rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
An easy and meaningful fast (or other observance, as fitting) to all of you who observe Yom Kippur.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
And the Lord said to His Chosen People, I know that your kitchens shall become grotty, and an offence before My sight. Therefore I command you, children of Israel, that every year ye shall observe My Passover, and ye shall scrub the corners of your kitchens, yea, even to the furthest ends of your cabinets. And ye shall discover things ye really did not want to find, and ye shall make them go away, and your kitchens shall become shiny; and ye shall say Hallelujah, praise unto the Lord.


Yes, I know I'm far, far behind on interview questions. I'll go and ask them on my next cleaning break.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
According to the Forward, the Conservative Jewish law committee (the one that usually gets mentioned in this journal in the context of gay and lesbian marriage and ordination!) has finally codified its position on ritual bathing. This ought to please several of my friends who have in the past complained about inadequate instructions on the matter.

Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown. I wish you all a happy and sweet New Year; may the year bring us a better world.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
Yes, I've been posting frequently lately; it's something to do between research inspirations.

I stopped writing just now to have an early-morning snack. We still haven't gone to the supermarket, so all I could find was matzah and egg salad. I nibbled on the matzah and egg salad while scanning a blood libel narrative in search of something to bolster my current argument.

I finished eating before I realized just how wrong of a snack it was.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
I clearly didn't have enough projects to work on in the next two weeks, so fate decided I needed one more. Last week's blue screen problems with my laptop have advanced to the point that ... let's just say the computer's not going to work again until I reinstall Windows. Don't expect to see me online for long periods of time until May 9 at the very earliest.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone who observes it is having a happy and kosher Passover. Mine has been lovely so far. Amazingly enough, my chicken soup tastes like the chicken soup my mother makes. I used her recipe, of course, but that's not a guarantee of flavor.

I found the afikomen (a small piece of matzah traditionally hidden during the Passover Seder) on Saturday night. My prize for this was a six-inch-tall fuzzy gray elephant. It isn't animate, of course, but it amuses me anyway.

I named it Soredamors.


Apr. 20th, 2005 08:53 pm
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
I have email access from my computer again, but it still goes into repetitive hard drive clicks, followed by freezes, followed by blue screens, at random intervals. Until I figure out what's going on with this machine, I won't be spending extended periods of time online. Also, I am about eighteen midterms behind on my grading, need to clean the apartment for Passover, and have to write my conference paper before the next conference I go to. Therefore, I almost certainly won't be seeing any of you online in the next week or two. Sorry!

While I'm here, I should say that every single one of the Had Gadya interpretations was gorgeous. [livejournal.com profile] daegaer, [livejournal.com profile] navelofwine and [livejournal.com profile] elfsdh stroked their nonexistent beards and payos to provide (respectively, pro-vegetarian, pro-carnivorous and purely literalist) explanations in flawless Yeshivish. [livejournal.com profile] shiduri_sour, in the name of moreinu haRav* Alan Dundes of blessed memory, spoke about the oral fixation apparent in the constant biting. [livejournal.com profile] continuoboy gave us the immoral** of the song, "Things happen, and if the butcher is on top now, it isn't going to be so in the next verse," supplying extra Gothic Archies lyrics for further text study. It's all about Stephen Merrit. [livejournal.com profile] carasfriendmatt explained what I shall call the Big Bang theory of Had Gadya. [livejournal.com profile] mistressrenet suggested a divine resurrection of the dead in the last stanza. [livejournal.com profile] mogget_cat shared a feline perspective on the song. [livejournal.com profile] taylweaver pointed out that Had Gadya is a traditional form appearing in a wide variety of folk sources over the world -- I'd be interested to hear what the Dundes disciples on my friendslist think about that. (By the bye, welcome to LJ, [livejournal.com profile] taylweaver!) [livejournal.com profile] fleurdelis28 and [livejournal.com profile] shirei_shibolim debated the market value of goats. [livejournal.com profile] fox1013 announced her intention to act out the poem with stuffed animals.

Top honors go to [livejournal.com profile] elettaria, for a thoughtful close reading of the Hebrew version I linked, for deep thoughts, and for some gorgeous flow charts. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] elettaria, for reminding us just how disturbing the little goat's narrative is.

*Our teacher, the rabbi. Professor Dundes was not actually ordained, but he acquired more disciples than any of the rabbis I know. May he rest in peace.
**Wouldn't that be an amoral?
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
Many of you are literary critics. Many of you are amateur or professional scholars of Judaism. Most of you are talented at creative, bizarre works of extempore interpretation.


I propose a challenge. It shall be open to every reader of this journal, regardless of religion, race, gender, level of education, sexual orientation or status as a fictional character. (I should note that entries from fictional characters are especially welcome.) It's even open to non-readers of this journal. Advertise the challenge to your friends!

I challenge you to provide an interpretation for the following song:

Had Gadya (One Little Goat) )

A note of explanation: "Had Gadya" is traditionally sung at the end of the Passover Seder, a ritual dinner occurring in a week and a half. By that point in the ritual, everyone is (or should be) drunk and exhausted, and no one quite knows what they're singing or why. The song, as you may notice, has nothing obvious to do with freedom from slavery; it has nothing obvious to do with spring fertility rituals; it may possibly have nothing to do with anything. However, Jews are not content to take "meaningless" as an answer, so we keep making up interpretations.

