Montreal by Joel @ 2:51 am, 11 October 2006.

I haven’t run out of things to say. I sometimes seem to have run out of time to say them. Or maybe I’ve just found overly effective forms of procrastination. And my life here is less made up of events than of themes and relationships, so is harder to pull apart and capture in neat written entries.

In my second week in Montreal, I received a phonecall. (more…)

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