Happy purim

Mar. 5th, 2015 11:35 am
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
So a couple of weeks ago I helped run a bar mitzvah in our synagogue. And we ended up getting a write-up in the Jewish Chronicle, a newspaper that exists primarily so that British Jews can call eachother to point out that someone they know is in the JC. Anyway I somehow get referred to as Professor, which is very embarrassing indeed. (In the UK Professor is a title of merit, not a job title, it's very bad to be called that when you haven't earned it.) But it's also the case that here a picture in a national newspaper, showing me, who most people will correctly presume to be female, [pretending to] read the Torah in an Orthodox synagogue. Where up to now we have been small enough and provincial enough to be pretty much under the radar with our shockingly egalitarian ways.

This has led to the Chabad rabbi from Manchester phoning everybody he has contact details for, railing about how terrible it is to let a woman read the Megillah, the ceremonial scroll of the book of Esther for Purim. I don't know where he's coming from halachically, considering that reading Megillah is the one thing that even most gender-essentialist sources say that women can do, but there you go. He's been threatening that the community will be cursed if they do this very important mitzvah wrong, and also trying to bribe people by offering to hold a break-away service in the pub and buy everybody drinks if they come and listen to his reading instead of my gender-inappropriate one.

My lovely community were unanimously loyal to me, partly because we don't like random Chabadniks showing up and trying to cozen the community away from our synagogue. And at least in part because everybody prefers my fun dramatic reading where I do all the dialogue in silly voices and give snarky summaries in English and make Haman talk like Nigel Farage, over the rabbi's very fast mumbly chant in a thick Yiddish accent. I am so tempted to dress up as the Chabad rabbi next year, with a false beard, and offer people cheap vodka and sawdusty excessively parve cakes, but maybe that wouldn't be in good taste. But this is another chapter in an ongoing saga.

In fact I dressed up as a backwards person, wearing a mask on the back of my head and a jacket and shirt buttoned at the back, plus my hair in a ponytail over my forehead, which caused much amusement. It was a smaller purim than we sometimes have, as several of our regulars are away and most parents didn't want to bring children to a weekday evening event. We did have an Elsa and a mummy, who both found presents they wanted in my bag of kids' presents, so that was something. Reverend Malcom Weisman turned up, not particularly in his capacity as minister for small communities but just because he was on the way home from Lancaster and wanted to drop by and hear Megillah, and he was very supportive.

And then I went out for meal at the local Italian that was offering a mid-week deal, and on to Hector Garcia's for a cocktail instead of dessert. Their special was a tiramisu drink, made of kahlua and vodka and cream and flavoured with vanilla and chocolate. I like cream-based cocktails, and I liked sitting in this somewhat chain-ish but pleasant tapas bar drinking my dessert and drunk-texting people to say I love them. Some of my friends were especially lovely and said they'd have a cocktail that evening, so I was sort of virtually drinking with friends instead of by myself. And I do love all the people I said it to, and I don't have to be drunk to say so, just I was in a particularly sentimental mood, having successfully run an event and settled down to relax with alcohol.

Also thanks to [personal profile] kass for pointing to Purimgifts and explaining how to navigate the AO3 page for it. I've been having a lot of fun browsing through stories that are either midrash, or are in fandoms I'm familiar with. I particularly enjoyed In the citadel of Susa, a Vashti POV take on Esther.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 11:40 am (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
Yay, I'm glad you managed the costume! And still sorry about the Chabad guy, I hope he finally gets bored of harassing you :(

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 11:52 am (UTC)
randomling: A wombat. (wombat)
From: [personal profile] randomling
On the theme of Purim-themed fannish things you might also be interested in [community profile] adarcrack!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 01:37 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (harp)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Fun!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 11:58 am (UTC)
ceb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ceb
Good grief, what an arse. I'm glad your community is so lovely!

(Also, nom, tiramisu cocktails)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 12:18 pm (UTC)
wychwood: Catholic socialist weirdo (gen - Catholic socialist weirdo)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
Happy Purim! I'm sorry you have to deal with people being jerks - hopefully there will be some people who saw the photo and learned something about ways to be Orthodox, as well as the problem ones. I'm glad your community is loyal (and so they should be, after all you've done the last few years!). But it sucks that people think it's OK to behave like that. Really.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 12:24 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
I'm so glad your community has stuck with you!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 12:33 pm (UTC)
owlfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlfish
And here I was thinking you'd achieved a stealth promotion! I have confidence that you'd let us know if you were ever award a professoriate.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 12:44 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Photo of me with a partially blue-dyed beard. (bluebeard)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Happy Purim! (See my new Purim beard in the icon.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 03:38 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Thanks.

Also, I'd stake my reputation as a guesser of anonymous fic authors that [personal profile] daegaer wrote "In the citadel of Susa".

