I'm still working the temp job I mentioned in a locked post, and the contract has been extended at least through next week. So I still don't have much time for LJ. So, a summary of what I've been up to in the past week:
Last Saturday I joined the Progressive students for the first of what they hope to be regular sessions, meeting in someone's room after shul to study the day's Torah reading with Rashi's commentary. (Rashi is a weird mixture between useful, random but cool, and annoying, and interesting to come to "cold" with a group who mostly have little familiarity with the mediaeval commentators.) As I've mentioned before the Progressive students are a good crowd, and it was a very productive and enjoyable study session. There was cake and good discussions, yay.
I finally managed to win a game of Civ2! Well, win in the sense of getting my spaceship to Alpha Centauri, which is one of the possible overall goals. Probably most people who understand what I'm talking about are not going to be very impressed, but hey; I've been addicted to the game for many years and I've never done as well as I did last week, so I wanted to record it. I think detailed strategy discussions I've been having with such people as neonchameleon, synergetic and rysmiel likely contributed.
I went to a Holocaust Memorial Day event on Thursday evening. I felt obliged to attend but really I dislike that kind of thing. Children getting up on stage to read their essays about what they imagine it would have been like to be a Jewish child in Hitler's Germany or a Kindertransport refugee, so that the audience can coo over how cute they are, just makes me cringe. And a violinist playing some vaguely eastern European sounding laments in a minor key (with bad amplification) and various choral groups singing sad songs feels like cheap emotional manipulation, rather than anything meaningful in terms of education or commemoration or whatever. Also, tacking on mentions of "oh yeah, and we remember the genocide in Rwanda too" as an appeasement to people who think remembering the Holocaust is giving Jews too much special treatment, is not particularly respectful to the victims in Rwanda. Not to mention really badly giving the lie to the idea that we are marking Holocaust Memorial Day in order to make sure we learn the lessons of history so that nothing like that ever happens again...
What I did like about the event was that they had invited some Gypsy / Romany / Traveller (yes, that is how the organizers designated them) speakers as well. That I think was worthwhile, because the Gypsy side of the story is really not well enough known, and also because prejudice against Gypsies is an issue today whereas antisemitism has become (at least publicly) unacceptable.
I like my shower gel at the moment. I tend to grab any shower gel that isn't vastly expensive or actively revolting, but at random I picked one that is scented with cinnamon, juniper and ginger. None of those are things I would immediately think of putting on my skin, but I guess they're in small enough amounts to be scented without being astringent. Anyway, I'm going about smelling faintly of mulled wine, which is pleasing. It occurs to me that it might be intended to be for guys, cos spice scents are more usually marketed to men than women. But if this is the case I don't care; I don't really get gendering cosmetics!
I had a very pleasant shabbat. I went to a Friday night in north London, with a social group that is just starting up for Reform young people. It was very nice, hosted by a rabbi and her family, so it was more like a family Friday night with a lot of guests than a formal event. Both the hosts and the guests are very nice, and the group seem very much like my kind of people, in general and in their approach to Judaism.
Then I headed to lethargic_man's place. I think every time I see him I'm more glad to spend time with him; the awkwardness of reinventing our relationship as friends rather than a couple is getting less with time, which makes it all the more obvious how well we get on. I arrived a bit later than I'd planned on Friday evening, but we ended up talking and making eachother laugh instead of going straight to sleep.
And then Saturday morning we went to lethargic_man's shul, something I've been meaning to do for ages and never got round to. Lovely, lovely community; I can completely see why lethargic_man is so well suited there. It's a good size, big enough to be viable but small enough that everybody has a personal stake in it. And it's lay led, by a group who are committed and knowledgeable and musical. But what's really nice about it is a general atmosphere of people who want to be there and are having fun, whether it's playing around with musical harmonies so they're almost jamming, or being genuinely pleased to see everyone.
Someone commented that it must be very different from what I'm used to, coming from a Reform background, but actually there are more similarities than differences with my particular bit of the Reform world. My community is likewise lay led, and has plenty of resources of musical and knowledgeable people, and is able and keen to be independent from the central movement. And even liturgically, well, Beth Shalom is to the right of the Progressive spectrum, and Assif to the left of Masorti which is itself on the liberal side of the traditional world. So I think both communities fit nicely in the grey areahatam_soferet postulates. Though I think these two communities are much more positive examples than hers; I'm not talking about people who are lonely and don't have enough like-minded people to make a community because of artificial distinctions between denominations.
Back to lethargic_man's place for a very pleasant, if rather sleepy, afternoon with him and curious_reader. I am very glad I do not live in the world of conventional mores where that situation would be expected to be awkward. In fact, I get on well with curious_reader and we are rapidly overcoming the only potential issue, that she and I both know lethargic_man very well but eachother hardly at all.
Civ2... OK, I got over that addiction and the damaging loss of lifetime. By playing even more Civ3. What level were you at when you conquered the stars?
Holocaust remembrance - as a Gentile, and one whose cultural roots are in a country with a history of antisemitism, I find that the remembrance services are becoming a worthy and necessary thing that we 'feel we must do' without feeling that sense of fear that we must do it: it's the past, it's just something people say, and there's no bite to Moseley's remark: "We'd have found people around here to do it". 'Here' being Britain, but it's only the fact that the Old Country is small rural and somewhat disorganised that prevented the sordid and violent events of the 1930's becoming the crimes against humanity that were comitted by an organised industrial nation-state. And there are, indeed, people who would set up resettlement camps to deal with the traveller problem.
A sobering thought. And in reply to another part of a very mixed post, it's wonderful to hear that you smell nice.
