Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A walk down Thompson

After class at NYU, today, I didn't feel like heading straight home and wasn't in much of a mood for studying, so I decided to take a walk south from Washington Square park down Thompson Street and West Broadway to the World Trade Center (where I worked for 10 years) to catch the PATH train there and check out what's changed and stayed the same in the 10 years or so since Lower Manhattan was a regular part of my life.

It was a wonderful walk through neighborhoods that ranged from residential to high fashion to financial district -- the incredible mix that has always made Manhattan, and cities in general, a kind of fascinating wonderland to me. I thought of my father, of blessed memory, who taught me the joy of the "nostalgia walk" where you can marvel both in how much things can stay the same from years ago and how much they can change. [Washington Square park, itself, reminds me of my father. Back before NYU came to dominate the neighborhood so and the area became so gentrified, there were many small industrial businesses in the area, including my Grandfather's machine shop on E. 11th St. As a child, my father took me to the machine shop for visits. That, too, was a child's wonderland with all its fascinating pipes and parts to see and touch!]

My walk ended at the new PATH station -- which, unlike the one of the pre-9/11 days -- can be accessed directly from the street. That's the station in the pic below. You can click on it to see a full album of my little walk.

From A walk down Thompson

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Numbering my days

If you've been looking at this blog lately, you'll have seen that most of the posts have been more personal -- about biking and gardening -- than professional (about chaplaincy or education). That might make you think that I haven't been working very hard these days -- nothing could be further from the truth! I've been working really hard.

But ever since Passover -- ever since we've entered the season of the Omer -- I feel like I've been living in the wake of the חג/hag (festival), especially in the wake of command for us to joyful on our holidays (ושמחת בחגך).

That command has not always been an easy one for me. I'm not an always upbeat person by nature -- and I'm often downright grumpy and sometimes even depressed -- so sometimes this command has felt like a condemnation of who I am at my core. And it's certainly a painful thing to feel like your faith tradition -- the thing that should be guiding you to all that is good and liberating and holy in life -- is condemning who you are.

But this Passover I really felt myself coming to a place of peace with this command. And I worked hard -- prepared long and seriously -- to make it a Passover of joy, a Passover where I felt like I was living my best through all of the holidays many commands. I even took Hol Moed -- the intervening days, the days that are kind of half holidays according to the tradition -- seriously: I worked during them, but also made sure to take the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful spring weather we've been having this year. Preparing for the holiday and taking its rhythms seriously brought me much joy this Passover, and I can honestly say it's the best I've ever had.

When I first started to get serious about Jewish observance, it was the crown jewel of Judaism -- the Sabbath, or Shabbat -- that first really gripped me. Judaism commands joy and celebration -- עונג/oneg -- on Shabbat. But it doesn't command us to maintain that holy state all the time. It leaves us six days for work. That's the rhythm we're commanded to live by. It's one where most of the time is given to work, but where the most important thing happens during that shorter time one day a week.

So, I've been working -- especially on my graduate studies I've been working and thinking and growing -- but what's seemed relevant to share lately is how I've been finding joy, and how that relates to the rhythms of the Jewish calendar. So I will write here specifically about chaplaincy and education, again. But what I have been writing about lately -- well, that, too, is Torah. And I'm glad to share it.

I hope you, too, will find joy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Night moves

Doing as much as possible by bicycle has always been a dream for me. So, when Shabbat got out last night, I was excited to start moving into our new place (only about a half mile away) by taking a few loads over via my Xtracycle.

Here's a closer view of the bike loaded

From Moving 2010

Note that the Xtracycle"Wideloaders" (see below pic) are installed on both sides, which allowed me to strap on the large plastic containers (normally I don't ride with the Wideloaders on).

And so here is me about getting ready to get the bike going . . . . . it wasn't so easy to get it started rolling with so much loaded on it (before it's moving it kind of wants to tip to the right or the left and it takes some effort to hold it upright)!

From Moving 2010

It was a fun challenge!

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dreaming of summer -- and tomatoes!

It's been such beautiful spring weather lately that we've mostly just been trying to enjoy the "now." But in one way we've been thinking ahead. We've planted some tomatoes inside from seed with hopes of transplanting them in the ground later. Some of the seeds were ones we saved from a tomato plant -- from the Mr. Stripey variety -- that we really enjoyed last year.

It was great to see the little "Mr. Stripey's" start to make their way into the world!
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Friday, April 02, 2010

Putting my feet up -- Hol Moed 2010

The traditional main days of the Passover holiday come at the beginning and the end of the eight-day holiday period, but the four days in between -- the so-called intermediary days or hol moed/חול מועד -- are meant to be a time of celebration as well, a time where work is permitted under Jewish law, but where one is encouraged to take it easy. So, Minna and I were able to get lunch together in a park near the hospital, and enjoy the beautiful early spring weather.

Here's Minna on the bench we sat on.

From Hol Moed 2010

And here is the two of us:

From Hol Moed 2010

It was nice to get a bit of a rest after what were two wonderful -- but exhausting! -- seders.

Shabbat Shalom!

PS We also planted some tomato seeds inside, today. In six weeks or so I hope to plant them outside!
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