Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ethnic Festivals

The Greeks and the Italians have been an annual hit locally, predating our move here nearly forty years ago.  There is a Polish festival which I have never attended.  Two attempts at Jewish display have occurred, a one time Jewish Expo at the Jewish Community Center which attracted a large attendance with vendors and Israeli displays and traditional food.  It was only intended as a one time event.  As these ethnic festivals are sponsored by churches, one synagogue attempted a Jewish festival which flopped/  It is very hard to do a Jewish Festival with the congregation located in a neighborhood that the Jews have long since abandoned for safety, no parking facilities to speak of, and most of all, the restrictions of Kosher which means the organizers have to decide whether to sell blintzes or hamburgers.  Kosher certified wine at the time was primitive and beer mostly Budweiser.   Israeli wine is now readily available, Israeli beer not really as the Israelis drink Danish Carlsberg.  And Friday night and Saturdays off limits.  It's never been attempted since.

That leaves us with Greeks the first week of June followed by the Italians the following week.  The Italians arrange shuttle buses and now charge an admission, but even if you eat nothing the tour of their church and the music from the podium is worth the evening out.  Italian cuisine is built largely around the pig and some crustaceans prepared a thousand ways.  People who eat these things give a thumbs up.  I eat dessert, baba au rum which is a little like babka, and luscious hand-helds with features of a cookie and a cake.    At one time there were stabbings reported each year and attempts to keep black young people and their children off the shuttle buses but I think an entrance fee screens the troublemakers better than either accepting the weapons or overtly discriminatory practices that got appropriate boos from those already seated on the shuttle bus.

After avoiding this outing for several years, I returned to a very pleasant evening.  The menu has expanded to reasonable vegetarian options.  Not nearly as crowded as I remember it.  Rain deterred some, entrance fee deterred some, parking arrangements not as easily accessible to the inner city fun seekers had its effect.  Police were there in significant numbers, including a forensics officer though no shootings or rub outs occurred.  We had a quick supper, walked around, went inside the church to hear a tenor with piano accompanist,  Left a $10 bill in their pushka.  Rain came in torrents so we huddled under a canopy, wife got dessert, and at a letup we headed to the shuttle, rewarded for our wetness with a spectacularly vivid rainbow on the way home. 

Good respite.

Image result for st. anthony italian festival

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Antisemitic Gay Pride

Image result for antisemitic gay prideGay Pride Week

While I've always looked at this as a civil rights application, I may be a minority.  Always could be challenged too, as the opinion has remained static but the experiences that reinforce them have not.  This week, what I perceive as civil rights has encountered a clearly antisemitic interface from within and external animus from people who are running out of groups to hate without reprisal.  I may be more of a centrist though probably not a good umpire if it means accepting the antisemitic components.

My own history arrives in packets, there being no ongoing reason to revile anyone or protect anyone.  The first exposure that I remember involved a few snickers among friends.  A junior high teacher had been unexpectedly suspended and amid rumor, homosexuality emerged as the reason.  Never confirmed.  He was never my teacher so I lacked any incentive to say he does his job well or that this is as convenient an excuse as any to remove a man who lacked professional skill.  I think he disappeared.  This being my teen years of the 1960's, out of site, out of mind.  Everyone I knew had some interest in girls though my crowd tended to begin dating more in college than high school.

I did not know any gays in college either.  Not that there weren't any but they escaped my attention.  As I proceeded onto medical school we had one effeminate professor who we wondered about but for all I know he was married with a family.  The subject never arose again.

One turning point came at about mid-residency.  I thought I would have to move out of university housing at the end of my second year.  In anticipation I scheduled vacation for the final two weeks of the contract year.  My expectation proved correct and I arranged for a new apartment to which we moved in June.  That left me with two weeks of vacation and my wife between the end of her visiting professorship and the start of her post-doctoral position.  At the time, airlines, whose fares were first being deregulated, started advertising bargains to the west coast so my wife and I agreed to take advantage of this.  We flew to Los Angeles, enjoyed the glamour of the entertainment industry and the mansions, drove along the coastal highway to San Simeon and to extraordinary scenery, settling in Berkeley which gave us easy access to San Francisco by public transit.  It was there, for the first time that I encountered openly gay male partners.  Some were effeminate with smooth faces, some make-up, attended hair but male clothing.  There were partners walking on the streets holding hands as I did with my wife.  In the restaurants the servers were similarly effeminate.  I had no emotional reaction, to my surprise, perhaps.  It was not quite like going to the zoo to look at biological specimens, more like visiting a foreign culture that I had read about but never actually seen.  Little did I realize that what would become AIDS was beginning in that place at that time.

