Monday, February 24, 2020

Taught a Totally Original Torah Class

Last week I blogged on Shiloh Musings asking for some "research help" for a Shabbat Torah Class I had committed to give at our Shiur Nashim, Women's Class.

This class I go to every Shabbat I'm home is the most veteran, longest lasting in Shiloh. It began over thirty-eight 38 years ago. We've had the same regulars now for quite awhile and can't manage to attract more women. Most who teach are men, even two generations of the same families, who are much more scholarly than we are. On occasion some of us even try our hand at it. A few months ago, we decided to give the neighbor who recruits speakers a monthly break. A few of us volunteered to give (or bring someone) the shiur, class so she won't have to make the calls. I had plenty of warning that my turn was coming up.

Due to the fact that I did not grow up in a religious home, going to a Jewish school and hearing all sorts of Torah stories from the youngest age, I generally read and learn with a fresh eye. That means I come up with some unique interpretations. Luckily I've found teachers in Matan and Shiloh who don't mind my rather unconventional ideas.


For this talk I had been inspired by the opening words of Parshat Shavua, Weekly Torah Portion Yitro, which was the week before. Since we're not restricted to the weekly parsha, that wasn't a problem.

I managed to get everyone talking and participating, which was quite an accomplishment. Sorry, but I'm not giving more details than you can get in the Shiloh Musings post. Maybe I should "market" myself?

I have another unique shiur cooking in my head...

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Threading a Needle, Quite a Challenge at My Age

I can't remember the last time I threaded a needle to do some mending/sewing, but last night I had to take the plunge. The hem of my all purpose black skirt was history.

The skirt had been bought a number of years ago in a 2nd hand store and is of a fabric made to last forever. I used to joke about that, but the proof is that it has outlasted the thread and ribbon of the hem. Yes, it was that well-made. Since the hem fabric was literally falling down and "flapping," I could no longer ignore it and wear the skirt unmended/unhemmed. Last night I bit the bullet and pulled out black thread plus needle from my dusty old sewing box.

very tiny hole in the needle, but it was the needle in the spool of black thread
In my younger days, pre-reading glasses, meaning decades ago, threading even the most delicate needle was totally effortless for me. But then things began to change. To thread a needle, you need excellent vision and very reliable fine motor skills. Considering how very minute the hole in a needle actually is, this isn't easy at all.

My first attempts to thread the needle were far from successful. Having once been an expert in it, I still remembered a very simple trick. Cut the thread with sharp scissors, so there aren't any extra threads at the end. Since I noticed a little willowy thing, I cut. Actually I needed to try from both ends of the thread before succeeding.

Then I had to remember the hemming stitch. I don't know how long my new hem will last, because the entire skirt needs to be re-hemmed. Either I need to fold over, baste and hem, or I need to sew some thin ribbon all around the edge of the skirt and hem that. But, in the meantime, I can wear the skirt without looking worse than shabby.

It's a relief to know that I haven't totally lost my touch. I used to really sew. But to tell you the truth. Mending was never a favorite task. It's just not creative and interesting enough for me. It's like housework, which I avoid at all costs.

Monday, February 10, 2020

"Little Women," The New Movie Deserved More Than One Oscar

For the month of March, just a coincidence, my local Shiloh book club has decided on the classic Little Women. This past Tuesday we rushed to see the new movie version in Cinema City, Jerusalem, taking advantage of the special NS10 senior discount ticket. I had started this post a few days ago, before the Academy Awards. My friends and I were totally blown away from the movie. It was amazing, especially the way Greta Gerwig adapted Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women to the screen. It's beyond my comprehension how she didn't get an Oscar for that category. Just the Costumes won the coveted prize.

I've been rereading Little Women, after a break of over half a century. Since it's a very old classic, you can get it for free e-reading. To be honest you don't need a special e-reader/kindle. I use my phone and don't even need an app.

Back to the movie Little Women. It mixes times and sequences, which may be confusing, but the truth is that it makes sense. Jo is the main character, and she thinks a lot. Her thoughts and memories of the past are an important part of the movie. Actually, that whole package is the movie.

There's a color-schemed clue to put you on track for the era, past versus present. Jo's, or is it Alcott's, memories are bathed in sepia, while the movie's "now" is brighter and bluish.

All the aesthetics were stunningly perfect, yes, the costumes, too, of course. We were spellbound. On the whole the acting was perfect, but although Amy (Florence Pugh) could almost pull off looking younger than her sisters, her voice jarred. She has a mature woman's voice which was rather distracting when she was supposed to be young. Also, Timothée Chalamet, playing Laurie, wasn't consistent. Granted it's harder for a man to simultaneously play a teen and a grown man convincingly, but Chalamet, even at his best, was unconvincing.

With those exceptions, every other actor in main and minor roles was excellent and totally convincing. Little Women is definitely worth seeing. This version is like no other before it. I'd recommend reading the book beforehand if you can. Otherwise be prepared for a unique journey. Get into the head of the young writer, Jo, obviously based on Alcott herself. Everyone in the audience seemed mesmerized. And if you're in a book club, like I am, choose the book and see the movie together. The adaptation is totally brilliant.

Cinema City, Jerusalem

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Brigadoon in The Bible Land

Having grown up on classical musicals, mostly in movie media, these winter morning mists in the mountains surrounding Shiloh remind me of Brigadoon, an all-time favorite of mine.

Considering that so much of Ancient Jewish History took place in this very location, and in the past forty plus years, we've turned an empty wilderness into vibrant cities and communities, there must be a connection. It's obvious that the curse of Brigadoon has become a blessing.