Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles…

But yea, I am so far behind.

I have so many things I could talk about. This last week or so has been so amazing. I feel like I am on an up-swing and certainly there are physical results to go along with this.

Egor is going through some kind of learning curve spike in his chess and has been going through his opponents at the chess tournament as if he was Darth Vader. And he has been presentable and efficient in school as well (a miracle in its own right). Anya, our 9-month old has become more adult in her coherency then pretty much any teenager I ever met and Tanya has turned almost sage-like after starting in on a new journal project of her own. And for me, well, you should see some of the carrots I’ve got. Like bombs!

But if you are like me you tend to need to ask why something is happening, and I do, by way of a reason for this upswing I am putting the blame solidly and directly upon my having gone to the synagogue for the Sabbath last Friday. No, this is not going to be any fervent and feverish charismatic revelation, but you must understand that my going to “Schul” goes against pretty much everything I have been holding myself to for around 28 years. I am sure I have gone into all of this before. But regardless of my perpetual agnosticism, in fact I think that something sort of unique, unexplainable, spontaneous and amazing did happen at the temple. Or maybe it could be better said that it was some sort of Sabbath miracle. Or at least something close to it. Ok, maybe it was not a miracle but said “random yet extraordinary” event did happen and the after effects of it seem to be at the center of all the above mentioned positives and more.

Now, I don’t want to come off as though I am ‘born again’ or anything like that. This is not to malign any of you “former” sinners who might have recently come back to whichever fold you had previously fallen from, but it is just not this way with me. I mean, I have been what I have been in terms of my relationship to Judaism forever, and uncomplainingly so at that. But something really cool did happen over at the temple and this is what I am writing about.

Um…However, this story might take a while so you might as well make yourself comfortable.

Where do I begin? I do not know how I got so caught up in this but I think that this all started about four months ago when I had the occasion to meet Moishe Fhima, the rabbi at Pinsk’s Synagogue. At the time, I was dealing with my ever-interesting visa problems and Efim Durnapeka, the director of the Roza Vetrov tourist agency had sent me over to Moishe, who was using one of the back offices.

At the moment, I had no idea why Durnapeka sent me over to talk to the man. Durnapeka is like that by the way, he employs random acts of kindness (mitzvahs) as a means of covering for what is probably genuine nervousness. Anyway, I took his queue and sat down in the office and said hello to Moishe Fhima and then, as I am sure has happened to everyone who has met the man, never got the chance to even explain why I was in the office. The reason for this is because Moishe Fhima is probably busier than Lukashenka, Bush and Sharon all put together. The guy is a dynamo, relentless. So he was sitting there at the desk, smoking cigarettes and taking phone calls from both the desk phone and the mobile, checking his e-mail and dealing with the Roza Vetrov’s people all at the same time and in, and I am thinking hard to remember properly, English, Russian, Hebrew, German, Yiddish, I think French as well and… I don’t know maybe Esperanto or Sanskrit as also, all fluently.
He was of course, dealing with the issues of the school and the reconstruction of the synagogue. I don’t know how many countries were calling him but he was flowing from tongue to tongue, smiling, cajoling, convincing, admonishing, scolding (“Listen, do not say this to me because I can assure you I wasn’t born yesterday.”) and all the time rocking back and forth in his chair (davening?), grinding his yarmulke around on his head and smiling with a child-like glee at every encounter.

And I am not ashamed to admit that I liked the energy. In fact, I got caught up in trying to convince the guy that I might still be able to play that fast myself, despite Poland and two years on the farm in Belarus.

At any rate, it was at this meeting that I decided that I might like to do an interview with Moishe about the school and the synagogue and life in Pinsk and all. And of course, if you had read my blogs from that time, you understand that as a result of beginning this research, I fell into some sort of Hebraic, Hunter S. Thompson-like journalistic abyss over trying to make sense of the Talmud, the Tanya, cabalistic forays into numerical mysticisms, the histories of the Hasidic dynasties and the like. And of course I never go to the interview.
I must have been cracking up. In fact I am sure I was. But regardless of any real excuses such as that I was on the farm or that I was dealing with damned bureaucratic function and how all of our money had been drained in trying to get it, I just never got it done. My friend Shmuli Raitman was writing to me the whole time and asking “Did you do the interview yet? Did you do it yet? Where’s the interview?”
But don’t get me wrong; it was not only my brain and soul’s inability or unwillingness to cope with things Jewsih or that I was freaking out about embarrassingly small my understanding of my Hebrew heritage and its library-like curriculum was, it was also that Moishe Fhima is busier than the KGB searching the home of a political cartoonist and I simply could not find him. And Durnapeka was no help. I asked the Durnapeka for Fhima’s E-mail. He gave t to me. It was wrong. I asked him again. He gave it to me again. It was wrong again. Iused what I had and tried every variation of the letters and numbers that I could think of but all I got back was: Failure of delivery notification Failure of delivery notification. Failure of delivery notification… I asked Durnapeka to write the address for me, not just say it, but to write it so that I would be sure to get it right. He did: Failure of delivery notification.

Yes, yes, yes, I know I should have just gone to the synagogue on any Friday night and found him there. Yes, I know that this would have been working on the Sabbath because I would be looking for him only to talk about making an interview. Probably I should have just gone anyway, but I didn’t.

Why didn’t I go? Well, this is hard to say. I mean, I know the words but it is hard to say them. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to get involved. I mean, making an interview is hopefully a good amount of support for the temple but I simply did not want to feel like a hypocrite for going to the temple for any other reason other than worship. Why is this? Because I have not been worshipful for… well since my Bar Mitzvah about 28 years ago. I just haven’t. And believe me; I was ok with this choice. Well, there was still Shmuli to deal with (Where’ the interview? Did you do the interview?), but at least I felt that I wasn’t lying. And this is important, right?

So what could I do? Nothing happened.

But then a couple of week ago I had the idea to do the interview about the school without Moishe Fhima. There were a couple of reasons for this including wanting to post something about the Jewish community here on the BEING HAD Times. But, and this is without Shmuli’s help, I was also angry at myself over not having completed something I said I would do. And, in case you can’t figure this out from this blog of mine, this is a big deal for me.

And so I did.

Oh, it is now 10:30am and I have to drop of a package at the rabbi’s house. A few things fro the farm I thought he might like. I’ll continue with this story in just a bit.

And while you are waiting, please check out the book page for the latest serialized chapter or have a look at the news page to fin out what is up out here. All interesting stuff I am sure.

More soon…


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