As a VA hospital physician on the east coast, AIDS made its appearance in the mid1980's, a lethal disorder with opportunistic infections.  The VA had its share of gays, perhaps even more infected from shared hypodermic needles.  This now became part of history taking.  Yet, unlike San Francisco, had I seen any of them at the mall, none would stand out.  My role was clearly to treat infection and its end organ involvement so I really did not involve myself in much social history other than some drug abuse referral.  Not long after, I began fellowship.  There are some subtle endocrine features of AIDS but they are generally subordinate to the more dramatic infectious, pulmonary, and oncology events so I really didn't see any.

On to solo practice.  Even covering colleagues on the weekends, no AIDS, no visibly gay people.  It changed forever, though, when I signed up for a Facebook account.  I had read about this fad-like opportunity as a feature in the NY Times when visiting NYC for a weekend.  I jotted down the information on how to sign up, and did as soon as I returned home.  My attraction, as that of many others, was to reacquaint with the old friends from years back, mostly high school, a little college.  Many of us had been chums since kindergarten, separated by college, and never expected to contact each other at any subsequent event other than a high school reunion.  Facebook changed that in a week.  Within a short time I had sent a share of "friend" requests and received a similar share.  The service, once the high school was identified on my profile, would select out potential people who might be familiar and we would offer each other contact.  The flurry continued about a year, then hit a steady state with minimal additions, though some deletions for death or irritating political postings that appeared in excess.

One old friend, literally a fellow kindergartner, had achieved a distinguished career, including his name on the credits of some TV shows that I watched regularly.  He had some interesting educational experiences, retired from his primary occupation a little earlier than most of us, started a post-retirement business with equal enthusiasm, and had established household with a male partner which he maintained for about the same duration as my traditional marriage.  I had no reason over our entire childhood to detect any social difference between him and anyone else in our group.  He was still one of us, a schoolmate, a cub scout with his mother who took her turn as Den Mother still alive and functioning as she approached 90.  Instead of his name appearing on the credits, as his new business entered a popular niche, he would appear on the screen or as a guest in a widely trafficked location.

That was likely my transition point.  I would never do anything to hurt this kind, accomplished friend.  As AIDS moved from lethal to chronic and gay expanded from discrete outside a few metropolitan centers to a more open LGBT pride that we have now, the presence also moved from don't ask/ don't tell to something more contentious.  We have protected age, religion, race, gender in the workplace, housing and military.  Running out of people to look down upon never really happened, but the ability to deny them public access did, except for the gays.  Equal access and opportunity is something conceptual.  Steadfastly refusing to participate in any activity that would incur harm to a personal friend resets the position differently.  Torah is subordinate to Derech Eretz.  I miss enough of the mitzvot, that I can forgo any that might require me to harm a friend, let alone other people's friends.

Since my first visit to San Francisco, I've been there a few additional times, including once after reconnecting with my only known personal gay friend.  The community is still there and with steadfast support of a population that while mainstream would also never betray a friend.  These men, and probably women, seemed less visibly on visits there subsequent to my first time there.  I don't know why.  But they are no longer a curiosity.  They are people who contribute economically, engage in charity and in religion, probably shop at better stores than I do, take good care of patients if they are physicians, and advance science.  On behalf of my friend, who I would never harm personally, I would never harm these people collectively either.  Though for the same reason, I discourage antisemitism from any source, particularly one that diminishes itself by taking the position it did,

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Shavuot Approaching

Omer has reached its final week.  Shavuot can be a forgotten holiday, even a conflicting one for those with school kids who may be the only ones from their classes to miss recess or even a class trip on a glorious day, or maybe not.  Or even the Harvard Commencement one year.  There are no shofars, clergy in kittels, sukkahs, dreidels, or seders.  The yontiff ends its only ritual of a nightly Omer count. Time in the synagogue can be rather long with Hallel and Akdamut on the first day, Hallel, Ruth, and Yizkor on the second.  Anticlimactic to the daily upward count some might say.

