The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 39

I came home to books. There is nothing better than coming home after 11 hours of travel than coming home to books in the mail. A few weeks ago I joined a Facebook thing where you get 6 people to like your status and start a book tree. If all goes well, you get 36 books. So far, I’ve gotten three. I really hope it keeps going and I get more.

Today I have been on my couch for most of the day. I never get jet lag when I fly to California, but flying back home knocks me on my ass for the first few days. I needed the ten days in California though. Seriously needed them. When I left here I was sad, I was tired, and I was not getting much work done. I went to California and got time with my muffin and my family, I got sunshine, and I got to see a lot of people who I had not seen in awhile. I may be tired right now, but since I was able to get some work done and recharge, I know that the rest of the week will be a good one (fingers crossed).

The challenge for this week is actually something that I have already started: A tradition that I would like to start with my family one day. The tradition that I would like to start with my family is to travel for the holidays. I have not been home for a Thanksgiving in five years. I usually take that week off to travel somewhere. Scotland, Estonia, Paris. That is something that I would like to continue doing. I am happiest when I am traveling, and it is something that I would love to share with my own little family one day (and my own little family will be my dog). This also allows me to cross something off of my list of things to do before I turn 30. I love new traditions, and I especially love new traditions that allow me to travel.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (1/3 done with my trip to Malta)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp in the Jewish Quarter

According to Sacred Destinations:

Córdoba’s old Jewish quarter (Juderia in Spanish) consists of a fascinating network of narrow lanes, more atmospheric and less commercialized than in Seville.

The Jews were established in Cordoba in Roman and Visigothic times. Under Arab rule after the 8th century, Jewish life and intellectualism flourished.

Hasfai Ibn Shaprut, a Jewish doctor, diplomat and scholar served under the Moorish rulers and attracted intellectuals to the court. His family’s subsequent wealth and power were major factors in the wealthy and vibrant Jewish community of Cordoba at that time.

Maimonides, the most famous Jewish philosopher and author of the Mishneh Torah, was born in Cordoba in 1125. A statue to his honor stands in Tiberiadus Square in the Juderia.

The entrance gate, La Puerta de Almodavar, has a statue of Seneca and forms part of the western boundary of the Juderia. The Juderia reaches as far as Calle El Rey Heredia to the northeast and the Mosque to the south.

The main attraction of the Juderia is Cordoba’s ancient synagogue, on Calle de los Judios (Street of the Jews). 

Today the Juderia is also known for its jewelry and silversmith shops.

Finally a place that I wanted to visit. The synagogue was a small building, and it is no longer in working order, but it was beautiful. Spain is not a place that loves the Jews. Before coming on the trip, we were warned about wearing our Star of David, and saying anything about being Jewish, and for the last ten days, I have seen nothing of the anti-Semitic attitude of Spain, but today I was able to see it a little bit. In Cordoba, there is just the one, and in Seville, all of the Jewish temples and synagogues have been turned into churches, convents, restaurants, and even a parking lot. The tour that we are on is full of people all over the world, but my mom and I are the only Jews. When we were on the walk with the group, they did not want to go to the Jewish quarter, and when we were there, they took pictures of all of the crosses that have been put up in the quarter. They did not appreciate the history, and the significance of the area, and when we  passed the statue of Hasfai Ibn Shaprut, the group made jokes about rubbing his feet to shine his shoes or win the lottery. Jewish people rub his feet for good health, and because he is a well respected member of the community.

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I have seen more churches and cathedrals than I care to count, and I have been nothing but respectful to the site. I am not a Christian or a Catholic, but I can admire the beautiful buildings, and the importance of each of the buildings to the people who embrace the religion. I do not make jokes, take pictures with the rubber chicken, or make fun of anyone who stops to pray at any of the alters. I was raised to respect other people and their beliefs and customs, whether I understood them or not. I was ready to scream today. I could not believe that these grown adults acted this way. My dad told me to let it go, but it really got me all riled up. I’m way behind in the detailing of this trip and all of the things that I have done, but this was one thing that I really really really wanted to do. I almost let these people ruin it for me.

This was the first time in 10 days that we had a chance to slow down a bit and really explore our surroundings. I loved Corduba and Seville, and was glad that we had an honest chance to take in the culture. I have been running nonstop since June 5th, and I have somehow managed to catch a horrible cold, and I am still trying to sort out the problems with the visa for my upcoming move to Scotland. I’m stressed, scared, in a lot of pain, and have to be on the move again in 12 hours. I’ve seen so many things that they all seem the same, and if it wasn’t for Google and the hundreds of pictures I have taken, I would have forgotten what I saw. We still have 7 days of rushing from city to city in Spain, and I am not sure I am going to make it if I have to see one more church on this trip.

But today we got lost in the city, and found something incredible. Today I got to see a little bit of the tortured Jewish people in this beautiful place.

