more judaism and the last of summer reading

Shabbat we had the option to do absolutely nothing, or we could participate in a variety of workshops, lectures, talks, activities, etc. In the morning I went to the “morning musical service,” which was just a regular reform service that included lots of Shabbat songs, many of which I did not remember/know at all, and even more that I learned with completely different tunes. That would be weird, except that I’m pretty sure that everybody else Jewish in the world knows the tune that I don’t. I’m thinking the guy who was our songleader when I was little just liked coming up with new stuff.

For the next block, I went to “Whole Torah in Just One Hour,” with one of NYU’s rabbis. He seems pretty chill, and he greeted everyone by going, “Shabbes,” the way the stoner turtle in “Finding Nemo” might say it. In 75 minutes, this guy managed to do all of the following: quote the Iliad in Greek; reference King’s “I have a dream” speech; talk about 100 Years of Solitude; give an anthropological history of the ancient Sumerians; describe the epic of Gilgamesh; and actually talk about the Torah. The whole trick was, of course, that you can’t do the whole Torah in an hour, but we did get to chapter 13 of Genesis, which he said was further than they got last year. So that was fun.

In the afternoon, I went to “Let’s Talk About Sex,” because, frankly, what else sounds interesting when that’s on the bill? And it really was, because we talked about myths about Jews and sex, like how no, nobody has sex through a sheet, and actually, it’s commanded that you be completely naked (no socks) when you have sex. We also looked at Genesis, cartoons, short stories, halacha, and quotes from Maimonides to discuss men and women’s roles in relationships and where sex fits in. I wish it had gone on longer, because that could be a really interesting class. It was a little bit too large of a group for a really good discussion.

I’d say more, but it’s already been so long and I’m on to new and different things. I finished three more books before school started on Monday, and I’m still plodding through that García Márquez (on a side note, why does everybody in the English-speaking world refuse to see how easy it is to pronounce his name correctly rather than emphasizing the “quez” part?). Those books were:

1. The Journals of Sylvia Plath by, of course, Sylvia Plath. This is another exhausting book that takes quite a long time to read, but being in the company of genius is always awesome, like in the real sense of that word, so it was wonderful to read. The most frustrating thing, aside from knowing I will never be that amazing, was knowing that Ted Hughes destroyed her final journals. I so wanted to read them. I wonder if he did.

2. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. I don’t want to say much, because I read this to review for teenreads.com, and the review of that is going to be up soonish. But it was in the vain of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, and while it wasn’t perfectly written, it was a pretty awesome plot, and it was definitely a fun read.

3. The Worst Years of Your Life, edited by Mark Jude Poirier. I was happy to see this collection, because I love teen angst, I try to love YA, at least when it’s good, and it was so neat that this was an accepted collection of “literary” stories that still dealt with that stuff that usually gets labeled “crap” or “Gossip Girl” (which, incidentally, was not crap when it began–only when it continued). Unfortunately, a lot of the stories just seemed so “literary” and weird that I couldn’t really get into them, but the ones that were good were really evocative and interesting. I also appreciated that they mixed contemporary and new authors with older ones.

So that makes 19 books this summer. That’s not what I hoped. And it seemed like so many. It takes longer to read books now than when I was younger. Part of that is that I read harder, better books. I hope. But is it also my short attention span since the Internet came to be? Still, I’ll plod along and keep reading. All I’ll be doing for school this semester is reading anyway.

Stuff about school and life later. Off to do endless homework and work.

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