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 12:46 pm (UTC)
kass: Jon and Stephen from Stephen's Christmas special (chag sameach)
From: [personal profile] kass
Oy, how obnoxious of your local Chabad rabbi. But props to your community! Your reading sounds grand.

Also, so glad you are digging Purimgifts! There is almost always some good Megillah of Esther fic in this ficathon, for obvious reasons. I've written a bunch of different takes on Esther and Vashti and the megillah over the years myself, though this year I went in a different direction... *grin*

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 01:16 pm (UTC)
angelofthenorth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] angelofthenorth
Happy Purim.

Bloody annoying Rabbi...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 01:21 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Must admit my reaction was 'Professor? Wow, I had no idea!"

And also "wow!" to the Chabadniks, but in an entirely different way.

And I'm not sure a tiramisu cocktail counts as skipping dessert ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 04:46 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
the ritually required level of ad lo yada

How come Catholicism, for all it's reputation for 'whisky priests' and the like, doesn't have any feast days that involve the congregation getting ritually hammered!?

Feeling cheated...

;)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 10:03 pm (UTC)
angelofthenorth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] angelofthenorth
I thought that was St Patrick's, St Joseph's and any other Red Letter feast days in Lent :)

</ cheeky methodist>

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-06 01:47 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Hah! St Paddy's is a good point, though it wasn't really a thing when I was growing up (and that was in a community with a lot of Irish tinker families), St. Joseph I've never even heard of as a feast day.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 02:08 pm (UTC)
lethargic_man: (capel)
From: [personal profile] lethargic_man
This has led to the Chabad rabbi from Manchester phoning everybody he has contact details for, railing about how terrible it is to let a woman read the Megillah, the ceremonial scroll of the book of Esther for Purim.

Good grief. Well done to your community for ignoring him.

I don't know where he's coming from halachically, considering that reading Megillah is the one thing that even most gender-essentialist sources say that women can do

Yes, quite. Do your community know this (rather than assuming you're just bending the rules because there's no one else with the skill)?

Reverend Malcom Weisman turned up, not particularly in his capacity as minister for small communities

Is he still doing that? He must be in his eighties by now!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 03:17 pm (UTC)
merrythebard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] merrythebard
Hooray for your community being supportive, for dramatic reading with silly voices, and for you. And happy Purim! :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 03:24 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
Huzzah for your community, and boo for the Rabbi being all rude :(

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 03:59 pm (UTC)
ayebydan: (quote)
From: [personal profile] ayebydan
What a stuck up git. I'm glad to hear your community rallied behind you. Hopefully he will be the one looking right an arse with no mates in the long run.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 10:31 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (perspective by komos)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
You are awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 10:55 pm (UTC)
cremains: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cremains
This infuriated me from afar. Regarding halakhah, that has never been persuasive to Chabad, so they can hardly be expected to care about it; and in their yeshivot they waste such massive amounts of time learning Tanya and the works of the so-called Rebbe that they are brutally uneducated by the standards of the rest of the Orthodox world. What is tragic is that since they are misogynists, many liberal and secular Jews will regard them as being authentic and knowledgeable anyway.

Somewhat following from the comments of lethargic_man -- I feel sometimes that feminist Jews think that if a Jewish practice is feminist, it must not be real, or that if halakhah says something egalitarian, it must be a minority opinion or a wacky re-reading of something more "hardcore," and that's a terrible shame. I wish so much that I could convey to the women in my own community that they do not have to choose between halakhah and equality, but even the loudly egalitarian ones seem to think they are doing it wrong, only that it doesn't matter that they do it wrong.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-05 11:04 pm (UTC)
withagreatlove: (words)
From: [personal profile] withagreatlove
That fanfic was great! I want to read the rest of it!

I saw that picture of you in the JC and feared for your community and your position in it. Am not surprised by the Chabad Rabbi's response. As infuriatingly stupid (and undignified) as it is, never mind that. I just hope there aren't further repercussions. And as I was reading your account, I thought, 'wait a minute, he's protesting you reading the Megillah? Which is actually halakhically permissible even to the most stringent of opinions?' I had expected him to aim for your Torah reading or service leading. Oh well.

The professor bit I noticed too and quite the faux pas to get it wrong but it was still lovely to see the picture and the commentary, even if it was presented with a bit of 'novelty factor'. It's nice to hear about Jewish life above the Watford Junction!

Kol hakavod!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-06 03:08 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
They like you better than free drinks! That's a magnificent endorsement.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-06 03:22 am (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
I don't know the tradition well enough to make a substantive comment, other than it sounds like the rabbi harassing you is behaving in ways that would make Fred Phelps beam with pride.

That said, women reading scriptures and a big costume party sounds like an excellent way to celebrate a (High?) Holy Day.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-06 03:04 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Thanks for the information. It sounds like a great festival to have.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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