But there is a tradition of dairy meals, some of the best options around.  We can eat blintzes any time but they are special now.  I have not made cheesecake in ages, it being easier and less expensive to buy one.  We have kugels.  Since the yontiff follows shabbos this year, shabbos should be milchig as in fish prepared in a way requiring some planning and effort.  A Fish Market Apple Walnut Pie or Macaroni and Cheese in the manner of Horny Hardardt.  Tofu might be worth a shot.  A quiche.  Maybe baklava or something Middle Eastern.  Not much ritual but the imprint of food and a seven week effort to get there bring the needed celebration to our communal start of Torah centrality which has endured.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Disappointing Webinar

A good friend traceable to the Year Gimel hosts a project to promote the accuracy and meaning of scientific studies to a largely non-scientist public.  For the most part, science is the ultimate revelation of what you see is what you get, but it is open to its vagaries, not yet figured out, and adaptation to various non-science agendas from political policies to promoting drugs for doctors to prescribe.  And there have certainly been scientific frauds where real scientists alter results to look more important than they really are for secondary gain, usually promotion in the scientific workplace.  We can watch anti-vaxxers on TV or You Tube.  We have elected officials downplaying global warming, a form of Russian Roulette with our descendants and not that much benefit for us now.  Public visionaries don't seem to have the value that they once did, at least in America.

My friend pointed me to a Webinar on Climate Change, for which he and his organization take a great interest, one conducted by a reputable organization called the Union of Concerned Scientists.  There being no tuition for this and it occurring on an afternoon not otherwise occupied by appointments, I signed up and signed in at the appointed time.  My presence lasted 15 minutes.  I closed the Adobe connecting program, proceeded to my car and went shopping instead. 

Instead of discussing anything that required a modicum of scientific background, or even interest, they were discussing a piece of doomed legislation when what they really need is regime change.  There is science and there is agenda.  Impediments to science, be they elected officials or the shills with PhD's that sign aboard for career gain, need to be looked at as impediments to overcome.

The best way to do this is with voters figuring out that devaluing science is just one more of the global depravity that we watch on our daily screens.  Banging your shoe on the table with a "Nyet" Khruschev style doesn't bring credibility to the realities of global warming and its consequences or the best scientific evidence that causes our most astute scientists to think that way.  Creating alliances with others that have their own reasons for unseating some of our elected officials might. 

And we have rogue scientists.  PhD's who promote falsehood for personal gain are worthy of blackballing from the scientific community.  Assembling a catalog of these people and making an effort that they are unwelcome in any respectable scientific workplace might be a better project for ethical scientists to implement.

Science goes forward with objectivity and planning.  This seminar had neither.

Image result for global warming

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hands Hurt

Pauciarticular arthritis.  That's what it's called.  Maybe migratory arthritis.  While the last recommendation I wrote for a resident's fellowship resulted in a Rheumatology match, my own knowledge of arthritic syndromes has taken a major dip over my professional career.

I can describe history.  There is chronic recurrent low back symptoms, classically transient lumbago that is self-limited and responsive to naproxen.  Occasionally my ankles will hurt transiently and I have had an arthroscopy of my right knee about 15 years ago.  All large joints, mostly axial.  No effusions and really no objective exam features of rubor, tumor, calor, just dolor.

This is different.  When I retired I committed myself to a treadmill session, two days on, one day off.  I did a good job until the next back layoff.  Like most things I will make excuses not to do, it gets done most reliably when done first thing in the morning, which I did through my cruise to Europe last fall and into the winter, back permitting.  Then I started noticing some stiffness in the mornings.  Hands were most prominent but axial stiffness as well, pretty much every morning until late morning.  Being retired, I could go on the treadmill any time so I rescheduled this for late morning or early afternoon, with decent compliance if not otherwise occupied at those times.  Other than the morning stiffness, I experienced no constitutional symptoms but had some intermittent carpal tunnel numbness in the expected distributions, always transient.