I've heard really mixed things about Civ3, some people think it's wonderful and some people think it's spoiled all the good things about the earlier versions. In any case it's academic cos it won't run on my old computer. And I was only playing on the Prince level; trying to play a game on King just now and struggling rather.
I agree with you, worthy is exactly the adjective that comes to mind to describe most of the Holocaust Memorial Day stuff. Of the attendees on Thursday, about a third were Jewish and the rest were, at a guess, mostly the kind of people who are involved in all sorts of civic stuff; one might refer to them, too, as worthies. I think it's an excuse for people to feel good about themselves; if people were serious about the Holocaust and all that historical context implies, they wouldn't commemorate it with a self-congratulatory and vaguely artsy civic event.
It is clear that a non-Jewish person is likely to have a somewhat different response to the Holocaust from a Jewish person. But what country doesn't have a history of antisemitism? I suppose a few that have no European or Arab cultural influence, but that's not really a big proportion of the world. *shrug* I personally think that all human beings are diminished by genocide, because everyone has that potential for evil and the Holocaust means we can't deny it. Nationality is irrelevant; Germans (of our generation) are no more tainted than anyone else, and Americans shouldn't be feeling smug because the level of direct antisemitic violence in their history is less than in most of Europe.
And yeah, my post did jump around between rather a lot of topics. Smelling nice is good though, and I'm glad you didn't find that random observation too utterly banal to read about.
And I was only playing on the Prince level; trying to play a game on King just now and struggling rather.
How did you do scorewise ?
I've not managed to break the scoring function on Prince yet, my best at that is 96%; Warlord I have hit 106% on occasion. [ Conquer most of the world, lots of future tech, make peace with whoever is left and keep that peace for enough turns that the peace bonus maxes out, don't launch your starship until the latest possible moment. And that was before I figured out how to do population inflation through luxuries. ]
Just under 70%, which is still about half as much again as I've ever managed before. See, I told you I was rubbish!
I don't really play for score, I play for in-game objectives mainly. I don't understand why my score invariably seems to decrease between about 1750 and 1900. That is my weakest era, sure, but my civilization isn't worse in 1900 than 1750. But yeah, if I ever get really good at the game I might play around with trying to get silly numerical scores.
Rom, or Roma, if you're talking about the ethnic group, as opposed to New Age Travellers. (The R is trilled at the front of the mouth, like in Spanish; "Rom" means "man" and comes ultimately from Sanskrit; it's got nothing to do with Rome or the Romans.)
Have a read of Patrin if you want to learn more (or read The Gypsies by Jan Yoors - he ran away to join them at the age of twelve, and, remarkably, his parents let him spend half the year with them for the rest of his childhood and teenage years).
I know you're really knowledgeable about this stuff. But, I have come across some people who don't like the term Rom (or Romany or Roma), because they see themselves as a cultural group rather than an ethnic one. And at the Holocaust Memorial event they were also using a term I've never heard before, something like Sinti? Apparently as an alternative to Romany, anyway.
I have come across some people who don't like the term Rom (or Romany or Roma), because they see themselves as a cultural group rather than an ethnic one.
Well, it's easier to intermarry into the Roma than it is into the Jews -- I think (based on very hazy memory) the average Rom only has 30% Indian blood -- but I think that's still effectively joining the tribe. I suspect people who want to consider it a cultural group have complexes about the negative stereotypes, and want to acculturate. It's not difficult to think of similar examples amongst Jews.
Anyhow, if they don't like the name Rom, what name do they use? Many don't like "Gypsy", because of its negative connotations.
And at the Holocaust Memorial event they were also using a term I've never heard before, something like Sinti? Apparently as an alternative to Romany, anyway.
Within the Rom, there are several "nations"; these include (but are not limited to) the Lowara, Sinti or Manouche and Kalderasha. The Lowara were traditionally horse-lovers, the Sinti musicians (Django Reinhardt was a Sinto), and the Kalderasha smiths.
"Rom" means "man", but is used for the ethnic group. There's also a term "Romanichal" (sometimes "Romany chal") used as a descriptor of a Gypsy person. "Romani" is the adjective; it is also used for the language. You'll hear "Romanes" also used for the language; but it's actually an adverb: in Romani, "do you speak Romanes?" literally means "Do you speak Gypsily?".
Shortly after the Aresipaje, the migration into Europe in the late fifteenth century, the word for themselves in their own language changed to "Rom" from "Lom"; the Gypsies of the Near East and Central Europe still call themselves Lom, or Lomarvren. There's also the Dom (Domari) of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
I have been kind of reading LJ, but not as carefully as I do when I have more time. You at least are on my filter for reading first when I'm really pushed for time, so I pretty much always keep up with your journal unless I have no internet access at all. I don't want people to assume I've read and absorbed everything they've posted, though I've probably cast my eyes over most of my flist.
I would be really surprised if there were no Gypsies in America. It would be just about the only ethnic group that doesn't have some kind of diaspora there! And I think what the correct term is depends on the circumstances, really. I try to follow the preferences of the people I'm talking about as much as possible, but I probably do end up causing offence accidentally.
Yay for phone conversations. Phones are a good antidote to geography!
I don't know why people are having trouble with my journal; it's fine for me, and I am a total Firefox convert. I suspect my lovely style is going to break sometime soon, cos TPTB are bringing in new security measures to restrict external CSS.
Thank you! And I should make it clear that this whole post isn't about a single weekend, it's about a whole extended week, with a weekend either side. The successful Civ game was a weekday evening, or in other words a really foolish thing to do when I don't have any time to catch up on two hours' missed sleep! But yeah, this weekend that has just gone was very good indeed.