Monday, June 28, 2010

Week One, Day One


I finished watching Word Wars and enjoyed it. It's fascinating that something that seems to me so right brain can be left brain for others. Most people that compete in scrabble tournaments are math types - math teachers and enthusiasts - rather than English types. This revelation, which comes in the middle of the movie reminded me of the time I played Bananagrams on a date and my date went much faster than me and I said that I was more of a fan of the process of the game than than zooming through it. Later she asked me in confusion as to how a person could think thus, "The process?" It also reminded me of how my mother and I were on the same page about this when it came to scrabble. Scrabble with mom was time to hang, to learn words, to enjoy.

For the ten years that I worked with large groups of wonderful traditional Jewish seniors at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center (formerly known as Camp Isabella Freedman) ,a friend of mine consistently referred to it at Camp Isadora Duncan. I just learned (while watching the movie "Reds") that Isadora Duncan was an iconic historical figure and is considered by many to be the mother of modern dance. She died in a freak accident when one of her signature long scarves got caught in a car wheel.

Isadora Duncan (excerpt)
by Carl Sandburg


The wind?
I am the wind.
The sea and the moon?
I am the sea and the moon.
Tears, pain, love, bird-flights?
I am all of them.
I dance what I am.
Sin, prayer, flight, the light
that never was on land or sea?
I dance what I am.

Today is the first day of my first full week off from teaching. I have hopes and dreams and some time and space to go with it. And yet.

Within this blog are several books. I want to get those books into people's hands, including my own. May G-d bless me, and may I bless myself to make it happen.

I was thinking of doing a magnum opus piece on my wearing a tallis. I decided that I'm just posting once more today and the spirit is moving me, so I'm going to say what I have to say in here.

Toby Knobel Fluek


I am of German Jewish decent, what some refer to as a Yeckie. The German minhag is to wear a tallis after bar mitzvah. I didn't. And time went on as it always does. The prevalent minhag is to not wear a tallis till one marries. I kept thinking that before - I please G-d - married I would start wearing a tallis. This decision was based on the fact that it was my real minhag, and that the minhag not to wear it seems flawed.

Anyone out there know why a single man doesn't wear a tallis? Neither do I. My research has revealed that the minhag of not wearing a tallis till married is tenuous at best. People try to be melamed zechut on the minhag, but it is really without basis.

Sociology often perseveres over all. And so the scarlet letter of not wearing a tallis till married has seeped into our communal consciousness. And yet.

As different landmarks have come and gone over the year (the start of the school year, the end of the school year, holidays) I've considered starting to wear a tallis. When my mother passed away and I realized I'd be davening from the amud a lot I decided it was time. And I started wearing a tallis. End of story for now. And yet, t
he scarlet letter issue lives on, in the form of the question of atifa. (To be continued. Maybe.)

Perhaps I don't know what she means
Or maybe I do know but don't want to say
Ever cautious, since I was cautious as a child
There are times to say what needs to be said
Rarely do we know for sure what time it is
You ultimately find freedom in structure

2 Comments:

Blogger kishke said...

I know a very chashuve talmid chacham, a single man, who wears a tallis. He has a big beard, and people who don't know him think he's married.

June 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I hear you/that.

June 30, 2010 at 8:55 PM  

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