Earlier this week I awoke with my left ring finger bent.  It looked like a boutonniere deformity and relocated with a snap to its usual position when I gently forced it.  Flexion dislocated this proximal interphalangeal joint again, only to snap back with gentle force.  A few more times back and forth and it stayed in place with mild discomfort.  The following morning it happened again and this time all the proximal interphalangeal joints on my left except the thumb were sore.  Distal joints were fine.  The metacarpophalyngeal joints were stiff and there was slight tenderness over the PIP areas but no swelling or redness.  By opening and closing my fist the stiffness went away.  The right hand seemed only minimally stiff but no pain.  Later in the day I took two naproxen tablets, which would be a full strength prescription dose.  It felt better in the evening.  This morning my left hand is almost back to baseline with slight joint stiffness.  However, my right ring finger became overtly inflamed at the MCP and DIP joints with less involvement of the middle finger DIP.  The MCP and proximal phalanx were far more tender than the left hand ever was and my middle and ring fingers could not make a fist.  Cold water helped, a blue gel cold pack helped less, and two naproxen had less effect on my right hand than yesterdays pills did for the left.  What gives?

The antecedent stiffness suggests rheumatoid physiology but the very transient nature on the left makes me think of other things.  Just have to give the right fingers a few more days, then reassess.

Image result for proximal interphalangeal joint

Sunday, May 26, 2019

New Stereo

For a while now, I have been setting aside the first $5 bill received in change each month, stash it in an envelope, then on January 1 and July 1 I count the loot.  It gets spent on things I would not otherwise buy myself over the next six months.  With the current allotment, I bought a manicure set for $7 which I hardly ever use.  Since I am creating My Space as a semi-annual initiative, I thought a compact stereo might have some utility.  Being in no hurry I saw one for $100 but opted to hold off until it went on sale.  When it cost $80 I thought it would be a suitable purchase.  He who hesitates is lost sometimes and when I returned to get it, they had sold out.  Getting it online would cost $94 with shipping.  When they had it again, the price had returned to $100.  To my good fortune, they put the $80 sign back, had one unit left, which became mine with the cooperation of a Visa chip. 

It's so 1980's, about the time CD discs became readily available.  No AM radio but an FM radio, antenna is a long wire.  It has a blue tooth capacity which I do not know how to use and a tiny remote that now has a dedicated home to minimize the risk of loss.  I turned it on, wiggled and repositioned the antenna and adequate stereo projected earward from my left.  A borrowed CD from the library gave a more than adequate sound.  I'm ready to be entertained in My Space, though the stereo needed its space.  Some clearing of the file cabinet next to my desk and music or other forms of sound became reality.  It is a long way from the retreat that I envision but the first firm claim on  a destination for myself. 

Innovative Technology CD Stereo System with Bluetooth

Friday, May 24, 2019

Learning Ruth

As a 9th grader we studied foreign countries from a series of monographs, many with different names than the current students learn.  Since the curriculum designers never knew who would grow into an international diplomat and people were much more optimistic about and respectful of the UN than Americans are now, every country that we read about had something going for them.  When they were really desperate to leave a good impression, the nebish countries that to this day have little going for them other than  UN forum to whoop and holler without doing much damage were said to have their people as their primary resource.  To be fair, while their were coups, the mass shootings and genocides came a decade later, so maybe some people really were a resource and others were judged internally to be more expendable.  And if they had money in the form of oil, all the better.

There are nebish countries and there are nebish institutions, which I think includes the current incarnation of our synagogue.  Having sold our building, we have money,  Before that windfall, our resource was our people, sometimes utilized well, more often talent either never solicited or piddled.  Having a seemingly inexhaustable bank account, the paucity of people becomes more stark, particularly now that we share space with another place that has made a better effort to develop Kehillah.

We still have things going for us.  Anyone sitting in for worship will realize that we cut no corners.  And in order to do full Torah readings and liturgy we have to possess volunteers with the skills to do them.  While that cadre of skill has gotten precarious, sometimes it get strengthened.

I agreed to chant one of the four chapters of Megillat Ruth on shavuot.  I had learned the tune as a teenager but never performed publicly and had to relearn a few signs.  The vocabulary is narrative but the tense and unfamiliar feminine.  It definitely takes effort but there is some gratification to me in learning it and some pride in the congregation that we have people who can do this.  It keeps us unique.  It keeps us important.

Image result for book of ruth hebrew

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Who's Better Me or Nobody?

Image result for nobody is better than youZero usually starts both an ordinate and an abscissa, the point of comparison.  Right upper quadrant is fully positive, left lower quadrant doubly negative and the other two a mixed message, one given to me by my synagogue this past week.

There is a Presidentially appointed nominating committee.  The recycling of officers has done great harm, being reaped for several years, accentuated by wandering around our new shared space where the landlord seems to have their people more engaged with new ideas and initiatives.  We have experience, as the trademark of our VP's either 10 years experience or one year experience repeated 10 times.  But turnover is low and desire to give up the comfortable niche to become President even lower.

