Tuesday, May 23, 2006


According to Wiktionary (which so many of my co-academicians would be shocked to see me using, but hey, it's convenient):

1. The first existence of anything; act or fact of commencing; rise; origin; beginning; start.

2. The day when degrees are conferred by colleges and universities upon students and others.

3. A graduation ceremony, from a school, college or university.

I like that it's both a beginning and an end. It's one of those rare profundities that emphasize how חכמה בגוים תאמין. And it really is, for me. It's the end of an era in my life, that's for sure, but the beginning of a new one. A continuation of the same, but in such a different way.

Some things that I learned from university:
1. You may be the only ספר תורה a stranger will ever meet.

2. It's a crazy world out there. B"H for my family, my life, etc.

3. There is no such thing as a plutonic relationship. Ever. Whether you feel emotion or not, apparantly others do...and then things get uncomfortable.

4. There are so many genuinely thinking people out there, trying to figure it all out.

5. I have it all figured out (or at least, I have the tools to figure it all out. It'll take me multiple lifetimes to actually do so).

6. There are so many people who don't think beyond their own skin - or other people's skin. And I feel sorry for them.

7. Those huge paper bags that you get at clothing stores are very useful for returning dozens of books to the library.

8. If they want to give you honors in the academic world, they tell you to wrap a rope around your neck. After much discussion, it was decided that you're gonna end up with a rope around your neck if you go the Ph.D route, so it's useful to have a colorful one.

9. Graduating as the only Summa Cum Laude in your department is a bit anticlimactic when none of your family or friends know what it means. Alas, priorities...

10. There are a lot of people who care about me, even though I disappear under a mound of books every semester. I love those people. I'm going to miss them. But they're gonna keep in touch, and I'll sharpen up my letter-writing skills once again! (And my IMing skills will reach perfection).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Friends Forever?

As I near graduation from university, and as so many things happen in the worlds of the people around me, I took out my yearbooks last night-from both middle school and high school. It was an eye-opening experience, and I cried, for the first time in quite a while.

It was a kind of selfish crying, when I think about it. So many people close to me are going through things that are so much more worthy of tears, but it was reading my old yearbooks that finally did it for me.

I suppose the nostalgia kinda rushed over me unexpectedly, and that's what hit me so strongly. I was reading the messages that people wrote to me so long ago, between 8th and 12th grades. We were so innocent, so excited for the future. So happy to start a new chapter in our lives and sure that we'd all continue our relationships just as they were.

The Graduation Song from Vitamin C has been playing in my mind ever since:

As we go on
We'll remember
All the times we
Had together
And as our lives change
Come whatever
We will still be
Friends forever...

That's what made me cry. Those words of certainty from people whom I thought would always be there, would always know my every thought, and would never leave. Many of them did, though, some earlier than others, and some later.

Certainty is impossible, and I'm the proof of it-I'm beginning a new chapter of my life soon as well, and leaving people behind. Shinuy makom, shinuy mazal. I certainly hope that it is only a physical leavetaking from those friends that remain, and not a permanent one, but considering the odds, who knows.

I guess there's not really a point to this post...I'm just emoting, and I'm not sure how to address it, so I'm attempting it through words.

(If blogger had the emoticons that livejournal had, I'd put "mood: uncertain")

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is Your World in Color, or Black and White?

Today I saw a film for a class that I'm taking. It was shocking, terrifying, and altogether disturbing. There was no blood, nudity, or foul language. In fact, it was made in 1940.

The name of the film was Jud Suss. It was made under Goebell's propaganda program, to show how decietful, hypocritical, dirty, and downright disgusting the Jews were, and how, in Martin Luther's words, one should "burn their synagogues and schools..."

I don't even know how to describe it. I never was all that good with words, but after I saw it, I was upset that such a film could ever be shown to anyone (incidentally, it was supposed to have been destroyed after WWII, but a Soviet film company copied it and sold it to a very large audience of in the Middle East - and the audience was not Jews).

But we can learn something from everything. So what was the lesson I took out of it?
The difference between black and white and color.

The film itself was a typical early movie - bad sound, bad picture, bad editing. The story and its blatant anti-Jewish message was pretty clear, but everything else was kinda fuzzy, especially the scenes of the Jews performing rituals. When I put myself into the position of my fellow classmates, they truly did seem strange, dancing frantically with huge objects (ספרי תורה), and chanting strange chants.

After the film, I came home and went to a shiur. It took place in a shul, and I was surrounded by people. These people, however, quite unlike the ones in the film, were full of color! The clothes, the hair, each unique and distinct face...vibrant with color and life.

And I realized the difference between the film I had seen and the reality I had witnessed. The film was made by an outsider, one unfamiliar with the Jewish world and its beauty, and, in fact, one who was looking for the bad and the strange within it. My shiur on the other hand, was attended by participants of the life, who see the wonderful reality of it every day!

When looking at Judaism (and especially the Orthodox brand, regardless of prefix), the question to ask is how you view it. Are you an outsider, seeing an ugly, fuzzy, noisy picture, or do you allow yourself inside, and open yourself up to the beauty and color within?