The Scamp and Passover

This week marks the Jewish celebration of Passover.

For those who don’t know anything about the holiday, here is what Chabod says about it:

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

So now that you’ve had a history lesson, you can get the Scamp’s interpretation of Passover. For me, it is a chance to get together with my family and take pictures like this one:

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Plague sandwich anyone?

Last year I didn’t celebrate Passover in Scotland. I was trying to deal with heartstompapoolza, and trying to make the most of the time I had left in the city. This year, I am spending the day in class. I spent the first night at a baseball game, and accidentally ate a hot dog. While I am not kosher, I’m sure that eating pork on a Jewish holiday is frowned upon somewhere. I was appropriately greeted with locust. We laughed and had a great time at the game, and with the fact that I am a bad Jew, and that would not have happened if we were at a formal seder.

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I’m spending the second night in class. I fact, I am writing this from class when I should be paying attention to leadership styles and human resources.

While I am not spending the holiday at a big family dinner the way we usually do, I have to admit that I am not sad about it. I often feel a little fake at the family dinners because I do not consider myself religious in the traditional sense, and lately, I have not been feeling particularly interested in mixing with more than my immediate family. In fact, I didn’t feel bad about being passed over on the invite list for the family dinner. I have four weeks left in the semester and have enough on my plate.

I got to spend last night with my family, and at the end of the day, whether we did it around a table with a formal seder, or in the bleachers at a baseball game, so I consider the holiday a success.

Chag Sameach everyone.

The Scamp and a Christmas Tree

I’m procrastinating.  I have a final in 2 days, and I can barely focus on the outlines, notes , and other materials I have compiled to aid in my studies. I know that I should be locked in my office, blocking out the noise of my parents and really focusing on the study material, but I am still bone deep tired and weary, so it makes it hard not to fall asleep in the middle of the California Master Plan. I’m stretched out on my couch (a couch that I tend to fall asleep on more often than not), and I have the nasally rant of Adam Carolla in the background to comfort me while I try to figure out how I am going to remember the difference between SB 1440 and SB 440, and how the Student Success Act of 2012 actually helps students. The ranting doesn’t help with any of that, but since my own rant on why this is pointless is not going to help, I will find solace in someone else’s problems.

To further help my procrastination, I decorated the Wilder-Davis House of Chaos Christmas tree. For the last ten years it has been my job to string the lights, pull out everyone’s favorite ornaments, and make sure the tree is decorated in such a way that the kitties cannot get to any of them. This year I was home alone when I decorated the tree, and even though I chose the exact moment to decorate in order to put off studying, decorating the tree this year was really important to me.

Last year at this time I faced the possibility of not being able to decorate a tree ever again. He who shall not be named is a strict conservative Jew, and his mother was completely against the idea of a Christmas tree in the household during this time of year (completely disregarding the fact that the tree is a pagan tradition and has nothing to do with Christ, and that my Christmas ornaments are not Nativity scenes or little baby Jesuses). At this time last year, the rat and I were discussing traditions that we would have as a family, and how we would divide our time between families. His mom’s birthday is on December 25th, so that day was always going to be spent with her, no matter what I had to say about it. I was fine with that for the most part since my family has been celebrating on the 24th, but I was sad about having to give up the tradition of going to the movies and having popcorn for dinner. He informed me that there would be no Christmas tree, and that his kids would not partake in Christmas related activities. His kids would be Jewish, and a Christmas tree is not Jewish.

I was raised Jewish. I consider myself to be Jewish (although I am by no means a good Jew or very religious). My dad (and my biological father for that matter) are not Jewish. Neither is overly religious, but they celebrate Christmas, so we have always had a Christmas tree in the house at Christmas time. It is how I grew up. It is not a religious symbol, and it basically becomes a little mini forest for the cats to sleep under. I like the tradition, and I was looking forward to it no matter where I lived. When he took it off the table, it hurt me. This was an argument for weeks. I cried on a date in the middle of San Francisco.  I ultimately one the debate because I asked what else I was going to have to give up to be with him. I was already giving up school in Scotland, living in a place other than San Diego, and my family tradition on Christmas day, and I wasn’t sure I could give up one more thing. He only agreed to end the argument.

Right after we broke up, the only thing I could think about was that I would get to have my Christmas tree. I would get to have my family traditions, and I no longer had to give up things that I enjoyed to be with someone. It seems silly, a pine tree decorated with lights and funny ornaments from places we’ve traveled, or representing interests and hobbies. This tree is a small victory. While I decorated the tree this afternoon I thought about all of the other small victories I had this year. I have been extremely lucky, even with the sucky bits, and this tree is a small victory that I get to stare at while I lay on my couch and try to muster some energy to study for my final. I may be tired, but the multicolored lights and Scooby Doo ornaments are there to remind me of how lucky I am.

Bring on the education legislation. I’ve got my Christmas tree.