More striking though, has been two slots of the Board assigned to NOBODY in the current and prior slate.   They will claim that they cannot get people to accept, and as I've not been asked, I will take a safe assumption that in the wisdom of the President's trusted advisors, NOBODY would have more discernment as a person to advance the future of our congregation than I would.  NOBODY must be pretty good; he or she has two seats times two years, or four seats.  It would be interesting to take a poll at the Annual Meeting where the official election occurs to see who else the Nominating Committee acting in good faith blackballed, or judged less capable or valuable than NOBODY.  Doubt if I am the only one or if the virtual blackballing might even be received as a personal slight.  But it was.

There are indeed times when I am better than NOBODY.  Torah has to be read by not only SOMEBODY, but an adult male past Bar Mitzvah.  Knowing how to do it helps but technically is not required.  I do not know if NOBODY is an adult male past Bar Mitzvah.  I do know that if he is, he doesn 't know how to do it.  That makes me definitely better than NOBODY as a Torah reader, and this year as a Megillat Ruth reader.

And as Woody Allen taught us, 80% of life is showing up.  NOBODY has a way of not showing up.  I guess the Nominating Committee opted for the special 20%.

While I do not particularly like entering the building of our landlord, where a lot of my down experiences with organized Judaism occurred, I still take Ben Zoma's advice, trying to learn from all people.  They've done better with Kehillah development than we have and defining their purpose.  They once had machers who swooped on peons.  Now it looks like they have more targeted leadership that asks the question of who can help with their initiatives.  We have fallen behind and don't seem to want to seek out talent or evaluate individuals for what strengths they might bring.  We default to NOBODY.  NOBODY ever gives you a hard time or tilts the vote.  He or she doesn't contribute a lot of skill or insight either.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Clearing Desks

Among my most valued possessions over the years has been My Space.  I shared a room with a brother, then a roommate assigned by the University, but come medical school I had a solo apartment.  My car became a reality for the second half of medical school.  Not only did it get me to where I needed to go and sometimes wanted to go, but I could be by myself, even if halted in traffic amid a thousand other vehicles.  Marriage meant sharing living space again, but the front seat of my car could and did remain a sanctuary most of the time.

Amid the house and car, workspace was sometimes the best definition of mine and nobody else's.  Not exactly though.  The University and my landlords each provided me a desk, often too small a top surface.  My father built a long table in the basement for study and homework.  I disliked the fluorescent lighting and did the written homework at the dining room table.  However, I measured one-third the length of the basement table, marked mine with masking tape, installed a bulletin board next to that third, and kept my supplies there.  A better chair would have helped.  Residency meant no desk at work, a shared surface at home which I did not particularly find inviting, even though I chose the final desk myself and still have it in nearly pristine condition forty years later.  My first job provided me a somewhat battered metal model with a stationary chair and overhead fluorescent lighting but the office had a door and some storage though also the features of a converted patient room.  It was my retreat, maybe the first one I ever made an effort to personalize with doodads that pharmaceutical representatives used to give away.  And I worked there, logging flow sheets for lab results each morning, writing my admission and progress notes, using the telephone, deciding what goes in the drawers.  Fellowship returned me to the shared work surface and fluorescents.  Private office meant freedom to personalize and I did.  Massive wooden desk from a corporate clearance event, shelves, credenza and my splurge, the best desk chair I ever had, chose by me.  Employment for my final eight years got me a utilitarian pressboard desk and a comfortably but slightly battered swivel chair.

At home I made my own workspaces, two of them.  One a 3x6 foot tabletop straddled over two off-white metallic low file cabinets purchased from Conran's.  This was to be My Space, and it still is though the desk surface is a little higher than optimal.  At a corporate surplus sale I got a garish green swivel chair, a shade that probably would not sell well at a paint store, with slightly chipped metallic base and vinyl arms.  Not great visual appeal but the ultimate in comfort.  I added a bankers light and a rhinolin writing surface.  My Space, almost.  Like other desks I have had, my quest for surface area has proven insatiable.  Books held by stylish bookends to the right, a B&W 9" portable TV from a yard sale to the left, eventually retired when the FCC made analog televisions unwatchable.  School supplies go on sale each August so the far left corner has a stack of loose leaf paper and spiral notebooks far in excess of what I can ever use.  Loose leafs go on sale too, and I got some good ones kept in my line of sight.  There is a good wooden storage box with nothing in it just to the right of the rhinolin pad.  Drawers have remained mostly empty.