Some interpretations from Jewish Heritage Online Magazine )

Clearly, we need more explanations for this song. Explain away! Points will be given for creativity, randomness, amusement value, plausibility, implausibility, and my mood at any given moment.

Here's a bizarre 80s Hebrew version of the song, complete with synthesizers and eerie drums, to get you in the mood.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
At an SCA event a few months ago, my roommate Aviva heard a folksong that sounded oddly familiar.

Landlord fill the flowing bowl
Until it doth run over
Landlord fill the flowing bowl
Until it doth run over
For tonight shall merry-i be
For tonight shall merry-i be
For tonight shall merry-i be
Tomorrow I'll be sober.

There appear to be several variants of this song (called, variously, "Three Jolly Coachmen" or "Landlord, Fill The Flowing Bowl"), as well as "Farewell to Grog", a version with different lyrics in honor of the United States Navy removing alcohol from its list of standard rations in 1862.

All hands to splice the main brace, call )

Of course, the reason Aviva and I are both highly amused by this song is that it is clearly the source of a traditional English Purim song (scroll down to "Wicked Man") on which we were both brought up:

Oh once there was a wicked wicked man )

The original is definitely better, I must say, although I have to admire the authors/active bearers of "Wicked Man" for having the chutzpah to rhyme "Ahashverosh" with "scare us".

Here's to the man who drinks dark ale )

Happy Purim, everyone!
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
The holiday of Purim approaches, as it does every year. The residents of my apartment are spending our spare hours assembling pirate costumes, buying liquor and baking a kind of filled cookie we call the hamantash (plural: hamantashen).

This year's thoughts on hamantash baking:

1. Poppy seed filling is a good thing.
2. Not being able to find poppy seed filling in Northern California is a bad thing.
3. Making one's own poppy seed filling is a good thing.
4. Finding hundreds of poppy seeds scattered all over the kitchen floors and counters is a bad thing.
5. If the stovetop is covered with poppy seeds, and one lights a burner, can one get high on opium inhalation?
6. Nonstick rolling pins sound like an excellent idea, but, in fact, they have some serious flaws.
7. When I roll out my sticky hamantash dough, I need some flour to stick to the rolling pin.
8. I'm out of practice at this hamantash-making thing.
9. I hope that when I make my second batch of cookies, today or tomorrow, the hamantashen are actually triangular.
10. I am thankful that blob-shaped hamantashen taste just as good as triangle-shaped hamantashen.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
and my latkes (potato pancakes, sort of) were an unqualified success. This did not surprise my roommates, but it did surprise me, as I have never in my life been in charge of making latkes before. I was always either the sous-chef on grating detail or the person following the instructions on the box. There was no box this year. There were merely potatoes and onions and salt and pepper and eggs and baking powder and flour and lots and lots of olive oil, fried and served with applesauce and sour cream: heavenly. We all sat in the candlelight and ate latkes and spinach-and-cheese (roommate #1 decided that we needed green vegetables with our carbohydrates and fat), drank alcoholic pear cider, sang. It feels like Chanukah, now. It's a good feeling.

Meanwhile, I must sing the praises of my friends.

[livejournal.com profile] caffeinediary and I met ten years ago (I am still boggled -- where on earth did those ten years go?!) in Hebrew high school, and our friendship made the ghastly place tolerable. [livejournal.com profile] caffeinediary has wonderful taste in music; she taught me to love Tori Amos and Philadelphia's independent radio station WXPN. She helped to hook me on Dar Williams and the Nields, and recently she introduced me to Tegan and Sara. We talk about good books and bad dates, and somehow manage to keep in touch despite thousadns of miles of physical distance.

Oh yes, [livejournal.com profile] caffeinediary gave me my LJ invite code last year, a few weeks before LJ dropped the invite code requirement. I would not be here today if it weren't for her. Round of applause for [livejournal.com profile] caffeinediary, please.

Still to come: odes to [livejournal.com profile] emidala, [livejournal.com profile] prosewitch, [livejournal.com profile] debka_notion and [livejournal.com profile] muffinbutt. If you forgot to request an ode and you want one, leave me a note here.


Happy Chanukah, everyone!
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
Yes, it's that time of year again - specifically, the Jewish holiday of Purim, in which we wear costumes, bake cookies, and get really drunk - , so I'm commandeering [livejournal.com profile] prosewitch's kitchen and her cooking expertise and preparing to make hamantashen.

Here's the family recipe, originally from Jewish Cookery but with modifications since then. )

The only problem with the traditional family recipe is that the crust can sometimes be a bit dry. I'm wondering whether an egg-and-honey glaze would improve the texture. [livejournal.com profile] shirei_shibolim, could you give me the proportions for the glaze you put on challah?

By the way, if you're looking for the article on The Passion, I am about to post it under friendslock. It's publicly available on my other blog, but for various reasons I don't want to connect the two too easily. If you aren't on my friendslist or want to know where the other blog is, leave me a note and I'll let you know.

And does it strike anyone as odd that the LJ spell-checker doesn't know the word "blog"?


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