Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pictures and New York and...

Besides my musings and meanderings, I also have a picture blog. Some of my New York shots were included in The Big Apple Blog Festival. Even though I've spent most of my life here, virtually all of my adult life, I guess something in me will always be a New Yorker.

What is it about New York?

On the other hand, when I was growing up, I always knew that I didn't really belong in America. It wasn't me, but that was more of a Jewish thing. America was much more a Christian country than people like to think. Tolerance and freedom of religion signify that there's a "mainstream" religion and culture, and there are "others."

Sometimes, for Americans, it's not a pleasant thing to think about. If a Jew takes his "Americanism" as primary, even if he does his best as a Torah Jew, is he doing the right thing as a Jew? Personally I think not. That's why as I realized that I was going to live full-time as a Jew, I had to do it in Israel. For me it came with the package of Torah.

Yes, I know it's pretty easy nowadays to be a Jew in New York. In many places it's very easy, and pleasant, too. But for me that's not enough.

Yesterday at work, one of the other teachers asked if Daniel Kurtzer, the outgoing US Ambassador really is an Orthodox Jew. I'm not sure if he couldn't believe that an Orthodox Jew would feel right working heart and soul for the American government, or that the American government would promote an Orthodox Jew to such heights. For him it was a great enigma. I tried to explain the psychology as I see it, but it's foreign from my values, too.

Strange I got onto all this. All I wanted to do was to give proper coverage to the that NY carnival. I guess I'm still amazed that almost 40 years after being rejected from membership in NCSY's Ben Zakkai Honor Society, they've suddenly voted me in. Why now? From what I understand, email and blogging have given me a sort of "celebrity," and the "powers" decided that the wrong must be righted, whatever. When I got "the call" of the unexpected news, I was given the impression that I'd be "inducted" or whatever the system, ceremony is at the Israel Center or some such venue in Jerusalem. The day before yesterday, my dinner started burning when I was in the middle of a call from the states, probably NY, that they need a good picture of me and names for my "committee," and they hope enough journal ads in my honor will mean that I'll be some sort of "feature" at the NY dinner.

I haven't been to an American NCSY event since they made sheva brachot for me and my husband at National. Over the years I've heard of all sorts of changes in the organization, but it was only the other night that I found out that my beloved Torah Fund, which I was responsible for as National Financial Secretary, is now run by Ben Zakkai, and the annual dinner is to raise money for it. As I understand, Torah Fund provides scholarships for NCSYers to attend events and study programs. It's sort of a full circle for me in a way to be suddenly thrust into it all again. Obviously I hope that the scholarships are given for study in Israel. I guess I'll have to check it out.

I guess this all shows that we're a product of every experience we have ever had and every place we have ever lived in.

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