gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,
gillpolack
gillpolack

The joys of this time of year. Each year I assume that the extra energies spent explaining to the Canberra community the year before was a blip. Nothing big and nothing wrong, just trying to sort out meetings (work meetings) where the manager has decided to shout us lunch ... during Passover. I've sorted out what I will and won't do but this manager hasn't met Passover before and that's where it gets tricky. What's new to her is something I've made so many compromises on that my mother would be a bit horrified if I outlined them. Each year I have to run through the whole thing and explain the rules and show how far I'm bending them to be able to have that coffee and fruit platter and that really and truly a sandwich or a hot meal would be a problem. Especially a sandwich. The problem is, of course, that for Australian work lunches 'only a sandwich' is a phrase often used to persuade people to eat.

This year won't be as messy as other years, simply because Belconnen Community Services is sensitive and will listen. I've taught creative writing for them for five years and I have good experience of their wonderful people awareness. The problem is with me, and explanation-fatigue. For everyone else this is the first time they've encountered Jewish food laws. Any Jewish food laws, not just the special ones for Passover. For me, it's something I have to explain and explain and explain and be patient and friendly because for each and every questioner it's the first time they've ever asked those questions or (for most of them) even realised that there are questions that need asking. They shouldn't be punished for not knowing practising Jews and not being the first person to ask. In fact, it's good that they do ask and that they try to sort things out.

For me, though, it's the millionth time. There are not many Jews in Canberra and most aren't public about their Judaism. I get asked these things a lot. And this month is not an easy month for maintaining my cheer and giving Passover 101 yet again. I shall though, because it's important.

Compare this eternal newness with what happens on the phone to my mother. Yesterday we were debating whether the Sephardi 1/8 of me was allowed rice during Passover, or whether the Ashkenazi majority should rule. Rice is not one of the five grains. This means there's room for wiggle, I say. She says she has heard of a community that didn't eat pineapple for some years because the rabbi wasn't sure how to classify it. One errs on the side of caution, she says. I say "Rice! Maybe stir fried with onion and garlic. Rice!"

And we talked about modern Kabbalah and how it's linking closer and closer to areas of Judaism that have been influenced by evangelical Christianity. By no means all Kabbalah, but enough so that Mum's current lecturer is saying some truly daft things from a Jewish viewpoint. We dissect it historically and consider its relationship to the earlier texts and the Zohar's connections to Talmud and we work out that we don't want to be modern Kabbalists.

We discuss examples and anecdotes that Mum can use when she's giving tours at the Jewish Museum. And we swap the best recipes for a milchig lunch with three mutually exclusive sets of allergies present and then for the same group of family members for a fleschig Shabbat dinner. We talk about using up ingredients and how we are from being ready for Pesach and I admit relief that this year, my birthday doesn't fall on Pesach.

And that's my home Judaism.

We need Australian Jewish super heroes. They have a total advantage over most other super heroes. There's already such a difference between the private and the public life that secret identities will be a doddle.
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  • (no subject)

    Blogging has had to fade into the background recently. First I didn't have time to read blog posts and then I didn't have time to write them. Now you…

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    Right now, I spend between 30 minutes and 180 minute a day, every day, answering questions, listening, chatting about subjects of concern. Mostly…

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