Wandering Jew — Volume 01
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This is the perfect gift for anyone thinking about moving up another rung on the ladder of Jewish observance—or for exploring the tradition for the first time.
I absolutely loved it. As she leads us through her own year-long tour of the Jewish holidays, Pogrebin imparts a great deal of fascinating information and practical guidance on how to make these holidays our own. A superb point-of-entry volume for anyone who wants to bring Jewish holidays into their lives, and a great refresher course for veterans who need their holidays re-energized. Her journey to locate modern-day meaning in these religious traditions—some of which are thousands of years old—is both relevant and soulful. You then make a small opening at the right side of your mouth, and blow out the water with a strong pressure.
You must practice this again and again until you can blow the water about four feet away. The horn is notoriously impossible to blow, especially with its prescribed cadence and strength. Synagogues troll for the brave souls who can actually pull it off without making the congregation cringe at the sad attempts that emit tense toots or dying wails. My seventeen-year-old son, Ben, picks up the tawny plastic horn.
Elul begins a forty-day period of repentance, judgment and forgiveness. During this period of Elul, we ask forgiveness for that first, faithless idolatry and for our countless modern missteps.
The Wandering Jew: V1
And that was plenty; twelve hours in synagogue without eating has always felt to me like ample penitence. The first day, I pick up the plastic trumpet and go into a room as far from my sleeping family as possible. I lift the horn to my mouth and try to follow the contradictory directions to simultaneously relax and purse the lips, whistling air into the mouthpiece. To my shock, out comes a blast.
I keep my gaze out the window, thinking how bizarre this is and, at the same time, how visceral. The sound of the shofar is Judaism to me: raw, rousing, plaintive, adamant. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident. I then attempt the entire Psalm in Hebrew, and manage to get through it.
When my kids wake up, they inquire about my shofar debut. Ben apologizes profusely for failing his assignment on the first day. As the Elul days accumulate and become routine, I find myself actually looking forward to the new morning regimen—waking up ahead of my husband; turning on the coffee machine; grabbing my shofar and facing the window. I have to balance my desire to practice against alienating my family. Just ask my therapist. I offer her a weekly catalogue of self-reproach. Really, really truthfully: What kind of person am I, and how do I assess my pettiness, apathy, self-interest?
The shofar should derail our rationalizations. Yitz, eighty-two, a friend of my parents which is why I call him Yitz , who is tall, slim, and somehow ethereal in his erudition, radiates placidity. I print out the list and think about who will tackle it with me. My rabbi-guides told me to find a chevruta study partner to keep me on track and ensure a daily reckoning. My close friend Dr.
Table of contents
Catherine Birndorf is the ideal candidate: an accomplished psychiatrist and a fellow stumbling Jew, her bracing directness and humor keep me on my toes. Over our staple breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and toast, she relishes excavating our obsessions and personal roadblocks.
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I spent a semester teaching memoir-writing to formerly incarcerated men a powerful experience , but failed to find a way to stay in touch with them. I still look at my phone too much in restaurants, though I hate when others do that. I tend to remind my son what he needs to finish, instead of just asking how he is. I see the point of Elul, the necessary runway to spiritual liftoff. How can one start the new year without looking fully—exhaustively—at the one that came before? When else do we permit ourselves, or demand, a detailed self-analysis?
Anger: I get riled when I feel something is unjust. I need to pause before writing the curt email. Courage: I both have it and lack it, and wish I had the guts to worry a little less about gaining consensus before doing what I think is right. I beat myself up for bad golf. The imperfections go on. One thing at a time. For now, I just need to focus on the Elul reflections. I tell Phyllis that the task is already giving me a strange stillness.
I might even be harsher on my flaws because, unlike in services, when the litany of sins comes fast and furious, Elul allows for a scrupulous accounting. My nightly exchanges with Catherine become trinkets of candor, which I collect.
We make our way through the list as summer folds into fall, and I find that the specificity of the list makes self-examination sharper, plainer. We beg for mercy.
THE WANDERING JEW (Vol. 1) / Eugene Sue - Hardback Book - $ | PicClick
The kickoff service is like going to the late show, scheduled between 10 p. The Israelites were given this list after they angered God by building the Golden Calf. Merciful God, 2. Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations, I get the Thirteen Attributes of God. Truthfully, it seems oddly insecure for God to require thirteen compliments in exchange for mercy. But as I reread the prayer, I start to absorb a different message. Emulate and live by them. When I read the prayer that way, I love the list.
They are traits I aspire to, even if I never thought to enumerate them. Ben Franklin did just that. He created a list of thirteen virtues and measured himself by them every week, including temperance, silence, frugality, and industry. Our Founding Father fashioned his own personalized Selichot.
Judaism has specific office hours. The music is majestic. Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, whom I know and admire, is lacking his usual wry humor. Tonight is serious stuff. May my heart be open To every broken soul, To orphaned life, To every stumbler Wandering unknown And groping in the shadow.
The Wandering Jew – Eugène Sue (1800s)
I arrive late to the crowded room of young regulars on the second floor of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center in Washington Heights. They have run out of handouts and chairs, so I move to a corner of the dimly lit space, grab my iPhone, and quickly download the Selichot text Elie had sent me in advance.
I manage to find where they are on the page, but can barely keep up, especially in the bad light. When singing the niggunim melodies without words , the full-throated, harmonizing voices somehow lift me up and carry me along. Usually a measured, scholarly presence, Elie is bowed in fervid prayer, his head tented with a tallis, his voice—more powerful than I knew it could be—rising and falling, driving the worship as if overtaken by some divine engine. I wish I could be that transported. Each time we get to the Thirteen Attributes, the song gains in volume.
We plead as one. Hear me. Forgive me.