Since the study could really not be a personal space if it housed the family desktop computer, I declared another space as mine,  Our living room has a reasonably defined corner nook which I filled with a secretarial drop down desk.  K-Mart had a suitable wooden swivel chair.  Journals filled the surface though with some effort I can still close the drop-down portion to expose a pleasant carved design.

So now I have nominal My Space, usable about half the time when I get motivated to creating surface.  Even when not usable, with a stereo upstairs and an electric massager on the chair downstairs, the chair makes the destination.  The surface will get protected in due time.

Image result for my desk

Monday, May 13, 2019

Lunch on Tuesdays

This semester's Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning concludes this week.  It's been a good experience, one that gave structure to my week, particularly on Tuesdays.  First class starts 9AM, last class ends 3:15PM.  Inbetween there are gaps but none long enough to just go home and return.  So Tuesday's were closer to a workday than the other days of the week.  I found it hard to exercise, even if scheduled that day.  On awakening I would be a little stiff, on returning home a little tired.  I did prepare for a full day, though.  A backpack, or actually a rucksack.  In it I had a tangerine colored nylon loose leaf with writing paper, two pens and a mechanical pencil in the assigned nylon tubes.  Each course had a folder.  The pocket in the loose leaf would include a photocopy of my next Torah reading, faithfully practiced after the morning class.  I brought my laptop until the computer people undermined my internet access, then it became clutter.  While I practiced Torah, I did not make as much progress learning to tie blood knots or nail knots.  The heavy shoelaces with cut soda straws allowed some practice but I never got around to tying with nylon monofilament.  I took a tape recorder, rarely used.  I thought I might do some of my creative writing on the loose leaf paper.  It didn't happen.  If I still had one more essay to read for the creative writing seminar, that got done with my editing pencil in full force.

What went best, or at least most consistently, was a weekly lunch.  I have a number of lunch kits, mostly insulated nylon in the form of a sack or a box.  Pesach gets a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle metallic lunchbox.  I like the sack best, as it has compartments.  A sandwich or two hardboiled eggs as the core.  A fruit for dessert, usually eaten but occasionally taken home.  Some cookies most weeks.  And I have a large insulated coffee tumbler, filled with about three cups worth before I head off, mostly finished before returning home.  And despite it being my longest day, I usually feel good at the end.  It is the only day that I avoid the supine position all day.  My mind is engaged in the courses, my hands in the woodcarving, my nutrition at 11AM, and my spirit from the only conversations I will have with people most of the week.  Worth the price of admission.

Sample - Nonwoven Lunch Bag

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Event Judaism

Or maybe spectacle would fit better.

My congregation has entered into a space sharing arrangement now a few months in duration.  For this calendar month, we find ourselves displaced from the main sanctuary as the larger space is required for the home congregation's weekly Bar Mitzvahs, for which we for all practical purposes have none.  I have found it interesting to wander on the first floor of the building, watch the people, read what is on the tables and in the display racks.  They have a lot going on, we have just over bupkis going on.  There appears to a drastic congregational development gradient, until one assesses what has been developed.  A bar mitzvah gives them the larger room, no bar mitzvah gives us the larger room, even though their congregation is double our membership.  We read a full Torah portion, divided up among about 4-5 men on the weekends our usual reader is away.  They read one third that on shabbat, also divided among 2-3 readers, something we could handle easily with a single reader.  We include the liturgy in its entirety.  They select tunes to the exclusion of recitative.

While the congregations are of very different size, it is our traditions that sustain us.  We have no spectacles and not very many events.  But we do have a core of activities which include educational sessions. They have congregational movies.  They have name tags on a table for people to pick of as they enter.  We are more like Cheers where everyone knows your name.

Which is more sustainable?  Hard to tell.  Which makes for a better experience?  Not so sure.  But there are some things that put Judaism at a disadvantage when you compromize.  If people know tunes and happy songs but cannot read the words, let also the sentence that follows, no event will compensate for the lack of capacity.  If you never go beyond that, you have static Judaism.  We have a substantive foundation but a tenuous future.  They seem to have trappings devoid of its underpinnings but a fair number of loyal adherents.

It's never really about going from one event to the next.

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